Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund sent a letter to the Federal Reserve Board, urging them to avoid any actions which would permit the financial holding companies or any of their subsidiaries to directly or indirectly operate oil or gas companies. The letter highlights the manifold physical, economic, reputational and financial system risks of bank commodity holdings, risks have become even more severe with the recent dislocation in global energy markets. As these markets will be disrupted for an extended period, the letter asks the Board to firmly reject any effort by banks to use the situation with respect to defaulting loans in the energy industry to increase bank involvement in the oil and gas industry.
Note: On the afternoon this letter was sent the Federal Reserve announced it would be providing additional transparency in 13(3) facilities. See our comment linked here for earlier AFR Edcucation Fund communications with the Federal Reserve on this issue. Download a pdf of the letter
Absent major changes, the Federal Reserve’s multi-trillion-dollar funding programs will reward corporate insiders and financial speculators, without guaranteeing desperately needed help for those hardest-hit by the coronavirus crisis. The Fed needs to set the right priorities for this credit and impose conditions that ensure the benefits of this extraordinary assistance go to those who need it most.
Together, these facilities could deploy up to $2.3 trillion in new credit to the economy during the pandemic crisis period. Without major changes these facilities will not be effective in getting assistance to those most impacted by the crisis, and disclosure and transparency regarding specific borrowers and loan terms is lacking. Our comment provides specific recommendations to address these issues.
AFR Education Fund released the following policy memo analyzing the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented move to provide direct credit to states and localities. A pdf copy of the memo is available here. Review of New Federal Reserve Facilities On April 9th the Federal Reserve announced six
Critics also noted that while the central bank has to share some basic information about the loans, other details, such as how many employees the company has retained or the compensation for its chief executive, might never be shared publicly. “We should ask for the actual deal documents. Why wouldn’t you make those public?” said Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform.
State and local governments are the main providers of basic public services in the U.S. They are on the front lines of combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the most serious public-health threat in a century. But it’s unlikely these governments will have the funds they need to fight the epidemic properly unless Congress acts to require the Federal Reserve to expand state and local fiscal powers.
“We are in a much more fragile situation than we should be because the regulators haven’t been on the job,” said Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform. “This is a real economic crisis we’re facing.”
In August regulators issued a rule that dramatically weakened the Volcker Rule limits on direct proprietary trading by banks. Today, they have proposed new changes that would greatly weaken restrictions on banks taking risks through ownership of external funds, including venture capital funds and securitization vehicles like collateralized debt obligations.