The Federal Reserve is Not Your Friend

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Regular readers of ACC already know this both because we often make the case against the Fed but also because, in our opinion our readers are just a particularly smart bunch. But that the Fed is no friend is a point which deserves to be made often.

The Fed is not on your side. It is on the side of the big banks. Always keep this in mind. In most cases Yellen and Company really couldn’t care less about you or me. But they care quite a lot about Goldman, and JPMorgan, and Citibank.

(From Reason Magazine)

In December 2008, Congress summoned then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to provide information concerning the enormous “emergency liquidity” programs that had begun during the financial crisis earlier that fall—all the new acronyms Wall Street analysts would come to know, such as TAF (Term Auction Facility), PDCF (Primary Dealer Credit Facility), and TSLF (Term Securities Lending Facility). Bernanke did not need Congress’ permission to conduct those programs, but even worse, he refused to disclose the recipients of the $1.2 trillion in short-term loans that we now know were being administered behind closed doors.  This staggering secret loan payouts doesn’t even include hundreds of billions in “swaps” to foreign central banks. Bernanke’s rationale was that if the Fed announced the names of the big banks being rescued, then depositors and investors would flee, thus defeating the whole purpose of the rescue operations.

Americans then and now were lectured that the trillions in loans and asset purchases were all for their own good and eventual benefit, to resuscitate the credit markets and bolster home values. Yet the truth remains—it is Wall Street that benefits from the Fed at the expense of Main Street.  To make things worse, in October 2008—one month after Lehman Brothers collapsed and precipitated the worst of the financial crisis—the Fed began exercising a new policy of paying interest on reserves. The Fed began to subsidize and directly pay the nation’s bankers not to make loans to their customers and keep their reserves parked on deposit with the Fed.

Today, Fed officials can give all sorts of technical explanations for that policy—a move that remains in effect today.  Yet your average depositor received no such direct subsidy and likely still receives almost no interest on short term deposits.
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