Why "Margin Debt" Is Meaningless In The New Shadow Banking Normal

Everyone who has followed this website since 2009 will know that we firmly believe that the "magic plumbing" of the modern financial system is not what is seen on the surface, in terms of declared "on the books" assets and liabilities, but what happens beneath it - in the shadow banking system, a place where trillions in liabilities are created and destroyed via the repo market, to provide short-term funding for all sorts of financial intermediaries, frequently with zero actual exposure in bank Ks and Qs due to regulatory loopholes that allow the "netting" of hundreds of billions of offsetting repo exposure and keeping them off the books, exposure which than can be rehypothecated countless numbers of times. In theory, this works fine. In practice, when a collateral chain is broken and net suddenly becomes gross, you end up with near systemic collapse (especially when the underlying collateral is found to have never existed in the first place - see China).

 

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