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Friday, October 03, 2008

Commercial paper plunges -- to 2005 levels




Take a look at this graph, from today's WSJ. There's some interesting stuff here.

First, it's clear that there has been a big recent decline in commercial paper, and an overall steep drop during the last year. That's certainly symptomatic of a credit tightening, and it's not surprising some worthy firms are having trouble in the commercial paper market.

but

Second, note that the decline is to levels not seen since ... late 2005. That's not that long ago. There's no drastic structural difference in the economy now that would seem to indicate to me that we needed much more commercial paper than we had 3 years ago, in more overleveraged times. In fact, with the economic slowdown one would think we wouldn't need as much.

Third, was it a good thing that over the short history of this graph commercial paper increased from early 2005 to early 2007 from $1.4t to $2.2t? What was that all about? That would clearly seem to be an unsustainable rate of growth, and it looks more like a cancerous rate of growth than a healthy one.