U.S. Fed Still Paying Banks not to Lend

Business Insider
August 18, 2011

One of the most outrageous “open secrets” of U.S. government policy these days is that the Federal Reserve is still paying big banks not to lend money.

And it’s doing that while screwing average Americans who have been responsible and lived within their means.

Huh?

Seriously:

The Federal Reserve is quietly continuing with one of the many outrageous bank-bailout programs it initiated during the financial crisis–the one in which it pays big banks interest on their “excess reserves.”

What are “excess reserves”?

Money that the banks have but aren’t lending out–money that banks are just keeping on deposit at the Fed.

The Fed is paying banks 0.25% interest on this money.

0.25% interest may not sound like much, but it’s more than the banks are paying you to keep money in your savings or money-market account. It’s also more than you’ll earn if you lend the Federal government money for 2 years.

Oh, by the way, why, exactly, are you earning so little interest in your savings accounts and money-market funds?

Well, because, thanks to another one of its bank-bailout programs, the Fed is keeping short-term interest rates at zero.

In other words, the Fed is paying banks not to lend money and screwing you, American citizens, because you’re dumb enough to have saved money.

This is just so bass-ackwards it’s not to be believed.

Why on earth is the Fed paying banks not to lend? Well, back in the financial crisis, the Fed wanted to find ways to secretly bail out the banks without it being screamingly obvious to every American that that was what it was doing. And this particular bailout program was one of the more successful ways it discovered of doing that. Over the past few years, this program has secretly funneled about $10 billion in risk-free cash (rough estimate) directly to the banks, just for being banks and not lending. Don’t you wish you could get in on that game?

How much money are banks keeping in “excess reserves” that they might be encouraged to lend if the Fed weren’t paying them not to?

Stationed money that belongs to the banks, but is in FED's coffers.

Oh, only $1.6 trillion. (See chart)

The Fed pays banks about $4 billion of interest a year on that money–the money the banks aren’t lending. And bankers get big bonuses based on that interest, for being so smart as to not lend money and instead just take the free interest from the Fed.

Meanwhile, you earn next to nothing (or nothing) on the money you’ve saved.

We don’t think GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry should have threatened to kill Ben Bernanke the other day, but we can certainly understand his frustration.

God, it’s great to be a banker.

Boy, does it suck to be an average responsible American.

Manipulated Markets Make a Come Back

Does it make sense that during the deepest depression since 1929, the U.S. Stock Market comes back up from a 6oo+ point decline? Only a manipulated system where speculators have complete control could recover from a rout that showed how little confidence investors have in the market today.

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
August 9, 2011

While countries are in dire straits to make payments on mostly illegally acquired debts and the price of oil continues to fall; while little to nothing is produced or manufactured in the industrialized world and no ingenuity makes it big anywhere in the world; while the most important currencies continue to tumble and other financial markets turn more sour; while unemployment continues to grow from the low 20’s and more people make use of food stamps and unemployment benefits; while more jobs are exported to third world nations that support slave work for their populations and inflation is only tamed by artificial manipulation of the currencies; while numerous people look to gold and silver as their salvation, surprisingly the stock market came back from the pantheon and surged to recover from the slide seen just a few hours ago.

There is very little that can't be done when someone or something controls fiat currencies, rating agencies, and financial markets.

But not only did the stocks came back strong; they had the largest gains in more than two years. Along with this “come back” the U.S. dollar got weaker and the Swiss franc rose the most since 1971. Even the very same Standard & Poor Index managed to recover almost 5 percent, the most significant gains since 2009. In the meantime, the origin of the financial disaster, the privately owned banks headed by the Federal Reserve announced their intent to print more worthless money into the economy as a way to “boost” confidence. Even though QE1 and QE2 failed to provide any confidence, or for that matter failed to provide anything positive, the FED believes it is appropriate to bring up QE3. With this, the FED shows its interest to purchase more government bonds, which will consolidate its position as the largest holder of U.S. government debt.

“The Fed is clearly setting up a situation that could offer them the potential to do something significant, if necessary,” Bruce McCain, who helps oversee $22 billion as chief investment strategist at the private-banking unit of KeyCorp in Cleveland, said in a telephone interview. “That could be viewed as a positive,” added McCain. “People are starting to realize that what we’ve had in the market was an overreaction.” Really? Positive? How so?

Artificial Surge after the Decline

How can a stock market come back from a 600+ point decline in just a few hours if one considers that the cause of such loss -the downgrade of the U.S. debt rating- has not been dealt with? It simply boggles the mind, doesn’t it? The United States credit rating was lowered from AAA to AA+ by Standard & Poors, a rating agency that is paid by the banks to evaluate financial products and which is in part responsible for the current financial catastrophe. Together with Moody’s, S&P was created the by the banking system to carry out “independent” evaluations of financial products as well as credit confidence on institutions, state and local governments and of course whole nations.

According to Bloomberg, Stocks came back from a loss of $ 1 trillion after S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating last Friday evening. The results of the downgrade were not felt until Monday, when the Markets opened all over the world. The S&P index sank about 11 percent and the stock market lost 648 points or more than 6 percent. But just 24 hours later, everything was different. “The MSCI All-Country World Index rose 2.1 percent for its biggest gain of the year”, says Bloomberg. “The index started the U.S. session valued at about 12.1 times profits, down from 21 in 1995..The MSCI Emerging Markets Index pared today’s drop to 2.2 percent after tumbling as much as 4.4 percent.”

Stocks Rally? What Rally?

In the Stock Market, the Dow Jones climbed almost 430 or 4 percent, failing to completely recover from the recent loss. The stocks experienced the 1oth more significant gain in its history. Can you believe it? In the middle of a Depression, the stocks rally the much?

Meanwhile, in the S&P, shares got to the front of the line due to the numerically significant gains. In total, they accumulated some 8.2 percent all together. This is the biggest rally since May 2009, which meant a complete recovery from Monday’s low. Bank of America Corp., which is now being sued by AIG for fraud, managed to gain 17 percent while other players like Hartford Financial Services got back 16 percent.

Of course the main stream media is giving all credit to the Federal Reserve, due to its announcement that it intends to “boost” the economy by injecting worthless cash into it. The FED’s head, Ben Bernanke and his aides came out to try to calm the demise a bit, although not everyone at the FED agreed with the move to bring along a new quantitative easing move. Three members from the policy committee dissented and instead called for maintaining interest rates low for a longer period of time.

As the docu-film “The Inside Job” impeccably exposes, there is very little that can’t be done when someone or something has the power to create money out of thin air, create rating agencies, control those agencies to give AAA ratings to whatever they choose and electronically manipulate the financial stock and bond markets whenever it’s convenient in order to perpetuate the fraudulent debt-based system the world has worked under since 1913.

False Policy Changes

The best way to perpetuate the above cited financial system is to have the available tool continuously reinforce the falsehood of the Central Bank sponsored plans. So, Moody’s has come out to praise the FED’s move to maintain the interest rates at a quarter of a percent in order to bolster the downturn. It’s a  “major policy change,” said Augustine Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s. “By providing a more explicit time line for raising rates, the Fed is telling markets it is concerned about recent economic weakness and the potential for a near-term contraction, and is dedicated to spurring stronger economic growth,” Faucher added.

Just as this statement by Faucher is baseless, so is the belief that because the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency, it can stand more beating than any other one. In fact, one of the reasons why the U.S. has not been downgraded further is that its currency is still consider valuable. Ironically, the dollar has lost 98 percent of its value since it became the subject of manipulation by the bankers. Moody’s has stated that the U.S. dollar can support larger levels of debt than other currencies. How do they figure that with a currency that is so devalued. They can’t figure it out. They just make it up.

The one world reserve currency scheme is only beneficial to those who control it, because the rest of the nations need to do business while devaluing their own. In sound economics, the value of paper money is based on a country’s production or manufacturing, therefore, the U.S. dollar can no longer be such reserve currency. U.S. manufacturing has eroded so badly, that it has cost the jobs of some 18 million people in the last few years.

If the U.S. dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, why are there other currencies that have better exchange rates than the dollar itself? I am no economic expert, but if the Swiss Frank rates higher than the dollar in currency exchange markets, shouldn’t the Frank be the reserve currency? Or even better, shouldn’t a commodity like gold be the reserve currency given its capacity to withstand recessions, depressions and financial market manipulations? It should. The reason why gold is not the reserve currency or at least the commodity over which a paper money currency is supported is that bankers cannot monopolize it, “hug” it or manipulate it.

High Market but Low Results: The World Economy in Shambles

While the banks try to extend the suffering period for the middle and low classes, countries in Europe are scrambling for a life boat to jump on. Although France and Germany are said to be negotiating an agreement to buy Spain’s and Italy’s debt in order to avoid a deeper economic collapse, some sources claim that the rescuers believe the Italian debt is too large to save. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel began to hear opposition voices that are calling for a different position from the German and French governments. The reason for this is that an eventual bailout of Italy and Spain could cost the rescuers their AAA rating. This is seen as a possible trigger to drag the world’s economy further into the precipice.

Although U.S. markets artificially revived themselves on Tuesday, other countries were not as lucky. In Italy, the bond market saw a loss of 11 percent on its 10 year note. Just as the FED has done in the United States, the European Central Bank kept Italy and Spain afloat through the purchase of their bonds for a second day in a row. That was not enough to save the Spanish 10 year notes, as they collapsed eight basis points to 5.08 percent on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, oil prices hit some of the lowest levels for the year by getting down to $79.30 a barrel. Conversely, gold prices soared and added 4.1 percent to get to a record price of $1,782.50 an ounce.

Obama Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse

Bernanke dares to disagree and says the FED and the government acted and save the world from ‘global meltdown’.

Bloomberg

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”

Obama this month proposed a package of $180 billion in business tax breaks and infrastructure outlays to boost spending and job growth. That would come on top of the $814 billion stimulus measure enacted last year. The U.S. government’s total outstanding debt is about $13.5 trillion, according to U.S. Treasury Department figures.

Obama, 49, inherited what the National Bureau of Economic Research said this week was the deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression. Even after the stimulus measure and other government actions, the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.6 percent.

Governments globally need to cut debt and avoid bailing out struggling companies because that’s the only way they can shield their economies from the negative consequences of erroneous budget forecasts, Taleb said.

Errant Forecasts

“Today there is a dependency on people who have never been able to forecast anything,” Taleb said. “What kind of system is insulated from forecasting errors? A system where debts are low and companies are allowed to die young when they are fragile. Companies always end up dying one day anyway.”

Taleb, a native of Lebanon who gave his speech in French to an audience of Quebec business people, said Canada’s fiscal situation makes the country a safer investment than its southern neighbor.

Canada has the lowest ratio of net debt to gross domestic product among the Group of Seven industrialized countries and will keep that distinction until at least 2014, the country’s finance department said in March. Canada’s ratio, 24 percent in 2007, will rise to about 30 percent by 2014. The U.S. ratio, now above 40 percent, will top 80 percent in four years, the department said, citing IMF data.

“I am bullish on Canada,” he told the audience. “I prefer Canada to the U.S. or even Europe.”

Mortgage Interest

Canada’s economy also benefits from the fact that homeowners, unlike their U.S. neighbors, can’t take mortgage interest as a tax deduction, Taleb said. That removes the incentive to take on too much debt, he said.

“The first thing to do if you want to solve the mortgage problem in the U.S. is to stop making these interest payments deductible,” he said. “Has someone dared to talk about this in Washington? No, because the U.S. homebuilders’ lobby is hyperactive and doesn’t want people to talk about this.”

Taleb also criticized banks and securities firms, saying they don’t adequately warn clients of the risks they run when they invest their retirement savings in the stock market.

‘Have Fun’

“People should use financial markets to have fun, but not as a depository of value,” Taleb said. “Investors have been deceived. People were told that markets go up regularly, but if you look at the last 10 years that’s not been the case. The risks are always greater than what people are told.”

Asked by an audience member if returns such as those posted by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett — who amassed the world’s third-biggest personal fortune through decades of stock picks and takeovers — are the product of luck or talent, Taleb said both played a part.

If given a choice between investing with Buffett and billionaire investor George Soros, Taleb also said he would probably pick the latter.

“I am not saying Buffett isn’t as good as Soros,” he said. “I am saying that the probability Soros’s returns come from randomness is much smaller because he did almost everything: he bought currencies, he sold currencies, he did arbitrages. He made a lot more decisions. Buffett followed a strategy to buy companies that had a certain earnings profile, and it worked for him. There is a lot more luck involved in this strategy.”

Soros gained fame in the 1990s when he reportedly made $1 billion correctly betting against the British pound.

Taleb’s 2007 best-seller, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” argues that history is littered with rare, high-impact events. The black-swan theory stems from the ancient misconception that all swans were white.

A former trader, Taleb teaches risk engineering at New York University and advises Universa Investments LP, a Santa Monica, California-based fund that bets on extreme market moves.

Basel Banking Committee Ready to “Strangle” Economy

real-agenda.com

The World Financial Order is almost complete. New measures will keep bailout monies in banks’ coffers, increase interests on loans while reducing credit availability.

A group of un-elected regulators has come to an agreement on how to strangle the global economy even further, while presenting their package of measures as “saving” policies” for a coming financial crisis.  The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision -current owners-  established more rules to exercise tighter controls on banks and the very financial system they managed to break by design.

At the top of the list, Jean Claude Trichet, warns that the no implementation of these policies would let banks free to do anything they want -he himself is a banker- and that the new rules would secure bank reserves for difficult financial times.  The package of rules was adopted on Sunday, and it has a very clear goal: “To protect International Economies”.  This confirms the group’s intention to establish a global financial system headed by no other than themselves.  Such Order would abide by their rules no matter what effects such rules have over individual national economies.

According to their published document, banks will have to triple their cash reserves -from 2 to 7 percent- which in their minds would act as a cushion for difficult times or when banks invest in junk financial products.  That amount is in itself ridiculous, if one takes into account that banks’ investments in dubious financial products is many times larger than 7 percent.  What this measure will do is to give banks an excuse to increase interest rates on loans and reduce their loan spending programs.  The reduction in available credit will achieve a goal the bankers had yearned for and that could not accomplish through the failed cap & trade fraudulent scheme: to bring global economic activity to a halt.

“The agreements reached today are a fundamental strengthening of global capital standards,” said Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank and chairman of the banking supervision group.  Trichet commanded the group dismissing some bankers concerns that these new measures will require them to curtail credit, which in turn would cripple economic growth. He said the new rules would “contribute to long-term financial stability and growth will be substantial.”  Other bankers sided with Trichet, saying the modest effect on growth or borrowing would be a small price to pay for a less explosive financial system.

What these new rules would achieve -if anything- is the legalization of bad investments, as banks will not have to worry about how to pay for loses.  They will have large amounts of money from investors to cover their backs.  In addition, banks will continue to count on nation states to make up for any shortfalls, as more bailouts for troubled banks have not been taken off the table.  The new rules issued by the group that includes former Goldman Sachs executive Ben Bernanke, will be approved in November by the G-20 before they are handed over to individual countries before they become binding.  Nation-states will have until January 1, 2013 to adapt to the new rules.

“Banks will unarguably be safer institutions,” said Anders Kvist, representative of SEB, a bank that operates out of Stockholm.  Shouldn’t Nation-states have the prerogative to regulate banks operating in their territories?  Meanwhile, bankers continue to point out the new measures will reduce the amount of available credit for borrowers but were not bothered by the other side of the coin: Centralized Control.  That is what this is all about.

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, again, a group of un=elected bankers mandates banks to “protect themselves” when they invest in financial instruments of dubious origin.  How about letting banks operate freely and collapse if they have to, due to their irresponsible investment practices?  The new provisions, called a leverage ratio, will obligate banks to hold reserves against all their money at risk.  That is like the nanny global order telling their children not to pick their noses in public.

Of course, there are those to whom global financial regulation is never enough.  Some G-8 countries were pushing for an additional 2.5 percent increase, during “good times” of economic overheating. According to the document released by the group, the rules would be adopted gradually to give banks time to adjust.  Some of the measures will not take effect until 2019, with banks having to start raising cash in 2013.  Too little too late?

The Basel Regulators left the door open to imposing stricter rules on “important” banks, whose problems -irresponsibilities- can infect the whole financial system.  The banksters’ representatives in the US -The FED, FDIC- issued a common statement saying the agreement is a significant step towards reducing the occurrence of future financial crises.  Although Nation-states still have the ability to reject these new regulations and create and approve some of their own, the international financial order has been clear that failure to adopt their newest package of rules will be punishable with harsh changes in credit availability, large increases in interest rates and overall restrictions for financial aid.  Once the new polices are adopted they become binding and countries cannot abandon them.

In the meantime, the Basel group will allow banks to continue to receive government bailout money to raise capital through 2017.  Those banks that are not capable of raising enough cash may be obligated to merge or perish as part of the consolidation and control package the regulators have in mind.  Only in the US, it is estimated that some 400 banks are on the brink of failure.

Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt said it intends to sell shares for 9.8 billion euros to increase its reserves.  Other banks that will do the same include Société Générale -a bailed out bank- in France and Lloyds in Britain. The rules imposed by the Basel Group also include paying banks -with taxpayer money- to dispose of toxic assets such as derivatives.

America Is ‘Bankrupt Mickey Mouse Economy’

By Patrick Allen

America is a “Mickey Mouse economy” that is technically bankrupt, according to Jochen Wermuth, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and managing partner at Wermuth Asset Management.

“America today looks like Russia in 1998. Consumers, companies and the government are all highly indebted. America as a result is a bankrupt Mickey Mouse economy,” Wermuth told CNBC.

The comments followed news that the Fed was extending its quantitative easing program following what the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) described as a fall in the pace of growth in output and employment.

The Fed has spent the past three years on a route of aggressive rate cuts and purchases of trillions in various securities but it is running out of measures it can take, Pimco’s co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC.

Wermuth is a fund manager heavily invested in Russia and says if the same International Monetary Fund (IMF) team that managed the financial crisis in the former super power in 1998 now turned up at the US Treasury, they would withdraw support for current US policy immediately.

“The big evil for the IMF in Russia in 1998 was the prospect of the central bank funding government debt. The Fed is now even buying mortgage-backed securities,” he noted.

“Even before the (Troubled Asset Relief Program) and the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet, total US public and private debt as a percentage of GDP in the US stood at 290 percent, that figure is now far higher,” Wermuth added.

“US credit risk is huge and America has two options, either default or let the currency depreciate substantially against currencies such as the yuan and the rouble,” he explained.

“Last night’s news from the Fed simply creates the right conditions for dollar weakness and a reduction in US liabilities to foreign investors and governments,” Wermuth said.