Bloomberg reports that Bank of America (BAC) has shifted about $22 trillion worth of derivative obligations from Merrill Lynch and the BAC holding company to the FDIC insured retail deposit division.
Along with this information came the revelation that the FDIC insured unit was already stuffed with $53 trillion worth of these potentially toxic obligations, making a total of $75 trillion.
Derivatives are highly volatile financial instruments that are occasionally used to hedge risk, but mostly used for speculation. They are bets upon the value of stocks, bonds, mortgages, other loans, currencies, commodities, volatility of financial indexes, and even weather changes. Many big banks, including Bank of America, issue derivatives because, if they are not triggered, they are highly profitable to the issuer, and result in big bonus payments to the executives who administer them. If they are triggered, of course, the obligations fall upon the corporate entity, not the executives involved. Ultimately, by allowing existing gambling bets to remain in insured retail banks, and endorsing the shift of additional bets into the insured retail division, the obligation falls upon the U.S. taxpayers and dollar-denominated savers.
Even if we net out the notional value of the derivatives involved, down to the net potential obligation, the amount is so large that the United States could not hope to pay it off without a major dollar devaluation, if a major contingency actually occurred and a large part of the derivatives were triggered. But, if such an event ever occurs, Bank of America's derivatives counter-parties will, as usual, be made whole, while the American people suffer. This all has the blessing of the Federal Reserve, which approved the transfer of derivatives from Merrill Lynch to the insured retail unit of BAC before it was done.
Contrary to popular belief, which blames the global financial crisis on subprime borrowers, it was the derivatives, based upon the likelihood that those borrowers would pay their debts, that were the primary catalyst triggering the global economic crisis of 2008.
Back then, the derivative obligations of AIG (AIG) imploded the insurer. Under the pressure of fear-mongering from the Federal Reserve and the financial industry, the U.S. government committed hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out AIG's counter-parties, including the biggest banks of Europe and America. Had the government not stepped in, virtually all the banks on Wall Street would have gone bankrupt. A host of European and Asian banks would have followed.
AIG was not FDIC insured. It could have been allowed to fail, and should have been allowed to fail. All the banks on Wall Street that would have failed should have failed. Their speculator counter-parties should have been bankrupted, and their retail depositors should have been made whole. The retail divisions could have been temporarily nationalized and sold off as soon as possible to more prudent management. Had this occurred, America would have experienced a deep but very temporary economic downturn, and, by now, the downturn would be over. But, with derivatives obligations tied intimately with FDIC insured depositary units, the debt will need to be paid by the government, as a matter of law. We will have no legal choice except to default, or pay them off.
do you realize what this means.... ?!?!?
THE FDIC IS WHO INSURES YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.
$75 TRILLION dollars worth of worthless toxic "Debt".
YOUR bank accounts are now UNSECURED.
YOUR bank accounts are now UNSECURED.
The FDIC was ALREADY all but broke/empty due to all the bank failures they had to clean up the last two years.
NOW their stuck with toxic derivatives when they are (and are being) activated because of failures they were insuring against (bet against).
this is a self fulfilling catch 22- and they're getting away with it.