The worrying (or not) rise of margin debt

March 3, 2014

The FT’s Michael Mackenzie reports that ┬áthe amount of money borrowed on margin to buy stocks on the NYSE hit a new, nominal high of $451 billion. That’s up 20% over last year, Mackenzie reports.

The article didn’t have a chart, however. So here it is, real (adjusted for inflation) terms, since 2005:

“Peaks in the use of borrowed money have in the past been a precursor to big bear markets”, Mackenzie reports.┬áNot only does a rise in margin debt, the theory goes, mean that the consensus is worryingly positive, but when that consensus breaks, the use of leverage makes the fall even nastier. Jeff Gundlach thinks rising margin debt is consistent with market highs, but isn’t sure whether it’s a cause or effect of overvaluation.




We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

The one difference today as compared to 2000 and 2007 is that the government utilized QE and did not in the previous bubbles.

Posted by authentic | Report as abusive

time to sell?? looks like debt is reaching levels similar to before the crash…

Posted by michaelryan | Report as abusive