Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have The Bank Bail-Out Really Ended?

Axel Leijonhufvud points out that the Fed's current interest rate policy means massive subsidies to the banking sector, and that the supposed "repayment" of bailout money was largely made with that subsidy money.

The Fed policy drives down the interest rates paid to savers to some small fraction of 1%. At the same time, banks leverage their capital by a factor of 15 or so, thus earning a truly outstanding return from buying Treasuries with costless Fed money or very nearly costless deposits.

Wall Street bankers are then able once again to claim the bonuses they became used to in the good old days and to which they feel entitled because of the genius required to perform this operation. These bonuses are in effect transfers from tax-payers as well as from the mostly aged savers who cannot find alternative safe placements for their funds in retirement.

Or as I myself put it last year , bankers make hugh profits and bonuses for performing "the extremely sophisticated and socially useful task of borrowing short from one government agency (the Fed) and lending long to another (The U.S. Treasury department)".