"The former Fed chairman said temporary government ownership would "allow the government to transfer toxic assets to a bad bank without the problem of how to price them." But he cautioned that holders of senior debt – bonds that would be paid off before other claims – might have to be protected even in the event of nationalisation. "You would have to be very careful about imposing any loss on senior creditors of any bank taken under government control because it could impact the senior debt of all other banks," he said. "This is a credit crisis and it is essential to preserve an anchor for the financing of the system. That anchor is the senior debt."(1)
In other words, Alan Greenspan said “ we should be careful not to expose the names of those responsible for the bad debt by transferring these toxic assets with any semblance of transparency. ” Moreover, “taxpayers should provide Treasury securities to the ‘big’ investors who collaborated with these big banks so they can be held harmless.” Possibly, he could be paraphrased to be saying “it’s acceptable to fore go capitalist principle as long as we continue to hold sacred the principle of senior debt” without talking about who owns that senior debt.
The truth is, Greenspan bought prosperity and stumbled through several financial crises using the leverage of the stolen Marcos treasury, never contemplating the consequence of using illegal capital. No one can unwind this current debt crisis because at its bottom is a source of illegal financing that no President can admit to. Not being able to unwind it, the newest plan is to launder it by giving all the ‘big’ bankers squeaky-clean T-bills under a bank nationalization program.
The “anchor” for financing the system is trust, not the principle of senior debt. There are over 7,000 banks in the U.S., and about 10 that are bankrupt. The public hears about the 400 recipients of TARP, as if the system is collapsing, but most of those 400 admit they don’t need it. 95% of the money goes to the top 10. If trust is the anchor, let’s trust the 6,990 trustworthy banks who most of Americans deal with. If Obama wants to nationalize the top 10 in an effort to put a suffering, dying man out of his misery let’s not enrich the people who created that misery.
1. Greenspan backs bank nationalisation, Krishna Guha and Edward Luce, Financial Times, February 18, 2009.