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U.S. Banking System Has a $168 Trillion Nightmare Looming. It Was Ignored in Written Testimony for Today’s Senate Banking Hearing

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Derivatives Held at Federally-Insured Banks as of March 31, 2021

By Pam Martens

Risky derivative bets made by the mega banks on Wall Street, offloaded onto inadequately capitalized counterparties, were at the core of the collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008. That collapse left millions of Americans without jobs, which led to millions of families and traumatized children losing their homes to foreclosure. The bank bosses got their million-dollar bonuses from the taxpayer bailouts and the Federal Reserve secretly pumped in $29 trillion over 31 months to shore up the failing trading houses on Wall Street and their foreign derivative counterparties.

Wall Street banks have rebuilt that derivatives doomsday machine today – a $168 trillion monster concentrated at four mega banks on Wall Street. But as we read through dozens of pages of written testimony submitted by witnesses for today’s Senate Banking hearing, the word “derivative” did not appear once.

At 10:00 a.m. the U.S. Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing titled “Oversight of Regulators: Does our Financial System Work for Everyone?” This is clearly a nonsensical question to which every American who hasn’t been living off the grid since 2008 already, painfully, knows the answer.

Gary Gensler

Gary Gensler

The list of hearing witnesses scheduled to testify today notably does not include Gary Gensler, the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has co-authority to supervise the derivatives market. It does not include anyone from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which has the other co-authority to supervise the derivatives market. The witness list also does not include Randal Quarles, the Vice Chairman at the Federal Reserve, who is mandated to supervise these mega banks on Wall Street and prevent them from blowing themselves up again and requiring another secret Fed bailout.

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