The Horrors of Dodd-Frank “Banking”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)
Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)

With “Audit the Fed” being described as the “direst threat” to the Fed since Dodd-Frank, it’s worth while noting the mounting number of horrid consequences to actual people who need to make a living, especially from the federalization of banks.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that J.P. Morgan Chase—which is a bank, by the way—plans to jettison $100 billion in deposits in order to comply with new federal banking regulations, devised under Dodd-Frank authority.

“Isn’t a bank,” you might muse, “in the business of receiving deposits and putting that money to productive use?”

Isn’t that how banks help the real economy grow?

Not in the brave new world of Dodd-Frank.  The Wall Street Journal predicted precisely this event in a December 9, 2014 report on new capital requirements.  The Fed and other banking regulators are, under Dodd-Frank, busily pursuing a “deleveraging” of the American banking industry, brilliantly characterized in an op-ed by Richard Farley on November 24, 2014, in—you guessed it—the Wall Street Journal.  There is simply too much risk in the banking sector for the tastes of the Fed.

So what is the response of banks to this new directive? It is to make “safe” loans to the U.S. government and corporate borrowers such as Apple, rather than to riskier, more economically productive, job-creating borrowers.

This campaign of deleverage obviously does not benefit Main Street, which remains credit starved.

The not-so-funny thing is the classic case for the “independence” of central banks is to prevent the politically powerful from manipulating money for the government’s benefit at the expense of the real economy. The classic way to do this is to hyperinflate the government’s debt, so it can pay back debtors (i.e. real people) in less valuable currency.  The revolving door between Wall Street and Washington seems to have created an innovative new way to do precisely that, in this case not by inflating away government debt, but by inexpensively financing it, while starving the real economy of the capital it needs to grow.

So the question is: where is that champion of Main Street, Senator Elizabeth Warren, expressing her indignation over this misguided Fed policy and the regulatory overreach of Dodd-Frank?  Well, maybe she expressed her outrage to Fed Chair Janet Yellen over lunch, as she is the only legislator to dine with Chairwoman Yellen multiple times in the past year.

Steve Wagner is the founder and president of QEV Analytics, a Washington DC -based public opinion research firm.