Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Banks need to stop hoarding money - or should they?

Mike Shedlock posts an interesting comment to a White house recommendation (directive?) to banks to stop hoarding money. Prof. David Beckworth however explains why banks are hoarding money.

Now we already knew they would happen, didn't we?
The risks arise in the next step. Here the money system goes
into self preservation mode rather than help push the bailout effects down to
individuals and small businesses. Here second bailout will be required. But this
bailout will need concurrent regulatory changes so that the money system does
not simply fatten up – but actually pushes the recovery stimulus down the chain.
The size of this stimulus will be at least twice the first bailout.

I think, these two bailouts will have to clean the system.
Beyond this will be a period of lull. This is the time individuals and small
businesses start reducing their loan outstanding. This is likely to take long
time in case of US.

To my mind this reaction is rational given the accounting requirements and state of real economy.

There is a serious need to assess accounting norms for banks in the light of Fed guarantees. Banks may be holding too much reserves, capitalising a little too much among other things*. So if indeed Fed is going to prevent the systemic collapse then banks may be able to free some money. But of course its not as simple as that - the issue needs more understanding.

Further, with real economy showing signs of slowing, banks are reluctant to lend. (Rather, banks are now being sensitive to slow-down signs that were present even before the financial crisis!) Now is the time for bailout 2 to materialise. Though this one needs to be aimed at the consumer rather than banks. Banks may be used as a transmission mechanism for this bailout.

Note:
I dont mean to say that bank's have enough capital - but what I mean is so long as Fed gurantees are in place the banks may be better off (for easing out of this crisis) in lending rather than increasing researves. Banking system may need a lot more capital later once we are out of crisis - but the time to get the capital may not be now!