Category Archives: Banking

Democracy is a front for central bank rule

Several years ago when the Federal Reserve had its Fed funds rate at zero to 25 basis points (one-quarter of one percent—0.25%), there was a great deal of talk, somehow presented as urgent, whether the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates. Continue reading

Dear Mr. President, be careful what you wish for: higher interest rates will kill the recovery

Responding to earlier presidential pressure, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week for the third time since November, from a fed funds target of 1% to 1.25%. But as noted in The Guardian in a March 2017 article, titled “Trump Is Set to Win the Battle on Interest Rates, but US Economy Will Pay the Price”: “An increase in the base rate, however small, will tighten the screw on younger voters and some of the poorest communities who voted for him and rely on credit to get by. Continue reading

Without Glass-Steagall America will fail

For 66 years the Glass-Steagall Act reduced the risks in the banking system. Eight years after the act was repealed, the banking system blew up, threatening the international economy. US taxpayers were forced to come up with $750 billion dollars, a sum much larger than the Pentagon’s budget, in order to bail out the banks. This huge sum was insufficient to do the job. The Federal Reserve had to step in and expand its balance sheet by $4 trillion in order to protect the solvency of banks declared “too big to fail.” Continue reading

If China can fund infrastructure with its own credit, so can we

May 15–19 has been designated “National Infrastructure Week” by the US Chambers of Commerce, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and over 150 affiliates. Their message: “It’s time to rebuild.” Ever since ASCE began issuing its “National Infrastructure Report Card” in 1998, the nation has gotten a dismal grade of D or D+. In the meantime, the estimated cost of fixing its infrastructure has gone up from $1.3 trillion to $4.6 trillion. Continue reading

Trump’s banksters and the rollback of Dodd-Frank

Donald Trump has ordered a rollback of regulations over Wall Street, including the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 to prevent another too-big-to-fail banking crisis. Continue reading

What a state-owned bank can do for New Jersey

Phil Murphy, the leading Democratic candidate for governor of New Jersey, has made a state-owned bank a centerpiece of his campaign. He says the New Jersey bank would “take money out of Wall Street and put it to work for New Jersey—creating jobs and growing the economy [by] using state deposits to finance local investments . . . and . . . support billions of dollars of critical investments in infrastructure, small businesses, and student loans—saving our residents money and returning all profits to the taxpayers.” Continue reading

How to cut infrastructure costs in half

Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.

President Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels, roads and other infrastructure, something both Democrats and Republicans agree should be done. The country needs a full $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade. Continue reading

The Italian banking crisis: No free lunch—or is there?

On December 4, 2016, Italian voters rejected a referendum to amend their constitution to give the government more power, and the Italian prime minister resigned. The resulting chaos has pushed Italy’s already-troubled banks into bankruptcy. Continue reading

Prop. 51 versus a state-owned bank: How California can save $10 billion on a $9 billion loan

School districts are notoriously short of funding—so short that some California districts have succumbed to Capital Appreciation Bonds that will cost taxpayers as much is 10 to 15 times principal by the time they are paid off. By comparison, California’s Prop. 51, the school bond proposal currently on the ballot, looks like a good deal. It would allow the state to borrow an additional $9 billion for educational purposes by selling general obligation bonds to investors at an assumed interest rate of 5%, with the bonds issued over a five-year period and repaid over 30 years. $9 billion × 5% × 35 equals $15.75 billion in interest—nearly twice principal, but not too bad compared to the Capital Appreciation Bond figures. Continue reading

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A revolution in banking?

Several central banks, including the Bank of England, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve, are exploring the concept of issuing their own digital currencies, using the blockchain technology developed for Bitcoin. Skeptical commentators suspect that their primary goal is to eliminate cash, setting us up for negative interest rates (we pay the bank to hold our deposits rather than the reverse). Continue reading

Can Jill carry Bernie’s baton?

A look at the Green candidate’s radical funding solution

Bernie Sanders supporters are flocking to Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential candidate, with donations to her campaign exploding nearly 1000% after he endorsed Hillary Clinton. Stein salutes Sanders for the progressive populist movement he began and says it is up to her to carry the baton. Can she do it? Critics say her radical policies will not hold up to scrutiny. But supporters say they are just the medicine the economy needs. Continue reading

Brexit and the derivatives time bomb

Sovereign debt—the debt of national governments—has ballooned from $80 trillion to $100 trillion just since 2008. Squeezed governments have been driven to radical austerity measures, privatizing public assets, slashing public services, and downsizing work forces in a futile attempt to balance national budgets. But the debt overhang just continues to grow. Continue reading

Bank of North Dakota soars despite oil bust: A blueprint for California?

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever. Continue reading

The war on savings: The Panama Papers, bail-ins, and the push to go cashless

The bombshell publication of the “Panama Papers,” leaked from a Panama law firm specializing in shell companies, has triggered both outrage and skepticism. In an April 3 article, titled “Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak,” UK blogger Craig Murray writes that the whistleblower no doubt had good intentions; but he made the mistake of leaking his 11.5 million documents to the corporate-controlled Western media, which released only those few documents incriminating opponents of Western financial interests. Continue reading

Inside the black hole of negative interest rates

Many nations that experimented with the Fed’s economic recovery plan are now going beyond the outer limits into the twilight zone of negative interest rates. Some of these nations continued to skirt in and out of the edfge of recession throughout their years of economic stimulus; so, now they’ve powered their programs into hyperdrive to see if they can escape the gravity of their circumstances. Their situation appears desperate and hopeless. Continue reading

U.S. banks ready for negative interest rates?

The test run proved that negative interest rates can push savers into minus territory. Public outrage, while registered is not heard by the central bankers. The reasoning that commercial banks will start making loans because of the cost of sitting on deposits is pure fantasy thinking. Continue reading

The populist revolution: Bernie and beyond

The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton—contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals. Continue reading

A crisis worse than ISIS? Bail-Ins begin

While the mainstream media focus on ISIS extremists, a threat that has gone virtually unreported is that your life savings could be wiped out in a massive derivatives collapse. Bank bail-ins have begun in Europe, and the infrastructure is in place in the US. Poverty also kills. Continue reading

Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank and why is it shrouded in myths and mysteries?

The Federal Reserve Bank (or simply the Fed), is shrouded in a number of myths and mysteries. These include its name, its ownership, its purported independence from external influences, and its presumed commitment to market stability, economic growth and public interest. Continue reading

What does last week’s ‘rate hike’ mean?

The Federal Reserve raised the interbank borrowing rate last Wednesday by one quarter of one percent or 25 basis points. Readers are asking, “What does that mean?” Continue reading

Reinventing banking: From Russia to Iceland to Ecuador

Global developments in finance and geopolitics are prompting a rethinking of the structure of banking and of the nature of money itself. Continue reading

Killing off community banks: Intended consequence of Dodd-Frank?

At over 2,300 pages, the Dodd Frank Act is the longest and most complicated bill ever passed by the US legislature. It was supposed to end “too big to fail” and “bailouts,” and to “promote financial stability.” But Dodd-Frank’s “orderly liquidation authority” has replaced bailouts with bail-ins, meaning that in the event of insolvency, big banks are to recapitalize themselves with the savings of their creditors and depositors. The banks deemed too big are more than 30% bigger than before the act was passed in 2010, and 80% bigger than before the banking crisis of 2008. The six largest US financial institutions now have assets of some $10 trillion, amounting to almost 60% of GDP; and they control nearly 50% of all bank deposits. Continue reading

Near zero percent US federal funds rate since December 2008

Low rates benefit investors at the expense of savers, retirees and pensioners without paychecks needing income especially harmed. At near zero percent for nearly seven years, virtually none is forthcoming for most people. Continue reading

Central banks have become a corrupting force

Are we witnessing the corruption of central banks? Are we observing the money-creating powers of central banks being used to drive up prices in the stock market for the benefit of the mega-rich? Continue reading

Massive movement of cash from Fed prior to 9/11

CHICAGO, Il—Although the 9/11 Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed they thoroughly investigated suspicious “put options” placed against the shares of United and American Airlines, as well as Swiss Re and Munich Re prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they failed to investigate another set of suspicious financial transactions prior to 9/11. Continue reading

The Greek coup: Liquidity as a weapon of coercion

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is now being charged with treason for exploring the possibility of an alternative payment system in the event of a Greek exit from the euro. Continue reading

The ECB’s noose around Greece’s neck

How central banks harness governments

Remember when the infamous Goldman Sachs delivered a thinly-veiled threat to the Greek Parliament in December, warning them to elect a pro-austerity prime minister or risk having central bank liquidity cut off to their banks? (See January 8 post here.) It seems the European Central Bank (headed by Mario Draghi, former managing director of Goldman Sachs International) has now made good on the threat. Continue reading

Death, drugs, and HSBC

How fraudulent blood money makes the world go round

Recent reporting on illegal tax evasion by the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, opens a window onto the pivotal role of Western banks in facilitating organised crime, drug-trafficking and Islamist terrorism. Governments know this, but they are powerless to act, not just because they’ve been bought by the banks: but because criminal and terror financing is integral to global capitalism. Now one whistleblower who uncovered an estimated billion pounds worth of HSBC fraud in Britain, suppressed by the British media, is preparing a prosecution that could blow wide open the true scale of criminal corruption in the world’s finance capital. Continue reading

Swimming with the sharks: Goldman Sachs, school districts, and capital appreciation bonds

Remember when Goldman Sachs—dubbed by Matt Taibbi the Vampire Squid—sold derivatives to Greece so the government could conceal its debt, then bet against that debt, driving it up? It seems that the ubiquitous investment bank has also put the squeeze on California and its school districts. Not that Goldman was alone in this; but the unscrupulous practices of the bank once called the undisputed king of the municipal bond business epitomize the culture of greed that has ensnared students and future generations in unrepayable debt. Continue reading

Why public banks outperform private banks: Unfair competition or a better mousetrap?

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than JPMorgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here, North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of 2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank’s stellar record either. Continue reading

EU showdown: Greece Takes on the vampire squid

Greece and the troika (the International Monetary Fund, the EU, and the European Central Bank) are in a dangerous game of chicken. The Greeks have been threatened with a “Cyprus-Style prolonged bank holiday” if they “vote wrong.” But they have been bullied for too long and are saying “no more.” Continue reading

Financial market manipulation is the new trend: can it continue?

Financial imperialists attack Russia

A dangerous new trend is the successful manipulation of the financial markets by the Federal Reserve, other central banks, private banks, and the US Treasury. The Federal Reserve reduced real interest rates on US government debt obligations first to zero and then pushed real interest rates into negative territory. Today the government charges you for the privilege of purchasing its bonds. Continue reading