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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Loans - what loans?

So what really happened yesterday in this coordinated  move between 6 major central banks?

To most of us it seems the message was clear: The central banks will supply liquidity to all troubled banks.  They do this by printing money (debasing all the money you and I have), and just giving it to the banks.  But our understanding is so primitive.  Let's hear a more sophisticated explanation from the excellent Dennis Gartman, whose letter is a fountain of information:

"Regarding the “swap lines” that the Fed acted upon
yesterday, they simply supply dollars to the markets
overseas at a cheaper rate than might have been
available previous. Basically, the Fed lends dollars to
foreign central banks in return for their local currencies
for a specific period, and one might think of them as
“repo” operations for central banks. The Fed is not
actually lending money to the banks of other nations
directly, but is doing so circuitously by making liquidity en
masse to the other central banks who then lend that
money to their local banks. As a result, risk to the Fed is
almost nonexistent."

Really?  Loans with non-existent risk?  (You mean that selling dollars at 80 cents is not really a 20 percent loan, because there's no risk because will get the 20 percent back when we trade currencies back?)  

And these Loans/not-really-loans are made from a Bank, the Fed, that according to Jim Grant is now leveraged at 100-1?  In other words, if just one penny out of every dollar is not paid back, the Fed is bankrupt.  Still, there is no risk at all?  Gee.  How does that work again?  

And even if it can work in theory - I don't understand how - but even so, how do we know if the loans -(not really loans) are ever paid back at all since we can't audit the Fed or any of the other Central Banks.

I guess we just have to take their word for it!  Well, that's good enough for me.  Huge loans from Banks with no reserves the are basically risk free, so there's no need for anybody to monitor or audit them.

Awesome.  So what are we all so worried about again?

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