Nick Nasad
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Great Graphic: Bank Lending in US, Japan, UK, and Europe

This may be a little wonky, but the graphic below shows the year-over-year change in bank lending in the US, Japan, UK, Germany, the Euro area, and Greece. It doesn't take a PhD in economics to understand that banks and their lending is at the core of economic activity. The 2007-2008 financial crisis hit all the worlds bank, but what important to take away from the graphic below is that it was the US that helped create to conditions in the banking system for lending to recover much more quickly than in Europe.

The European banking system is still plagued by "zombie banks" - those that have bad balance sheets - and are kept afloat because of ECB liquidity, but that aren't contributing much to growth. Japan is somewhere in between the situation in the US and Europe, while in the UK bank lending growth has been flat during 2010-2013, with just a slight pick-up as 2014 got under way.