Financial Analyst: This Is The First Recession Since the End of the FIRST World War Where Government Help Isn't Trickling Down to the American People

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

Banking expert Christopher Whalen (hailed by Nouriel Roubini as one of the leading independent analysts of the U.S. banking system) told the American Enterprise Institute that this is the first recession going back at least to the end of the first World War where government assistance has not trickled down to Main Street and ordinary Americans.


Because the banks are keeping the money and not loaning it back out:


Buy why aren't the banks loaning the money back out?

As I've repeatedly explained, the government has given the big banks many trillions in bailouts and subsidies.

However, as I wrote in October 2008:


Many people (including me) have been warning that the banks will keep hoarding cash no matter how much money the feds give them.


Now, even the banks themselves are admitting it.


As the New York Times writes in an article entitled "Banks Are Likely to Hold Tight to Bailout Money":

"Will lenders deploy their new-found capital quickly, as the Treasury hopes, and unlock the flow of credit through the economy? Or will they hoard the money to protect themselves?


John A. Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, said on Thursday that banks were unlikely to act swiftly. Executives at other banks privately expressed a similar view.


'We will have the opportunity to redeploy that,' Mr. Thain said of the new capital on a telephone call with analysts. 'But at least for the next quarter, it’s just going to be a cushion.'




Lenders have been pulling back on credit lines for businesses, mortgages, home equity loans and credit card offers, and analysts said that trend was unlikely to be reversed by the government’s money.


Roger Freeman, an analyst at Barclays Capital, which acquired parts of the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers last month [said] 'My expectation is it’s quarters off, not months off, before you see that capital being put to work.' ”

And another Times article includes the following quote:

“It doesn’t matter how much Hank Paulson gives us,” said an influential senior official at a big bank that received money from the government, “no one is going to lend a nickel until the economy turns.” The official added: “Who are we going to lend money to?” before repeating an old saw about banking: “Only people who don’t need it.”

The banks are going to sit on the cash, not loan it out. So can everyone please stop saying that the bailouts were necessary to increase liquidity?


The banks are not "going to lend a nickel until the economy turns", and yet it is impossible for the economy to turn until the giant banks are broken up.

Moreover - as confirmed by the head of the Bank of England, the world's leading living monetary economist, economists Nouriel Roubini, James Galbraith, Robert Kuttner, financial analysts such as Chris Whalen and Marshall Auerbach, and many others - the big banks are insolvent, and have been insolvent since 2008 at the latest.

Remember, more and more "surprises" of fraudulent actions by the banks
keep popping out. First it was falsely rating investments and financial
instruments, then it was robosigning and fraudulent mortgage backed
securities. Each time a new "surprise" pops out, the banks will incur
many billions more in additional liabilities. The government refuses
to prosecute any of the big fish for their biggest unlawful actions (see
this and this), so the mess never gets cleaned out.

Instead, the big banks and the government know there
is a lot more garbage coming down the pike (and so are terrified of
leaks), and the banks hunker down and sock away any money the government
gives to them to try to ride out future hurricanes which they know are
coming. Why do they know they are coming? Because they know there are
lots more skeletons in the closet, and that whistleblowers will
eventually talk about them in deposition or through anonymous leaks.

So the big banks are hoarding all
money they can beg from the government (or else crazily speculating
with it trying to make their bonuses).  But lending it to Main Street?
No way, Jose (I know that borrowers are trying to repair their balance
sheets and so demand for loans has declined.  But that's only part of
the story).

Moreover, as crazy as it sounds, the Federal Reserve is intentionally ensuring that the banks don't use the money we're giving them to lend to Main Street, under the guise of fighting inflation.

Of course, there has never been a recession before whether such a high percentage of the government's assistance went to foreign banks.

Finally, government policy is worsening the unemployment crisis.

So there is no mystery as to why assistance from the government isn't trickling down to Main Street.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
TheMerryPrankster's picture

Basically the banks are in "survival" mode, what they are doing is the same as many individuals are doing, storing assets against a cataclysm. As we the smart folk put away our silver and canned goods and the tools needed for tough new world, so to are the banks hedging against a collapse of the economy.

Let this not be seen as a defense of the banks, the federal reserve or those that empower these actions, instead it should be used as a data point to understand the depression that is cloaked as a "recovery" by the corporate/government media.


Understand that by watching the banks action you can understand what they expect the econonomy to do, which seems in my estimation that they are guessing on a massive collapse sometime soon, like within 12 months.


proLiberty's picture

"The banks are not "going to lend a nickel until the economy turns", and yet it is impossible for the economy to turn until the giant banks are broken up."


This is only true in the secular Utopia of Keynes.  We had better hope that the banks never start lending based on the air-backed "money" the Fed has mouse-clicked into existence just for them.  The instant that money is used as reserves for fractional-reserve lending, that is the instant it will be used by the borrower to bid up the prices of wages and goods.

When the value of "money" is allowed to respond to supply and demand just like everything else, there cannot in any way shape or form, ever be a "shortage" of it.  Deep down inside even followers of Keynes know this existential fact.  

The big mistake many people make, even those who reject Keynesian economics is that they think the value of the currency must remain constant, and that government doesn't do any harm to anyone when they expend resources to force its value to be constant.  Putting aside how this is in direct conflict with the policy goal of a "targeted rate of inflation",  this allows government to give the advantage to long  term borrowers at the expense of their lender.  

By any measure the Federal Reserve has been an abject failure at protecting the value of the dollar, at least with respect to gold.  In 1913, when the Fed was created until now, the dollar has fallen in value by a factor of some 70 times.  Yet we give the Fed more power and reappoint its Chairman. 



moneymutt's picture

Govt has helped regular folks more than in 30s, UI, Medicaid, Soc Sec if you are forced to retire early, food stamps...these things keep this recession from looking like the depression it is.

However, if you count up the money they have given banks, the above listed social programs are chumped change.

Imagine if you would what this says about monetary policy. If the FED could print all this money for banks so they can then have excuse to get more money from taxpayers in the form of interest on Treasuries...and will still are not in hyperinflation, how might we have used this money for the common wealth?

Obama proposed a bold plan for $50 billion infrastructure bank iniative and that has gone nowhere. Imagine if we took just $1 Trillion of the money Bernanke gave to banks for toxic crap and instead spent in simply repairing infrastructure. Bringing all roads, sewers up to current standards. Bringing all water districts in compliance with drinking water standards. Bringing all sewer plants up to waste water standards. Bringing all landfills up to EPA standards. Completely rebuilding road sections rather than re-surfacing that will last only a few years. Repairing or replacing 85-60 year old bridges etc.

And what if we took another $1 Trillion and invested into NEW infrastructure. Like wimax all over country including rural areas. New roads in rural areas, freight rail lines, light rail passenger lines, urban subway extenstions, new bridges. Improved and more redundant electrical grid. Alternative energy centers for wind, solar, tidal, or nuke if you like it. Improved refineries.

Think of the jobs for the construction workers, the most depressed sector of economy. Thinks of the trickle down from those jobs as those workers pay rent, buy food, as the construction companies buy concrete, steel, computers, software.

Think of savings to the govt. Eventually when bridge collapses, road crack, sewer pipe plugs, water pipe leaks, the repair will be far more expensive than now. Consider that contractors are bidding projects 20,30, 40 50 percent lower costs than just a few years.

How bout taking another trillion and investing it in a trust fund that supports all sorts of science and innovation that could be licensed to only US based companies when successful. Nano research that no private company is doing. Special drugs for special diseases. Sponsoring competitions for new fuel sources, electric cars, imporved trains. Ag reasearch. Alternative energy research.

Govt can get both benefit of such investments in form of future gains (or avoidance of future losses) AND get people employed now. And gain the benefit of people working for govt money rather than just collecting UI, food stamps, medicaid for nothing other than being desperate and unemployed.

Temporalist's picture

What you are proposing is essentially more of the same, i.e. government trying to allocate money taken from taxpayers on things they "believe" will do something.

That is the way it's been and it is not working, leads to more debt, cyclical boom/busts, disparity in incomes (rich get richer poor get poorer), inflated prices in health care/education/housing...

How about, instead of "taking another trillion" as it would have to be taken since the government does not make money, letting private industry do what they have always done and gamble on ideas, good and bad, and if they can make money they will and if not they lose and many fewer people are hurt. 

I would post links to how "light rail" in areas that were "supposed" to help did not and was a huge waste of taxpayer money, or how wifi would not increase any productivity, but since you think "people working for govt money" is actually a reality you probably wouldn't get it.

Bring the Gold's picture

You don't see a difference between making infrastructure and bank bailouts? Seriously?

You know infrastructure...the kind that is used by the free market eg roads, rail lines, power sources, as helpful to society? You might tell that to the Chinese. Oh right, they been doing terribly the past 20 years while doing exactly what the OP proposed.

The problem is with graft, waste and no bid contracts (halliburton etc). Yes I agree those are problems. However, comparing giving Trillions to the banks with ZERO positives for society to rebuilding infrastructure is the kind of dogmatic ideological idiocy that has turned this country into shit. The socialists want to spend money all day long on stupid welfare programs and the neoconservatives want tanks with "Truck Balls" mounted at $125,000 a pop so their Defense industry stocks do well.

How about recognizing some potential common good that helps society AND free market interests such as transportation, energy grid and energy production infrastructure. Or maybe you fly to work on your ideological non-sense broom. In which case I guess I can see why you would complain about infrastructure the rest of the country uses every god damned day of our lives. Fucking hell.

/rant off

Temporalist's picture

To answer you both - yes I simplified that a bit.  I don't believe no group of people can make decisions to spend money just not at the levels it is happening now in both scope and level of govt.

People taking money from a mass fund to make useless projects because they think it would be a good idea is not how I want my tax money to be spent.  As a matter of fact tax revenue distribution should be put to individual votes, so that individuals can decide where they want money to be spent and how.  Everyone likes to talk about the internet being so great why can't people actually have a say in this great technologically advanced society?  That would be great for me.  Let me decide...yea I'd like nice roads put my money there.  Or no, I don't like war, you can't have money for that.  Or, yes I have kids I want more money for education, or no abstinence programs suck, legalize hemp, end war on get my drift.

I believe there is common good of course but that is subjective to an individual in many cases.  Is is common good to have a local police and fire dept?  Yes most likely.  Is it common good to have roads when I use a horse and buggie...maybe not so much..or living in a large city (subways were private enterprise btw as well as ferries and the Erie Canal, skyscrapers, railroads).  Do I need power lines and sewer taxes if I'm self sufficient?  Maybe people would drive slower with worse roads and be safer?

If you can actually look at the Federal govt and say they are a smashing success...well I can't agree with you.  EPA, DoE, TSA, Military Industrial Complex, FEMA, and all the while the IRS holding the threat of jail for not complying.

Industry found ways to build things in the U.S. before govt decided to get involved.  Entrepreneurs and inventors and engineers are the life blood of a country not the government. If you can't see that I am sorry for you.

RKDS's picture

You've fallen into what is sadly a very common trap.  The idea that any group of people can productively allocate resources is not flawed, otherwise let's bash the free market for the same reason you bash government.  No, it is that government, and too often business, simply waste the money for short-term or fraudulent ends.  I know I'm setting myself up here, but the "right" people are almost never anywhere near the people in control of allocating the money.

tempo's picture

I live in So. Ca. and everyone I know either works for or receives a pension from the State/City/Ct Government.  NO one I talk to will even consider the idea that any cuts will ever be made to their lush life styles.   Many are teachers at local colleges and don't comprehend that nearly all the students receive Govt. loans.   IMO, the public is not prepared for any reduction to Fed/State spending and civil unrest is quite likely.  The politicians continue to expand the deficit because of this fear.

Rogerwilco's picture

So true. The funniest thing I've read in a while was a newspaper article claiming that Americans are suffering from "austerity fatigue", and that explains the surge in retail sales.

Austerity these days is missing a latte break at Starbucks.

RKDS's picture

Are you out of touch or what?  Bankers always think we little people should just quietly give up eating or heating our homes.  It's always the people who work who have to give up this and that, never shall there be even slight inconvenience to the useless leeches sucking us dry.  Fuck the pampered clowns whining about fake austerity.

Whatta's picture

Confirming the gist of your post, I have a friend that is currently in the process of relocating for a job.

He is continuing to be employed, by the state, where he has been employed for about a decade. She, a new job, but a high paying medical job.

They can't get a freaking loan approved to buy a modest home.

The banksters could care less about the taxpayers they first begged, and then shat upon.

Chris88's picture

Wait, you mean the same institution that can't even deliver the mail isn't effective in helping the economy?  What a shock!  Government doesn't help anybody except their close pals.  How exactly would you expect their "help" to trickle down to the "American people" when their "help" is money that is violently stolen from those very same people?  Kind of sounds stupid to me.

Careless Whisper's picture

aren't they just well-educated gangstas, gw?


Beancounter's picture

Yup - break up the too bigger to fail banks, prosecute the top 2 or 3 tiers of management for complicity in global fraud, and seize all of their assets globally.  And only permit them to organize as partnerships, not bank holding companies, not even corporations, , that should put the appropriate level of risk tolerance and vigilance back in the banks.

eurusdog's picture

Smart and well thought out.

the grateful unemployed's picture

this recession is one of overcapacity, or ample capacity, while product is held off the market. the irony is that banks either can't or won't lend, not because demand is zero, but because they don't want to lend this money cheaply when tomorrow it will be worth a helluva lot more. Bernanke has painted himself in a corner.

in the first depression there were crops in the field, and people starved, and there was money invested overseas in Germany for instance. - see Irish potato famine for an idea of how an export only economy can ruin a nation-  government is now forced to subsidize the consumer (with his own money by the way).

Price controls on farm products made the first depression seem as though it was a shortage crisis, just as the oil embargo in the 70s was not a shortage crisis. In this case its the banks who are not selling us credit, (except at credit card rates)just as the Arabs would not sell us oil except at a high premium, but mostly they didn't want to sell it at all. This is why Peak Oil is really Peek-A-Boo-Oil, now we have it, now we don't, because they know that any moment the hyperinflationary charge will kick in, and they are not going to sell anything cheaply today, if it is more expensive tomorrow, and that goes for credit as well. No banker is going to lend to you today at sub 5% on a 30yr when the real market would price it as twice that rate.

Bernanke could loosen up the credit markets if he would just allow rates to float. This is government engineered price controls, they never worked before, and they won't work this time, take notes Obama, and your politiburo economists. 

TDoS's picture

Peak-a-boo Oil?

You're right, the world is infinite in it's ability to be exploited.  Please keep telling us "how it is," oh brilliant one.

the grateful unemployed's picture

according to that guy at Cambridge Energy, the world will using twice as much oil by 2050, and I believe him, but nobody gives anything away do they? 

TDoS's picture

The peak oil theory is about a peak in the production of global supply.  This global production peak has already passed.  

blindman's picture

the phrase "trickle down' sounds un-american. 

a phrase some bone head uttered and repeated

by a moron.  next thing you know it is an

economic ideology.  papa bush was right about one thing

when he coined the term voodo economics as voodo results

in zombification.

it is a master - slave mentality meme, and now we

have the idea by extension of this that bailing out

fraud and criminality at the initial point, inception, of

the credit system is  one, necessary, and two,  will result

in a wealth effect for the people who produce or perform

labor (work).    it is a symbolic overlay, a gimmick of

virtual representation of a "real" value (desired thing) for

a fiat or virtual thing.  but the fiat thing is controlled by

a system and population that only learn the rules so they

will better break them.   so ... debt trickles down and

wealth transports upward.   it is the law of the western

world, western civilization, and it is dying.  ?

and the irish banks are giving out millions in bonuses too.

this must be a psychotic episode i'm experiencing.

Chinese Take-Out Of The U.S. Economy, Debt Crisis Triggering Reserves Conversion into Gold and Silver


but then...update !!!  maybe ..

Allied Irish Banks: No bonuses to be paid

Allied Irish Banks says it won't award bonuses to its employees following a government threat to withhold state funding if it did.

The debt-hit Irish institution is one of the banks at the center of the financial crisis which has pushed this island nation to the brink of insolvency.

Allied Irish Banks has already absorbed billions in taxpayer cash to cover its losses.

In a statement Monday the bank said it had received a letter from the government threatening to withhold further public money if the bonuses were paid out.

The bank said the government planned to legislate a solution to the problem, although the details of the proposed legislation weren't immediately clear.



details?  problem?  what problem?  NO BONUSES AND WE TAKE DOWN


there must be a bonus season.  period.  we are talking about bankers

here, not imported labor!  the american government would never try

this crap with a banker.  a soldier, sure.  a laborer or small business,

yes.  but not the bankers.  and if the bonuses aren't big enough it just

means the bailout wasn't properly calculated and must be revisited.  ^

michael.suede's picture

Loaning money to mainstreet should not be considered "assistance"

The last thing this country needs are more consumers in debt.


Learn Austrian economics.


Vendetta's picture

The current paradigm of banks not lending (until economy gains traction) and just saving themselves is probably the root theme of Bernank's thesis.  Otherwise known as an 'oops' in the endless stream of flawed monetary theories thoughout the past 98 years or so

JustACitizen's picture

Not that I have any intention of defending banks but a lot of consumers are not in a good position to borrow any more. They are lucky to be making good on the debts that they have.

Some folks that could perhaps borrow - are not feeling all that secure in their jobs/income/lives and have no appetite for debt.

The banks have let down "Main Street" in not being very forthcoming in lending out working capital to businesses.

The banks have absolutely made a bad situation worse by speculating in the food and energy sectors. I don't want to hear any b.s. about China and surging economies. If we are going to have a tax on energy and food - it would be nice if the government was paying down debt with the proceeds - and not feeding fatcat scum bonuses.

jakethesnake76's picture

Well Christopher Whalen is a whale of a hypothesizer ( is that a SPalin word)? anyway he keeps pointing at certain trees to describe the whole forrest but is lost in it.


i grew up in Paraguay in the 70's under Generalisimo Strossner the 37 year Dictator of this little country,a Rightwinger but you couldn't tell alot of difference from him and say Hugo Chavez just that he was on the other side of Fence .

Point is all Governments want to control the Banks so they can control the economy, so now i see a George Soros video from last year where he and the present Secretary of something in the present administration are discussing restructuring the Banks like Mr. Whale just discussed, fact is if the Government is in charge of the banks 

Your Obviously not safer but the reverse.

Flushy De Toilette's picture

The idea was never to "save" the economy for the little guys. The PTB only set out to save bankers because their planned implosion was supposed to take us down first.

Since it wasn't working out that way... they thought... what the hell... let's loot the poor bastards.

unwashedmass's picture


ah, you seem to be under the impression that the US government is supposed to help the US peasantry. that's just not true...

the US government is now intended to serve the needs of the corporations and the super wealthy only....

and anything that manages to dribble down to the bottom is simply an error that needs to be corrected ....

Drag Racer's picture

'Banking expert' is that like 'military intellegence'

Quack41's picture

Mr A- Cock? Is that your size or IQ?

akak's picture

I might have been wounded by your rapier-sharp wit had you not impaled yourself with it first.

covert's picture

off topic, fyi: the obummer health care bill has been ruled unconstitutional. :D


nmewn's picture

"the obummer health care bill has been ruled unconstitutional"

Wasn't the populace told he was a Constitutional Law professor...or sumpin? ;-)

Negative liberties...ROTFLMAO!

akak's picture

My only quibble here is in calling the current slow-motion financial and economic collapse a "recession", as what we are collectively experiencing today (and tomorrow, and next year, and the year after that) is both quantitively and qualitatively unlike any garden-variety business-cycle recession of the last several decades, at least.  It is probably far more likely that we are undergoing an overturn of the financial, economic and monetary paradigms that have been in place since at least the last great depression.

Quack41's picture

You are so full of shit the toilet salutes when you walk by. This whole website is becomming more like Wikileaks every day. Suspicious, venomous twits who have nothing better to do and no better forum than an originally decent blog. Get a life you dumbshits. If you really trade and invest for a living -- go do it. The system has been rigged against idiots like you at least since the days of Jesse Livermore -- get used to it and learn how to profit from it.

p.s. you obviously have no idea of the income drivers of a comercial bank. I suggest you buy all the Citi you can--- you deserve it....

MurderNeverWasLove's picture

Wow.  19 junks, and I didn't even pile on.

Bring the Gold's picture

Why waste your time posting this kind of garbage? Just venting Blythe? Keep licking that jackboot! MMM, tastes like the blood of the innocent!


TheBillMan's picture

Sir, we may be dumbshits, but at least we are smart enough to avoid swimming in the gutter with the turds and bottom feeding vermin that composes our modern "markets."  Or should I say casino. 

Please, spare us the platitudes.  We all understand that there will always be those who try and game the system through deceit and fraud.  It is another matter altogether when the market is nothing more than a game for the likes for Gordon Gecko and the families of Rockefeller, Rothchild, and the House of Windsor (yes, we know who you are and what you are doing). 

And after the poor Savers of the world are fleeced of their life savings from this criminal syndicate, their carcasses will be thrown on the backs of the little people to take care of because that is the way it has always been with these sociopaths who see people as little more than objects like a chair, a table, or a glass of water.

So, while you have your head down behind 4 different monitors looking at technical charts, keep in mind that economic crises almost always lead to political ones and it's good to know the pulse of both is you wish to keep your wealth and your head.

DaveyJones's picture

I'm sorry your mother talked down to you

akak's picture

Leo Kovilakis, is that you?

At least you have finally chosen a more appropriate handle for yourself.

knukles's picture

Howze about the major programs engaged were never intended to aid the common folk.  They were designed to maintain and enrich financial intermediaries and associated distributors of largesse. 


Kyron95131's picture

i agree

the only direct "help" the poeple have gotten form the government was the check G.W. Bush cut during his second term when the downturn first hit.

other than that weve had extensions in unemployement benefits but thats really it, besides food stamps lol..

i mean we can talk tax breaks for middle class, but you have to be employed and have mortgage interest or loses to deduct to take advantage of those, so its moot point.

NotApplicable's picture

When I read the headline, my first thought was, so GW, you're basically saying that they've perfected the con.