Friday, December 11, 2009

Fractional Naked Shorting

Every dollar-denominated loan can be viewed functionally as a partial naked short position in FRNs (Federal Reserve Notes, 1.e. cash). The extent of the naked short is the inverse of the reserve ratio, so at 10% reserve, the position is written as 90% naked short. The entry is created where the bank shorts notional dollars into existence where none existed before. The Fed is a mechanism for supporting those naked shorts against margin calls that would otherwise happen in the real world - that's what a bank run really is, a margin call by lenders (depositors).

The continued existence of this naked shorting depends utterly on the willingness of the lenders to accept repayment in virtual instead of real dollars. Wire transfers, checks and book entries are all dollar substitutes, not actual dollars. An entire massive infrastructure has been erected to push people towards the conclusion that these are actually identical to FRNs. Banks will freely exchange your book entry with them for cash - until they can't anymore. The FDIC exists to guarantee that you will get cash for that book entry or other cash substitute. The Fed holds stocks of FRNs which it can exchange on a limited basis to commercial banks in danger of running out.

The scale of the pyramid scheme can be measured by the ratio of actual cash to virtual cash. Total cash in circulation (real cash) is $923 billion per the H.4.1 release dated December 10. The amount of virtual cash is the total credit outstanding, which is $52.6 TRILLION as of September 30 per the Z.1 release also dated December 10. In other words, each one dollar of cash is supporting nearly 57 dollars of credit. Through the mechanism of this gigantic naked short position, the value of the underlying security - the US dollar has been driven down to a huge extent. In fact, the short ratio can also be expressed as 98%. Not coincidentally, that is also the extent to which the US dollar's purchasing power has been reduced since the advent of the Federal Reserve.

This gives you some idea of the extent to which the value of the supply of dollars has been diluted by all of the substitutes that have been introduced into the system. If the dollar were a drug, it would be so heavily cut as to have no discernible effect. It also explains the desperation with which the financial world is attempting to save "the system" - by which they mean the machine that issues dollar substitutes and convinces you to accept them. There are sufficient dollars to cover less than 2% of domestic debt outstanding. That takes no account of the naked short positions of foreign banks. The bankers are short 57 dollars for each dollar that actually exists. You can well imagine what would happen if such a short position were to be squeezed to any significant extent.

One can justify banking to the extent than it increases productive capacity and therefore ultimately wealth. The increase in the pool of dollar substitutes will have minimal inflationary impact as that growth will be counter-balanced by an increase in the pool of goods those dollars can buy. This is a social good and one of the few philosophical reasons to support banking. Of course we are long past the point at which such banking was the norm, or even a large minority of credit activity.

1 comment:

calltoaccount said...

excerpted from:

The government’s long toleration of this fraud at the very core of the system has enabled Wall Street banks, broker-dealers and hedge funds running all kinds of hot, dirty and foreign money along with their own, to reap huge, often tax free profits, by selling and never delivering unlimited quantities of phantom stock, options, bonds, and even USTreasuries, with total impunity. Over the years, the practice has destroyed countless companies and crushed the hopes and dreams of millions of investors worldwide. Yet the SEC, self-proclaimed as “the investors first line of defense against securities fraud” and “the pre-eminent gold standard of enforcement of securities laws," has not brought a single enforcement action to stop it or punish the perpetrators. Is it any wonder the bad guys have come to feel invulnerable?

Even more incredible (and more profitable for Wall Street insiders), the "Stock Borrow Program" of the Depository Trust’s National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) subsidiary allows the exact same parcel of shares to be loaned and reloaned over and over again to create an ever-metastasizing cancer of freely tradable "security entitlements.” These illusions of ownership overhang the market (just like naked shorted shares) artificially depressing share prices, They are not backed by an equal number of duly authorized certificates, and lack the full bundle of ownership rights a buyer thinks they are getting with their purchase (ie. voting rights, having dividends taxed at preferential rates, etc.). Most investors looking at their monthly statements have no idea they may not reflect actual shares bought, received and held in their account, but only IOUs from their trusty brokers, who consistently violate the duty of fair dealing owed their clients by failing to insist on delivery of shares they were paid a commission to purchase for them. That’s because to keep the scam going, the SEC-approved system quietly provides incentives for them not to.
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