Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greece: A Warning of the Totalitarian Power of Centralized Government and Banking, and FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING

Greece is a bankrupt mess for a whole lot of reasons with the primary reason being that it's a debt ridden socialist nation that borrowed heavily to fund statist programs.  Of course, the debt mountain is now so big that paying it back is simply impossible.  Moreover, most of the new loan proceeds in recent years have gone to servicing the debt instead of to entitlement programs.  This is precisely how socialism and statism ends: eventually the debt is so big that it will eat up nearly all tax dollars. America and nearly all of Europe will face the exact same problems as Greece in the not too distant future.

The socialist Greek government wants more loan proceeds from the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund).  The Troika is demanding many thing including cuts in pensions and public spending.

The real issue here isn't Greek debt as everybody know that the Greeks can't possibly pay it, now or anytime in the future.  The real issue here is the ELA or Emergency Liquidity Assistance that the ECB uses to prop up its member banks.  Over the weekend, the Troika bared it's gargantuan razor sharp teeth by cutting off the ELA.  Greeks could not get their money out of the banks and Greece was forced to close its banks for 7 days.  They do this by declaring a bank holiday! It's also called capital controls.

The Troika is sick of negotiating with Greece and effectively nuked the nation by withdrawing ELA. Yeah, Greece is holding a referendum on whether or not to submit to the Troika but at this juncture does it really matter?

There is a big lesson to be learned here, namely that fractional reserve banking is fraught with horrific risk, especially for depositors.  Under fractional reserve banking, banks only keep a small percentage of its deposits as reserves and the rest is converted to loans (bank assets) that earn interest income for banks.  If too many people go to the bank to get their money, there isn't sufficient money to give the depositors back their money and a bank run occurs.  Central banks function as a backstop to bank runs by providing liquidity.  Yes, the 'liquidity' is fiat central bank money created out of thin air but so long as the public has confidence in the system, it works.

With the situation in Greece, the extreme volatility of many western banks and the economic fragility of European nations, confidence in central banking is waning, especially after the bail-in in Cyprus when depositor money was literally stolen to recapitalize bankrupt banks that wiped out all their capital by making bad loans.

If the world needs anything now, it needs to restrict fractional reserve banking and offer options in non-fractional reserve banking. It's the only way that deposits can be truly protected.  Before the arrival of fractional reserving banking and before Americans flocked to the banks with their money in exchange for a toaster, folks actually paid banks a small fee to house and protect their wealth, typically gold, silver or gold and silver certificates. The wealth of citizens is no longer protected (never really was) and central banks are such schizophrenic basket cases that they can no longer function as guarantors of deposits. That's already been proven in Cyprus and Greece.

At the end of the day, fractional reserve banking turns toasters (bank deposits) into burnt toast. The public absolutely needs safety and accessibility for their money.  

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