Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don't Increase FDIC Deposit Insurance

But even with the backing of the Fed, fractional reserve banking proved shaky, and so the New Deal, in 1933, added the lie of "bank deposit insurance," using the benign word "insurance" to mask an arrant hoax. When the savings and loan system went down the tubes in the late 1980s, the "deposit insurance" of the federal Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) was unmasked as sheer fraud. The "insurance" was simply the smoke-and-mirrors term for the unbacked name of the federal government. The poor taxpayers finally bailed out the S&Ls, but now we are left with the formerly sainted Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for commercial banks, which is now increasingly seen to be shaky, since the FDIC itself has less than one percent of the huge number of deposits it "insures."
"The general public, not inducted into the mysteries of banking, still persists in thinking that their money remains 'in the bank'."

The very idea of "deposit insurance" is a swindle; how does one insure an institution (fractional reserve banking) that is inherently insolvent, and which will fall apart whenever the public finally understands the swindle? Suppose that, tomorrow, the American public suddenly became aware of the banking swindle, and went to the banks tomorrow morning, and, in unison, demanded cash. What would happen? The banks would be instantly insolvent, since they could only muster 10 percent of the cash they owe their befuddled customers. Neither would the enormous tax increase needed to bail everyone out be at all palatable. No: the only thing the Fed could do — and this would be in their power — would be to print enough money to pay off all the bank depositors. Unfortunately, in the present state of the banking system, the result would be an immediate plunge into the horrors of hyperinflation.

Let us suppose that total insured bank deposits are $1,600 billion. Technically, in the case of a run on the banks, the Fed could exercise emergency powers and print $1,600 billion in cash to give to the FDIC to pay off the bank depositors. The problem is that, emboldened at this massive bailout, the depositors would promptly redeposit the new $1,600 billion into the banks, increasing the total bank reserves by $1,600 billion, thus permitting an immediate expansion of the money supply by the banks by tenfold, increasing the total stock of bank money by $16 trillion. Runaway inflation and total destruction of the currency would quickly follow.

- Murray Rothbard

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