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Tag Archives: Banking

A fractional reserve crisis

This is a slightly amended version of a keynote speech I gave on 14th April 2023 at the University of Ghent, for the Workshop on Fintech 2023.  The crisis that has engulfed crypto in the last year is a crisis of fractional reserve banking. Silvergate Bank and Signature Bank NY were fractional reserve banks. So too were Celsius Network, Voyager, BlockFi, Babel Finance and FTX. And still standing are the crypto fractional reserve banks Coinbase, Gemini, Binance, Nexo, MakerDAO, Tether,...

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Lessons from the disaster engulfing Silvergate Capital

This is the story of a bank that put all its eggs into an emerging digital basket, believing that providing non-interest-bearing deposit and payment services to crypto exchanges and platforms would be a nice little earner, while completely failing to understand the extraordinary risks involved with such a venture. On 1st March, Silvergate Capital Corporation announced that filing of its audited full-year accounts would be significantly delayed, and warned that its financial position had...

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The fatal flaws of Celsius Network

Celsius Network was never a real business. It did not have a viable business model. Really, it was a momentum trading scheme that relied on the premise that crypto prices would always rise. And when they didn't, it resorted to fake valuations and market manipulation to escape insolvency. It was fraudulent from the start.  This is the conclusion I've reached after studying the U.S. Examiner's final report (yes, I've read all 476 pages of it) and Celsius's audited reports and accounts up to...

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European banks and the global banking glut

In a lecture presented at the 2011 IMF Annual Research Conference, Hyun Song Shin of Princeton University argued that the driver of the 2007-8 financial crisis was not a global saving glut so much as a global banking glut. He highlighted the role of the European banks in inflating the credit bubble that abruptly burst at the height of the crisis, causing a string of failures of banks and other financial institutions, and economic distress around the globe. European banks borrowed large...

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The Banking Hustle

The Fed just let Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs off the hook after both failed the required stress tests under Dodd-Frank. The stress test is supposed to predict whether banks and so-called banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs can weather a financial crisis. This is not an instance of if you remember in 2008, who could forget? Few TBTF had set aside the necessary reserves to back the tranched MBS and the more risky CDS/naked CDS. These were the...

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Euro banks, Fed’s labor market index, NFIB chart

Getting more obvious it’s ‘spreading’ much like during the sub prime days, as previously discussed? European banks face major cash crunch European banks may have to pare down assets to bolster capital reserves as cheap oil is taking a toll on portfolios of energy-exposed loans. It’s slowing, whatever it is…;) Labor Market Conditions IndexHighlightsPayroll growth slowed in Friday’s employment report as did the Fed’s labor market conditions index, to plus 0.4 in January from a downward...

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Better Bankers Symposium

The Quest for Better Bankers, Better Banks Requires Better Economists Review by William K. Black [This review originally appeared in Concurring Opinions] In Better Bankers, Better Banks, Claire Hill and Richard Painter of the University of Minnesota Law School signal their approach in the subtitle:  “Promoting Good Business through Contractual Commitment.”  This review explains why their thesis is so timely in terms of the most important theoretical debates boiling in economics and banking...

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Unreasonable expectations and unpalatable truths

At the ICAEW's conference "Do Banks Work?" last week, there was a fascinating interchange between Ian Gorham of Hargreaves Lansdowne and RBS's Ross McEwan. Apparently RBS had refused a large deposit from Hargreaves Lansdowne, to the irritation of the asset manager. "There is a problem placing client money", said Gorham. And he went on: "Banks don't need people's savings, because they now have much more capital to support lending. This means that savers receive much lower interest rates on...

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