Yes, Obama has made a lot of policy errors in dealing with the banks. Yes, I believe he has not solved the problems, but has chased the symptoms. The separation of prop trading from deposit banking is the right thing to do. In addition, the banks have not come anywhere near repaying their debt to the government. Not even close.
Yes, some of the banks repaid TARP, with interest and warrants. Okay. The investment big banks (that were still in existence) were offered expedited financial holding company (bank) charters. That is why they didn't fail, at least in part.
So, running down the list, the banks paid back TARP. That's a plus, but....
- What was the value for bank charter, to get cheap access to the Fed's funds? Did they pay back this value yet? No!
- How about the payment of interest on the banks' excess reserves at the Fed. Have the banks repaid that yet? No!
- The Fed and the Treasury have purchased hundreds of billions of dollars of Agency debt, Agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and related securities through Treasury purchase programs. Have the banks paid back the capital behind those purchases yet? No!
- How about the Term Auction Facility? Has the capital behind the benefits of that program been paid back? No!
- Then there is the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), has this been paid back? No!
- Do you remember the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF)? Have the funds behind that been paid back? No!
- What about the PPIP? No!
- Hey, there's the Foreign Exchange Swap programs (the currency swap lines, that saved not only our banks but out banks facing counterparties who were short on dollars), has that been paid back? No!
- There's the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), have the funds behind that been paid back? No!
- Most importantly, the opportunity cost of ZIRP, which hurts those who do not speculate (or have not speculated) with near free money. How do you pay that back to grandma and her .017% CDs?
How do you repay the synthetic bid that the Fed has created under MBS that has rescued the banks from balance sheet purgatory (for now)? How about the accounting fantasy football game that was authorized by FASB last year that has lost fundamental investors who actually count vast sums of money? Then there is those FDIC bond guarantees... Oops, I went way past 10 reasons, didn't I?
I can rant on, but if I haven't driven the point home by now, I probably never will. So as you read about Goldman's (GS) earnings beat on weaker revenue, consider the advantages that they have, that they didn't pay back, that smaller businesses such as mine simply don't have access to.Disclosure: Short all tickers mentioned in the article.