Bank Of America Forces Depositors To Backstop Its $53 Trillion Derivative Book To Prevent A Few Clients From Departing The Bank

Tyler Durden's picture

Bank of America, which today reported a big bottom line loss net of one-time beneficial items, did something quite tricky and extremely devious last month: it shifted anywhere up to the total of $53 trillion of the total derivatives it held as of June 30 (as Zero Hedge previously reported) on its books at Q2 from the Holding Company, which was downgraded last by Moody's from A2 to Baa1 (the third-lowest investment grade rating) to its retail bank, which was downgraded to the far more palatable A2 (from Aa3). The reason for the transfer? Bank customers who were uneasy with the fact that suddenly the collateral backstoping the operating entity handling their counterparty risk was downgraded to just above junk, demanded that said counterparty risk be mitigated by the bank's $1 trillon in deposits. In other words, as Bloomberg first reported when it broke this story, anywhere up to the full $53 trillion (we don't know for sure how much so we assume the worst case) is now fully and effectively backstopped explicitly by the bank's $1,041 trillion (as of September 30) deposits. Pardon, we meant the people's deposits: the same deposits which caused the bank's website to be inoperative for several days in a row after it was rumored that there was an electronic run on the bank. Why? Just so Bank of America can appears whatever remaining clients it has so they decide not to take their business to another derivative counterparty. And who is exposed to this latest idiocy? Why you. But that's not all: the FDIC, which is the entity backstopping the deposits in a worst-case scenario, is not happy with this move for obvious reasons. Yet even it is hopeless to override the Fed, which as Bloomberg reports, "has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company." And so, once again, we see just how much more important to the Federal Reserve are interests of US taxpayers and savers, over those of the banks that effectively run the Fed.

Bloomberg reports:

Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.


The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people. The bank doesn’t believe regulatory approval is needed, said people with knowledge of its position.


Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina- based Bank of America, declined to comment on the transfers or the firm’s discussions with regulators. The company “continues to accommodate the needs of our clients through each of our multiple trading entities, including Bank of America NA,” he said in an e-mailed statement, referring to the company’s deposit-taking unit.


Barbara Hagenbaugh, a Fed spokeswoman, said she couldn’t discuss supervision of specific institutions. Greg Hernandez, an FDIC spokesman, declined to comment.

The catalyst: the Moody's downgrade of the bank to a rating far more indicative of BAC's insolvent (aka D) status:

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Bank of America’s long-term credit ratings Sept. 21, cutting both the holding company and the retail bank two notches apiece. The holding company fell to Baa1, the third-lowest investment-grade rank, from A2, while the retail bank declined to A2 from Aa3.


The Moody’s downgrade spurred some of Merrill’s partners to ask that contracts be moved to the retail unit, which has a higher credit rating, according to people familiar with the transactions. Transferring derivatives also can help the parent company minimize the collateral it must post on contracts and the potential costs to terminate trades after Moody’s decision, said a person familiar with the matter.

"All perfectly normal"

The moves by Bank of America are part of “the normal course of dealings that we’ve had with counterparties since Merrill Lynch and BofA came together,” Thompson said today.

Moving derivatives contracts between units of a bank holding company is limited under Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, which is designed to prevent a lender’s affiliates from benefiting from its federal subsidy and to protect the bank from excessive risk originating at the non-bank affiliate, said Saule T. Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

With the Fed's blessing:

Moving derivatives contracts between units of a bank holding company is limited under Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, which is designed to prevent a lender’s affiliates from benefiting from its federal subsidy and to protect the bank from excessive risk originating at the non-bank affiliate, said Saule T. Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.


In 2009, the Fed granted Section 23A exemptions to the banking arms of Ally Financial Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, Fifth Third Bancorp, ING Groep NV, General Electric Co., Northern Trust Corp., CIT Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., among others, according to letters posted on the Fed’s website.


The central bank terminated exemptions last year for retail-banking units of JPMorgan, Citigroup, Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Deutsche Bank AG. The Fed also ended an exemption for Bank of America in March 2010 and in September of that year approved a new one.


Section 23A “is among the most important tools that U.S. bank regulators have to protect the safety and soundness of U.S. banks,” Scott Alvarez, the Fed’s general counsel, told Congress in March 2008.

In other words, while previously there had been a firewall between the bank's depository entity and the one that gambles, on either a flow or prop basis, with the abovementioned multi-trillion number, that firewall is now gone and all the money has been comminlged, explaining the FDIC's fear. And of course, in order to thank depositors for being explicit guarantors of the bank's derivative business, it is now forcing them to pay a $5/month fee.

Somehow we really doubt the 12/31 update will show a "total deposits" number over $1 trillion. Or anywhere remotely close.

Laslty, nobody should make the mistake that BofA is alone in this move: every other bank that has major derivative exposure and has a depository base has certainly been forced to do precisely the same by its bigger accounts, who have no desire of being exposed to surging counterparty risk and would much rather split it with America's depositors.

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wang's picture
wang (not verified) Oct 18, 2011 2:09 PM
nope-1004's picture

Take your deposits out, move them to a credit union.  Problem solved.  Risk abated.

Good bye BAC.



tarsubil's picture

When my wife closed her account yesterday they specifically asked if she was moving to a credit union. Where do they get off? She said none of your business. I would've been a little less diplomatic.

JohnG's picture

Had a new will notarized last Sat. at my credit union.  I asked the guy if they are getting a lot of new account customers from megabank former customers -- he told me over 10K in the last 90 days - and this is a fairly small (12 branches I think) CU.

Pladizow's picture

There was a guy on CNBC yesterday who was the head of the Credit Union Association and he said new accounts were up 5 fold!

Employee Notice

Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early, mandatory retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).

Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).

A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Congress deems appropriate.

Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).

Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Congress.

Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Congress has always prided themselves on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.

Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.


The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)

PS - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

Totin's picture

Lulz. I'm stealing that man!

max2205's picture

Having the FDIC backstop derivatives is like asking a homeless person to pay your mortgage every month. Ain't gonna happen.

FDIC isn't really an agency. It's like a ghost agency.

seek's picture

This is quite true, since it's basically a communal insurance fund that was already so depleted that they had the banks pay their fees years in advance back in 2008/09.

That this happened, though, is telling. It really makes the trigger event/black swan possibilities to take out the entire banking system obvious. And banks being the scum they are, I could see them trying to get the full notional value of the derivatives. At this point you'd have to print to cover, and boom, there's the hyperinflationary event that takes place to "save" the banks while reducing the customer's savings value to nearly zero.

Harlequin001's picture

Reading this I almost thought to myself, why don't I go and open an account with a credit union?

And then I remembered, it's because it's stored in gold in a vault in Switzerland.

and then I thought WTF!

and yes, seek, the money printing, for which a Credit Union is fuck all protection will begin in earnest when the US can no longer access bond markets due to high rates. It must then pay for everything in cash, and not 2% per year with bonds.

That means that is the yield on a 5 year is 2%pa, then the governments requirement for physical cash goes up by a multiple of 50, instantly, and that's just to stand still.

Good luck with your credit union when that happens...

lunaticfringe's picture

I was lost, first and almost at the beginning I think.

flacon's picture

As long as FDIC has the word "Corporation" in it, it's all good. Corporations never loose and they can always be trusted because they are back-stopped by the Federal Government who has Deposits into such Corporation. In Government We Trust. 

gitano513's picture

Halequin!  Give us a link or two where some of us can do the same.  Reputable places though!  

flacon's picture

I have some in Switzerland, UK, and Hong Kong. Buy sell, hold cash, swap etc. James Turk is rated AAAAAA+


Harlequin001's picture

gitano I'm sorry old stick, I have nowhere I would 'choose' to recommend to you. It took me a long while to find a place and circumstances I was happy with, which is not what I would wish to disclose on these pages.

As with everything, due diligence is what matters, ultimately. Reputable is not necessarily well known or well marketed, reputable is the detail in the contracts that allow you to see the contracting parties, to see the valuations methodology, to work out how you can lose your money and protect against it and how to ensure you maintain access to your assets.

If I can give you any advice it would be to plan carefully for income and capital gains taxes first, because that is the ultimate way that all gold investors will lose their money. That kind of information is usually very well kept and not for public viewing because as everyone knows, even if it worked, the tax office would do all tha they could to undermine it anyway. DD is everything...

Keeping your gold safe is a different matter.

If you wish I can set up an email and we can discuss it further...

Withdrawn Sanction's picture ought to see their HQ building up close.  What an architectural pile of crap.  It's a perfect metaphor for their "mission."  It's mostly a glass curtain/steel skeleton (not too different from your garden variety office park). But then they covered the upper floors w/cheap-looking pink granite appliqués on the exterior.  From a distance, it looks big, solid, and imposing.  On closer inspection, however, the street level walls don't even have the cheap-looking applied granite.  It's just pink-painted concrete (and not even painted faux to mimic granite).  Just a cheap, slap-dash fraud facade...exactly like the FDIC itself.

Speaks volumes w/o saying a word.

gitano513's picture

The best thing for everyone to do is to take all their money OUT of the banks, especially the big banks.  

Something bad is coming, just like in 2008, and it has everyone spooked.  At least credit unions faired better than the banks and they are insured.  The big banks are going to collapse and implode into themselves and they will try to take down everyone in the process.  

They are fearmongering everyone as much as they can also so that people don't close their accounts. They are also downplaying the fact that they have all their clients closing their accounts.  

Chase is scared as hell too.  They changed around their JP Morgan Chase web site to show that they "care" about the little people and about communities.  I think it's all bullshit because they had a big hand in the mortgage fraud and they will also go down as well.  

I hope everyone DO NOT fear the big banks or what they have to say.  I also pray to God that the US govt DOESN'T bail them out ever again.  

We have to let the big banks know that without us, the people, they are nothing!! 


greased up deaf guy's picture

yahoo finance top story:

Bernanke: Crisis Taught Lesson for Central Banks

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says a key lesson learned from the 2008 financial crisis is that central banks must have a dual goal of controlling inflation while supporting the banking system."

ahhh... the REAL dual mandate is now blatant.

Bastiat's picture

The truth is always refreshing.

sqz's picture

"... of course, in order to thank depositors for being explicit guarantors of the bank's derivative business, it is now forcing them to pay a $5/month fee." Ouch.

That simply wouldn't be legal in most developed countries outside the US. I'm somewhat surprised this bank has any deposits left ...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

That simply wouldn't be legal in most developed countries outside the US.

You need to remember that the US is shedding its "developed country" status. It is now what is referred to as a submerging economy.


mjk0259's picture

And rightfully so! This is a disgrace. There should be Congressional hearings right away.

Leopold B. Scotch's picture

Yes. They've proven to be such wonderful overseers of the system.

TheGameIsRigged's picture

WE NEED REVOLUTION - pure and simple.  TPTB just suck...there's really no other way to say it.  It disgusts me.  I do not know how they sleep at night.

JohnG's picture

Vampires don't need sleep.  They sit up and plot new ways to rob "customers" aka vampire food.

Nascent_Variable's picture

Guillotine time may not be here just yet, but take comfort in the fact that it is fast approaching.

Off with their heads.  All the lords and their squires - every last villainous, thieving one of them.

LFMayor's picture

How they sleep is not important.  Where they sleep, now that's useful.

Manthong's picture

Long: Torches and Pitchforks

Short: Time

gitano513's picture

If there ever is a real revolution, meaning much more than what is happening right now, it may just be the bloodiest one of all.  These capitalist pigs will never let go of what they have stolen.  I have seen a few videos where some 'rich' people have spoken about how they have food storage closets in their homes and they have also bought guns.  They also spoke about learning how to shoot and how they have been turning their money into gold bullions and silver as well.  

As I watched the video, I just kept laughing to myself.  They were all laughing and giggling and shit, like if we are supposed to be scared of them!  Little do they know that they are prime targets when all hell really breaks loose.  We also outnumber how ever many bullets they think they have!!  lmao  

optimator's picture

I Enjoy being a customer of Bank america.  I've had their credit card for years.  I use it, for example, when the coffee shop doesn't have change for a fifty dollar bill. 

upWising's picture


Bedtime at the Moynihan house....

Moynihan kids:  "Daddy, tell us that story about how money gets made out of nothing."

Brian Moynihan: "Well, not so long ago, and not far enough away, there was a place called Countrywide. It was very rich and everybody in Countrywide had an easy lifestyle and a dark tan.  Well not everybody, mostly Uncle Angelo.  Then things started getting tough for Uncle Angelo and  he had to stuff his suitcases with money, and hop a quick plane to a small island."

kids: "Tell us more daddy!"

Brian Moynihan: "So the Kingdom of BofA had to HELP COuntrywide. The people of Countrywide were sad & most of them lost their jobs & their houses. But the Kingdom of BofA was very generous so it gave the Handsome Princes of Countrywide nice houses & good retirements.  BofA had friends in the Land of TARP who paid for all of this as a favour.  But then all the people who used to love the Kingdom of BofA and carry their cards around in their pockets, got sad & stopped being BofA's friend; they wanted their money back!"

kids:  "Oh NO! What Happened?"

Brian Moynihan: "BofA fixed all the problems with Magic Pixie Dust & Debit Fees & stacks of Green Paper & Computer Tricks and made them all go away.  Their Special Friends in the Land of Federal Reserve have lots of Pixie Dust & lots of Printing Presses & Green paper  and they can make all of BofA's problems go away.  At least so far. Now go to bed kids.  Daddy has a headache."


NumberNone's picture

Bob Piss-on-me just said BAC is trading below book value.  I'm sure he's done his homework on all of this before spouting off. 

DCFusor's picture

Waaaaaaay below if they're really got 1,041 trillion in deposits!  I assume that's a typo in the article.  But with FASB rules, book value is meaningless - no mark to market, no value can be determined from what they report.  Their true book is probably negative, so in reality they are trading way above their book value.

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

Yeah, typo, 'cos if they had 1+ quadrillion in deposits, problem solved!

But unfortunately they have over 50x leverage between their derivatives exposure vs their deposits. Who needs anything scarier at Halloween? Hey kids, I'm B of A's balance sheet! Boo!

sabra1's picture

did they at least pay the $5.00 for the transfer?

Debtless's picture

2 words. Credit Union. 

Next question...

NotApplicable's picture

While I've been a credit unioner all of my life, they are not immune from the financial plague either, thanks to the help of the U.S. Central Credit Union (i.e. the central bank for credit unions), who got them all involved in toxic paper "assets."

Simply put, there is no avoiding the consequences of a crack-up boom. Any place that relies on the fiat standard for sustainability is doomed.

SilverIsKing's picture

Make sure your credit union doesn't keep it's deposits at

Kali's picture

This is so true.  Many of the credit unions are no better than banks.  Do your homework.  I pulled out of my CU after being there 16 years when they were urging members to invest in Goldman Sucks bonds at 5% to "make your money work better for you".  They still offer good customer service, lower fees.  I think it wise not to keep any "money" in an financial institution more than to clear checks for bills.  The shit is coming down and they all will steal every last penny left anywhere not under your direct control.  This is  not a "Wonderful Life"  PM's bitchez. 

Tyler- what is your take on the CFTC decision?

Rynak's picture

That may be so in the US.... in europe however, exposure of credit unions to the TBTF shit tends to be low - not nonexistent, but low. For example, in the recent "do your own stresstest"-article, i moved all sliders to the max - 100% haircuts in the EZ, and so on.... and my local credit union was near the bottom of the failure list, with about 0,1B in the reds.

Kali's picture

Where do they deposit their funds?  Who are the credit union members (with loans outstanding?).  I laugh at my friends who "bank" with  a credit union that is comprised of all government employees.  What will happen to your credit union when TSHTF?  Will your members still have jobs and income?

Good for you, you did your due diligence.  I think.  What is your CU holding?  Gold?

Rynak's picture

Where do they deposit their funds?

Mine does not deposit funds outside the cooperative.

Who are the credit union members (with loans outstanding?)

Don't know - we have a lot of cooperatives where i live, and thanks to the shitty megacorps in my "state" having killed off most of the competition, the cooperatives here have no problem surviving on their own, because people are switching to them en masse. So, i wouldn't know why they'd need gov assistance and have never heard of such a thing. Also, the gov here DOES already have it's own nationwide bank system, with which the cooperatives and corporations are competing.... so again, why should they?

Will your members still have jobs and income?

That's a good point but not really on topic - when the entire economy crashes, all bets are off anyways. However, it does not necessarily need to be that the worst of all worst cases happens - so when the outcome is just catastrophic, rather than doomsday, the undercapitalized ones will fall first, and the more autonomous ones later.... which should give oneself more than enough warning time.

Good for you, you did your due diligence.  I think.  What is your CU holding?  Gold?

(prev reply removed - i didn't correctly read your question and thought you were asking about my longterm holdings)

Okay, i just checked - apparently, it is almost completely cash - just aprox. 15% of the capital is invested in stocks and metals. So, it's major exposure is fiat - if the EUR hyperinflates, the bank goes down.

Libertarians for Prosperity's picture



Where do most small banks and credit unions get funding?

Harlequin001's picture

Yep, some big words in there: car, metal, shiny, fuck...