Is Ed Kane’s “Gathering Crisis” Still Gathering Steam?



Back in 1985, Ed Kane penned a prophetic volume identifying a blooming mess in financial markets. His book, The Gathering Crisis in Federal Deposit Insurance, reliably warned of taxpayer exposure to losses ultimately unleashed in the savings and loan crisis. 

Cycles of ensuing regulatory reforms, crises and scandals have only reinforced the timeliness of the lessons that Kane offered us decades ago. Those lessons became particularly poignant in light of the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and several other large banks earlier this year. 

Kane’s 1980s warnings remain worthy of scrutiny and reflection, and underscore questions whether industry and regulatory reforms have simply left us on the edge of another precipice. The financial conditions of the FDIC and the Federal Reserve – and their implications for the U.S. Treasury and American taxpayers – deserve close scrutiny, as well as recommendations for fundamental reform.


“In an economic environment in which deposit institutions are highly levered and entering new businesses every day and in which interest rates are highly volatile, systematically mispricing deposit insurance guarantees encourages deposit institution managers to position their firms on the edge of financial disaster. Metaphorically, deposit-insurance authorities are paying deposit-institution managers to overload the deposit-insurance jalopy, to drive it too fast, and even to break dance on its hood as it careens through interest rate mountains and over back-country roads. Reformers’ ultimate goals must be to confront institutions whose risk-taking imposes socially unacceptable risks on its federal guarantors with a combination of reduced coverages and increased fees sufficient to move them to adopt safer modes of operation.” (p. 147)

“Of course, just how safe, reliable, and comfortable a ride the nation enjoys depends also on the macroeconomic policies that the government follows. If Congress could bring government spending under long-run control, monetary policy would not have to push interest rates over so wide a cycle. Reducing the volatility of interest rates would relieve the car’s drivers of the need to take it over quite so dangerous a set of roads.” (p. 165)

Author(s): Bill Bergman

Publication Date: 20 Dec 2023

Publication Site: Bill’s Blog at GovMoneyNews

NYC pension funds lose $2M in failed First Republic, Signature banks



City pension funds had almost $2 million invested with First Republic and Signature banks — losing it all when both banks failed this year.

The losses were contained in new data The Post obtained from the city Comptroller’s office under a Freedom of Information Law request.

Though a federal bailout rescued bank depositors, the city’s pension cash had been invested in bank stocks and bonds.

“The overall loss is negligible in the context of the daily market motions of our $240 billion pension funds,” said Chloe Chik, spokesperson for Comptroller Brad Lander.

All five city pensions funds were hit in the bank failures.

Author(s): Jon Levine

Publication Date: 20 May 2023

Publication Site: NY Post

Ranked: The U.S. Banks With the Most Uninsured Deposits




Today, there is at least $7 trillion in uninsured bank deposits in America.

This dollar value is roughly three times that of Apple’s market capitalization, or about equal to 30% of U.S. GDP. Uninsured deposits are ones that exceed the $250,000 limit insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which was actually increased from $100,000 after the Global Financial Crisis. They account for roughly 40% of all bank deposits.

In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) fallout, we look at the 30 U.S. banks with the highest percentage of uninsured deposits, using data from S&P Global.

Author(s): Dorothy Neufeld, Sabrina Lam

Publication Date: 4 April 2023

Publication Site: Visual Capitalist

Barney Frank blames crypto panic for his bank’s collapse. Elizabeth Warren blames Trump.



From his front-row seat, [Barney Frank] blames Signature’s failure on a panic that began with last year’s cryptocurrency collapse — his bank was one of few that served the industry — compounded by a run triggered by the failure of tech-focused Silicon Valley Bank late last week. Frank disputes that a bipartisan regulatory rollback signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018 had anything to do with it, even if it was driven by a desire to ease regulation of mid-size and regional banks like his own.

“I don’t think that had any impact,” Frank said in an interview. “They hadn’t stopped examining banks.”

But Warren, a fellow Massachusetts Democrat who designed landmark consumer safeguards that ended up in Frank’s 2010 banking law, is placing the blame firmly on the Trump-era changes that relaxed oversight of some banks and says Signature is a prime example of the fallout. Warren argues that, had Congress and the Federal Reserve not rolled back stricter oversight, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature would have been better able to withstand financial shocks.


Publication Date: 13 Mar 2023

Publication Site: Politico

Barney Frank Pushed to Ease Financial Regulations After Joining Signature Bank Board



Former Rep. Barney Frank co-sponsored the law that tightened banking regulations after the financial crisis, but since leaving office he has been working the other side of the street—as a board member of Signature Bank, which regulators shut down Sunday.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation set tougher regulatory safeguards on banks with more than $50 billion in assets. After leaving office and joining Signature’s board, Mr. Franks, a Massachusetts Democrat, publicly advocated for easing those new standards for smaller banks.

Part of what former President Donald Trump signed into law in 2018 raised the asset threshold to $250 billion, meaning Signature and other regional banks no longer needed to comply with the extra regulation set out in Dodd-Frank. 

After the bill was signed, New York-based Signature more than doubled in size to $110 billion in assets, and $88.6 billion in deposits as of the end of 2022. The stricter requirements, had they been in place, might have prompted bank executives and their overseers to move more quickly to place the lender on sounder financial footing, some industry observers say. 

Mr. Frank, who has earned more than $2.4 million in compensation from Signature Bank since 2015, rejected the idea that the regulatory change abetted Signature’s collapse. 

“Nobody has shown me any evidence of systemic or other kinds of fraud that would have been prevented” without the 2018 rollback, Mr. Frank said.

Author(s): Julie Bykowicz

Publication Date: 13 Mar 2023

Publication Site: WSJ

A Nobel Award for the Wrong Model




A more realistic assumption would be that by investing the good at T=0, it cannot be paid out and consumed at T=1. This is only possible at T=2. With this assumption, the model has two different assets:

– a liquid asset, i.e. the all-purpose asset has not been invested in T=0 and it can be consumed at T=1,

– an illiquid asset, i.e. the all-purpose asset been invested in T=0 and can only be consumed at T=2.

Without banks, risk-averse agents would not be able to participate in the returns of the investment good. As they all are confronted with the risk of being type 1, it would be very risky to invest the commodity. In T=1, Type 1 agents would then not be able to consume.

In such a model, banks can provide an obvious improvement if one assumes again that they know the share of type 1 and type 2 agents. In T=0, all agents deposit their endowment of the commodity with the bank. Assuming that the share of type 1 agents is 25 %, the bank keeps 25 % of the all-purpose asset unchanged and invests 75 % as illiquid long-term investment. It thus performs maturity transformation by transforming liquid assets into illiquid assets (Figure 2).

Author(s): Peter Bofinger and Thomas Haas

Publication Date: 18 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Institute for New Economic Thinking

Diversity At the Fed and ECB? There is None, It’s a Big Self-Serving Lie



Tweet link:


At the ECB, you better be gung-ho pro-EU. You better believe negative interest rates are a good idea. And you must back the idea that targeting 2% inflation makes sense.

Finally, if somehow you find yourself at the ECB disagreeing with any of those things, you are expected to shut your mouth so the consensus view never shows any dissent.


At FRBNY, I recall the people who ran Treasury markets, money markets, etc. literally had no relevant experience or expertise. The job of staff was to make them appear competent, but it didn’t really matter what they did because Fed can’t fail and they can’t get fired.  

This creates a culture where anyone with talent or ambition GTFO ASAP. There are exceptions, but those who rise tend to be those who have no where else go. It’s a weird structure where the higher you go, the more incompetent you are.

So it’s no surprise Fed is failing

Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 13 May 2022

Publication Site: Mish Talk

Why SWIFT Sanctions on Russia Might Not be Enough



The news immediately following the removal of some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network has been a moment of victory for the international community in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Soon after the sanctions took effect, the ruble sunk 21 percent compared to the U.S. Dollar (USD). Russia’s central bank is in damage control mode, raising interest rates to 20 percent. At a glance it might seem like these punishing sanctions could force Russia to change course, but any optimistic takes should be tempered by a review of the effect of sanctions after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.


Unlike the United States and other western nations where oil and gas production are controlled by private companies, Russia’s oil and gas production is managed by state-owned enterprises. Oil and gas production in Russia directly finances Russia’s budget, including its military budget, and in 2019 oil and gas exports accounted for 39 percent of Russia’s federal budget revenue. Part of the reason oil and gas is such a lifeline to the Russian budget can be attributed to the effect of the sanctions. In January of 2014, the ruble was $0.03 USD, and by December 2014 it fell to $0.019 USD. In that same year, Russia was the largest producer of crude oil and exported 4.7 million barrels per day. The price of oil in January 2014 was $108/barrel, and by December had fallen to $62/barrel—thanks to high U.S. production. The value of Russian oil exports went from 16.9 billion rubles per day in January to 15.4 billion rubles per day in December, as the sharp decline of oil prices was counteracted by the rising ruble value of oil from the sanctions. If oil prices had remained constant, then the effect of the sanctions would have been to increase Russian export value in the local currency to 26.7 billion rubles per day. In plain English, the harder the sanctions hit, the more valuable Russian energy exports become and the better they are able to sustain the Russian budget.

Author(s): Philip Rossetti

Publication Date: 1 Mar 2022

Publication Site: R Street

Fermat’s Library – Japanese Banking Numerals




Japanese contains a separate set of numerals used in legal and financial documents to curb fraud by preventing someone from adding strokes to previously written numbers (e.g. turning a 1 into a 2, or changing 3 to a 5).

Author(s): Fermat’s Library

Publication Date: 17 Jan 2022

Publication Site: LinkedIn

Do We Really Need States to Be Bankers?



In 1919, the state of North Dakota established its own bank as a public institution. It’s the only one of its kind in the nation, having operated successfully for a full century through the Great Depression and a dozen recessions. Nine other states tried to follow suit in the following decades, only to fail and close their banks’ doors. Founded to provide capital in a farm-centric economy that was underserved by large regional financial institutions that charged double-digit interest rates for ag loans, the Bank of North Dakota has served as an inspiration and touchstone to political populists, anti-bank politicians and easy-money advocates.


Even beyond what we call the “global superabundance of capital,” however, what the advocates and professional literature overlook is the spectacular disruptive growth of “fintech” — financial technology — that is bringing capital to previously underserved communities and businesses. It turns out that the capital markets, big data, artificial intelligence and techno-wizardry are filling in many of the niches that supposedly cry out for public banks. But first, there are two other strategic public policy alternatives of note: “linked deposits” and using pension-fund capital for nonbank lending, or “shadow banking” as it’s termed by its critics.

As a young municipal finance officer, while moonlighting in grad econ classes in the late 1970s, I became enamored of the concept of linked deposits. The idea was that municipalities should invest in time deposits with banks that pledge to make local loans promoting economic development. I’ll never forget speaking on a panel at the state finance officers’ conference and watching the state’s most prominent public funds banker scowl and shake his head in disgust at what struck him as a pie-in-the-sky concept. At the time, that idea went nowhere.


Meanwhile, with interest rates at record low levels, public pension funds have been searching everywhere for ways to get a better return on their fixed-income capital allocations. One of the vehicles that emerged in the past decade has been direct lending through professionally managed portfolios that provide loans to businesses at attractive interest rates.

Author(s): Girard Miller

Publication Date: 7 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Banks and Trade Groups Reject Saule Omarova, Biden’s New Currency Comptroller Pick



Omarova’s most out-there academic ideas include directing the Federal Reserve to handle consumer deposits, taking that power away from banks. “Having Americans park their money at the Fed would allow the central bank to more directly and efficiently pull the levers of monetary policy by enabling it to credit individual citizens’ accounts when there’s a need to stimulate the economy,” notes Politico.

Rob Nichols, president of the American Bankers Association, has said such policies would “effectively nationalize America’s community banks,” according to The New York Times. Omarova “wants to eliminate the banks she’s being appointed to regulate,” agrees the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Groups representing both big and small banks, including the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Independent Community Bankers of America, have reached out to more moderate Democrats to lodge their opposition to the pick—a ballsy move, given that she may end up passing down the rules that these associations’ members must later comply with.

Author(s): Liz Wolfe

Publication Date: 7 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Yellen, IRS Push Democrats to Require Banks to Report Taxpayers’ Annual Account Flows



Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig pressed lawmakers Wednesday to give the Internal Revenue Service more information about taxpayers’ bank accounts, as the Biden administration tries to salvage its tax-compliance proposal.

In letters to lawmakers, the administration officials again asked Congress to require banks to report annual inflows and outflows from bank accounts with at least $600 or at least $600 worth of transactions, a proposal aimed at letting the IRS target its audits more effectively. It would generate about $460 billion over a decade to cover the costs of Democrats’ planned expansion of the social safety net and climate-change policies, according to the administration.

But after a flurry of opposition from banks and credit unions, House Democrats omitted the proposal from their list of tax-policy changes this week. That was a sign that it lacked the support in the party to advance, though a scaled-back version raising about half as much money could still emerge from ongoing talks between administration officials and Congress.

Author(s): Richard Rubin and Orla McCaffrey

Publication Date: 15 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal