Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Putin’s World: Why Russia’s Showdown with the West Will Worsen - John_Mauldin
2. Stocks Bull Market Grinds Bears into Dust, Is Santa Rally Sustainable? - Nadeem_Walayat
3. Gold and Silver 2015 Trend Forecasts, Prices to Go BOOM - Austin_Galt
4.Gold Price Golden Bottom? - Toby_Connor
5.Gold Price and Miners Soar on Huge Volume - P_Radomski_CFA
6.Stock Market and the Jaws of Life or Death? - Rambus_Chartology
7.Gold Price 2015 - EWI
8.Manipulated Stock Market Short Squeezes to Another All Time High - The China Syndrome - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Gold, Silver, Crude and S&P Ending Wedge Patterns - DeviantInvestor
10.Is the Gold And Silver Golden Rule Broken? - Michael_Noonan
Last 5 days
Outrage at Taliban Islamic Fundamentalists Massacre of 132 Pakistani School Children in the Name of God - 18th Dec 14
How Inflation Changes Retirement Benefit Choices - 17th Dec 14
The Real Reason It's Tough to Beat the Stock Market - 17th Dec 14
Russian Currency Crisis and Debt Defaults Could Create Contagion in West - 17th Dec 14
How to Profit From Russia's Stock Market Crash - 17th Dec 14
Russia Crisis - If You Put Your Money in the Bank Will You Get it Back? - 17th Dec 14
Crude Oil Price Crash, U.S. Employment and Economic Growth - 17th Dec 14
Opposing Forces At Play In Gold and Silver Precious Metals Complex - 17th Dec 14
Wall Street Will Always Find An Excuse For Not Raising U.S. Interest Rates - 17th Dec 14
Torture, Terror And Elite Schizophrenia In The UK - 16th Dec 14
Eurozone Conflict Will Bring a Major Stocks Buying Opportunity - 16th Dec 14
Viewing Russia From the Inside - 16th Dec 14
Gold and Silver Stocks Bottom - Are We There Yet? - 16th Dec 14
The Financial Industry Pigmen Win Again - 16th Dec 14
Crude Oil Price Epic Blowout - 16th Dec 14
Asian Stocks Markets: Sand In The Gears Of The Bull Market - 16th Dec 14
U.S. Dollar Trend Forecast 2015 - Video - 16th Dec 14
Silver Price Bottom? - 15th Dec 14
Gold Price Base Building Bullish Pattern - 15th Dec 14
Stock Market Probable Pop-n-Crash Today - 15th Dec 14
Stock Market Time for a Bounce - 15th Dec 14
Stock Market Euphoria: The Mother of All Ponzi Schemes - 15th Dec 14
Gold - The Weight of Time as Trend - 15th Dec 14
U.S. Dollar Collapse? USD Index Trend Forecast 2015 - 14th Dec 14
The Rushing Stocks Bear Market and How to Prepare - 14th Dec 14
Gold and Silver Dreaming of a White Christmas - 14th Dec 14
Cyprus-style Bank Bail-ins to Take Deposits and Pensions - The Global Bankers' Coup - 13th Dec 14
How To Renounce Your US Citizenship And Become Stateless - 13th Dec 14
Stock Market Downtrend Underway - 13th Dec 14
Gold And Silver - Wall Street, aka United States, Pulls Off Another Destructive Coup - 13th Dec 14
U.S. Congress Has Guaranteed the Secular Stocks Bear Market is Not Over - 13th Dec 14
Gold and Silver Starting to Show Bullish Signs - 13th Dec 14
Arab Spring II is Coming Fast - The Unintended Consequences of Lower Oil Prices - 13th Dec 14
Commodities - Is Inflation Oversold? - 12th Dec 14
Stock Market SPX Top Valuations - 12th Dec 14
Scary Stocks Investors Should Shun in 2015 - 12th Dec 14
New York Times on Benefits of Gold in Currency Wars - 12th Dec 14
Will Crude Oil Kill The Zombies? - 12th Dec 14
Largest Financial Bubble in History - 10 years of 'Why Sell Now?' - 12th Dec 14
How the Rising U.S. Dollar Could Trigger the Next Global Financial Crisis - 12th Dec 14
Central Banks and Government Policies Control the Markets Myth - 12th Dec 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Dramatic Stock Market Selloff

Bank Stress Tests are Not Stressful Enough

Politics / Credit Crisis 2009 Apr 30, 2009 - 12:06 AM GMT

By: John_Browne

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleLast week, when the U.S. Treasury unveiled the basics of their lender "stress tests", the Fed concluded that "most U.S. banking organizations currently have capital levels well in excess of the amounts required to be well capitalized." Simultaneously, they also claimed that the banks needed more capital. Apparently the Fed has little understanding of irony.


Why would our central bankers conclude that "well capitalized" banks need "more capital?" Quite possibly, they believe, as I do, that the rosy economic assumptions that form the basis of the "stress tests" may be far too optimistic. I believe that neither the Fed nor the Treasury have any will to paint a clear picture of our financial turmoil. But that won't stop them from operating under those assumptions.

A brief examination of the stress test assumptions shows why the Fed should be hedging their bets.

First, the level of stress in the tests was set unrealistically low. Their absolute worst case assumption was for a GDP contraction of only 3.3 percent in 2009. This comes as first quarter 2009 GDP shrank at 6.1 percent. And the economy is still slowing. To post a contraction of just 3.3 percent for the year would likely involve an immediate reversal in the rate of contraction and outright expansion by the fourth quarter.

The stress test also assumes a worst case scenario unemployment rate of 8.9 percent in 2009. This is also wildly optimistic when unemployment is already at 8.7 percent and rising at some 20,000 each day. Worse still, if calculated on a pre-Clinton basis, to include all those unable to find anything but part-time employment, the current unemployment rate is a staggering 19.2 percent, or just 0.8 percent from official depression levels! It appears that the U.S. is fast slipping from recession into depression, rendering the stress tests almost meaningless other than as a public morale boosting exercise.

Second, the conclusion that "most" of the banks are well capitalized, as the Fed claims, also strains the bonds of credibility. The nineteen banks tested have total assets of $11.5 trillion. Technically, sixteen of these banks already are insolvent. If any two fail, they will exhaust the current FDIC bank deposit insurance fund. Only three of the banks, accounting for just 6 percent of the group's assets, could survive even the most liberal worst case scenario assumed by the

Treasury. Meanwhile, the five largest and most vulnerable banks, with about $8 trillion in assets, account for some 70 percent of the group's total assets.
Some observers point to the relative security of the smaller regional banks, which did not engage as heavily in leveraged investments. However, the FDIC list of troubled banks has risen in the past three months from 1,568 banks with about $2.3 trillion in assets to 1,816 banks with some $4.4 trillion in assets. The risk has almost doubled, seemingly overnight!

Finally, by suspending the needed discipline of mark-to-market accounting, the profits of many banks have been massaged deceptively upwards. For example, a 'real' loss of more than $2 billion at Citibank was 'fudged' into a published profit of $1.6 billion.

The observers at the Fed and Treasury, as well as the most sophisticated investors around the world, are neither ignorant nor ill-informed. Despite their stress tests, they must be aware of the possibility of massive bank failures and terrifying aftershocks. This belief may have been a factor in a rumor, circulated after the stress tests were announced, that defensive maneuvers to avoid a run on the dollar, including the elimination of hedged short sales against the dollar, would soon be announced. If such a rule were to be put forward it would rightly be seen as a precursor to internationally coordinated foreign exchange controls, that would abruptly bring an end to the benefits of free trade.

Meanwhile, China has used its huge domestic gold production to double its gold reserves. Such clear concern over the viability of paper currency may encourage other central banks and even corporations to follow suit, making physical gold even harder to obtain. Gold therefore, is likely to experience renewed buying pressure as panic buying overcomes the downward 'commodity' selling pressure of depression.

For a more in depth analysis of our financial problems and the inherent dangers they pose for the U.S. economy and U.S. dollar denominated investments, read Peter Schiff's new book For an updated look at his investment strategy order a copy of his just released book " The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets ." Click here to order your copy now .

For a look back at how Peter predicted our current problems read the 2007 bestseller " Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse ." Click here to order a copy today .

By John Browne
Euro Pacific Capital
http://www.europac.net/

More importantly make sure to protect your wealth and preserve your purchasing power before it's too late. Discover the best way to buy gold at www.goldyoucanfold.com , download my free research report on the powerful case for investing in foreign equities available at www.researchreportone.com , and subscribe to my free, on-line investment newsletter at http://www.europac.net/newsletter/newsletter.asp

John Browne is the Senior Market Strategist for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.  Mr. Brown is a distinguished former member of Britain's Parliament who served on the Treasury Select Committee, as Chairman of the Conservative Small Business Committee, and as a close associate of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Among his many notable assignments, John served as a principal advisor to Mrs. Thatcher's government on issues related to the Soviet Union, and was the first to convince Thatcher of the growing stature of then Agriculture Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. As a partial result of Brown's advocacy, Thatcher famously pronounced that Gorbachev was a man the West "could do business with."  A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britain's version of West Point and retired British army major, John served as a pilot, parachutist, and communications specialist in the elite Grenadiers of the Royal Guard.

John_Browne Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014