Here’s another under-the-radar BIGGIE that a lot of people may be missing, and it could spell disaster for the economy and stocks….
As you probably know, EQUIFAX ( NYSE: EFX ) suffered a huge breach of its database that compromised almost every adult American’s identity, and my fear is that this could trigger a recession!
Now, here’s the interesting part from an investor’s perspective: many, many people are putting on CREDIT FREEZES to their accounts, which basically means that they are preventing any new credit lines or credit accounts from being opened in their name. Many news websites and financial advisors are telling people to do this.
The theory of the Profitskey.com is that this could slow up loan growth by several percentage points in the coming weeks and months, and slower loan growth means that money acceleration into the economy will slow and even suffer decreases! I just saw a statistic in BARRON’s ( http://www.barrons.com ) that shows that Federal Reserve created credit in the US economy had slowed to just 3.5% from 5% last year ( See the Randall Forsyth column) …and this CREDIT FREEZE pandemonium could bring credit growth to a GRINDING HALT!
Sure, if someone wants to take out a new loan or credit card account, they could call the credit bureau company (if they can figure out which one will affect their loan — there are 3 major credit bureaus to call) and ask to un-freeze their account for a short while. But my theory is a lot of people will not want to deal with that hassle…and many are scared to death to un-freeze their accounts anyway for fear of being violated by a hacker. Also, in many states, there is a charge for each time a person freezes and un-freezes their account, and so many people will not want to bother with those charges for a quick loan or credit card account. END RESULT: A significant slowdown in new auto loans, credit card accounts, and other loans like home equity.
Lest anyone is naive enough to believe that our economy’s growth doesn’t thrive and survive on CREDIT EXPANSION, this could be the perfect storm to cause a RECESSION! Look, if credit expansion slows just 3.5% from current levels, that would be enough to tip our US economy into contraction. In other words, it will not take a lot to slow down our economy into a stall speed. The velocity of money within our semi-fragile economy could go negative, and with negative velocity of money, then earnings will dry up! Earnings are “the mother’s milk of profits” in a free market economy….
And the STOCK MARKET hates a RECESSION!