By Michael Hudson
March 17, 2023: Information Clearing House — The collapses of Silvergate and Silicon Valley Bank are like icebergs calving off from the Antarctic glacier. The financial analogy to the global warming causing this collapse of supporting shelving is the rising temperature of interest rates, which spiked last Thursday and Friday to close at 4.60 percent for the U.S. Treasury’s two-year bonds. Bank depositors meanwhile were still being paid only 0.2 percent on their deposits. That has led to a steady withdrawal of funds from banks – and a corresponding decline in commercial bank balances with the Federal Reserve.
Most media reports reflect a prayer that the bank runs will be localized, as if there is no context or environmental cause. There is general embarrassment to explain how the breakup of banks that is now gaining momentum is the result of the way that the Obama Administration bailed out the banks in 2008 with fifteen years of Quantitative Easing to re-inflate prices for packaged bank mortgages – and with them, housing prices, along with stock and bond prices.
The Fed’s $9 trillion of QE (not counted as part of the budget deficit) fueled an asset-price inflation that made trillions of dollars for holders of financial assets – the One Percent with a generous spillover effect for the remaining members of the top Ten Percent. The cost of home ownership soared by capitalizing mortgages at falling interest rates into more highly debt-leveraged property. The U.S. economy experienced the largest bond-market boom in history as interest rates fell below 1 percent. The economy polarized between the creditor positive-net-worth class and the rest of the economy – whose analogy to environmental pollution and global warming was debt pollution.
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