Guest Post: Cui Bono Fed: Who Benefits from the Federal Reserve?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Does the Federal Reserve benefit the nation, or just the banks?

Cui bono--to whose benefit?--is a skeptic's scalpel that cuts through the fat of propaganda and political expediency to the hard truth. Since the world has been trained (in Pavlovian fashion) to hang on every word issued by America's privately owned central bank, the Federal Reserve, it's appropriate to ask a simple but profound question:

Who benefits from the Fed's existence and its policies of loaning "free money" to banks at 0% and ZIRP (zero interest rate policy)? The Status Quo's answer is "the American people," of course, a deliciously juicy layer of "Big Lie" propaganda and obfuscation.

Let's start by considering the object of the Fed's loving largesse: the world's "too big to fail" banks, which have received $16 trillion from the Fed. (I first saw this chart on Chartist Friend from Pittsburgh.)



Recall that the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.S. is around $15 trillion, and all residential mortgages in the U.S. total about $10 trillion.

Only the U.S.A. has a privately owned central bank with broad powers that are independent of (and thus exceed) those of the elected government:

The Federal Reserve System has both private and public components, and was designed to serve the interests of both the general public and private bankers. The result is a structure that is considered unique among central banks.


Progressive Democrats favored a reserve system owned and operated by the government; they believed that public ownership of the central bank would end Wall Street's control of the American currency supply.

Needless to say, the Progressives didn't get a government-owned central bank. Silly Progressives! That would have inhibited the Fed's only real purpose, which is consolidating wealth and power in the banks.

The stated purpose of the Fed is to "even out" the business cycle by never ever allowing "bank panics," in which banks failed because they were over-leveraged and burdened with bets that soured.

This has been sold as a policy of avoiding recessions and turning those few that slip through the cracks into short, shallow affairs with no lasting consequence.

Banks fail when credit has been over-extended and minimal collateral has been overleveraged. In the old days, depositors were wiped out along with the bank's owners and managers. But the FDIC deposit insurance eliminuated the threat of depositors being wiped out when banks failed, and this did not require a central bank.

So we're back to the original question: who benefits from the existence and policies of the Fed? Here are two more charts to ponder:

It certainly doesn't appear that a central bank helps maintain competition in the banking sector.

See that little blip around 2008? That was the global financial crisis. It sure is nice to have a "lender of last resort" who can loan you $16 trillion at 0% interest when you're about to lose your financial empire:


What is the fundamental basis of bank wealth and power? The financialization of the entire economy. And what are the primary mechanisms of financialization? Ever-expanding credit (debt) and leverage based on phantom collateral in phantom assets.

And what is the primary purpose of the Fed's policies? To expand debt and leverage. These are the essential mechanisms of increasing the banking sector's wealth, power and control over the economy and the machinery of governance. Expand debt and leverage and you expand banking profits and thus the banks' political power.

As noted yesterday in The Federal Reserve's Cargo Cult Magic: Housing Will Lift the Economy (Again), the interest on skyrocketing debt drains income and capital from potentially productive investments to pay for unproductive debt-based spending on consumption, fraud, friction and malinvestments. "Free money" loans create moral hazard, which means that those who can borrow money for almost nothing and never have to pay it back act entirely differently from those paying market rates for money and backing their loan with real collateral that is at risk.

Banks borrow from the Fed at 0%, students borrow from the banks at 7%. Banks never have to actually pay back their "free money" from the Fed, while students are indentured for life to the banks.

Widely distributed prosperity for the citizenry results from increases in real income that flow from productive investments and higher productivity that's passed on to workers. The Fed's model of "prosperity" is to enrich the banks and incentivize workers to take on more debt to boost their consumption and their purchase of phantom assets in stock bubbles, housing bubbles, etc.

The banking sector's solvency is entirely dependent on officially sanctioned over-valuation of phantom assets. How do you keep phantom assets inflated? You allow banks to mark assets to fantasy rather than market, you keep interest rates at zero to encourage marginally qualified borrowers to take on more debt than is prudent, turning the borrowers into debt-serfs, and you buy dodgy debt (such as impaired mortgages) from the banks to clear the bed debt from their books. And of course the one thing you never do is loan money directly to citizens or buy their dodgy mortgages. That wouldn't serve the banks.

These are all the policies of the Federal Reserve. Let's return to our original question: who benefit from the existence of the Fed and its policies? Answer: the banking sector.

The financial sector ran wild in the 2000s, running on a model of systemic fraud and "the Fed's got our back" speculation. This frenzy of financialization ended when the pyramid of instability and over-reach imploded.

Any healthy political and financial system would have broken the fraud-based system and dismantled the failed banks en masse in an orderly fashion. One institution stopped this from happening: the Federal Reserve. Instead of allowing a failed system to collapse and establish a new one based on prudent lending, market-set interest rates, competitive banks and transparent regulatory structure, instead we have a failed system that has become even more politically powerful even as its Fed-backed excesses have increased systemic fragility.

The Fed exists to serve the banks. Everything else is propaganda. Ever-expanding debt leaves America a nation of wealthy banks and increasingly impoverished debt-serfs. Cui bono, baby.

New video: Gordon Long and I discuss "Inequality Precedes Social Unrest":


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larz's picture

someone actually benefits?

Pladizow's picture

At least one of the minds of the "two minds blog" is captain obvious!

economics9698's picture

Who wins?  Washington and Wall Street.  Was this a trick question?

bania's picture

Final Four Bracket Buster, Bitchezzzz!

old naughty's picture

"Who wins? Washington and Wall Street."

Ponzi a la classic. Hooray.

Ask again after social unrest...cui bono?

boogerbently's picture

If the banks failed, the govt. would be directly responsible to repay our losses (FDIC).

It's possible to help the banks work through their transgressions, but IMPOSSIBLE to replace all funds "lost".

(devils advocate argument)

LMAOLORI's picture



Good argument especially considering the FDIC has the full faith backing of the U.S. Government and our stinking politicians allowed this


Bank Of America Dumps $75 Trillion In Derivatives On U.S. Taxpayers With Federal Approval


Trillion dollar bank insurance program may sneak into legislation




Bank deposits in the United States at the same time are estimated to be between $8 TRILLION and $10 TRILLION. Let's be conservative and say the number is $8TTT.

11,800,000,000 divided by 8,000,000,000,000 equals 0.001475, which I will round UP to 0.0015.

That is read as "fifteen hundredths of one percent". It isn't one percent, it is fifteen hundredths of one percent. That is how much the FDIC is carrying to back all of those little signs on the teller windows that say "Each Depositor insured to at least $250,000. Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government."

'JPM's $150 Billion FDIC Reality Adjustment' - Jamie Dimon Just Admitted To The World That JPM's Assets Are Overvalued By $150 Billion


Sauk Leader's picture

Shhhh... your not supposed to talk about that. I wonder if people may think any safer if they disclosed on those signs that if may take up to 75 years to recover you funds.

LMAOLORI's picture



We all realize it's the Banks that benefit but it's the politicians fault!  They could dismantle it today if they wanted to.

Pladizow's picture

You are highly disillusioned!

Vint Slugs's picture


"It would be very easy to end the Federal Reserve System. Congress would write the following bill. The president would sign it.

     1.  The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and all subsequent amendments to that act are hereby revoked.

     2.The gold that belongs to the United States government, and which is kept on deposit with the Federal Reserve System, is hereby      transferred to account of the United States Treasury..."


Read Gary North here:

Pladizow's picture

Many things are easy in theory!

The Prsident, Washington, Congress, The Senate, The Supreme Court  - all bought and paid for and do what they are told!

Name anything that has been done to the detriment of the banks or Wall Street!


marathonman's picture

Vint, I love me some Gary North, but you and I both know that libertarianism won't be allowed.  The guys that have gamed the system to maximum advantage will not give it up without a fight.  They lie, steal, cheat, and yes kill anyone that gets in the way.  The US monetary system is a cartel worse than any drug cartel.  Their leverage is enormous.  They truly are the worst mafia dons.  They enlist the CIA, FBI, the army, the IRS, and a whole host of other agencies private and public to further their cause.  The own the DNC and the RNC.  The internet is a great tool, but they have better propaganda masters than we do.  Hell, it was only after Jesus tried to take on the temple money changers that they decided for real that he had to be rubbed out.  These are the people we are up against.  Try to get them to End the Fed.  Won't freakin happen.  Respects to Gary though.  I do love his writings.

LMAOLORI's picture



And you are highly stupid. In fact the nonsense that is put on site about the Fed is ridiculous. Congress could wipe out the Fed in a heartbeat the only power it has was given to it by politicians.  They could take it away just as easily. The Fed can't Tax that power is reserved for the Treasury. All the Fed does in reality is help to hide the politico's spending that is the reason they reward it's member banks, that and all the money the banks pay off our politicians with a circle jerk. Then we pay the bill ultimately both for the politicians spending and the bribes. But the fact remains it is the politicians fault!

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

"And you are highly stupid."

"Permit me to issue and control the money of the nation and I care not who makes its laws."

This is first grade shit dude.

Radical Marijuana's picture

The established financial system is the runaway triumph of the application of organized crime methods to society. Nothing outside of that reality can properly understand, or offer adequate analysis of those realities. Blaming the politicians is way too superficial, and a historically silly way to understand WHY these problems exist.

I repeat my all-time favourite quote that explains what has happened:

History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by  controlling money and its issuance.

-James Madison

The last President that was able to "kill the bank" was Andrew Jackson. He had to miraculously survive assassination attempts in order to be able to do that! The principles and methods of organized crime are what ACTUALLY controls the world. The money changers, the international banksters, USED EVERY FORM OF ABUSE, INTRIGUE, DECEIT AND VIOLENT MEANS POSSIBLE.

Politicians are subject to bribery, intimidation, and assassination, if they do not do what the banksters demand. All of the people's champions, that might have otherwise done something, were killed instead, before they could.

It does not take a lot of murder to control the system, just enough to ripple out from crucial bifurcation points. However, the basic situation is still the same. Money depends on murder. The banksters were the best organized gang of criminals, that have used the methods of organized crime to take over governments. Their abilities to bribe or intimidate are usually enough, especially since their final back up has been assassination.

So, when you blame politicians, how do you propose to defend those politicians, who would become the people's champions, against assassination, IF they became successful?  Of course, these days, the overwhelming runaway triumphs of organized crime in the past have already almost totally taken control. Thus, almost all politicians have no career, unless they were already picked to go along with the established systems. They are almost a priori bribed and intimidated, and therefore, never need to be assassinated by the banksters. The banksters have already bought up control of the mass media, and have already paid for the best brainwashing that money can buy, in order to insure that their own hand-picked politicians are the ONLY ones in their puppet show elections that have any hope of winning.

There is NO REAL opposition whatsoever that I am aware of, that is not necessarily Fringe Cubed, i.e., fringe of the fringe of fringe. The only genuine opposition would have to BEGIN by telling the people that money is ALWAYS based on robbery, backed by murder. The people would have to understand and agree with that basic insight, that their sovereignty was based on the power to rob, and that they were actually, as citizens, members of an organized crime gang. Upon that basis, then the citizens could actually understand their reality, and vote appropriately, and respond correctly to the assassination of their representatives. ... Clearly, that is NOW the most wild pie-in-the-sky day dreaming!

The realities are that the international banksters, all over the world, are a runaway gang of psychotic killers, who murder anyone in their way, who challenges their hegemony. Our politicians are up against a gang of trillionaire mass murders. The ONLY successful politicians work for those banksters. Their "success" is driving civilization towards psychotic breakdowns. The international banksters are the FRAUD KINGS. All over the world, everything they promote is bigger lies, backed up with more violence. There is no better dynamic equilibria emerging because the vast majority of people have been too brainwashed to believe in bullshit to understand what is going on.

Americans especially were brainwashed to believe in impossible ideals, based on false fundamental dichotomies. All of the fairy tales that Americans have been telling themselves have led to that backfiring as badly as it possibly could! The clearest proof of that is that almost everyone who correctly diagnoses these social problems then collapses back to the same old impossible ideals as the basis for their bogus solutions. However, their impossible ideals continue to make the opposite things happen in the real world!

So, IF, IF, IF you ever find any politicians that achieve political miracles by telling people more radical truth, that those people understand and agree with, and who are practically prepared to participate in political movements where it is expected that its leaders would be assassinated, IF, IF, IF they became more successful, THEN, I would begin to believe that there was some real chance of social transformation, to better balance the rates of social robberies.

However, at the present time, the whole established system fits together as the triumph of organized crime, which has a carefully coded language to talk about everything it is really doing in perfectly backwards ways. Your comment was just one more of those kinds of sublime bullshit statements, which was superficially true, but otherwise totally wrong!

Xibalba's picture

Banks are people, my friend!

cynicalskeptic's picture

Banks are BETTER than people and FAR more important.....


Ultimately - to the corporations - people are Soylent Green

donsluck's picture

And grass is water, and bikes are dear, and moles are fingers. WTF.

Sutton's picture

When Ben gave TBTF's trillions to  stay afloat and then bid up foodstuffs and energy products he transferred the wealth of the middle class to the top Wall St/Banks/hedge Fund axis. Those organizations  should have been pulled apart and their equity wiped out, but they weren't having it.  So we wither and die as they grow richer. I guess people don't mind getting pushed around.

sdmjake's picture

And you are seeing the same in Europe. Worth a read:


Europe is ruled by a one-dimensional tunnel vision that maintains Armageddon will come if and when Greece leaves the eurozone. That is not true for the people of Greece or the rest of the eurozone. It may be true for banks and their shareholders, though. That is what all decisions are based on: preventing bank losses and, down the line, one or several credit events, that would unleash the wrath of the derivatives market.

That is still the essence of the entire crisis: the people in the street being forced to pay for the long lost wagers of those in penthouses and ivory banking towers.


luckylongshot's picture

As all the money the Fed creates is invented then an uplifting thought is that the whole pile of debt could theoretically be cancelled as there is no consideration...relieving us all of our debts, the Fed and the banksters that profit from them in an instant.

cynicalskeptic's picture

The US government COULD simply print its own money - instead of borrowing to pay for new money creation   Lincoln did, JFK tried it.......    doens't seem to work oput so well for those that try to cut out the middleman

Clashfan's picture

Great point, one Bill Still makes in The Secret of Oz, available on YT.

LMAOLORI's picture



The Fed can do nothing without Congress.  Here's the catch 22 after Congress spends us into oblivion our Constitution says...


Sect. 4 of the 14th Amendment. It reads in part:


”… .the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned



And second, there is this Criminal Mischief statute

18 US 1361. Government property or contracts

Whoever willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States, or of any department or agency thereof, or any property which has been or is being manufactured or constructed for the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or attempts to commit any of the foregoing offenses, shall be punished as follows:


If the damage or attempted damage to such property exceeds the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; if the damage or attempted damage to such property does not exceed the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.”



"Once you understand the details of modern central banking, you are able to step back and see that it truly is a way for the government to use the printing press to pay its bills. All of the complicated process of targeting interest rates through buying Treasuries simply hides this essential point — and perhaps deliberately so."



banksterhater's picture

It's NIRP and a Crime against Humanity for which Bernanke & Co needs TO PAY! A Crime against the World's struggling poor, who pay 75% of their income for food, a CRIME against US savers, especially seniors, condemning them to poverty, even DEATH!

cynicalskeptic's picture

The Soylent Corporation will save us.

boogerbently's picture

This explains why NEITHER of our two presidential options give ANY details of their plan. It's just "trust me, I'M the better choice"!

Clowns on Acid's picture

Romney has said that he would not reappoint Bernanke. Obama would. If Bernanake turned the opportunity to be reappointed by Obama, Obama would probably appoint Janet Yellen....and then go long money printing machines.


LMAOLORI's picture


"Needless to say, the Progressives didn't get a government-owned central bank. Silly Progressives! That would have inhibited the Fed's only real purpose, which is consolidating wealth and power in the banks."

It's pretty amusing this part above about the progressives wanting a govt. owned bank since they don't even want the Fed audited and harry reid won't even bring it to the floor.  What people don't seem to realize is why Ron Paul wants to end the Fed. It's not because it's some secret jekyl & hyde monster it is because it enables the politicians to continue spending money we don't have. The whole premise of this article is wrong since it's not true that the Fed has a greater power then elected officials the Feds real purpose is to allow that spending to continue it couldn't with a return to the gold standard. The wealth and power consolidation is political as well don't kid yourself for a moment that a govt. owned bank wouldn't have cronyism/corruption.


AUD's picture

Yes, the Fed is the government bank, like central banks everywhere. Until 2008 its 'assets' were almost exclusively government bonds. It operates through the 'open market', that is the commercial banks, to give the pretence of 'free markets', no other reason.

Commercial banks benefit certainly, but they are the primary monetisers of government debt, not the central bank.

cynicalskeptic's picture

The Fed is OWNED by MEMBER BANKS - not the US government.  


It serves its owners well.


Read up on its creation - secrecy and an astroturf campaign following the engineered Panic of 1907......   Banks had been tryong to re-establish a 'national bank' under their control since Jackson. They finally managed to do so with the creation of the Fed.

putaipan's picture

paraphrased from another poster on another thread-

"it's almost as if there was a secret meeting on a secluded island somewhere"

best one liner ever!

Clashfan's picture

Great read here by Eustace Mullins that I highly recommend:

Here is the outline of the piece:

The World Order
A Study in the Hegemony of Parasitism
The history and practices of the parasitic financial elite

a book By Eustace Mullins 1984

Sourced: 1, 2

CHAPTER 1: The Rothschilds
Financial masters of modern Europe
1.1 Mayer Rothschild and the "Five Arrows"
       Overturning the European Monarchs
       Rothschild Interests in England
       Rothchild Interests in America
       Rothschild Interests in South Africa
 1.2: Consolidating the Empire.
 Bank of England, World War I, RIIA and CFR, Opium Trade, First City
     The House of Orange and the Bank of England
     The Merchants of Death and World War I
     The Post-War World Order: RIIA and CFR
     The Opium Trade and Other Ventures
Monopoly capitalist support for the Bolsheviks
    Monopoly capitalist support for the Bolsheviks
    American International Corporation
    Lenin's Program
    Financing the Revolution
    Rockefeller Support for the Bolsheviks
    Before, During and After World War II
    The Present Danger
CHAPTER 3: Franklin D. Roosevelt
World War II as a managed conflict on behalf of the financial oligarchy
    The Rise of FDR
    The Managed Conflict
    Post-War Consolidation
    Financial Exploitation
U.S. business and financial ties to European financiers
    The Seven Men
    The Federal Reserve Bank of New York
    National City Bank of New York (Citibank)
    National City Bank of Cleveland
    First City National Bank of Houston
    J. P. Morgan and George Baker
    Brown Brothers Harriman
    Dillon Read
    The Warburgs and Kuhn, Loeb Co.
    Other Power Brokers
    The Seven Men
Wild Bill Donovan, the OSS, and the CIA
    William J. Donovan
    The Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
    The Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War
    The Staging the Second World War
    Operations of the OSS
    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
    More CIA Relationships
    The Heroin Trade
Construction projects and political influence
    Bechtel Group and the Reagan Administration
    The Early Years of Bechtel
    Bechtel Connections
    Power Politics
    Editor's notes
CHAPTER 7: The Foundations
7.1: Rockefeller Foundation
Origins of the foundation system, the Rockefeller Foundation
    Syndicates of Control
    Origins of the Foundation System
    The Rockefeller Foundation
7.2: Brookings and Carnegie Foundations
Brookings Institution, Russell Sage Foundation, Carnegie Corp, German Marshall Fund
    The Brookings Institution
    The Russell Sage Foundation
    The Carnegie Foundations
    The German Marshall Fund
    Gatekeepers and Think Tanks
7.3: The Hoover Institution
Herbert Hoover, wartime documents, and the Hoover Institution
The Career of Herbert Hoover
The Hoover Library of Wartime Documents
Hoover Institution and Stanford University
Liberal Fellows of Hoover Institution
7.4: Mont Pelerin, Ford Foundation and Tavistock
The Mont Pelerin Society, Ford Foundation and Tavistock Institute
    The Mont Pelerin Society
    The Ford Foundation
    The Tavistock Institute
    Appendix I
History of the parasitic class and their techniques of control
    Paper Money
    Divide and Conquer
    The British East India Company
    Cults and Communists
    The Illuminati
    Hegemony of the Parasite Class
    Criminal Syndicalism
    An Orwellian Program
    Editor's notes


It's extremely well researched and well written.

jjsilver's picture

This article is more misdirection from the controlled opposition

Al Huxley's picture

I don't understand your comment at all.  What are you implying?  In what way is this misdirection?  Who is the controlled opposition?  Who are they opposing?

Questan1913's picture


And which department of the Fed employs you??

Conax's picture

The article should include the federal government as a beneficiary. Without the fed there could have been no endless wars, no 660 military installations in over 100 countries, no foreign aid bribe money and so on. 

No spending sprees, just endless tax increases that would piss off the voters.


sskid's picture

The banksters benefit from the wars, they finance it.

Urban Redneck's picture

They are indirect beneficiaries.

During the 2007-2008 crisis Bernanke lent 16T (or whatever) TO HIS OWN SHAREHOLDERS (OWNERS) to keep them (and indirectly, the FED itself) from going bankrupt. 

The Circle is the Perfect Shape.

Questan1913's picture



Superb point.  These plundering bloodsuckers have the blood of countless millions of state murdered victims on their hands. 

Boilermaker's picture

Who Benefits from the Federal Reserve?

I'm guessing it's not me.  I just have a strange sensation about that.


chubbar's picture

Here's a quick tutorial on the FED. How it was started and who owns/runs it and for whos benefit.

privatebanker55's picture

This pretty much sums it all up

Bernanke's early years:

Clashfan's picture

The Aaron Russo interview is a great source on this info and other matters. He delves into his frequent conversations with Nick Rockefeller as he was alledgedly being "recruited" into the CFR and other nefarious schemes. Fantastic stuff.

He discusses 911, social security, women's rights, the Federal Reserve, and the international banksters' plans for humanity (globally).

CuriousPasserby's picture

When someone says "wealthy bank" I get the impression they don't know what they are talking about.

Aren't most banks virtually worthless these days? Isn't all of their trillions of dollars in assets just accounts being held for depositors, such as pension funds, 401(k)s, checking accounts? Even the stock of the banks (equity) is held by private people and retirement accoutns.

So the money in those evil banks really belongs to you, your parents and grandparents. Maybe the managers are evil and overpaid, but the money is not theirs it's ours!

Questan1913's picture


So the sytem is NOT EVIL!!!!!   It's just lil ol us, after all????  Thanks for unburdening me of all my baseless misgivings.  Now you do perform this therapy for a living, correct?

RobinHood73's picture

This structural flaw that has extended too much power to this self interested body is a poision that is killing the entire system. The Federal Reserve is a cancer that is attacking its host. Its too late, imo, to salvage. Prepare for strangeness. Perhaps hyperinflation, perhaps deep delation. No middle ground seems possible.