U.S. could face $2 trillion lending shock: Goldman

November 17, 2007 at 1:39 am | Posted in economy, finance, USA | Leave a comment
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Goldman’s chief U.S. economist Jan Hatzius said a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate of credit losses on outstanding mortgages, based on past default experience, was around $400 billion.

But unlike stock market losses, which are typically absorbed by “long-only” investors, this mortgage-related hit is mostly borne by leveraged investors such as banks, broker-dealers, hedge funds and government-sponsored enterprises.

And leveraged investors react to losses by actively cutting back lending to keep capital ratios from falling — A bank targeting a constant capital ratio of 10 percent, for example, would need to shrink its balance by $10 for every $1 in losses.

“The macroeconomic consequences could be quite dramatic,” Hatzius said in the note to clients. “If leveraged investors see $200 billion of the $400 billion aggregate credit loss, they might need to scale back their lending by $2 trillion.”

“This is a large shock,” he said, adding the number equates to 7 percent of total debt owed by U.S. non-financial sectors.

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