Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.BrExit House Prices Crash, Flat or Rally? UK Housing Market Affordability Crisis - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Stocks Bull Market Climbs Wall of Worry, Bubble? When Will it End? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Gold Price Is Now On Its Way To All-Time Highs - Hubert_Moolman
4.Deutche Bank Stock Price Crash - The EU Has Problems Far Beyond the Brexit - Harry_Dent
5.UK interest Rate PANIC CUT! As Banks Prepare to Steal Customer Deposits - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Gold and Silver Bull Phase 1 : Final Impulse Dead Ahead - Plunger
7.Central Bankers Fighting An Unprecedented Global Economic Slowdown - Gordon_T_Long
8.Putin Hacking Hillary for Trump, Russia's Manchurian Candidate? - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Stock Market Insiders Are Secretly Selling, Cycle Top Next Month - Chris_Vermeulen
10.Gold Sector - Is it time to Back up the Truck? – Mortgage the Farm? - Peter_Degraaf
Free Silver
Last 7 days
A Zombie Financial System, Black Swans and a Gold Share Correction - 25th Aug 16
OPEC’s Output Freeze: What Has Changed Since Doha? - 25th Aug 16
Merkel Prepares For a Deliberate Crisis While White House Plans For a Disastrous Succession - 24th Aug 16
Suspicious Reversal in Gold Price - 23rd Aug 16
If Trump Can’t Pull Off a Victory, Expect a Civil War - 23rd Aug 16
Ceding ICANN and Internet Control to Globalists - 23rd Aug 16
How to Spot an Oversold Stock Market - 23rd Aug 16
Gerald Celente Sees Worst Market Crash, New Military Conflict, Gold Spike to $2,000/oz - 23rd Aug 16
EU Olympics Medals Table Propaganda Includes BrExit Britain - 22nd Aug 16
BrExit Win's Britain Olympics Success Freedom Dividend, Economy Next - 22nd Aug 16
Stock Market Top Forming, but Slowly - 22nd Aug 16
(Really) Alternative Banking Systems - 22nd Aug 16
Vauxhall Zafira Fires - Second Recall Issued - Inspection Before Bursting into Flames? - 21st Aug 16
Will the Stock Market Bubble Pop Regardless if the FED Never Raises Rates? - 21st Aug 16
US Government Spending - 3 Big Stories Not Being Covered – Part III - 21st Aug 16
Silver Analysis - 20th Aug 16
SPX New Highs, Correction Next? - 20th Aug 16
Housing Bubble - The Marginal Buyer Holds The Pin That Pops Every Asset Bubble - 20th Aug 16
Gold Miners Q2 2016 Fundamentals - 19th Aug 16
Which Price Ratio Matters Most in a Fiat Ponzi? - 19th Aug 16
Big Policies, Bigger Failures - 19th Aug 16
Higher Crude Oil’s Prices and USD/CAD - 19th Aug 16
Here’s Why You Should Look for Dividend Stocks and How - 19th Aug 16
Deglobalization Already Underway — 4 Technologies That Will Speed It Up - 19th Aug 16
These 6 Charts Show Why the Average American Is Fed Up - 18th Aug 16
SPX Easing Lower - 18th Aug 16
Low / Negative Interst Rate’s Legacy - 18th Aug 16
The 45th Anniversary of The Most Destructive Event In Modern Monetary History - 18th Aug 16
USDU - An Important Perspective on the US Dollar - 17th Aug 16
SPX Completes Wave 1 Decline - 17th Aug 16
How to Quickly Spot Common Fibonacci Ratios on a Chart - 17th Aug 16
When Does a Forecast Become a Trade? - 17th Aug 16
Kondratiev Wave - The Financial Winter Is Nearing! - 17th Aug 16
Learn "The 4 Best Elliott Waves to Trade -- and How to Trade Them" - 16th Aug 16
Stock Market Bears Turning Bullish At New All Time Highs - Time to Get Worried? - 15th Aug 16
Job Seekers Sacrificed to the Inflation Gods - 15th Aug 16
A Look At Commodities and Financial Markets Trading Week Ahead - 15th Aug 16
Stock Market New Top Forming? - 15th Aug 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Trade Elliott Waves

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

© 2005-2016 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

Catching a Falling Financial Knife