Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick Update: On the Maddening Lack of Worthwhile Household Debt Data

I'm preparing a response to the IMF's latest report and PR, which has been noted by folks like Stacy Herbert (at Max Keiser's site) and Paul Krugman.  Hint: I'm cynical.

The thing that has slowed me down all day is the complete and utter lack of worthwhile data that breaks out household debt by earning power (income).  We have great aggregate debt numbers (they don't seem to change too much, compared to BEA data).  What we don't have much of is meaningful debt-to-income and debt-to-wages data by income decile.

My primary thesis is that debt as a percentage of real disposable income for the middle class is what matters in understanding the true vibrancy of an economy, and I'm finding it very difficult to derive that data from government statistics.