Oct 14, 2019

Fed's Kashkari is sick of Wall Street's whining

Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari has had it with the "hubris and stupidity" of Wall Street bankers. "Honestly, my patience for these market opinions is basically gone," Kashkari told Axios in an exclusive interview.

Driving the news: His latest grievances are with investors who claim the Fed is being bullied by President Trump and traders pointing fingers at the central bank for the liquidity crunch in the repo market, which the Fed just announced a $60 billion a month standing facility to address.

Background: The systemically important repo market is where banks can quickly borrow cash in exchange for collateral like U.S. Treasury notes. Rates in the market jumped well above the Fed's target rate in recent weeks, prompting around $300 billion in daily injections from the New York Fed.

  • Market participants have grumbled that the Fed's inexperience and lack of knowledge are to blame for the crisis.

Between the lines: However, Kashkari points out that the Fed provides a so-called discount window where banks can access cheap emergency funding to deal with exactly the sort of liquidity squeeze that hit the repo market. They just don't want to use it, which renders the window ostensibly useless.

  • "They don’t like it because they think it makes them look weak," Kashkari said. "They don’t want to use it so the New York Fed should have run to comfort them more quickly with a new facility... That’s called the height of entitlement if ever there was one."
  • "Banks are supposed to plan for their own liquidity needs. They did not do that adequately. And now they’re complaining because they failed to plan."

Flashback: Looking back at his time working under former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Kashkari said the same problem presented itself in 2008 during the financial crisis.

"Why did Sec. Paulson and [then-Fed Chair Ben] Bernanke bring the 9 bank CEOs into Treasury on Sunday night and say 'You’re all going to take TARP at the same time?' Because if any of them said no they would all say no. It’s amazing. We have to work so hard to compensate for their own hubris and stupidity."

More from the interview: Kashkari pushes back against Trump pressure

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