IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Consumer debt and financial fragility

  • Robert Guttmann
  • Dominique Plihon
Registered author(s):

    This article sheds light on a crucial aspect of the global crisis of 2007-2009: the steady increase of US consumer debt to precipitous levels over a quarter of century. That trend, fed by a combination of macro-economic, demographic, and political factors, intensified greatly in the 2000s when a series of financial innovations allowed American households to draw equity out of their homes while at the same time feeding an unprecedented housing boom. Those same new mechanisms of 'structured' and 'synthetic' finance mobilized a significant and steadily growing proportion of global savings and directed them into this super-bubble as the world's surplus countries came to fund America's debt-financed excess spending for perpetual reproduction of their surpluses. Anachronistic policy preferences among both surplus countries and the US prevented the proper functioning of various adjustment mechanisms before the inevitable financial-fragility dynamic took hold to burst the bubble and throw the global economy into a steep downturn. The persistence of these global imbalances bodes ill for the medium-term stability of the world economy and its recovery potential.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

    Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 269-283

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:269-283
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:269-283. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.