The Most Important Set of Graphics You’ll Find in a BIS Speech

I’m still in catch-up mode, but I keep coming back to this presentation (PDF)—four times now. It’s a speech by BoJ member Masaaki Shirakawa in Tokyo on the 22nd of December last year to the Board of Councillors of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), entitled “Globalization and population aging – challenges facing Japan.”

Go through the whole thing, but—most especially for U.S. readers—Chart 5.

Pay especial attention to Bank Lending and Housing Prices. Then Riddle Me This, as it were: If U.S. housing prices are stable or basically plateaued overall, then there isn’t a growing decline in credit quality from that sector (the way there was in Japan over the comparable period).

So why is bank lending in the U.S. so low and going lower?