Recently, Zero Hedge presented a snapshot analysis of the various securities that made up the triparty repo agreement involving JPM, Lehman and the Fed. We uncovered numerous bankrupt companies' equities that were being pledged as collateral for what ultimately was taxpayer exposure. To our surprise, this discovery is not an exception, and in fact in the days immediately preceding the collapse of Bear Stearns first, and subsequently, Lehman Brothers, the Federal Reserve established and refined a program that permitted banks to pledge virtually any security as collateral, including not just investment grade bonds and higher ranked securities, but also stocks of companies, the riskiest investment possible, and a guaranteed way for taxpayer capital to evaporate in the context of a disintegrating financial system, all with the purpose of bailing out Wall Street's major institutions. On two occasions last year: on March 16, 2008, and subsequently on September 14, 2008, the Federal Reserve first established what is known as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), and subsequently amended it, so that the Fed, in becoming the lender of last resort, would allow any collateral, up to and including stocks, to be funded by the Federal Reserve's credit facility, in order to prevent the $4.5 trillion repo financing system from imploding. By doing so, the Federal Reserve effectively gave a Carte Blanche to primary dealers to purchase any and all equities they so desired, with such purchases immediately being funded by the US taxpayer, via the PDCF. In essence, this was equivalent to the Fed purchasing equities by itself through a Primary Dealer agent.
Readers who have been concerned with the moral hazard provided by the Fed's monetization of Treasury and Mortgage debt, should be doubly concerned by this Fed action which sent three key messages to Wall Street: i) it made sure that Primary Dealers would generate massive profits on risky assets as the Fed would provide the funding to acquire any and all stocks (keep in mind the cost of funding of the PDCF to primary dealers was negligible); ii) it tipped its hand as to the existence and modus operandi of the rumored "plunge protection team," iii) and it made clear that the much maligned, by none other than Chairman Bernanke, concept of "moral hazard" is the one and only systemically relevant doctrine as long as the Fed's Chairman is in control, and not subject to any auditing auspices. The fact that PDs used over $140 billion of taxpayer money within a few weeks of the program's expansion in September to fund what one can assume were exclusively equity purchases, demonstrates that the American financial system got the message.