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The Modern Banking System (Where does money come from?)

"If the debt which the banking companies owe be a blessing to anybody, it is to themselves alone, who are realizing a solid interest of eight or ten per cent on it. As to the public, these companies have banished all our gold and silver medium, which, before their institution, we had without interest, which never could have perished in our hands, and would have been our salvation now in the hour of war; instead of which they have given us two hundred million of froth and bubble, on which we are to pay them heavy interest, until it shall vanish into air... We are warranted, then, in affirming that this parody on the principle of 'a public debt being a public blessing,' and its mutation into the blessing of private instead of public debts, is as ridiculous as the original principle itself. In both cases, the truth is, that capital may be produced by industry, and accumulated by economy; but jugglers only will propose to create it by legerdemain tricks with paper."
- Thomas Jefferson to John W. Eppes, 1813. ME 13:423

Fractional-reserve banking
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
In economics, particularly in financial economics, fractional-reserve banking is the near-universal practice of banks of retaining only a fraction of their deposits to satisfy demands for withdrawals, lending the remainder at interest to obtain income that can be used to pay interest to depositors and provide profits for the banks' owners. Fractional-reserve banking allows for the possibility of a bank run in which the depositors collectively attempt to withdraw more money than is in the possession of the bank, leading to bankruptcy. It also increases the money supply through a mechanism called the deposit creation multiplier, explained below, which can lead to inflation if reserves are too low. Most governments impose strictly-enforced reserve requirements on banks, with the exact fraction of deposits that must be kept in reserve generally set by a central bank.

"The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough money to buy it back again...Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for then this would be a better and happier world to live in. But if you want to continue to be slaves of the banks and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit'."
- Sir Josiah Stamp, The Bank of England

Here's a little research on the effects of modern banking on housing.

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks], will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
- Thomas Jefferson

The Fed: Our Central Bank
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank
"The most important of the Fed's responsibilities is formulating and carrying out monetary policy. In this role, the Fed acts as the nation's "money manager"—working to balance the flow of money and credit with the needs of the economy. Simply stated, too much money in the economy can lead to inflation, while too little can stifle economic growth. As the nation's money manager, the Fed seeks to strike a balance between these two extremes, or, in other words, to foster economic growth with price stability."

Living Inside a Bubble?
Some Worry Housing, Foundation for Economic Growth, Could Crumble
May 24, 2002, By Ramona Schindelheim, ABC News
While business spending slowed last year, housing sales soared to record highs thanks to historically low interest rates and investors looking for somewhere other than the stock market to put their cash.

But what has some economists concerned is that housing prices have risen faster than personal income. Over the past 12 months, as prices soared — 10.3 percent for new homes and 7.2 percent for existing homes — personal income inched up just 2.3 percent.

"It troubles me," said Bill Quan, economist for Mitzuho Financial Group in Princeton, N.J. "It brings up questions of affordability and mortgage delinquency," which hit a 28-year low in first quarter of 2000 and have been on the rise ever since.

In other words, if people can't afford to buy a house, or keep a house, the housing market will decline, perhaps dramatically.

U.S. and global policymakers mull asset bubble fallout
Sunday September 1, 11:39 am ET
The United States is still feeling tremors from the stock price collapse since 2000 and some analysts warn a similarly inflated condition may be developing in soaring home prices, which made Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's choice of keynote topic for this year's conclave a resonant one.

The economy is still suffering the lingering after-effects of the stock market tumble and the blows it struck to business investment and consumer confidence.

"We are looking at the biggest stock asset deflation since the 1930s," economist Allen Sinai of Boston-based Decision Economics Inc. said after the invitation-only meeting ended.

"It's severe and significant, it is some $7 trillion of loss, maybe $7-1/2 trillion of lost net worth to Americans in equities, so far offset by an increase in residential real estate asset wealth," Sinai added.

Greenspan told the assembled audience of bankers, academics and economists on Friday that policymakers had little chance of spotting bubbles -- unsustainably high asset prices -- in advance. Even if they did identify them, there was little a central bank could do to fix them safely and effectively.

Foreclosures hit 50-year high
Delinquency rate also up as more workers lose jobs
By Kathleen M. Howley, Bloomberg News
September 10, 2002
WASHINGTON - The U.S. foreclosure rate reached the highest level in almost half a century and mortgage delinquencies rose in the second quarter as more Americans lost their jobs, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said.

"If the American people knew tonight, exactly how the monetary and banking system worked, there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
- Abraham Lincoln

    A lot of attention is paid to the Federal Reserve Bank's interest rate cuts. Not as much attention is paid to the money they actually lend. The Fed immediately began "pumping" (printing, and lending) billions of dollars into the market in the days after 9/11. This is called creating "liquidity" in the market. Well guess who gets that money at such low lending rates, your corner grocery store merchant? No, large banks and other lending institutions get it. They then lend it to other large companies at higher rates and then they all purchase stock in order to prop the prices up.

    In addition, for at least the first couple of weeks the SEC eliminated the restrictions placed on the buying and selling of stock by companies and insiders. Why do you suppose the "financial services" industries posted the biggest gains following this manipulation? Those speculating are assuming that the ruse will work, people will purchase those shares in their 401k, IRA, etc. and the banks will make a tidy profit from being at the top of the food chain. When the Fed sells bonds to raise capital to lend, who pays the interest on that borrowed money? Why the taxpayer of course. Losses must be socialized and profit privatized. Free market capitalism? Where?

    Since many large companies have been purchasing their own stock in an effort to prop up the value if they actually report it honestly (don't trust pro forma numbers) then you should expect some miserable earnings estimates in the weeks and months ahead as revenue continues to slide, the world wide public does not purchase their stock from them, and they are left with the interest payments on the money they borrowed to buy their own stock.

Federal Reserve Functions - Supervising Banks
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank
Perhaps the most important supervisory responsibility of all, however, is to respond to a financial crisis by acting as lender of last resort for the nation's banking system. Through its "discount window," the Fed lends money to banks so that a shortage of funds at one institution does not disrupt the flow of money and credit in the entire banking system. Typically, the Fed makes loans to satisfy a bank's unanticipated needs for short-term funds. But the Fed also makes longer-term loans to help banks manage seasonal fluctuations in their customers' deposit or credit demands.

$100B stimulus possible - Greenspan, Rubin, Senate leaders discuss huge boost for economy
September 25, 2001: 2:31 p.m. ET, Money at CNN
“WASHINGTON (CNNfn) - A closed-door meeting between Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the Senate Finance Committee to discuss the health of the U.S. economy Tuesday included talk about an economic stimulus package of about $100 billion.”

“Greenspan and Rubin met privately with the Senate Finance Committee to discuss ways to help the economy in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and killed thousands.”

“Greenspan and Rubin agreed that any economic stimulus package Congress passes should be big enough to be effective -- namely, 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or about $100 billion.”

Fedpoint 18: The Discount Window
New York Federal Reserve Bank
“Through the discount window, Federal Reserve Banks lend funds to depository institutions. All depository institutions that maintain transaction accounts or nonpersonal time deposits subject to reserve requirements are entitled to borrow at the discount window. This includes commercial banks, thrift institutions, and United States branches and agencies of foreign banks. Prior to the passage of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, discount window borrowing generally had been restricted to commercial banks that were members of the Federal Reserve System.”

“The Fed does not loosen or tighten its discount window administration policies when it loosens or tightens monetary policy. In 1999, however, the Fed did liberalize its discount window policy in anticipation of possible Y2K-related liquidity strains in the economy. From October 1, 1999, through April 7, 2000, it established a special liquidity facility that borrowers could use without having to first seek credit elsewhere. Following the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center in September 2001, the Fed again encouraged depository institutions needing liquidity to borrow from the discount widow. Reserve Banks lent $45.5 billion to depository institutions on September 12, 2001, the record for a single day.”

Stocks Plummet as Wall Street Reopens
Dow Off 685; Fed Cuts Rates In Effort to Contain Losses
Tuesday, September 18, 2001; Page A01, Washington Post

The Dow's 684.81-point plunge, its biggest point loss in history, came despite an unprecedented bid by the Bush administration, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street executives and major U.S. corporations to prop up the market in the hopes of sending a message that the U.S. financial system could shrug off the terrorist assault.

Amid record volume of more than 2.37 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, the selling pressure gathered momentum throughout the day, despite several pledges by companies to buy their own stock and exhortations by top U.S. policymakers, notably Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, who took the extraordinary step of predicting on television that the market would soon be headed for new records.

The outcome might have been much worse, analysts said, had it not been for moves such as the Securities and Exchange Commission's easing of rules on corporate stock buybacks.

"People are saying, 'Where is that patriotic rally?' " said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co., a Los Angeles-based institutional brokerage firm. "We're seeing it. It's just happening at a lower level, happening as support. The combined effort between Wall Street, companies, the Fed, the SEC -- that's why we're only down 7 percent."

The SEC, in a first-ever use of emergency powers granted after the 1987 market crash, suspended rules that limit the degree to which companies can buy their own shares -- and about 75 corporations reportedly responded, among them General Electric, Cisco Systems, Intel and United Parcel Service.

U.S. Treasuries rise, defying massive note sale
NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries rose at midmorning on Thursday despite a record-sized auction of two-year notes looming later in the session, as the market received a technical boost in very thin trade.

Treasuries had slipped in early trade, suffering a fourth day of declines ahead of the Treasury Department's $23 billion auction of new two-year notes,
a record amount and an increase of $2 billion from what was a poorly received auction in November. New debt supply typically depresses prices.

Greenspan Warns on Asian Bank Buying
Tue, Mar 02, 2004
By Victoria Thieberger
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Tuesday issued his strongest warning yet about Asian central bank purchases of U.S. assets, saying it could raise problems for the economies of China and Japan.

He said "extraordinary" Asian central bank buying of dollar assets had totaled almost $240 billion since the start of 2002, describing the size of Japan's purchases as "awesome."

The central banks of China and Japan have been heavy buyers of U.S. assets to park the proceeds from selling their own currencies to try to prevent them from rising against the dollar and so hurting their exports.

To finance this intervention, the central banks are essentially printing money which then floods their domestic economies, threatening inflation, Greenspan suggested.

Japanese monetary authorities bought almost $100 billion in January and February in their efforts to prevent the yen from rising rapidly and damaging the nation's export-led recovery.

Much of the money has found its way into U.S. Treasuries, and is widely thought to be supporting the U.S. bond market and keeping yields lower than they would otherwise be.

    Here's a little history of the US Federal Reserve system, the current central banking incarnation being the third in the nations history.  According to even Federal Reserve websites the others were dissolved due to corruption and consolidation of power.  Guess what issues are being raised again?  I cite evidence from a recent PBS Frontline program.

"Certainly no nation ever before abandoned to the avarice and jugglings of private individuals to regulate according to their own interests, the quantum of circulating medium for the nation -- to inflate, by deluges of paper, the nominal prices of property, and then to buy up that property at 1s. in the pound, having first withdrawn the floating medium which might endanger a competition in purchase. Yet this is what has been done, and will be done, unless stayed by the protecting hand of the legislature. The evil has been produced by the error of their sanction of this ruinous machinery of banks; and justice, wisdom, duty, all require that they should interpose and arrest it before the schemes of plunder and spoilation desolate the country."
Thomas Jefferson to William C. Rives, 1819. ME 15:232

Section. 8.
Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Clause 2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
Clause 3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
Clause 5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

Mr. Weill Goes to Washington: PBS Frontline
The politics and the impact of Sandy Weill's creation of Citigroup, the first full-service superbank, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that stood in his way.
Citigroup, formed by the 1998 merger of Travelers and Citicorp, is the biggest financial institution in the world, combining one of the largest insurance companies (Travelers), one of the largest investment banks (Salomon Smith Barney), and the largest commercial bank (Citibank) in America. But before it could come together, Travelers CEO Sanford I. Weill, who had proposed the merger to Citicorp's John Reed, had to overcome one major obstacle: the historic Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which in the wake of the 1929 crash had prohibited commercial banks from underwriting securities. The law, still on the books in 1998 but weakened over the years, separated investment banking from commercial banking in order to prevent conflicts of interest and protect investors.

Purposes & Functions of the Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
I. History
Many people are surprised to learn that the Federal Reserve System is not the country's first central bank. Congress made two unsuccessful attempts at central banking prior to the establishment of the Fed.

The System's earliest precursor, the First Bank of the United States, was established by Congress in 1791 on a 20-year charter, with the Congressional mandate to "manage the government's money and to regulate the nation's credit." In addition, the Bank acted as the government's fiscal agent, marketing its securities, holding its revenues, and paying its debts.

The federal government maintained partial control of the Bank, but it was led primarily by private investors. The Bank's main office was located in Philadelphia and its branches were concentrated in large northeastern cities.

While the Bank was successful in carrying out its mandate, there was considerable opposition to it. Some Americans feared the Bank because of its size. Some accused it of being dominated by narrowly defined private interests. And some criticized its geographic concentration. Congress narrowly defeated the rechartering of the Bank in 1811.

Four short years of bank runs and other economic disruptions convinced Congress that, indeed, the country needed a central bank, and the Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816. This Second Bank was structured much like its predecessor: it had predominantly private ownership and governance and was geographically centralized.

However, this Bank was also viewed by many Americans, in the words of then-President Andrew Jackson, as "a concentration of power in the hands of a few men irresponsible to the people." When its 20-year charter expired in 1836, this Bank, like its predecessor, was dissolved.

II. Structure of the Fed
The Federal Reserve System is independent within the government. Its decisions are not ratified by the President or the executive branch of government, but the entire System is subject to oversight by Congress. For instance, Fed governors periodically report to Congress. So, the Federal Reserve operates independently within a framework of economic and financial policy objectives established by the government.

The Fed's unique and complex structure was designed by Congress to give the System a broad perspective on the economy and on economic activity in all parts of the country - and to create a balance of public and private control. Because of its uniqueness and complexity, the Fed's structure is often confusing and not well understood by the public.

The FRS has four major components:
· 12 individually chartered corporations called the Federal Reserve District Banks;
· member commercial banks in each District who contribute capital to the Reserve Banks and receive dividends;
· the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, a federal government agency which exercises general supervision over the Reserve Banks; and
· the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the main body for carrying out monetary policy.

Alan Blinder - Professor of economics at Princeton, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and former member of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton.
Doesn't Sandy Weill have rather special access if he's talking directly to Alan Greenspan and to Bob Rubin at Treasury and to the president of the United States?

Absolutely, he does, and not every country banker in America can get that kind of access. ... But you've got to remember this deal that Sandy Weill was coming to talk to these people about was not opening a new branch in Texas or something. This was a very big deal. They were creating the biggest financial company on the face of the earth. I think it's very, very appropriate.

It would've been foolish as a pure business matter -- never mind politics, which, of course, gets involved -- as a pure business matter, it would've been foolish to just bull ahead with that without informing Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin, and so on, even if it's just as a courtesy.

Kenneth Guenther - President and CEO, Independent Community Bankers of America.
We are talking about the largest financial merger in the world. We are talking about, for the first time in the modern history of the United States, since 1933, the largest bank, one of the largest securities firms, one of the largest insurance firms, being put together under common ownership.

Legislation is pending to make that legal, and here you have the leadership -- Sandy Weill of Travelers and John Reed of Citicorp -- saying, "Look, the Congress isn't moving fast enough. Let's do it on our own. To heck with the Congress. Let us effect this." And so they move towards effecting it, and they get the blessing of the chairman of the Federal Reserve system in early April, when legislation is pending.

I mean, this is hubris in the worst sense of the word. Who do they think they are? Other people, firms, cannot act like this. ... Citicorp and Travelers were so big that they were able to pull this off. They were able to pull off the largest financial conglomeration -- the largest financial coming together of banking, insurance, and securities -- when legislation was still on the books saying this was illegal. And they pulled this off with the blessings of the president of the United States, President Clinton; the chairman of the Federal Reserve system, Alan Greenspan; and the secretary of the treasury, Robert Rubin.

And then, when it's all over, what happens? The secretary of the treasury becomes the vice chairman of the emerging Citigroup.

Eliot Spitzer - Spitzer is the attorney general of New York. He spearheaded the investigations into Wall Street practices that led to the historic $1.4 billion settlement announced on April 28, 2003.
One of the allegations made by a number of people who follow the banking industry is that the mere formation of a superbank like Citigroup -- and putting insurance, brokerage, investment banking, and commercial banking under one roof -- inherently increases the conflicts of interests. ... Does the formation of superbanks increase conflicts of interest that have the potential of hurting investors?

Absolutely. No question about it. There is no question that we have created a web of relationships that provide the opportunity for massive abuse. And what we uncovered last year demonstrates there was massive abuse. The only remaining question, then, is do you create, and can you create, a way to mediate among these conflicts to protect the consumer? Or do you have to rip apart the structure? I think we have an enormous policy debate that is facing us.

"[With the decline of society] begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia [war of all against all], which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
-Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:40

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with a result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- From spiritual faith to great courage;
- From courage to liberty;
- From liberty to abundance;
- From abundance to selfishness;
- From selfishness to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependency;
- From dependency back into bondage.”
- The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic by Alexander Fraser Tyler (1748 - 1813)  

Bush presents a $2.1 trillion wartime budget
February 5, 2002 Posted: 6:47 AM EST (1147 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush presented Congress with a $2.1 trillion wartime budget Monday that would sharply increase funding for the U.S. military and for homeland security, but would limit spending in other areas and return the federal government to deficit spending.

States Are Facing Big Fiscal Crises, Governors Report
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2002 — Plunging tax collections and soaring medical costs have created the worst fiscal problems for states since World War II, the National Governors Association said today.

"Nearly every state is in fiscal crisis," the governors said in a new report surveying the states.
Page 2
Federal officials say they have no money to spare at a time when the federal government faces growing deficits, after four years of surpluses.

Mr. Scheppach cataloged some of the states' needs. After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush sought $3.5 billion to train and equip local police officers, firefighters and rescue workers, but Congress adjourned last week without providing the money...

"Everything predicted by the enemies of banks, in the beginning, is now coming to pass. We are to be ruined now by the deluge of bank paper. It is cruel that such revolutions in private fortunes should be at the mercy of avaricious adventurers, who, instead of employing their capital, if any they have, in manufactures, commerce, and other useful pursuits, make it an instrument to burden all the interchanges of property with their swindling profits, profits which are the price of no useful industry of theirs."
- Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:61

Bush budget envisions lower taxes, record deficits
The $2.23 trillion plan appears to take calculated risks as it tries to boost the economy.
February 04, 2003
WASHINGTON – In unveiling his proposed budget yesterday, President Bush has reignited debate over an issue that just a few years ago seemed to have been vanquished: soaring federal deficits.

The $2.23 trillion budget for fiscal year 2004 would hold down spending on most domestic programs while boosting defense and homeland security. The proposal, now headed for Capitol Hill, would also cut taxes by $670 billion over 10 years and reform Medicare, including the addition of a prescription drug benefit, to the tune of $400 billion. The administration is now projecting a deficit of $307 billion this year, up from $157 billion.

But the fiscal year 2004 (FY2004) budget does not include the cost of a war with Iraq, estimated at $50 to $60 billion. Nor does it include any large-scale relief to the states, which are suffering their worst fiscal crisis in 50 years.

The administration appears to be making a calculated risk that it can fund its priorities while stimulating a listless economy through tax cuts - all without ballooning the deficit to the point where it indisputably hurts the economy. "Nobody is happy, and certainly not me, about the return to deficits," White House budget director Mitchell Daniels told a recent Monitor breakfast. "But stuff happens, as the bumper sticker says."

As Budget Deficit Grows, Greenspan Speaks Softly
Sunday, July 20, 2003; Washington Post
The White House had just released its forecast of the highest U.S. budget deficit ever, but Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was not about to be pulled into a blame game.

"I would prefer to find the situation in which spending was constrained, the economy was growing, and that tax cuts were capable of being initiated without creating fiscal problems," Greenspan said.

"I would prefer a world in which Julia Roberts was calling me," replied an exasperated Rep. Bradley J. Sherman (D-Calif.), "but that is not likely to occur."


Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
You will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
- Lao-tzu , Tao-te ching “The Book of the Way and Its Power”
A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell

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