Thursday, September 25, 2008

The FDIC Rips Into Bloomberg

It seems that Bloomberg has angered the powers that be at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) with its recent article suggesting that the FDIC may need more money to bail out banks than is currently in its fund. Here is the Bloomberg article and the FDIC response is printed below:

Bloomberg reporter David Evans' piece ("FDIC May Need $150 Billion Bailout as Local Bank Failures Mount," Sept. 25) does a serious disservice to your organization and your readers by painting a skewed picture of the FDIC insurance fund. Let me be clear: The insurance fund is in a strong financial position to weather a significant upsurge in bank failures.

The FDIC has all the tools and resources necessary to meet our commitment to insured depositors, which we view as sacred. I do not foresee – as Mr. Evans suggests – that taxpayers may have to foot the bill for a "bailout."

Let's look at the real facts about the FDIC insurance fund. The fund's current balance is $45 billion – but that figure is not static. The fund will continue to incur the cost of protecting insured depositors as more banks may fail, but we continually bring in more premium income.

We will propose raising bank premiums in the coming weeks to ensure that the fund remains strong. And, at the same time, we will propose higher premiums on higher risk activity to create economic incentives for poorly managed banks to change their risk profiles. The fund is 100 percent industry-backed. Our ability to raise premiums essentially means that the capital of the entire banking industry – that's $1.3 trillion – is available for support.

Moreover, if needed, the FDIC has longstanding lines of credit with the Treasury Department. Congress, understanding the need to ensure that working capital is available to the FDIC to provide bridge funding between the time a bank fails and when its assets are sold, provided broad authority for us to borrow from Treasury's Federal Financing Bank. If necessary, we can potentially raise very large sums of working capital, which would be paid back as the FDIC liquidates assets of failed banks. As per our authorizing statute, any money we might borrow from the Treasury must be paid back from industry assessments. Only once in the FDIC's history have we had to borrow from the Treasury – in the early 1990s – and that money was paid back with interest in less than two years.

Finally, Mr. Evans' suggestion that the "government" could ever be "on the hook for uninsured deposits" demonstrates a misunderstanding of FDIC insurance. To protect taxpayers, we are required to follow the "least cost" resolution, which means that uninsured depositors are paid in full only if this is the least costly option for the FDIC. This usually occurs when a bidder for the failed bank is willing to pay a higher price for the entire deposit franchise. We are authorized to deviate from the "least cost" resolution only where a so-called "systemic risk" exception is made. This is an extraordinary procedure which we have never invoked. And again, any money we borrow from the Treasury Department must be repaid through industry assessments.

I am confident in the strength of the FDIC's resources to make good on our sacred pledge to insured depositors. And, remember, no depositor has ever lost a penny of insured deposits, and never will.

Andrew Gray
Office of Public Affairs
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation


Dividends Anonymous said...

Wow, someone sure is defensive of a little criticism!

If the fund was strong enough to cover any future failures, why would they need to raise bank premiums, especially in the face of the proposed bailout by the US Gov?

I can understand the PR ploy here though. They really don't want to see a continued move by depositors to pull out money in financial institutions that they perceive to be in trouble.

John Kaighn said...

Frustration and anger are two feelings that come bubbling forth from my gut as I watch the drama unfold in regard to the rescue plan for our financial system being deliberated before my eyes. At the heart of the matter sit the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE's) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The utter disregard for the facts by the mainstream television and print media, Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd completely amazes me.

The implicit guarantee of government backing for mortgage securities peddled by the two GSE's, as they operated under the guise of "providing affordable housing", gave them the ability to enjoy lower interest rates on their bonds, which in turn allowed them to prevail over private companies providing mortgage backed securities. The increased leverage, lack of competition and tacit approval of their operations by politicians receiving campaign contributions through their lobbying efforts allowed their CEO, Franklin Raines, to earn over 100 million dollars, before being ousted for accounting irregularities. Now Frank and Dodd are trying to position themselves as champions of Main Street, while the financial system grinds to a halt. For a more in depth analysis of the Fannie & Freddie debacle, see the articles in the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily from Tuesday, September 23, 2008.

Ben Bernancke was elevated to Federal Reserve Chairman because he was respected for his knowledge and credentials. Hank Paulson was called upon to be Treasury Secretary because of his knowledge of the financial markets. If they are this concerned about the current crisis in our financial system, I think we better stop with the politics and soberly address the situation. This is NOT a bailout of Wall Street, but rather a rescue of our financial system. If the stock market is halved again in this decade, the pain on Main Street will be devastating. We all enjoyed the rising equity in real estate from 2002 through 2006, but the sad reality is much of it was based on smoke and mirrors. Perhaps this will usher in an era of building wealth methodically through investing, rather than the get rich quick schemes of day trading, real estate flipping and other fads which have led to bubbles and busts. One could only hope!

John H. Kaighn

Jersey Benefits Advisors

The Kaighn Report

Dividends4Life said...

Ultimately the consumer will bare the cost either through taxes, higher bank fees, lower interest or a combination of all the above.

That was an interesting read!

Best Wishes,

river belle said...

The FDIC has all the tools and resources necessary to meet our commitment to insured depositors, which we view as sacred. I do not foresee – as Mr. Evans suggests – that taxpayers may have to foot the bill for a "bailout."