Wednesday, March 15, 2023

American Capitalism ‘Breaking Down Before Our Eyes,’ US Billionaire Warns



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As Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin once observed, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

The bailout package for Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) introduced by US authorities shows that capitalism in America is “breaking down before our eyes,” billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin has reportedly stated.

“The US is supposed to be a capitalist economy, and that’s breaking down before our eyes,” Griffin told a major British business journal during an interview on Monday.

The statement came just one day after American regulators promised that all SVB customers — including those who had invested more than the $250,000 limit guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) — will be reimbursed in light of the bank’s collapse.

Warning that there’s “been a loss of financial discipline with the government bailing out depositors in full,” Griffin put the blame on regulators, who he said were “the definition of being asleep at the wheel.”

If the Biden administration had simply let the banks fail and only backstopped federally-insured accounts, it would have been “a great lesson in moral hazard,” according to the billionaire.

Griffin is far from the only influential investor to blast the decision to bail out bankers who decided to bet the farm on the prospect that low interest rates would last for years.

“What effectively happened over the weekend is that [Biden] nationalized the American banking system,” Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host Kevin O’Leary told a mainstream US outlet on Monday.

“It’s no longer a risk, it’s no longer private in any sense. It is now backstopped by the government, ultimately, the taxpayer. So, it doesn’t matter how bad you are as a bank manager.”

O’Leary had previously blasted SVB’s “negligent board of directors” and “idiot management” for the financial fiasco, asking on social media on Sunday, “why should taxpayers bail them out?”

A senior Treasury spokesperson insisted Sunday that average Americans wouldn’t end up footing the bill for the bailout:

“For the banks that were put into receivership, the FDIC will use funds from the Deposit Insurance Fund to ensure that all of its depositors are made whole. … The Deposit Insurance Fund is bearing the risk. … This is not funds from the taxpayer.”

But according to conservative American commentator Liz Wheeler, that’s simply not the case.

“The FDIC bailout IS a bailout,” she wrote on Twitter Monday. “It’s not directly from taxpayers. But FDIC is composed of banks. Those banks will foot the bailout bill. Then they’ll pass that cost to consumers. That’s you.”

Federal Reserve rate hikes are killing regional banks and the housing market.