The Bank Bailout Trap

We’ve cornered ourselves trying to bail out the “Too Big To Fail” banks. In trying to keep them alive in the name of saving the financial system we’ve been pumping them full of our childrens’ tax dollars to little effect and we wonder why they’re not really lending. The downward spiral of their balance sheets from both toxic assets and falling stock price continues but how to stop that spiral is being debated hotly in boardrooms, financial markets and congress.

What’s preventing a solution from emerging is the “Too Big To Fail” trap. Until we recognize that these banks have already failed and we are throwing good money after bad we will continue pouring money down a bottomless hole. It’s like lending ‘grocery money’ to a junkie. We can’t allow ourselves to be held hostage by a handful of big banks. Continue reading The Bank Bailout Trap

“Those who fail to learn from history…

…are doomed to repeat it”. Winston Churchill’s advice is very timely because it seems like 60 years is about as long as we can go before having to RE-learn the important lessons from The Depression.

The repeal of the The Banking Act of 1933 (AKA The Glass-Steagall Act) in 1999 was the beginning of the failure that ultimately led us to where we are now. One of the big lessons that the Crash and Depression taught us was that banks who took deposits and made loans should be separated from investment houses so that problems on Wall St. wouldn’t wipe out the whole financial system. When we unlearned the lesson in ’99 the banks and Wall St. had a heyday of buying each other up in a rush to create ‘financial super markets’. The idea was that once you came in to deposit your paycheck, they could sell you a few stocks, bonds, mutual funds and even some insurance.

Eventually we ended up with a couple of these huge financial institutions and the smaller regional players followed suite, merging and buying each other up to get big enough to stay competitive with the giants. Those from the Northwest may remember when Washington Mutual was a regional savings bank in the Puget Sound area and ran ads saying that they were your friendly local bank and would never do the bad things that the huge evil banks do. Continue reading “Those who fail to learn from history…

5 signs we’re not heading into Depression 2.0

In a series of emails with Vince Farrell, CIO of Soleill Securities we were discussing his comments on CNBC about the contrast between 1929 and now. His point was that the policy decisions being made now are the correct ones and that there are a number of protections in place, as a result of the depression, that will prevent this recession from becoming a depression.

Briefly here are Vince’s points that are both necessary steps to preventing depression and signs of hope for the future:

On World Trade-
Then: Smoot Hawley Tariffs enacted, result, world trade falls by two-thirds (66%!)
Now: During the last G7 meeting, members agree to “do no harm” in terms of protectionism. Continue reading 5 signs we’re not heading into Depression 2.0