Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Stress Test: Inspecting the Stable After the Horses Have Gone

[Thanks to for the photo.]

Even if it's too late, it's good to know that the US Treasury, other Government agencies, and the Federal Reserve are able to do what they were supposed to do all along, i.e. monitor the health of the US banking system. This Federal Reserve white paper amply demonstrates their know-how by detailing the accounting verification procedures they applied in their infamous "stress test" of 19 major US banks, the results of which they now hesitate to divulge to the public for fear of instigating another wave of panic.

This fear harks back to my growing list of examples of government running amuck through inappropriate intervention. Instead of intervening too late, they should have been minding the barn back when it might have turned up some loose beams and posts and kept the horses inside.

What makes this tragic situation worse is that since 2001 the BIS (Bank of International Settlements) has been discussing what to do about what central bank representatives had clearly identified as imbalances in international bank leveraging (e.g. assets vs. capital ratios) and as excessive fiat credit creation.

So where have our central bankers been? Why did it take so long?

Unfortunately, I have no answer to this question.

"[T]he Federal Reserve Board has regulatory and supervisory responsibilities over banks that are members of the System, bank holding companies, international banking facilities in the United States, Edge Act and agreement corporations, foreign activities of member banks, and the U.S. activities of foreign-owned banks. The Board also sets margin requirements, which limit the use of credit for purchasing or carrying securities." [Source. See also this and this.]

Looks like the Fed has spent the last nine years sleeping on the job. Maybe we should start a class action suit for negligence? (Just joking, I think.)

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