Forget the Guarantee

Bill Tatro
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Posted: Apr 02, 2013 12:01 AM

I have been continually reading that the customers should have known better than to keep their money in the “corrupt-Russian-dominated-Cyprus-banks.” 

In fact, the most recent posted message from a good ole USA boy declared, “Anybody who’s keeping their money with those thieves deserves to get r---d.” 

I then read the recent headline of the day from The New York Times which I always use as my compass of reason (even if I’m not an MIT Ph.D. recipient): “J.P. Morgan Chase Faces Full-Court Press of Federal Investigations.” 

The Times reiterated the current travails of our nation’s largest bank, which included the following:

·      The emails disclosing J.P. Morgan’s suspicions about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme 18 months before Madoff’s apprehension, with no alert to regulators

·      The blatant disregard of the rule of law in the foreclosure process

·      Manipulation of the LIBOR rate

·      Violation of the Volcker proposal and the Dodd-Frank Reform Act in regards to the London “whale” trade

·      Co-conspirator in the MF Global heist (not actually in the NYT article, I just threw that one in for good measure)

Then I thought about what former SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro had said in regards to the lack of reward versus the risk that is currently being shouldered by money market investors. 

I then studied a few prospectuses of the country’s largest money market funds, which indicated that my $1.00 wasn’t guaranteed and that capital controls, when or if I get my money back, is entirely at their discretion. 

Next, I contemplated the so-called money laundering schemes involving the banks in Cyprus.  In addition, just the other day I happened to notice the SEC’s action against Citigroup for not having money laundering controls in place while also remembering the penalties paid by HSBC for facilitating the flow of drug money. 

Furthermore, I read about the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and their so-called guaranteed insurance on my bank deposits, making note of the fact that nobody has ever lost money because of it — the very same guarantees given to Cyprus depositors. 

I also researched that the aforementioned banks, plus a few others, have over $300 trillion in notional(leveraged) value on their books. 

Consequently, keep in mind that any slight hiccup would send all of them scurrying to find reserves since the FDIC couldn’t handle a calamity of that size. 

And in that case, all U.S. bank deposits would be in jeopardy.

Warren Buffett once said, “The death of our financial system will be derivatives.” 

Is the Cyprus (U.S.) story starting to sound familiar? 

To my good ole boy blogging friend, “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”