Alex Pollock: Forget Too Big to Fail Banks — It's Time to Break Up the Fed

Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:58 PM

By John Morgan

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By the Federal Reserve's own logic about breaking up banks that are too big to fail, it's time to break the Fed apart for the same reasons, according to a blistering analysis by Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute.

Pollock, in a note to American Banker, said St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard recently laid out four simple ways to determine when a bank is too big and needs to be split up — namely, if its assets are too voluminous, if it's too leveraged, if it has too much short-term funding of longer term assets and if it creates too much systemic risk.

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Editor's Note:
Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

Pollock said the Fed's current operating status could be accurately characterized by the following:

It's too big, with over $3.3 trillion in assets, it's too leveraged at 60 to 1, it's extremely short-funded and it's "a frequent contributor through its interest rate and money-printing action of gigantic systemic risk."

"Therefore, it follows pretty clearly from the same logic that we should break up the Fed," said Pollock, former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.

Pollock noted that when Congress was setting the foundation for the modern Federal Reserve in 1913, lawmakers "thought they were creating a 'federal' structure of 12 regional 'reserve banks,' not a monolithic central bank."

A number of high-profile hedge fund manager recently denounced the "aggressive money printing policies" of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, The New York Times reported.

In a speech last week, Bernanke acknowledged economic bubbles cannot be identified before they happen and "neither the Federal Reserve nor economists in general predicted the past crisis."

"What a lot of hedge fund managers are worried about is the inflation in asset prices, not cost and wages," hedge fund manager James Chanos told The Times.

"This is leading to recurring booms and busts, which in addition are exacerbating income inequality."

The Fed has trumpeted rising stock prices as a sign that its monetary policies are working. But, The Times stated, "Something is wrong. Companies are sitting on their profits. Businesses aren't investing and hiring enough."

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

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