In my book, Conspiracy of the Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money, I write that bailouts are the name of the game. This means that the ultra rich will never suffer like the middle class and poor do in financial crisis. The institutions that are deemed “too big to fail” will always be bailed out. This also means that sometimes big institutions prefer financial crisis because they know they will be bailed out, and they also know they can make a lot of money from those bailouts.
This week, a bombshell hit on the lending practices of the Federal Reserve to the largest banks in the world during the peak of the financial crisis. As Bloomberg reports in an article entitled, “Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks Undisclosed $13B,”
“The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he ’wasn’t aware of the magnitude.’ It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.”
“The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.”
Big gets bigger.
Everyone knew that the name of the game is bailouts for institutions that are too big to fail, and while news agencies have been talking about the gargantuan $7.7 billion in commitments by the Fed to save the economy, the details released this week through the Freedom of Information Act show what we’ve known all along – the rich will say anything to protect their ass-ets and build their balance sheets.
For instance, in November of 2008, Bank of America’s CEO, Kenneth Lewis said that his bank was “one of the strongest and most stable banks in the world.” On that same day, Bank of America owed $86 billion to the Federal Reserve in emergency loan money.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, told his shareholders in 2010 that he only borrowed from the Fed to encourage others to borrow from the Fed. In reality, the bank borrowed twice its cash holdings from the Fed, and on one day in February 2009, borrowed a colossal $48 billion – one year after the creation of the Fed’s emergency lending program.
All in all, the big six banks comprised of JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley accounted for 63 percent of all daily average lending by the Fed to banks and financial institutions, receiving over $160 billion in TARP funds and borrowing around $460 billion from the Fed.
During that time, “Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.”
Additionally, the Fed helped prop up both Bear Sterns and Wachovia with emergency loans as they were being gobbled up by JPMorgan and Wells Fargo respectively. The Fed transferred $50 billion in secret loans to Wachovia to prevent financial collapse until Wells Fargo could seal the deal, and they sent $30 billion in secret loans to Bear Sterns so that JPMorgan could wrap up that deal—all while providing $29 billion in financing to JPMorgan to fund the deal.
Essentially, the Fed protected the bigger banks and helped them grow even bigger by keeping brain-dead banks on financial life support long enough to graft them into the bodies of bigger financial institutions like a financial Frankenstein.
This was all done in secret, and without the knowledge of the American people and the Congress.
The safety net.
This type of behavior is reckless because it creates a false safety net. The big banks and the ultra rich know they will be bailed out and so they take even greater risks, putting the economy at even greater risk, and playing games with your money.
As Professor Oliver Williamson says, “The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process. The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”
Of course, this should come as no surprise, as the Fed doesn’t exist to protect the middle class and the poor. Rather, it exists to protect banks and the ultra rich. Something they’ve shown they can do well, efficiently, and without government knowledge or intervention.
Learn the rules of the rich with a financial education
All this is to show what I’ve been saying for many years, you can’t rely on the government to save you, and your definitely can’t rely on the Fed. The government doesn’t even know what’s going on in our financial policy and the Fed hides those details in order to help their friends on Wall Street…after all, the people who run the Fed used to work there, and probably will again someday. You don’t bite the hand that feeds.
If you want to avoid getting wiped out by the next financial crisis, you must understand the rules of the rich and play by those rules. With a new presidential election heating up this year, I’m sure you’ll hear many calls for hope and change on both sides. Many people will believe that their candidate will make a difference and that this will be the time things will change.
The reality is that nothing has changed in decades. The rich take care of the rich and grow richer. The poor and the middle class grow poorer. And the people who understand that they must increase their financial education, save themselves and not rely on the rich, or the government, survive and thrive in times of crisis.
Take charge of your financial future so that you can live large when hard times come.
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