Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the Federal Reserve’s massive bond-buying program is resulting in a “bizarre” situation in which the government’s funding structure is overly focused on the short-term.
Under its quantitative easing program, the Fed purchases longer-term Treasuries and the money it creates to buy them ends up in the accounts that banks hold with the central bank, in the form of overnight reserves.
These reserves earn a rate of interest that’s linked to changeable overnight benchmarks — currently 0.15% per year. That, in effect is the rate the government, through the Fed, is paying to borrow this money.
At the same time, any payments the government makes on Treasury bonds to the Fed is ultimately a flow from one part of the government to another and, arguably, cancels itself out in the end. So the upshot is the government owes, in real terms, less longer-term fixed-rate debt and more shorter-term floating-rate debt.
Warren is spending this week talking up her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act.” It’s essentially a refreshed version of the same idea she proposed during her failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The current measure, like the old one, would tax the net worth of American households with more than $50 million in assets to the tune of 2 percent annually, with an additional 1 percent tax for households worth more than $1 billion. Warren favored the wealth tax in 2019 when the economy was generally doing pretty well. But now, she says, it’s needed “because of the changes in this country under the pandemic.”
The failures we hear about are when staid institutions that have existed for centuries have done something incredibly risky, leading to serious consequences.
When it comes to institutional money management…. this kind of speculation is not really in keeping with professional standards, depending on the institution.
We may find that some institutions were betting the milk money by putting too much of their cash in very risky investment strategies. But really, only if they have to absorb the losses. Perhaps various players will save Melvin Capital et. al. You never know.