The chairman of the capital markets subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), says the global economy nearly collapsed last fall during a frenetic few hours as more than half a trillion dollars vanished during an "electronic run" on U.S. banks.
Speaking in an interview with the public service broadcaster C-SPAN, Kanjorski said that there was a "tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the United States, to the tune of $550 billion dollars," on Sept. 18.
No one is saying, at this point, who, or what, caused the run on the banks. The U.S. Treasury Department, during the last months of the Bush Administration, however, saved the banks by providing immediate liquidity, Kanjorski says.
"Treasury opened its window to help. They pumped $105 billion dollars into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide," Kanjorski said.
"We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic. And that's what actually happened."
If the Bush Treasury had not acted quickly and made the money available immediately, the United States and perhaps the world’s banking system would have collapsed by 2 p.m. on Sept. 18, Kanjorski said.
"Five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the world, and within 24 hours, the world economy would have collapsed," he said.
"It would have been the end of our political system and economic system as we know it."
Other experts agree that something suspicious happened last fall with world financial markets, and speculate that the new administration is not doing the right things with its stimulus program to repair the deep damage.
The plan floated this week by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to have all banks and financial companies undergo a comprehensive “stress test” may be a bad omen for Wall Street, note some.
"Capital via a government bridge loan to private capital will be available for those entities which fail the stress test. But, when asked if he would liquidate the failed banks, Geithner did an end-around to avoid having to give an answer," says Michael Markowski, an analyst and editor of Stock Diagnostics and Bear Market Navigator, in a note to investors.
"The Treasury Secretary’s ducking the answer, and his vagueness until a more comprehensive plan is put in place, indicates that problem banks will be liquidated if they cannot get access to private funding. This is also very bad news for the stock market and especially for bank and financial stocks.”
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