How much consumer debt is too much?
Today’s infographic uses extensive data from Equifax to try and answer this question.
We put consumer debt in a historical context, while providing an in-depth look at the latest numbers on different categories of debt such as student loans, credit cards, and mortgages to see how they compare.
In the United States, there are three broad types of debt in the spectrum: government, corporate, and consumer debt.
Government debt consists of federal, state, and municipal debt, and adds to a total of 136% of GDP. Meanwhile, corporate and consumer debt, which together constitute private debt, amount to 197% of GDP.
The History of Consumer Debt
Before diving into the numbers, there are two historical developments worth mentioning that have greatly influenced consumer debt.
The first is the rise of consumer credit through the 20th century.
If you go back to the 1800s, it was a different place:
- Information moved as fast as a boat.
- 90% of Americans lived in rural areas.
- 75% of Americans were involved with agricultural production.
- There was a stigma around borrowing to buy luxury items, and some saw it as immoral.
- Credit was only used in essential cases, such as borrowing money to buy seeds for farming.
- Credit history was oral and based on personal reputation.
Today is vastly different. Information travels instantaneously, the economy is diversified, computers are everywhere, and factories pump out cheap goods that people want to buy. Credit history is universal, and 72% of Americans have at least one credit card.
For more information about the development of credit in the 20th century, check out this motion graphic video on the history of credit cards.
The second factor that greatly influenced today’s consumer debt situation was government intervention in the mortgage markets between 1949 and 2000.
Agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac were active with the following objectives:
- Insuring mortgages
- Providing liquidity to the mortgage finance system
- Stabilizing the mortgage market
- Expanding the secondary market for mortgages
Between 1949 and 2000, home ownership increased from 54% to 64.7%.
However, that coincided with increases in debt-to-income ratios (20% to 73%) and mortgage debt to household assets (15% to 41%).
The Composition of Consumer Debt
According to Equifax, U.S. consumer debt is at $12.44 trillion. Here’s how it breaks down:
|Total Consumer Debt||$12.44 trillion||100.0%|
|Student Loans||$1.27 trillion||10.2%|
|Auto Loans||$1.14 trillion||9.2%|
|Credit Card||$0.74 trillion||6.0%|
Consumer Debt Trends
1. Mortgage Debt
Mortgage debt, by far the largest category of consumer debt, peaked during the 2008 Financial Crisis at close to $10 trillion. Today, however, it makes up 72% of total consumer debt at $8.96 trillion.
This debt has been partially fueled by the lowest interest rates in history, which have put mortgage rates at all-time lows.
Since 2010, mortgage defaults and delinquencies have both trended down back towards normal levels.
2. Student Loans
For the first time in history, consumers are more in debt to student loans than any other type of non-mortgage debt.
The amount of student debt per person has steadily increased each year – especially for young people. For 18-25 year olds, student loan debt per person has increased from $4,637 in 2005 to $10,552 in 2015. The average young millennial now owes over 60% of of their non-mortgage debt to student loans.
In total, Americans now have $1.3 trillion in student debt, spread between 44 million people.
3. Credit Cards and Private Label Cards
Credit card spending has been steadily increasing since the Financial Crisis, but it has not yet hit pre-crisis levels yet. As it stands, Americans have $665.8 billion in credit card debt spread between 391.9 million cards.
Debt from private label cards, on the other hand, has surpassed pre-crisis levels. Private label cards are typically used to provide credit at department stores, furniture stores, and other retail locations. It is now at $77.4 billion, though this is relatively small compared to other credit card debt that exists.
4. Auto Loans
Total outstanding balances on auto loans and leases have increased 9.3% year-over-year to $1.14 trillion – putting it at all-time highs and making it the third largest consumer debt market overall.
However, auto loan delinquencies have been generally trending down over recent years.
Putting it All Together
As far as non-mortgage debt goes, consumers have never been more indebted.
However, mortgage debt is what really moves the needle for total debt numbers – and that is still not near levels seen during the Financial Crisis.
|Student Loans||$1.27 trillion||Yes|
|Auto Loans||$1.14 trillion||Yes|
|Credit Card||$0.67 trillion||No|
|Private Label Cards||$0.08 trillion||Yes|
Visualizing the Meteoric Rise of Bond ETFs
Bonds are a staple in every portfolio, but up until recently were hard to own. Here’s how bond ETFs changed that, reaching $1 trillion in global AUM.
Visualizing the Meteoric Rise of Bond ETFs
Bonds are a staple in almost any investment portfolio — but up until very recently, they weren’t exactly the easiest thing to own.
Despite the bond market being bigger than the equities market, bonds mostly trade over-the-counter (OTC) and not on any centralized exchange.
In fact, traders mostly swapped bonds over the phone, negotiating prices and making deals. However, this “old school” approach came with several disadvantages, including high transaction costs, illiquidity, and a lack of true transparency in the market.
A New Way to Play
Today’s infographic comes to us from iShares, and it shows that over the last two decades, the bond market has been dramatically transformed and democratized from the “old school” approach that relied on phones, traders, and giant bond calculators.
The biggest factor in this transition: the use of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the bond market, which just hit a new global milestone of $1 trillion of AUM in June 2019.
Let’s look at the journey of how this rapidly rising segment of the market took off, the factors driving it, and what the future may hold for Bond ETFs.
Bond ETFs: Journey to $1 Trillion
Below is a year-by-year account of new innovations in bond ETFs, and how the usage of them has changed over time:
2002: New tech
A new financial technology, the ETF, shakes up the bond market for the first time – and the first fixed income ETFs launch in the United States.
2003: More variety
Just one year in, and there are already numerous types of bond ETFs that allow investors to fulfill different portfolio needs:
- Government bond ETFs
- TIPS ETFs
- Corporate bond ETFs
- Aggregate bond ETFs
2006: Achievement unlocked
The global bond ETF industry hits $25 billion in AUM.
2007: Bond ETF innovations
The bond ETF universe continues to expand as investors demand even more options:
- Mortgage-backed security bond ETFs
- Muni bond ETFs
- High yield bond ETFs
2008: A new source of liquidity
Liquidity for individual bonds dries up during the 2008 Financial Crisis. However, bond ETFs step up to the plate by providing a new source of liquidity and volume increases, allowing investors to efficiently access fixed income markets.
2010: More precise strategies
The first term-maturity ETFs launch. These special bond ETFs specifically hold bonds that all mature in the exact same year.
2012: Achievement unlocked
The global bond ETF industry hits $250 billion in AUM.
2015: More product innovation
At this time, factor-based bond ETFs start to hit the mainstream. These use a rules-based approach to employ multiple investment factors, such as low volatility, quality, value, or momentum.
2016: Achievement unlocked
The global bond ETF industry hits $500 billion in AUM.
2017: Green bonds
Green bonds ETFs provide investors with the ability to invest in bonds that are tied to sustainability purposes.
2018: Market volatility and bond ETFs
In the second half of 2018, markets get volatile and investors turn to bond ETFs to help reduce their overall portfolio risk, specifically diversifying their exposure to stocks.
2019: Achievement unlocked
The global bond ETF industry hits $1 trillion in AUM, with now over 1,300 bond ETFs available.
The Path to $2 Trillion?
In just 17 years, bond ETFs have grown to be a significant part of the investment universe, reaching $1 trillion AUM in 2019.
Impressively, it won’t likely take long to double the last milestone. According to BlackRock, it’s anticipated that ETFs will hold $2 trillion in AUM by the year 2024 — just a few short years down the road.
Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money
Last year, the global banking industry cashed in an impressive $1.36 trillion in profits. Here’s where they made their money, and how it breaks down.
Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money
Profits in banking have been steadily on the rise since the financial crisis.
Just last year, the global banking industry cashed in an impressive $1.36 trillion in after-tax profits — the highest total in the sector seen in the last 20 years.
What are the drivers behind revenue and profits in the financial services sector, and where do the biggest opportunities exist in the future?
Following the Money
Today’s infographic comes to us from McKinsey & Company, and it leverages proprietary insights from their Panorama database.
Using data stemming from more than 60 countries, we’ve broken down historical banking profits by region, while also visualizing key ratios that help demonstrate why specific countries are more profitable for the industry.
Finally, we’ve also looked at the particular geographic regions that may present the biggest opportunities in the future, and why they are relevant today.
Banking Profits, by Region
Before we look at what’s driving banking profits, let’s start with a breakdown of annual after-tax profits by region over time.
Banking Profit by Year and Region ($B)
|Rest of World||$196||$243||$265||$285||$309||$327||$348||$361||$387||$421|
In 2018, the United States accounted for $403 billion of after-tax profits in the banking sector — however, China sits in a very close second place, raking in $333 billion.
What’s Under the Hood?
While there’s no doubt that financial services can be profitable in almost any corner of the globe, what is less obvious is where this profit actually comes from.
The truth is that banking can vary greatly depending on location — and what drives value for banks in one country may be completely different from what drives value in another.
Let’s look at data and ratios from four very different places to get a sense of how financial services markets can vary.
|Country||RARC/GDP||Loans Penetration/GDP||Margins (RBRC/Total Loans)||Risk Cost Margin|
1. RARC / GDP (Revenues After Risk Costs / GDP)
This ratio shows compares a country’s banking revenues to overall economic production, giving a sense of how important banking is to the economy. Using this, you can see that banking is far more important to Singapore’s economy than others in the table.
2. Loans Penetration / GDP
Loans penetration can be further broken up into retail loans and wholesale loans. The difference can be immediately seen when looking at data on China and the United States:
|Country||Retail Loans||Wholesale Loans||Loan Penetration (Total)|
In America, banks make loans primarily to the retail sector. In China, there’s a higher penetration on a wholesale basis — usually loans being made to corporations or other such entities.
3. Margins (Revenues Before Risk Costs / Total Loans)
Margins made on lending is one way for bankers to gauge the potential of a market, and as you can see above, margins in the United States and China are both at (or above) the global average. Meanwhile, for comparison, Finland has margins that are closer to half of the global average.
4. Risk Cost Margin (Risk Cost / Total Loans)
Not surprisingly, China still holds higher risk cost margins than the global average. On the flipside, established markets like Singapore, Finland, and the U.S. all have risk margins below the global average.
Future Opportunities in Banking
While this data is useful at breaking down existing markets, it can also help to give us a sense of future opportunities as well.
Here are some of the geographic markets that have the potential to grow into key financial services markets in the future:
- Sub-Saharan Africa
Despite having 16x the population of South Africa, the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa still generates fewer banking profits. With lower loan penetration rates and RARC/GDP ratios, there is significant potential to be found throughout the continent.
- India and Indonesia
Compared to similar economies in Asia, both India and Indonesia present an interesting banking opportunity because of their high margins and low loan penetration rates.
While China has a high overall loan penetration rate, the retail loan category still holds much potential given the country’s population and growing middle class.
A Changing Landscape in Banking
As banks shift focus to face new market challenges, the next chapter of banking may be even more interesting than the last.
Add in the high stakes around digital transformation, aging populations, and new service opportunities, and the distance between winners and losers could lengthen even more.
Where will the money in banking be in the future?
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