Over the weekend, we gave the Dallas Fed a chance to respond to a Zero Hedge story corroborated by at least two independent sources, in which we reported that Federal Reserve members had met with bank lenders with distressed loan exposure to the US oil and gas sector and, after parsing through the complete bank books, had advised banks to i) not urge creditor counterparties into default, ii) urge asset sales instead, and iii) ultimately suspend mark to market in various instances.
Moments ago the Dallas Fed, whose president since September 2015 is Robert Steven Kaplan, a former Goldman Sachs career banker who after 22 years at the bank rose to the rank of vice chairman of its investment bank group - an odd background for a regional Fed president - took the time away from its holiday schedule to respond to Zero Hedge.
This is what it said.
We thank the Dallas Fad for their prompt attention to this important matter. After all, as one of our sources commented, "If revolvers are not being marked anymore, then it's basically early days of subprime when mbs payback schedules started to fall behind." Surely there is nothing that can grab the public's attention more than a rerun of the mortgage crisis, especially if confirmed by the highest institution.
As such we understand the Dallas Fed's desire to avoid a public reaction and preserve semantic neutrality by refuting "such guidance."
That said, we fully stand by our story, and now that we have engaged the Dallas Fed we would like to ask several very important follow up questions, to probe deeper into a matter that is of significant public interest as well as to clear up any potential confusion as to just what "guidance" the Fed is referring to.
- Has the Dallas Fed, or any other members and individuals of the Federal Reserve System, met with U.S. bank and other lender management teams in recent weeks/months and if so what was the purpose of such meetings?
- Has the Dallas Fed, or any other members and individuals of the Federal Reserve System, requested that banks and other lenders present their internal energy loan books and loan marks for Fed inspection in recent weeks/months?
- Has the Dallas Fed, or any other members and individuals of the Federal Reserve System, discussed options facing financial lenders, and other creditors, who have distressed credit exposure including but not limited to:
- avoiding defaults on distressed debtor counterparties?
- encouraging asset sales for distressed debtor counterparties?
- advising banks to avoid the proper marking of loan exposure to market?
- advising banks to mark loan exposure to a model framework, one created either by the creditors themselves or one presented by members of the Federal Reserve network?
- avoiding the presentation of public filings with loan exposure marked to market values of counterparty debt?
- Was the Dallas Fed, or any other members and individuals of the Federal Reserve System, consulted before the January 15, 2016 Citigroup Q4 earnings call during which the bank refused to disclose to the public the full extent of its reserves related to its oil and gas loan exposure, as quoted from CFO John Gerspach:
"while we are taking what we believe to be the appropriate reserves for that, I'm just not prepared to give you a specific number right now as far as the amount of reserves that we have on that particular book of business. That's just not something that we've traditionally done in the past."
- Furthermore, if the Dallas Fed, or any other members and individuals of the Federal Reserve system, were not consulted when Citigroup made the decision to withhold such relevant information on potential energy loan losses, does the Federal Reserve System believe that Citigroup is in compliance with its public disclosure requirements by withholding such information from its shareholders and the public?
- If the Dallas Fed does not issue "such" guidance to banks, then what precisely guidance does the Dallas Fed issue to banks?
Since the Fed is an entity tasked with serving the public, and since it took the opportunity to reply in broad terms to our previous article, we are confident that Mr. Kaplan and his subordinates will promptly address these follow up concerns.
Finally, in light of this official refutation by the Dallas Fed, we are confident that disclosing the Fed's internal meeting schedules is something the Fed will not object to, and we hereby request that Mr. Kaplan disclose all of his personal meetings with members of the U.S. and international financial system since coming to office, both through this article, and through a FOIA request we are submitting concurrently.