When the Big Banks received the largesse of billions of dollars from taxpayers after the melt-down of banks in 2007-08, much of the blame was placed on derivatives markets in which the Big Banks speculated.
A derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity, often called the “underlying.” The underlying can be an asset, an index, or an interest rate. (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, United States Department of Treasury, released February, 2013.) Derivatives markets are amongst the most volatile and high-risk.
In the Dodd-Frank regulations, banks were prohibited from covering their risks through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on derivatives. The FDIC was created in 1933 after banks across the country closed their doors in the panics of The Great Depression. Before the FDIC, when a bank went under, its depositors were left with nothing.
Before this prohibition, Big Banks could gamble on derivatives with no risk—if they “won,” the profits would be realized, the bank’s main leaders would receive fat bonus checks, and they would be happy. If, as later occurred, they failed on a “bet,” they could turn to the FDIC to ease the pain.
Big Banks do not want to have ANY risk when they step up to the table to roll the dice. People who frequent casinos probably feel the same way. It would be really nice to roll the dice and know one would win if the dice come up with whatever number is a winner, but that, if the dice come up on a loser, one’s bet is returned with a “better luck next time.”
Of course, that’s not how casinos work. You bet, you risk. If you win, that’s great for you. If you lose, the money goes to the “house.”
There might be people who are anti-regulation who bristle at mention of any restrictions or regulations on Big Banks. This provision, however, would be eliminated by the budget bill presently before Congress. We would return to those days of the early 2000s, when recent graduates from various MBA programs could play poker with money from retirement and pension funds. If they won—great, those recent graduates would get bonuses. If they lost—well, that’s too bad for the retirees and pensioners. Those pensions aren’t “entitlements”—those folks had contractual agreements with employers whereby the folks put in 20 years or more for a company and contributed to that fund.
This behavior by Congress—and by President Obama, who has pushed to have the budget passed with this, and other, abhorrent provisions—is, in the words of Sylvester the Cat, dethpicable—i.e., despicable.
If Congress wants to lift this protection of the 99% of the American public, then Congress should enact a statute that provides similar relief to anyone who visits a casino.
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