The Carry Trade

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Have I mentioned yet that banksters are stupider than you and I?

About the only way they can find to make money is to borrow it from Central Banks at low or non-existent rates of interest and lend it back to governments at significantly higher rates.

This is why Modern Monetary Theory is so appealing.  Why not just cut out the bloodsucking middlemen?

Oh, in theory they lend that money to producers of goods and services.  In fact, not so much.  Take for instance the European Central Bank’s outstandingly “successful” auction.

Where will the ECB’s billions go?

Felix Salmon, Reuters

Dec 22, 2011 09:50 EST

Norris’s bullishness is based on what you might call the Sarkozy trade – the idea that a huge amount of the ECB’s new lending will end up being invested in Eurozone government debt. He calls it “an obvious, virtually risk-free, option” for the banks who borrowed ECB funds.

(T)he prudent course of action, for Europe’s banks, is to use this ECB money to pay down their own debts. Doing so would address a big funding risk, and would also help derisk their balance sheets in the eyes of the world and of Basel.

The big question, then, is how long the ECB is going to be doing this kind of thing. If this operation is a signal to the market that the ECB will be the lender of last resort to European banks for at least the next couple of years, then the banks don’t need to worry so much about their own financing needs and can lock up the funds in two- or three-year government bonds as Norris and Sarkozy anticipate.

If I were running a European bank, I’d fill up on ECB lending now, when it’s plentiful, because you never know for sure when that limit might be reached. That’s what happened yesterday. But I’d definitely think twice before turning around and lending it all back out again to Italy or Spain. Yes, that trade is a profitable one. But the one thing that European banks need more than anything else right now is liquidity. Profits come second.

So the 2 choices on the table right now are stealing money using the ‘Carry Trade’ to extort it from governments and calling that ‘profit’ OR simply using it to write off the Trillions of crap they already have on their bloated, insolvent books.


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