Archive for June 23rd, 2012
JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy . . . To estimate the dollar value of the subsidy in the U.S., we multiplied it by the debt and deposits of 18 of the country’s largest banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The result: about $76 billion a year. The number is roughly equivalent to the banks’ total profits over the past 12 months, or more than the federal government spends every year on education.
On his June 22, 2012 show, Bill Moyers discussed this insane state of affairs, and the rampant corruption and criminality of Wall Street with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism.
Yves Smith offers this as part of the solution to the ongoing problem with large Wall Street banks:
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean when you say banks should be more like a utility?
YVES SMITH: Banks, more than any other business, more than military contractors, live off the government. They depend on government backstopping. They exist only by way of government issued licenses, which if you had open entry you’d see much lower fees. And they get some confidence from the public from the fact that they are regulated. Oh, and the most important thing is they have access to–
MATT TAIBBI: The Federal Reserve.
YVES SMITH: –the Federal Reserve.
MATT TAIBBI: They’re getting huge amounts of free money.
YVES SMITH: Well, not just the free money. The Federal Reserve basically guarantees the payment system. You know, that’s the really critical architecture that banks control is that, you know, we write checks to each other. We have credit cards. They clear through banks.
But the fact that banks can exchange money with each other confidently is because the Fed stands behind that. So there’s a much– there’s another layer of Fed backstopping beyond what we think of the way they step in in a crisis or the way they’re now intervening to help the banks. So the fact that these institutions really depend in a very fundamental way on government support means they don’t have any right to the upside.
I mean, they should really be paid like public servants. I mean, I’m not kidding. I mean, and if they had been, if the pay had been ratcheted down after the crisis, I would have had a lot more sympathy for them, even if they just behaved for a couple of years. You know, they were bailed out. And then in 2009 the industry went and paid itself record bonuses, higher than 2007 instead of rebuilding their balance sheets. I mean, this was just a slap in the face for the public.
BILL MOYERS: And there’s no shame.
YVES SMITH: No.