This financial crisis has produced some wonderful charts. Recent numbers either dive to the depths or reach for the sky.
I particularly like this one. It illustrates loan loss reserves of US banks. The reserves are expressed in terms of total loans.
The chart tells us two things. During the boom years, banks ran down the spare cash they put away to cover bad loans. Just before the crisis they were putting away barely one percent of their total loans.
Then, along comes the crisis and banks suddenly realise that they don't have enough reserves. Everything goes into reverse, and banks start accumulating reserves like crazy.
I reckon this number can only go higher. Soon, it will exceed the previous highs in the late 1980s, and hit an all time high.