Posts Tagged ‘liquidity swaps’

Grayson Grills Bernanke: ‘Where Did Our Half Trillion Dollars Go?’

August 5, 2009

Are you a C-SPAN addict?  Me neither.  It is the truly desperate soul who pauses during a channel surfing session on a C-SPAN channel of some boring Congressional proceeding.  Who wants to watch a bunch of arrogant stuffed-shirt elitists argue with one another in a series of one boring speech after another?

Ah, but every now and then something of significance actually happens – and when such a once-in-blue-moon event occurs – C-SPAN is there to capture the action.

Such a moment occured when Florida Republican Rep. Alan Grayson questioned Barack Obama’s arse-smooching Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

This is by no means an official transcript, but it does reflect the sense of part of the exchange.  Every American should watch it to learn just how screwed up our “experts” have made our system:

Grayson: I would like to direct your attention to page 26 of the report you handed out this morning which consists of your balance sheet.  And one of the entries on your balance sheet under assets is central bank liquidity swaps which shows an increase from the end of 2007 from $24 billion to $553 billion and change at the end of 2008.  What’s that?

Bernake: Those are swaps done with foreign central banks.  Many foreign central banks are short dollars, and so they come into our markets looking for dollars and drive up interest rates and create volatility in our markets.  What we’ve done is create a swap: we buy their currency and they buy ours.  That lowers interest rates across the globe.  They take the dollars, lend it out to the banks in their jurisdiction, and that helps bring down interest rates in the global market for dollars and meanwhile we’re not lending to those banks, we’re lending to the central banks; the central bank is responsible for repaying us.

Grayson:So who got the money?

Bernake: Financial institutions in Europe and other countries.

Grayson: Which ones?

Bernake: I don’t know.

Grayson: Half a trillion dollars and you don’t know who got the money?

Bernake: Uh, the loans went to the, the loans go to the central banks and they, uh, they put them out to their, uh, to their institutions to try to bring down short term interest rates in financial markets around the world.

Grayson: Well let’s start with which central banks got the money.

Bernake: They’re 14 of them which are listed, um, in our, i’m sure they’re listed in here somewhere.

Grayson: Who actually made that decision to hand out half a trillion dollars that way?

Bernanke: The Federal Open Market Committee.

More…

Grayson: All right. We actually looked at one of the arrangements and one of the arrangements is 9 billion dollars for New Zealand. That works out to $3000 for every single person who lives in New Zealand. Seriously, wouldn’t it have been better to extend that kind of credit to Americans than New Zealanders?

Bernake: It’s not costing Americans anything, we’re getting interest back and it comes back, not at the cost of any Amercian credit. We are extending credit to Americans, too.

Grayson: Well, wouldn’t it necessarily affect the credit markets if you extend half a trillon dollars in credit to anybody?

Bernake: We are lending to all US financial institutions in exactly the same way.

Alan Grayson: Well, look at the next page, the very next page has the US dollar nominal exchange rate which shows a 20% increase in the US nominal exchange rate at exactly the same time that you were handing out a half a trillion dollars. You think that’s a coincidence?

Bernake: Yes.

Alan Grayson (Breaks out laughing at the sheer absurdity of Bernanke’s calculated refusal to acknoweldge the obvious no matter how obvious it is…).

Watch the video and pass it along:

The purpose of this is not merely to slam Democrats.  George Bush wanted to do the most massive financial bailout in history – and while Democrats provided the MOST support for the $700 billion Bush-Paulson TARP bailouts – Republicans supported it too.  Enraged House Republicans voted down the measure after Nancy Pelosi used the opportunity to politically demagogue them, but enough of them ended up supporting the bailout plan.  Ultimately two-thirds of Democrats and one-third of Republicans voted to pass the measure.  John McCain supported it as a presidential candidate right along with Barack Obama.  And we have been throwing billions and even trillions of dollars around ever since.

Republicans were wrong.  Democrats were far more wrong, of course, because they are always far more wrong.  But Republicans should have put their foot down to prevent the financial-whiz-kid takeover of our entire political and economic system.

Something is incredibly sick with our system, because somehow that $700 billion TARP bailout has morphed into a $23.7 TRILLION TARP bailout, as the special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, Neil Barofsky, recently made public.

And Barack Obama’s and Turbo-Tax Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department – caught red-handed spending and loaning FAR more than they ever should have been allowed to spend and loan – managed to turn the issue into a quibbling over just how much money we could theoretically lose at one time.  When the bigger question was, “Just how does an authorization of $700 billion become an authorization for $23.7 trillion?”

The difference between Democrats and Republicans at this point is that Republicans – who now openly admit they spent too much when they were in power – have wised up.  Meanwhile, Democrats who attacked “dangerous” and “irrepsonsible” federal spending under Bush have taken “dangerous” and “irresponsible” to levels never before even dreamt of. Democrats are utterly determined to keep up the insane spending spree until we are utterly imploded with debts even our children’s children’s children’s children’s children will never be able to hope to repay.

Since TARP, Obama has passed a $3.27 trillion stimulus that didn’t stimulate, a 9,000 earmark-laden $410 billion omnibus bill, and a $3.55 trillion federal budget that adds more to the debt than all previous US presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush – combined.  And even as we play aound with $2 trillion more for health care “reform” and throw billions of dollars more into “Cash for Clunkers,” there’s no sign that we are on any kind of slowdown as we race toward the economic cliff ahead.

We are experiencing a sickness that might well be epitomized by Vice President Joe Biden’s statement: “We have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt.” They are the words of a fool – and yet fools are now in total charge of our country as they pursue their fools’ agenda.

They want to play their political power games, rewarding their political allies and punishing their political opponents.  They want to stay in power forever.  They want to sit in their offices with their staffs and their benefits and their various fiefdoms.  They don’t want to protect the United States from calamity.  They somehow think that America is eternal and can never be defeated or destroyed.  They’re going to be in for a great wake-up call – and the nation right along with them – when it all goes to hell due to their insane lack of responsibility.


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