Professor, fearing financial crisis, pulls $1M from bank
A former Harvard economics professor thinks the risks facing the banking system are so great that he has withdrawn nearly $1 million from his checking account, at Bank of America.
And, oh yeah, he blames the Federal Reserve.
Terence C. Burnham, an associate professor of business and economics at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., told CNBC there is a "psychological connection" between the Fed's low interest rate policies and the subsequent unrest in emerging market currencies. He also draws a connection between the central bank's actions and the zero percent interest rate BofA offers on checking accounts.
Though Burnham acknowledged that Bank of America has little exposure to emerging markets, he worries that a sizable financial crisis could trigger a run on banks, leaving depositors unable to withdraw their money from the bank. But he implied any financial crisis could very well be the unintentional consequence of the Fed's quantitative easing.
"The Fed has set interest rates at zero. So the reward is zero and the risk is greater than zero," Burnham said on "Fast Money." "I'm not sure it has to be a black swan—maybe it has to be a gray swan. Banks have the same problem that they've had throughout history, which is that they borrow short term and lend long term, so they're always at risk for problems, and the next problem will come along at some point and BofA will be in trouble then."
The Fed's low interest rate policies puts the stock market in jeopardy, too, he said, because the central bank can destroy or transfer wealth, but "it cannot create wealth." He suggested that the Fed's stimulus program has inflated asset prices, leaving investors vulnerable.
A request for comment from Bank of America went unanswered.