The story of the American recovery in 15 charts

The Financial Stability Oversight Council -- a sort of Super Friends collection of financial regulators that includes the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission -- is out with its massive annual report. If you don't have time to read all 155 pages on "tri-party repo risk"  and money-market fund reforms, here are a few takeaways.

The FSOC, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill to act as the main overseer of financial stability and risk, reports that some significant progress has been made in financial reform. Bank capital levels are higher, for one, but other key aspects of the financial world haven't yet been addressed.

But the FSOC's report, it turns out, is also a comprehensive guide to where the American economy stands right now -- and just how much work is left to do to get the economy back to pre-crisis shape. Also, the charts are pretty great. Here's a rundown of some of the best.

1. The job market has been mostly very steady for the last two years -- especially if you look at the three-month moving average of payroll growth. 


2. The unemployment rate keeps falling, though not yet to pre-crisis lows. 

Chart15

3. Part of the reason the unemployment rate is falling, however, is because there are fewer people in the labor force

In fact, the labor force participation recently fell to its lowest point since 1978. Part of this is the effect of boomers retiring, and part of this comes from workers discouraged by a job market that still isn't all that great. More recently, a cut in unemployment benefits at the end of last year has given fewer Americans a reason to stay in the labor force.


4. Long-term unemployment is still a national tragedy.

According to the report, 35.3 percent of the officially unemployed have been looking for a job for 27 weeks or more. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 908,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. But there are still 3.5 million long-term unemployed.


5. Household debt payments are near 30-year lows. 

The FSOC attributes this trend to "slow debt growth, historically low interest rates, and modest increases in employment and income." It adds: "Reduced debt burdens have allowed households to slowly but steadily become more current on their debts. Since 2009, the percentage of household debt that is delinquent has decreased from 12 percent to 7 percent, but still remains significantly above pre-crisis levels."


6. But our debt levels, relative to our disposable income, aren't quite as normal. 

"By the end of last year, the ratio of household debt to disposable income had declined to its 2003 level of roughly 104 percent, mostly due to decreases in outstanding mortgage debt, which accounts for about three-fourths of all household debt," the FSOC says.

chart14

7. Americans still have a long way to go to rebuilding equity in their own homes. 

"Owners’ equity as a share of household real estate continued to move up with rising house prices and falling mortgage debt, although it still remains about 8 percentage points below its 1990 to 2005 average," the FSOC says.


8. Student debt has exploded in the last decade. 

"During 2013, consumer credit outstanding increased about 6 percent to $3 trillions. Auto loans and student loans accounted for almost all of this increase. Costs of education rose, and federal programs remained the dominant source of education lending, continuing to expand at a rapid pace in 2013," the FSOC says.

chart6

10. Student loan delinquency rates are outpacing other forms of debt.

This, from the FSOC, is particularly disturbing: "While households are becoming more current on most types of debt, the delinquency rate on student loans outstanding rose to 12 percent at the end of 2013. Large and growing student debt burdens and continued weakness in labor markets have pushed many younger borrowers into delinquency, despite the longer grace periods that typically accompany student loans."


11.The federal budget deficit is projected to climb slightly, then level off. 

Here's the FSOC: "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deficit will continue to decline to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2015, owing in large part to robust revenue growth as the economy continues to recover and changes in tax law provisions, especially the bonus depreciation provision. Starting in 2016, the deficit is expected to gradually increase, reaching 3.7 percent of GDP by 2024."


12. Our deficit will be driven by health care and social security costs and the effects of rising interest rates.

"The rise in the deficit is driven primarily by projected increases in Social Security and health care costs due to the aging of the population and the expectation that per-capita health care expenditures will grow faster than GDP, as well as increases in interest payments," the FSOC says.

 


12. Here's how U.S. economic growth is expected to stack up against our peers.

Per the FSOC: "For the major foreign advanced economies (the euro area, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada), real GDP increased 0.6 percent in 2013 on a calendar year, GDP-weighted basis. A slower pace of fiscal consolidation and significant easing in financial stresses helped recovery take hold in the euro area. In Japan, additional discretionary fiscal stimulus, improved sentiment, and strong corporate profits helped support consumer and business spending amid a reflationary monetary policy program."


13. More good news: Companies have stopped defaulting.


14. And here's who owns our debt (though the biggest holder of U.S. treasuries is still America itself)

From the FSOC: "Foreign holdings of Treasury securities continued to grow. Year over year ending February 2014, they rose by $194 billion to $5.9 trillion. The largest investors — investors from China and Japan — collectively accounted for $2.5 trillion of Treasury securities, while other foreign accounts held $3.4 trillion. Since the end of 2012, the shares and holdings of euro area and Japanese investors have risen, while the combined share of other countries has fallen."

Chart20

15. And, finally, here's who America sells to right now. 


 

 

Ryan McCarthy is the assistant business editor for The Washington Post. He oversees Storyline, Wonkblog and other digital projects.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business
Next Story
Jason Millman · May 8