Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Bank of The United States

Imagine for a moment that you're a proud and pleased investor in a bank, a major bank. As an investor, it's treated you and other shareholders well. Dividends have been paid to investors every year since inception and and the Board of Directors have increased them in most years. Over time, you've reinvested those dividends and your stake has increased to the point where it is now substantial. In fact, it has grown so large that you've incorporated it into your plans for retirement, a happy state to which aspire in just a few years, buoyed with confidence in your nest egg.

Recently, though, your excitement has been tempered by whispers between your neighbors. Some of them were concerned. They've started gently questioning Board members, first in informal settings when they happen to meet socially. But there has been a growing chorus among your neighbors, many of whom are also investors in the bank. They share quiet complaints about a lack of information, an inability to get complete answers about the business.

In annual meetings, management and Board members talk glowingly and endlessly about the bank's ever-rosier performance and projections. Assets are always up and earnings always increasing.

And then you hear from a fellow investor that management and Board members have moved their own holdings into other investments. Worse, there are soft rumblings about the auditors, that they are conferring about "inappropriate concentrations of assets," and "an unstable borrower."

The truth starts leaking. The bank has only a single borrower, to whom the bank has lent more than 100% of its capital, in fact with which it's invested 100% of its assets. You learn that once upon a time borrowings were used to expand its business, buying productive assets, building transportation projects, launching lines of business. But sometime in the past without news or notice the borrower passed a tipping point, using more and more of its borrowing not for investment but for consumption, to pay bonuses to its management and payrolls to its workers.

And now, truly bad news. You learn that the borrower, your bank's only customer, has never paid down its principal, at best, for years it made only monthly interest payments. Recently, not even that. It has renewed notes for the principal amount month after month, adding each month to the balance an amount equal to the interest due.

Its business has softened. Revenues are down. Earnings have become losses and the borrower no longer has the ability to pay interest due, let alone repay any principal.

Your bank is facing failure. It will collapse in just a couple of months, unable to raise more cash on the open market, now unable to pay its own bills.

Unable to pay for your retirement.

Senator Bernie Sanders, one of a dozen true socialists in the U. S. Senate just finished an impassioned defense of the Social Security system, swearing that it is solvent and able to fund all of its obligations in coming decades. Senator Sanders said that Social Security has more than $2.6 trillion in assets and that those who are concerned should stop raising questions.

Bernie Sanders didn't mention that every single one of those $2.6 trillion, your total investment in the bank and that of your neighbors, every cent, have been loaned to the government of the United States, of which Bernie Sanders is what is known in business as "a controlling person."

The only asset held by the system is not cash parked safely away in a valut but notes signed by a nearly-bankrupt federal government.

The biggest difference between Bernie Sanders, self-avowed socialist Senator from Vermont,  and Bernie Madoff, currently a resident of federal prison after his conviction of fraud, is the size of their scams.

No comments: