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Bail-Out Is Out, Bail-In Is In

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Posted on Apr 30, 2013
peasap (CC BY 2.0)

By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt

(Page 2)

Depositors Beware

An interesting series of commentaries starts with one on the website of Sprott Asset Management Inc. titled “Caveat Depositor,” in which Eric Sprott and Shree Kargutkar note that the US, UK, EU, and Canada have all built the new “bail in” template to avoid imposing risk on their governments and taxpayers.  They write:

[M]ost depositors naively assume that their deposits are 100% safe in their banks and trust them to safeguard their savings. Under the new “template” all lenders (including depositors) to the bank can be forced to “bail in” their respective banks.

Dave of Denver then followed up on the Sprott commentary in an April 3 entry on his blog The Golden Truth, in which he pointed out that the new template has long been agreed to by the G20 countries:

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Because the use of taxpayer-funded bailouts would likely no longer be tolerated by the public, a new bank rescue plan was needed.  As it turns out, this new “bail-in” model is based on an agreement that was the result of a bank bail-out model that was drafted by a sub-committee of the BIS (Bank for International Settlement) and endorsed at a G20 summit in 2011. For those of you who don’t know, the BIS is the global “Central Bank” of Central Banks. As such it is the world’s most powerful financial institution.

The links are in Dave’s April 1 article, which states:

The new approach has been agreed at the highest levels . . . It has been a topic under consideration since the publication by the Financial Stability Board (a BIS committee) of a paper, Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regimes for Financial Institutions in October 2011, which was endorsed at the Cannes G20 summit the following month. This was followed by a consultative document in November 2012, Recovery and Resolution Planning: Making the Key Attributes Requirements Operational.

Dave goes on:

[W]hat is commonly referred to as a “bail-in” in Cyprus is actually a global bank rescue model that was derived and ratified nearly two years ago. . . . [B]ank deposits in excess of Government insured amount in any bank in any country will be treated like unsecured debt if the bank goes belly-up and is restructured in some form.

Jesse at Jesse’s Café Americain then picked up the thread and pointed out that it is not just direct deposits that are at risk. The too-big-to-fail banks have commingled accounts in a web of debt that spreads globally. Stock brokerages keep their money market funds in overnight sweeps in TBTF banks, and many credit unions do their banking at large TBTF correspondent banks:

You say you have money in a pension fund and an IRA at XYZ bank?  Oops, it is really on deposit in you-know-who’s bank.  You say you have money in a brokerage account?  Oops, it is really being held overnight in their TBTF bank.  Remember MF Global?  Who can say how far the entanglements go?  The current financial system and market structure is crazy with hidden risk, insider dealings, control frauds, and subtle dangers.

Also at Risk: Pension Funds and Public Revenues

William Buiter, writing in the UK Financial Times in March 2009, defended the bail-in approach as better than the alternative.  But he acknowledged that the “unsecured creditors” who would take the hit were chiefly “pensioners drawing their pensions from pension funds heavily invested in unsecured bank debt and owners of insurance policies with insurance companies holding unsecured bank debt,” and that these unsecured creditors “would suffer a large decline in financial wealth and disposable income that would cause them to cut back sharply on consumption.” 

The deposits of U.S. pension funds are well over the insured limit of $250,000.  They will get raided just as the pension funds did in Cyprus, and so will the insurance companies.  Who else?

Most state and local governments also keep far more on deposit than $250,000, and they keep these revenues largely in TBTF banks.  Community banks are not large enough to service the complicated banking needs of governments, and they are unwilling or unable to come up with the collateral that is required to secure public funds over the $250,000 FDIC limit.

The question is, how secure are the public funds in the TBTF banks?  Like the depositors who think FDIC insurance protects them, public officials assume their funds are protected by the collateral posted by their depository banks.  But the collateral is liable to be long gone in a major derivatives bust, since derivatives claimants have super-priority in bankruptcy over every other claim, secured or unsecured, including those of state and local governments.


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