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They actually did it. The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates by another 25 basis points right in the middle of a major banking crisis. I honestly do not understand what Fed officials are thinking. They had already blown a 620 billion dollar black hole in the balance sheets of U.S. banks by raising rates so aggressively, and that resulted in the second and third largest bank failures in U.S. history earlier this month. Apparently they are not yet satisfied with the carnage that they have caused, and so they have decided to make things even worse. What we are witnessing is either extreme incompetence of epic proportions, or they are trying to crash the economy on purpose. I am sitting here trying to think of a third alternative, but so far I am coming up blank.
Fed officials can see exactly what their reckless rate hikes are doing to the system, but they are pressing forward anyway. Wednesday’s rate hike was “the ninth consecutive rate increase”…
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a point, forging ahead with its fight against stubborn inflation despite a spate of bank failures and a growing crisis within the financial sector.
The unanimous decision puts the key benchmark federal funds rate at a range of 4.75% to 5%, the highest since 2007, from near zero just one year ago. It marks the ninth consecutive rate increase aimed at combating high inflation.
The fact that it was a “unanimous decision” should greatly alarm all of us.
Isn’t there a single voice of reason left at the Fed?
The last time the Fed raised rates like this was just before the financial crisis of 2008.
And we all remember what that did to our banking system.
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But the Fed insists that this time is different. In fact, we were just told that our banking system “is sound and resilient”…
“The U.S. banking system is sound and resilient,” the Fed said. “Recent developments are likely to result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses and to weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation. The extent of these effects is uncertain. The Committee remains highly attentive to inflation risks.”
Of course banks don’t tighten the flow of credit when things are good.
They tighten the flow of credit when they get into trouble.
And it appears that another major U.S. bank is now exhibiting signs of distress…
Shares of regional bank PacWest Bancorp dropped Wednesday after the company disclosed it had shed more than $6 billion in deposits during the recent squeeze on midsized banks, though PacWest said it did not plan to raise more capital.
The bank said in a press release Wednesday that it had $27.1 billion in deposits as of March 20, which is down from $33.9 billion at the end of December and from $33.2 billion on March 9. The change appears to have largely come from venture banking deposits, which accounted for a third of PacWest’s deposits at the end of December and now stand at just 24%.
There are more than 4,000 banks in the United States today, and hundreds of them could end up failing before this crisis is over.
That would mean fewer mortgages for potential homeowners.
That would also mean fewer auto loans, credit cards and debit cards.
Unfortunately, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy, and so we need our banks to be healthy.
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But if the Federal Reserve continues to go down this road, bank after bank will be absolutely crushed.
Needless to say, the Fed’s insane policies are also bursting the housing bubble. At this point, U.S. home prices are down 12.3 percent just since last June…
The national median existing-home price fell 0.2% in February from a year earlier to $363,000, the first year-over-year decline since February 2012, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Median prices are down 12.3% from their record $413,800 in June.
U.S. homeowners have already lost trillions of dollars of home equity, and now the Fed has just poured more fuel on the fire.
It is madness.
It is literally insane for the Federal Reserve to aggressively hike rates as we are plunging into a major economic downturn, but that is precisely what they are doing.
Look, if the long-term economic outlook was positive do you think that Walmart would be closing even more stores?…
Walmart has announced plans to close stores in Hawaii and Minnesota, which join a handful of other stores closing in several states this year.
The retail giant said the decision was made after a review process that determined the impacted stores failed to meet financial expectations, the company told USA TODAY.
Ten stores in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin will close by the end of the year, along with two experimental “pickup” locations in Illinois and Arkansas.
Walmart exists to make money.
If there was a chance that those stores could be turned around, Walmart would not be permanently shutting them down.
Sadly, other major retailers are also closing locations all over the nation.
They can see what is coming.
Higher interest rates are already crushing economic activity from coast to coast, and they are battening down the hatches.
The “experts” at the Fed are assuring all of us that they know exactly what they are doing, but the truth is that they have lost control.
As you read this article, wealthy individuals and large companies are pulling uninsured money out of small and mid-size banks all over America.
Many of those small and mid-size banks will soon be in very serious jeopardy, and that will significantly reduce the flow of credit into our economy.
Is this what they want?
Do they really want to see the U.S. economy implode?
Our leaders continue to make mind-numbingly bad decisions, and we are on a course that leads to national suicide.
When will the American people finally wake up?
Sadly, most Americans are still blindly trusting the “experts”, and the “experts” have us on a highway to extreme misery.
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Article cross-posted from The Economic Collapse Blog.