Brains Not Included

Cracked Up, Whacked Out and Completely Out of Control

Lending Lies

There is a great new show on Fox called Lie To Me. In the show the main characters are experts at facial expressions. They can literally tell when someone is lying by the look on their faces. Pretty amazing and fun to watch.

I wish I could get the bank execs in the room with these experts. Here’s why, the banks say they are lending, but are they really? The truth is that many banks have increased lending but at a paltry rate.

Bank of Americas recent revelation that they earned a profit of almost $4 billion dollars in the last quarter was quickly quashed and the ‘real’ number was reduced to $2.5 billion. But even that number may not be accurate.

B of A, Citi and other large banks would have us believe that these profits stem from an increase in lending to home owners, when the truth is that lending increased less than 2% over the same period last year. So where did the profits come from?

The profits came from thin air. As reported in a very eye opening article on MarketWatch.com, much of the banks profits were driven by the TARP money they received. With TARP plugging gaps in the banks balance sheets, huge write downs allowed by larger banks swallowing up smaller failing banks and additional relaxed accounting rules allowed by regulators, the banks all of the sudden look very strong.

But that’s not the real story. The real story is this, banks aren’t lending for good reason. After years of excess and easy money the banks have learned their lesson and their hording their cash to protect them from further market turmoil.
In a recent quote in The Wall Street Journal, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke talked about the need for more education about credit by addressing the inequities in wealth between whites and minorities.

He stated: “Part of it has to do I think with financial education,” Mr. Bernanke told students at the historically black college. “There needs to be broader understanding in minority communities … about the importance of saving and building a credit record.”

In my opinion Mr. Bernanke missed the point. This is more than a white vs. minority issue. He could have just said; There needs to be a broader understanding …and a core curriculum starting in grade school that teaches… the importance of saving …money… and building a …good… credit record. (the bold comments are mine.)

Additionally, I still hold to my belief that America needs to change our economy from a spending based econ to a savings based economy. Some have argued that this will limit growth and achievement.

Those that argue against a savings based economy miss the point completely. All a savings based economy refers to is an economy where the pace of credit spending does not outpace the rate of earned income and savings.

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Filed under: Cons & Contradictions

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