The federal reserve recently announced a $1.5 trillion dollar coronavirus “stimulus” package, $500 billion of which will go to incentivize banks to keep lending.
Another maneuver, cutting Federal Reserve interest rates from an already low amount to effectively 0%, means big banks will be handed the equivalent of interest-free cash under the assumption that they will keep America’s heavily in-debted corporations afloat.
But where is the evidence that bank bailouts do that? It took a decade for the 2008 bank bailouts to finally “work” – as in put sufficient numbers of people back to work. A more pressing question is why do ordinary people need to pay interest fixed at whatever rate middleman shareholders at private financiers want in order to produce/consume?
Last November, analysts found that US corporations are highly leveraged with $10 trillion dollars in debt. The dirty secret of liberal capitalism is that economic expansion (jobs, not just stock market numbers) is highly dependent on the privately owned apparatus of the federal reserve and the state to invent credit bubbles for private interests to have incentives to risk capital in a productive endeavor. If consumer activity falls, these corporations will be unable to pay owed interest to their creditors, since all of the above are expected to put shareholders above maintaining employment. Banks like stimulus beneficiary Goldman Sachs will increase the usury rate on credit loans if the market switches into bear mode, which is bad news for all the heavily indebted companies it loans to.
Already, multiple major companies like AT&T, GM and CVS are barely above junk bond rating These companies are as guilty and irresponsible as the banks, since they have used the cheap credit largely to engage in behavior like useless mergers, which provide quick profits to shareholders but not much else. The outcome of having their bonds down rated any further will be exposure to the highly speculative vultures in the junk bond market, which in the end will cause a spike in the unemployment rate.
Credit is already dirt cheap. The problem is that both the banks and the multi-nationals are highly corrupt, inefficient and are run by people who do not have America’s interest in mind. The oligarch’s strategy to keep Wall Street afloat does not take into account globalized supply chain issues either. If the coronavirus epidemic spreads and grinds international commerce to a halt, how will handing banks more cheap money solve this?
The US government’s lack of direct control over the nation’s central bank and the plutocratic nature of our weak state means that common sense solutions are off the table. Why doesn’t the state buy up majority shares in large corporations (or outright nationalize them, as happened with the short successful experiment with General Motors in 2009) and use the $1.5 trillion at low interest to develop American industrial independence?
The best thing Trump and Congress have to offer when it comes to relieving the pandemic burden on average citizens is a “tax-cut” that suspends Medicare and Social Security payments by employers and workers for a year. It will cost $1 trillion dollars. Previous suggestions, like offering federally funded paid sick leave, were shot down by the Republicans in Congress. The current plan does nothing to serve people who will be hit hardest either financially or health-wise: those that get laid off, the unemployed, students, people with jobs that don’t provide sick leave and the elderly – who have a coronavirus mortality rate of 22%. For the self-employed who get sick or have no business coming in, they won’t have taxes to pay because they will be going bankrupt. If the government is willing to get in that much debt for another “tax-cut,” why not just hand every American citizen money and small/medium scale business’ money to tide everyone over?
The Chinese government’s pandemic recovery plan demonstrates why they have gone from a developing nation to economic peer of America in such a short period of time. Their command economy is unstoppable and makes the pencil necked Jew economists that invented neoliberalism look like fools. The People’s Bank of China, which is run by the state, is giving underlings $79 billion in stimulus money at a higher interest rate than the fed, but on the condition that they loan it to small and medium enterprises and forgive their late payments so that economic damage is reversed and production can recover quickly. Federal reserve stimulus money, in contrast, has no strings attached, and in 2009 banks used their money to compensate CEOs and shareholders who helped create the economic crisis while they retrenched on loaning to firms struggling to get by. There are numerous problems on all sides in this equation, but the fed could at least try and fight abuses by recipient banks who burn through their capital by paying shareholders more than they earnings justify through a countercycle capital buffer. It won’t.
Next week, the Chinese state will be unveiling a thorough relief plan that will likely include sending households no strings attached money and a boost in subsidies to save small businesses, which will reboot consumption and production.
This strategy, along with a massive infrastructure program, was deployed during their 2008 global financial crisis, which China recovered from much more quickly than liberal capitalist nations. China’s swift recovery restored their extremely high growth rates and helped raise other nations around the world from sinking even deeper into economic malaise.
Neoliberal economists criticized the 2008 Chinese state’s effort by claiming the program would incur debt. This is true, China’s debt to GDP ratio is currently 47%, but the US is in a much worse situation, where debt is over 100% of our GDP. In America, where 10% of the population owns 80% of all stocks, the growth spurred by money injections benefits fewer people .
In a country where 25% of the population is afraid to see a doctor due to the cost and the government is unwilling to implement a total travel and immigration ban, it’s clear that our system is a house of cards waiting to get coughed on. Wall Street and Goldman Sachs are the disease, not the cure.