Remember a month ago when Congress went through a very vocal and energetic debate on a stimulus package for the US economy? Well, that discussion centered around a $150 billion package that would be payed out to consumers in an effort to directly increase consumer spending.
But just last week the Federal Reserve decided to shore up banks to the tune of $200 billion. The decision was made behind closed doors, and the Fed has the power to do so.
So, what did they do? Well, on the surface the Fed offered to loan the 20 largest US banks money to help ensure their ability to continue lending money downstream. But--and here's the kicker--the Fed is accepting mortgage-backed securities as collateral.
What this really means is that the Fed is exchanging hard cash for assets that they know will lose substantial value in the coming weeks and months.
Or, to put it another way, the Fed is subsidizing the losses of the banks that over-invested in the mortgage business.
There are roughly 220 million people in the US over the age of 18. So in effect the Fed has obliged each adult to loan the largest banks in the US about $900 each. In exchange, we get an asset that is blowing up so fast that these same banks are either vaporizing or being bought for pennies on the dollar.
Worst of all, none of this money goes to helping people stay in their homes. Instead, it helps banks quietly write down their losses while the foreclosures continue.