Bank Credit & Money Supply
This is a quite interesting development since these 3 writers completely ignored this indicator when it expanded sharply, which it did until March. Instead they focused on the monetary base, which is now ignored, perhaps because it by contrast have begun to accelerate in recent weeks from its previous weak growth rate.
But setting aside their convenient flip-flop in chosen indicators, does this development indicate a shift in monetary conditions?
No, not necessarily, and no evidence exist yet that it does.
First of all, as I explained in my post Assets & Liabilities & Myths About Write-downs bank credit is part of the asset side of bank balance sheets, while money supply is on the liability side (all too many economists, including presumably the aforementioned three, aren't educated in accounting so they don't understand these sort of things).That means that although bank credit and money supply are usually correlated with each other, they need not be and often aren't. And as I also explained at the time, while bank credit will be reduced as a result of write-downs, the components of the money supply will be unaffected (except maybe indirectly at a later point in time). And while money supply growth have slowed somewhat it is still quite high.
Nor are bank credit equal to total credit. Commercial bank lending totals only $6.9 trillion, or less than 30% of total private sector debt. One reason for the slowdown in bank lending is likely that conditions on the credit markets have improved, enabling companies who want to borrow to get capital from the credit markets rather than the banks. The super high growth rate in bank lending between August 2007 and March 2008 reflected to some extent the collapse in commercial paper issuance, but in recent weeks this have started to stabilize and rise again. It would be interesting to see statistics over total private sector debt, but as far as I know no such statistics will be available until the next flow of funds release on September 18.
I should finally emphasize that I have no permanent commitment to the inflationist (inflationist/deflationist in the sense of forecasting the future, not advocating policy) outlook. If the facts change, then I would have no problem changing my outlook. However, until total debt growth and more importantly, money supply growth halts, I stand by the inflationist outlook. And that wouldn't in anyway make my current assessment wrong. Furthermore, the lagged effect of current monetary inflation is likely to keep price inflation high. However, if monetary conditions would become less inflationary this would relatively fast contribute to lower commodity prices.