Chart of the Day – 10.22.2008

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CHART OF THE DAY….Via Alex Tabarrok, a trio of boffins at the Minneapolis Fed argue that the credit crisis is a myth. Using Fed data they demonstrate that bank credit is up, loans and leases are up, commercial loans are up, consumer loans are up, and interbank loans are up. This is all potentially interesting, but unfortunately they then proceed to ruin their credibility by saying blandly that “while commercial paper issued by financial institutions has declined, commercial paper issued by nonfinancial institutions is essentially unchanged during the financial crisis.” Technically that’s true, but commercial paper from financial institutions makes up 80% of the entire market, and Figure 6A shows it plunging over the past month like a barrel jumper at Niagara Falls. You’d think that might have been worth a more vigorous mention.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that using aggregate data like this somehow misses the story. It also probably doesn’t take into account all the term facilities and loan guarantees that the Fed has put in place over the past year. Still, seeing some data that challenges the conventional wisdom is always worthwhile. Even if it turns out to be wrong, reading the explanation of why it’s wrong should be instructive. Perhaps some enterprising econblogger will provide us with just that.

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