The average American has no idea how protected the big banks in this country really are.
For the most part we don't even blink when we are lied to publicly by their CEOs.
Maybe that's because the biggest bank in the world, the U.S. Federal Reserve, which happens to be a creation of and 100% beholden to the banks that it is a master shill for, also lies to us and covers up Wall Street's misdeeds.
How else can you explain the Federal Reserve's practice of secretly feeding billions of dollars to big banks, and then looking the other way while those same banks lie to the public about their strength so they can raise desperately needed equity and borrow in the debt markets?
Why else would the Fed prop up Bear Stearns long enough for JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) to buy it, and then prop up JPMorgan? Why else would the Fed prop up Merrill Lynch for the benefit of Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), and then prop up Bank of America as Merrill dragged it down. And why else would the Fed prop up Wachovia just so it could be taken over by Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) - yet another bank that would come to need even more help?
Power and Ponzi Schemes
The pat answer from the Fed is that propping up failed banks long enough to be taken over by "healthy" institutions is better for the system than letting them fail. On the surface that's true, but it's what's under the surface that's destroying America's free market foundation.
Here's what's come as a result of the Fed's actions: The "Super-Six" - JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) - which held $6.8 trillion, or about half the industry's assets in 2006, had increased their holdings by 39% to $9.5 trillion as of September 2011.
So what's really going on is that the country's biggest banks, which weren't healthy when their CEOs lied to us (as they still do), have gotten even bigger.
With size comes power - the power to pay lobbyists, the power to pay for legislators, and the power to change regulations.
The whole thing reminds me of a Ponzi scheme.
The Federal Reserve might as well be Bernie Madoff and the banks "feeder funds" in this nationalized scheme to perpetuate the channeling of depositor money into banks and investor money into bank stocks and debt securities.
For the chain to be broken the Federal Reserve is going to have to be overhauled - seriously overhauled - and big banks are going to have to be broken up, once and for all.
The Truth Comes Out
How deep is the scheme to keep banks growing and their power expanding? The numbers speak for themselves.
The Fed did everything it could to hide its books from public view, but Bloomberg LP sued the central bank, and in so doing, forced the Fed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
Thank you, Bloomberg, this nation owes you a debt of gratitude.
What was revealed were little items - things like the Fed having actually shelled out some $7.77 trillion to prop up both domestic and foreign banks, even though some either didn't need the money or should never have gotten it in the first place.
Why would banks or corporations take money they didn't need? Because it was essentially free - well not exactly free, since they had to pay about 1% interest in some cases and one-tenth of one percent in other cases.
Still, you can make good money borrowing practically for free and investing that money in anything interest bearing. That includes the toxic assets on many borrowers' books that they didn't have to sell because they got financing to keep them on their books. Oh, and that's still happening, a lot.
You see, part of the big lie was that it would take $700 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money to aid our stricken banks. Of course, that was front money, or money that the public could see. What the public couldn't see was how bad things really were, because it couldn't see how much taxpayer money the Fed was shelling out.
Nor could Treasury officials see it, nor could legislators writing new bank regulatory rules to ensure this wouldn't happen again.
But it will happen again. It's just a matter of time.
Fixing the Fed for Good
There is only one solution to our banking problems, which are the root of our economic problems.
The Fed needs to have only one mandate, which is price stability. It should be an open, audited, and transparent apparatus serving the public - not banks.
And, as far as banks go, the more the merrier. Break up all the too-big-to-fail institutions. No bank should be able to hold more than 5% of the whole industry's assets, and if that gives any one bank too much power, cut the number later on.
It's time we woke up to the lies we're being told by the Fed and the banks. It's time to break the chains that enslave us as a free-market nation.
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About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.
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