The Wall Street Journal reports that lenders' earnings reap the benefit of FDIC backing on company debt.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
JULY 28, 2009
Banks Profit From U.S. Guarantee
Lenders' Earnings Reap the Benefit of FDIC Backing on Company Debt
By MARK GONGLOFF
It is the gift that keeps on giving.
The government's guarantee since November on new debt issued by financial firms such as Citigroup Inc. and General Electric Co. will save those companies about $24 billion in borrowing costs during the next three years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.
In the second quarter alone, the eight largest issuers of corporate debt under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Term Liquidity Guarantee Program cut their interest costs by about $2.2 billion, increasing their profits and delivering an extra jolt to the stock market's two-week rally.
Citigroup reported a $4.3 billion second-quarter profit, in part on lower borrowing costs due to FDIC guarantees. Here, a New York Citibank on July 17.
Citigroup saved nearly $600 million in the latest quarter on the $44.6 billion in medium-term FDIC-backed debt it has issued, or about 14% of its overall profit of $4.28 billion. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which posted record quarterly profit of $3.44 billion, is cutting financing costs by roughly $205.5 million every three months by selling corporate debt through the government-assistance program instead of on its own.
"You can't ignore the TLGP when you look at bank earnings," says Daniel Alpert, managing director at investment bank Westwood Capital LLC. "It has reduced their cost of funding and ensured that the market has the kind of liquidity required so that trading revenues have been so high."
The guarantees were dangled after credit markets seized up last fall, giving financial institutions a way to float short-term debt at low interest rates. Since then, about $339 billion in corporate debt of all durations has been issued under TLGP.
The stabilization that is allowing financial giants to again issue debt without a government safety net is evidence of the program's success, many analysts say. Without federal assistance, companies that rely on short-term financing to fund operations would have been unable to roll over their debt without paying exorbitant interest rates.
"If we had gotten into rollover death watch on some of the large financials, then that would have interfered with a whole host of things that were much more important to work out in the financial system," says Jim Vogel, an analyst at FTN Financial Capital Markets. "The TLGP took that off the board, and in that sense was a complete success."
But the bonanza could be fresh ammunition to critics who say taxpayers are subsidizing runaway earnings -- and bonuses that are on track to rebound sharply this year -- at financial firms that are
at least partly to blame for the financial crisis and recession. The lower corporate-financing costs will last until debt issued through the government program matures, typically two or three years.
To estimate the savings that will flow to the eight largest users of FDIC guarantees, the Journal compared the interest being paid on each slice of $238 billion in medium-term debt issued under TLGP with the trading level of existing bonds having a similar maturity. Fees and surcharges were subtracted. The difference represents what the companies likely would have paid had the debt not been backed by the FDIC.
For GE Capital, the GE unit that issued about $50 billon in guaranteed medium-term debt, more than any other company, the savings likely will reach $3.3 billion, according to the calculations. A GE spokeswoman said in an email that the difference is "something much less" than that amount. Representatives at the seven other companies either declined to discuss the matter or didn't return calls seeking comment.
One example of the lower financing costs made possible by federal assistance: On Nov. 25, Goldman issued $5 billion in debt maturing in June 2012. The debt has an annual interest rate of 3.25%. On the same day that the government-backed bonds were sold, outstanding Goldman debt maturing in September 2012 was yielding 8.51% in the open market.
Based on the gap between the two interest rates, Goldman will save about $754 million over the life of the FDIC-guaranteed bonds. It will reap lower interest costs of about $2.33 billion for all the corporate debt sold under the government program.
At J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the total reduction in financing costs is likely to be $3.1 billion, or $246 million per quarter. In the second quarter, J.P. Morgan made a profit of $2.7 billion.
An executive at one of the largest issuers of FDIC-backed debt says market rates for bank debt surged when the guarantees were most popular, largely because investors were dumping bonds to raise money.
The FDIC would be on the hook if any company were to default on its guaranteed debt, but that is considered a remote possibility as long as the economy doesn't get much worse. So far, the federal agency has collected about $6.9 billion in fees from companies using the program.
TLGP is slated to end at the end of October. Bank of America Corp., Goldman and Morgan Stanley haven't issued medium-term guaranteed debt since March [because of FDIC surcharges on any guaranteed debt issued after April 1]. GE Capital's application to exit the program was approved last week. The firm also issued non-guaranteed debt at yields roughly comparable to those in the open market, after including FDIC fees, according to Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch analyst Jeffrey Rosenberg.
FDIC surcharges on any guaranteed debt issued after April 1 have reduced the potential savings. More important, interest rates on bank debt have fallen sharply, reflecting less worry about the financial firms and the overall system.
FDIC Fees Crush Small Banks
Crain's Cleveland Business reports that FDIC fee increases batter small banks.
FDIC fee increase batters banks both big and small
Deposit insurer seeks to replenish depleted funds
By ARIELLE KASS
4:30 am, July 27, 2009
With more than 75 bank failures nationwide in the past year, it's no wonder the country's deposit insurer is seeking more cash for its coffers.
But for some banks, increased fees to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are adding up.
The fees, which have increased drastically since 2008, are taking a bite out of big banks' earnings and are hitting some small banks hard.
At CFBank in Fairlawn, chairman and CEO Mark Allio said the increased fees for insurance have cost $323,000 for the first six months of the year, and a one-time special assessment due Sept. 30 will add $129,000 to the bill. Through the first six months of 2008, Mr. Allio estimated that he spent $13,000 for the insurance.
"The numbers are totally outrageous for little banks that are trying to hold on and make a difference," he said. "It's a substantial increase."
The fees amount to 9% of the bank's budget, Mr. Allio said, while in 2008 FDIC fees accounted for less than one-half of 1% of the bank's spending. CFBank has had to take a number of steps to afford the increase, including a reduction in the number of days a week a cleaning crew comes through the office and the elimination of magazine subscriptions.
If it's nonessential, Mr. Allio said, it's gone. CFBank's new internal motto is, "Spend no dime before it's time."
"We take out our own trash," he said. "We wash our own windows on the front door. We're community bankers; there is no ivory tower." [Do Goldman bankers take out their own trash?]
CFBank has not passed the expenses on to its customers, Mr. Allio said. But Rob Townsend, a spokesman for FirstMerit Bank in Akron, said all banks must in some way be sharing the increased expenses with consumers.
That bank raised its fees for commercial checking, savings and money market accounts in March, adding a monthly fee of slightly less than 10 cents per month for every $1,000 in those accounts, he said. Those fees total $18.80 a month for a $200,000 account.
The bank did not share how much of an increase it saw in FDIC fees, pending the Tuesday, July 28, release of its earnings.
The bigger the bank, the bigger the fee. [Yes, but financial giants are getting benefits from FDIC Guarantees which far outweight fee increases]
KeyBank saw a $68 million fee increase and a $44 million special assessment, the bank said in its earnings release, while PNC saw a $133 million hit to its bottom line as a result of the FDIC increases. That came to 19 cents a share; the cost per share this quarter of integrating National City into its new owner was 20 cents.
U.S. Bank was tapped for $123 million from the one-time assessment and $27 million in fees in the first quarter. The bank did not have second-quarter figures available.
Steve Dale, a U.S. Bank spokesman, said the impact of the fee is relatively minimal for a bank with $266 billion in deposits. He said it will not have an effect on customers.
Third Federal spokeswoman Jennifer Rosa also said that her bank sees the $3.1 million increase — from $600,000 a year ago — as a business expense. Smaller banks that have seen an increase in lending, such as Liberty Bank and Ohio Commerce Bank, are not hurt as badly by the increased fees because they are better able to offset the higher costs with new income.
Mr. Allio, of CFBank, said he understands that the insurance fund is low, but he is concerned that too-high fees will leave good banks in bad shape as the FDIC tries to replenish its fund. He said he is actively trying to make new loans to recoup the difference, but hasn't been as successful as he would like.
Jim Heslop, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Middlefield Banking Co., said Middlefield and the affiliated Emerald Bank have seen a combined $397,000 increase in the fees they paid to the FDIC for the first six months of the year.
The company has canceled an annual golf outing for customers and has taken a "very hard look" at all costs, he said. Executives may not get raises, and while the bank has continued to pay a dividend so far this year, Mr. Heslop said the discussion of whether to cut it is renewed every quarter.
FDIC spokesman David Barr said the fund has the option to assess additional fees before the end of the year. Local bankers said they expect them to do so.
Mr. Barr said the increases are hitting many banks so hard because from 1996 to 2006, the best-capitalized banks did not pay any FDIC fees as the fund switched from a flat rate of 8.3 cents per $100 of deposits to a risk-based system. When the switch was finalized in 2006, the nation's banks had negotiated more than $4.8 billion in insurance credits to pay those fees, so many used the credits to pay the FDIC as the economy worsened.
The FDIC is required to have $1.15 in its accounts for every $100 in deposits it insures, Mr. Barr said, but bank failures have brought the fund's levels down to 27 cents per $100. The FDIC has seven years to restore the fund to its previous level.
As such, fees that would have been 2 or 3 cents for every $100 in deposits in good times have now been increased to 12 to 16 cents per $100 in deposits for good banks and 77.5 cents per $100 in deposits for troubled banks [Huge increase in fees]. All banks were charged a one-time, 5-cent fee for each $100 in deposits; that one-time fee is the one that could be assessed again before year's end.
"It's still a good bargain for banks," Mr. Barr said. "There are a tremendous amount of benefits."
Mr. Barr said while the FDIC does have access to a line of credit at the U.S. Department of Treasury, it's important that banks show that the system is capable of operating independently by replenishing the fund themselves.
He said the FDIC is aware that at a certain point, raising premiums can do more harm than good, if the fund is trying to collect more than a bank is making. He said the assessments have not yet reached that point.
Cost of doing business
Gary Fix, the president and CEO of First Federal of Lakewood, said that bank budgeted $1.6 million in FDIC fees for the year, and has paid $840,000 through the first six months.
The bank expected the fees to increase significantly from the $300,000 it paid in the 2008 calendar year, a figure that was reduced from nearly twice that by the insurance credits, but had not expected the $560,000 one-time assessment First Federal was charged on top of that.
"It certainly was hurtful in the respect that we hadn't planned on that," he said. "It was a fairly heavy hit that was imposed."
Daniel E. Klimas, president and CEO of Lorain National Bank, said the banks understand that continued failures mean more fees to offset them. Lorain National Bank has implemented some fees on the commercial side to recoup a small portion of the four-fold increase in fees — to $1.2 million — it saw, Mr. Klimas said.
"We're all trying to make sure we have the appropriate capital to survive," he said. "It's the cost of doing business in the banking industry. Unfortunately, the cost of doing business has gone up significantly for us."
The FDIC Insurance Fund Doesn't Actually Exist
Seeking Alpha reports that the FDIC Insurance Fund Doesn't Actually Exist.
FDIC Insurance Fund - It Doesn't Actually Exist
September 12, 2008
Written by Seeking Alpha
When FDIC head Shelia Bair says her agency might have to bolster the FDIC's insurance fund with Treasury borrowings to pay for the new spate of bank failures, a lot of us, this 40-year banking veteran included, assumed there's an actual FDIC fund in need of bolstering.
We were wrong. As a former FDIC chairman, Bill Isaac, points out here, the FDIC Insurance Fund is an accounting fiction [social security uses the same accounting fiction]. It takes in premiums from banks, then turns those premiums over to the Treasury [in exchange for IOUs], which adds the money to the government's general coffers for "spending . . . on missiles, school lunches, water projects, and the like."
The insurance premiums aren't really premiums at all, therefore. They're a tax by another name.
Actually, it's worse than that. The FDIC, persisting in the myth that its fund really is an insurance pool, now proposes to raise the "premiums" it charges banks to make up for the "fund's" coming shortfall. The financially weakest banks will be hit with the biggest tax hikes.
Which makes absolutely no sense. You don't need me to tell you the banking industry is on the ropes. The last thing it needs (or the economy needs, for that matter) is an expense hike that will inhibit banks' ability to rebuild capital, extend new loans, or both. If the FDIC wants to raise its bank tax once the industry has recovered, I suppose that's fine. But to raise taxes on the industry now is perhaps the dumbest thing the agency can possibly do. At the margin, the FDIC will be helping bring about more of the failures it says it wants to prevent.
But this is the government we're talking about, so logic goes out the window. First, the FDIC insists its mythical bank insurance fund exists, when it really doesn't. Then the agency does what it can to run the imaginary fund's finances straight into the ground. Your tax dollars (sorry, "premiums") at work...
Bank Failures reach 64 for 2009
The Wall Street Journal reports that Seven Banks Fail, Making It 64 for '09.
JULY 25, 2009
Seven Banks Fail, Making It 64 for '09
By DAMIAN PALETTA
Regulators seized seven banks on Friday, including six in Georgia owned by the same parent, increasing the number of U.S. bank failures to 64 in 2009.
The six Georgia banks were part of Security Bank Corp., of Macon, Ga., and had assets of about $2.8 billion and deposits of $2.4 billion. The banks were doomed by their real-estate loan exposure in metropolitan Atlanta, an area plagued by foreclosures and declining home values.
Earlier: Tracking the Nation's Bank Failures
Bloomberg reports that lender failures reach 64 as Georgia shuts security bank's units.
Lender Failures Reach 64 as Georgia Shuts Security Bank's Units
By Ari Levy and Margaret Chadbourn
July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Security Bank Corp.'s six Georgia subsidiaries and Waterford Village Bank in New York were seized by regulators, pushing this year's toll of failed U.S. lenders to 64, the most since 1992.
Bank failures this year have cost the U.S. deposit insurance fund more than $13.5 billion, including $812.6 million from yesterday's seizures, straining the FDIC reserves amid the steepest recession since the Great Depression. The FDIC has imposed an emergency fee aimed at raising $5.6 billion to replenish the fund, which fell to $13 billion, the lowest since 1993, at the end of the first quarter.
The FDIC insures deposits at 8,246 institutions with $13.5 trillion in assets. The agency reimburses customers for deposits of as much as $250,000 when a bank fails.
My reaction: Taxpayers are subsidizing runaway earnings and bonuses at the financial giants that are to blame for the financial crisis while crushing smaller banks with never ending fee increases.
1) The government's guarantee since November on new debt issued by Financial Giants (Citigroup, General Electric, Goldman, etc) will save those companies about $24 billion in borrowing costs during the next three years.
A) Goldman Sachs will see a total reduction in financing costs of $2.33 billion.
B) JP Morgan will see a total reduction in financing costs of $3.1 billion.
2) In the second quarter alone, the eight largest issuers of corporate debt under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Term Liquidity Guarantee Program cut their interest costs by about $2.2 billion, increasing their profits:
A) Citigroup saved nearly $600 million (14% of its overall profit of $4.28 billion)
B) Goldman Sachs saved $205.5 million (6% of its overall profit of $3.44 billion).
C) JP Morgan saved $246 million (9% of its overall profit of $2.7 billion)
3) To see how these financial giants are benefiting, consider that on November 25 last year:
A) Goldman issued $5 billion in debt maturing in June 2012 with an annual interest rate of 3.25%.
B) Outstanding Goldman debt maturing in September 2012 was yielding 8.51% in the open market.
4) The FDIC would be on the hook if any company were to default on its guaranteed debt.
5) Bank of America, Goldman and Morgan Stanley haven't issued medium-term guaranteed debt since March because of FDIC surcharges on any guaranteed debt issued after April 1 have reduced the potential savings
6) Taxpayers are subsidizing runaway earnings and bonuses at financial firms that are to blame for the financial crisis and recession.
FDIC Fees Crush Small Banks
1) FDIC fees have increased drastically since 2008, taking a bite out of big banks' earnings and hitting some small banks hard.
2) For some banks, the fees amount to 9% of their budget.
"The numbers are totally outrageous for little banks that are trying to hold on and make a difference,"
3) The FDIC is required to have $1.15 in its accounts for every $100 in deposits it insures.
4) Bank failures have brought the fund's levels down to 27 cents per $100.
5) Fees that would normally have been 2 or 3 cents per year for every $100 in deposits have now been increased to 12 to 16 cents per year for good banks and 77.5 cents per year for troubled banks.
6) All banks were charged a one-time, 5-cent fee for each $100 in deposits, with another one-time fee likely before year's end
7) Local bankers also expect additional FDIC fees before the end of the year.
8) Too-high fees will leave good banks in bad shape as the FDIC tries to replenish its fund.
9) At a certain point, raising premiums can do more harm than good, if the FDIC is trying to collect more than a bank is making. Assessments have not yet reached that point.
The FDIC Insurance Fund Doesn't Actually Exist
1) the FDIC Insurance Fund (like social security trust funds) is an accounting fiction, which takes in premiums from banks, then turns those premiums over to the Treasury in exchange for IOUs. The Treasury then uses the cash for all types of government spending.
2) The FDIC insurance premiums aren't really premiums at all. They function more like a tax.
3) The FDIC, persisting in the myth that its fund really is an insurance pool, now proposes to raise the "premiums" it charges banks to make up for the "fund's" coming shortfall.
4) The banking industry is on the ropes, and the last thing it needs is an expense hike that will inhibit the ability to rebuild capital and extend new loans.
5) To raise taxes on the industry now is perhaps the dumbest thing the FDIC can possibly do: the agency will be helping bring about more of the failures it says it wants to prevent.
Regulators seized seven banks on Friday
1) Regulators seized seven banks on Friday, increasing the number of US bank failures to 64 in 2009.
2) The six Georgia banks were part of Security Bank Corp., of Macon, Ga., and had assets of about $2.8 billion and deposits of $2.4 billion.
3) Bank failures this year have cost the U.S. deposit insurance fund more than $13.5 billion, including $812.6 million from Friday's seizures.
4) The amount of treasury IOUs in the FDIC Insurance Fund have fallen to $13 billion, the lowest since 1993.
5) The FDIC insures deposits at 8,246 institutions with $13.5 trillion in assets.
Conclusion: The entire US system is geared tow ards supporting Wall Street's prime dealers (and bonuses at those firms) at the expense of everything else, even the rest of the banking sector. (for some humor on this sad state of affairs, see Goldman Sachs in Talks to Acquire Treasury Department)
Why the FDIC will keep raising premiums
If the FDIC doesn't raise premiums, it would have to, in order to meet future bank failures, not only redeem $13 billion treasury IOUs in the FDIC Insurance Fund, but also borrow tens of billions from the treasury. To get all this cash for the FDIC, the treasury would need to sell tens of billions more debt to the public. Since the treasury is already having problems finding buyers for the trillions it is already issuing, this isn't an option.
Why the US redistributes wealth from the poor to the rich
US government policy in this financial crisis is based on two competing ideologies:
A) The American people's basic sense of fairness and democracy, which gives us, "the recession's pain should be spread evenly across the economy"
B) The "too big to fail" doctrine, which gives us, "Wall Street financial giants must be saved at all costs"
When these two ideologies are combined, they give us, "the pain should be spread evenly across the economy in order to bailout Wall Street financial giants at all costs". Based on this new twisted mantra, government policies are now transferring wealth from every sector of the economy to support the likes of Goldman Sach (and its oversized bonuses).