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According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".[1] In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Subsidies Keep Goldman Sachs Afloat

We've posted articles detailing some of the subsidies that Goldman Sachs has obtained in the past here and here.

Goldman Sachs would not now be solvent without the subsidies it has enjoyed over the years, including various government guarantees for TBTF including systemic risk insurance: TARP, ZIRP, QE Infinity, successful deregulation lobbying in foreign and home markets, etc.  The article below lists the government interventions that have assured banks' profitability:

Big Bank Welfare Queens Unprofitable Without Government Subsidies, So Why Don't We Regulate Them Like Utilities?
By Yves Smith - Naked Capitalism
. . . .
So the biggest banks are borderline profitable to unprofitable over the cycle. And remember, the first acute phase of the crisis didn’t start until August 2007, and there were intervening periods through September 2008 where risk spreads fell back.

And remember, we really aren’t looking at the right question. Funding subsidies are only one piece of the puzzle.

Ed Kane of Boston University estimated that in 2009, the cost of systemic risk insurance to the largest banks would have been roughly $300 billion. If we look at the five biggest banks in the Bloomberg list (JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman) and look at the proportion of funds they took in the $205 billion TARP Capital Purchase Program plus the additional $20 billion each in equity purchases for Citi and BofA through the Targeted Investment Program, you get that those banks received 57% of the total.* Let be generous and round it down to 50%. You still get an estimated $150 billion in subsides for the five biggest banks. So contra Levine and big bank defenders, doing a more precise tally actually makes matters worse, not better, for the big banks.

Moreover, none of these analyses factor in the ongoing subsidies of ZIRP and quantitative easing. Lest anyone forget, interest rates were dropped to the floor to keep the banks from keeling over and the Fed dares not increase them until it deems the economy to be looking perkier. I’ve seen estimates that the cost of ZIRP to savers is $350 billion. That is yet another subsidy to the banks, particularly the biggest ones. Recall that this is the second time in a decade that the Fed has chosen to impose negative interest rates to help banks. Greenspan also dropped Fed funds rates in the dot bomb era, not for the usual one quarter, which had been the Fed’s previous behavior in a recession, but for a full nine quarters. Greenspan was apparently unduly concerned that a stock market downturn lead to deflation.

QE is a harder-to-measure subsidy. QE has been focused on lowering the cost of mortgage credit, which gooses the value of mortgage-related assets. Even though the Fed focuses on how it helps homeowners, it isn’t hard to imagine that the central bank is at least as concerned with how it flatters bank balance sheets. 

Read the whole article and see a video here


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