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The U.S. Federal Reserve, the ECB, and the central banks of England and Switzerland agreed over the weekend to "provide unlimited U.S. dollar funds to financial institutions" to support inter-bank lending. The Euro-zone will also guarantee bank debt until the end of 2009 and will assist its countries in buying preferred shares in failing banks in order to help recapitalize them. As this agreement was being worked out, Britain nationalized three of its major banks to prevent their failures. Meanwhile, the United States has altered the focus of its Wall Street bailout plan to concentrate on the purchase of non-voting bank shares and it looks like the American taxpayer won't be getting any equity in return (as the bill supposedly guaranteed).
The Euro-zone is essentially following the lead of Great Britain (the country that sold half of its gold in 1999 at the market bottom and which has a worse housing crisis than even the United States). Britain is now injecting $438 billion in loans to its banking sector - a sum that is proportionately much larger than the $700 billion U.S. bailout, but probably still not nearly enough. Its three bank nationalizations this weekend include the Royal Bank of Scotland (on the New York Investing meetup's likely bank failure list in September) where the taxpayers will get a majority 60% stake. Lloyds TSB and HBS were also merged by the government, which then bought a 40% ownership position in the new combined bank.
As the British banking system is being rapidly nationalized, the U.S. seems to be backing away from this socialist model. Instead of buying bad debt with the Wall Street bailout money, it now appears that preferred stock will be purchased (although media reports in this regard are garbled to say the least). Preferred stock is non-voting and represents no ownership rights in a company. It is merely a loan in perpetuity. Europe in general seems to be trying to adopt this approach as well. If there is any profit made on the government's money pumping (and there always is), none of it will be going to the respective taxpayers of any country that handles the banking crisis this way.
Where all the money is going to come from to pay for the 'unlimited' liquidity injections into the collapsing American/European financial system has not been stated. It is highly unlikely that it will dropping from the sky attached to a big balloon. Printing more money is the only possible option. This makes the inflation hedges gold and silver even better investment possibilities going forward. Amazingly they are both at particularly low prices - at least in the futures markets. While both had severe sell offs in the U.S. markets on Friday (sell offs for gold and silver that take place only in U.S trading have happened many times), anecdotal reports indicate that people were rushing coin shops and bullion dealers to purchase them.
NEXT: Stock Market Rallies Like It's 1932
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.