PBI Chair Ellen Brown has written two timely articles examining the systemic risk of our current financial system. Stay tuned, more articles to come.
What Will Happen When Banks Go Bust? Bank Runs, Bail-Ins and Systemic Risk
Financial podcasts have been featuring ominous headlines lately along the lines of “Your Bank Can Legally Seize Your Money” and “Banks Can STEAL Your Money?! Here’s How!” The reference is to “bail-ins:” the provision under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act allowing Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs, basically the biggest banks) to bail in or expropriate their creditors’ money in the event of insolvency. The problem is that depositors are classed as “creditors.” So how big is the risk to your deposit account? Part I of this two part article will review the bail-in issue. Part II will look at the derivatives risk that could trigger the next global financial crisis.
The Looming Quadrillion Dollar Derivatives Tsunami
As of the third quarter of 2022, according to the “Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities” of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the federal bank regulator), a total of 1,211 insured U.S. national and state commercial banks and savings associations held derivatives, but 88.6% of these were concentrated in only four large banks: J.P. Morgan Chase ($54.3 trillion), Goldman Sachs ($51 trillion), Citibank ($46 trillion), Bank of America ($21.6 trillion), followed by Wells Fargo ($12.2 trillion). A full list is here. Unlike in 2008-09, when the big derivative concerns were mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, today the largest and riskiest category is interest rate products.
[Read full article]
[Watch Ellen’s related interview with Sarah Westall]