Just give us the money

My wife and I are the proud owners of all the common stock in a small company, created originally as a vehicle for supplying consultancy services.  Because we are both US citizens, the company is registered both in the US and in the UK. Over the years since its creation, an awareness has grown inside me, that what we really own is a bank: money goes out (quite a lot) and money comes in (not quite enough).  All we lack to be a proper bank is leverage and a marble atrium.

To remedy this obvious deficiency, I have decided to submit a request to the US banking regulators (cc’d to Hank Paulson) to grant bank holding company status to our enterprise.  If G-Mac can aspire to this status, which gives the qualifying institution access to all the Fed troughs and to what’t left of the TARP, then so can we.

Unlike G-Mac, which provides financing for crappy, environmentally unfriendly vehicles that no-one really wants, our would-be bank holding company is a model of family values at work.  Sure, we don’t make loans.  But show me a bank today that does.   You may wish to point out that the two principals involved have no experience running a bank.  You would be correct. But what really is worse, having no relevant experience or having an extensive track record of running multi-billion enterprises into the ground?  Make a choice between a definite risk and the certainty of abject and costly failure.

If we cannot get bank holding company status for our company, we will fly our (separate) private jets to Washington DC to appeal for congressional support for our business as a quintessential heartland enterprise.  The very fact that we are not systemically important makes us systemically important.  The reason is that if we can get money from the US government, anyone can.  And if anyone can, there is no longer any reason for fear, excessive caution and pessimism.  Consumers will spend again. Banks will lend again.  Companies will invest again.  Just give us the money.

Maverecon: Willem Buiter

Willem Buiter's blog ran until December 2009. This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

Professor of European Political Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science; former chief economist of the EBRD, former external member of the MPC; adviser to international organisations, governments, central banks and private financial institutions.

Willem Buiter's website

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