Federal officials aren’t supposed to cause bank runs. In fact, much of the New Deal bank regulatory apparatus was set up for the purpose of eliminating such panics. When FDR was hit with a massive set of bank runs shortly after taking office, he gave an address in order to calm terrified depositors, assuring them that the banks would reopen shortly, and that everything would be fine. But Chuck Schumer is no FDR. He doesn’t stop bank runs; he starts them. Or, at least, has started one. The collapse of Indymac bank, the second largest bank failure in American history, began with a letter from the office of Senator Charles Schumer on June 27. He questioned the viability of the bank. When a senior senator who is in a number of influential posts regarding oversight of bank regulators directly attacks the confidence of a depository institution, it matters. Not surprisingly, the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision concluded that the collapse of the bank immediately following the Senator’s comments was not a coincidence. Director Reich concluded that Senator Schumer had ‘given the bank a heart attack’.
Why? Why would a federal official with enormous power, destroy an institution on which tens of thousands of depositors (not all of whom are insured) and employees depend? Why would a New York Senator attack a Pasadena bank, acting as some sort of amateur, self-appointed, long-distance bank examiner?
Perhaps this might help answer the question: Indymac has been under attack from the hard left. The Center for Responsible Lending issued an attack on Indymac within a few days of Schumer’s letter. CRL is part of a small army of left of center ‘research’ groups, community organizers, and public interest law firms who make their living accusing home lenders of racial redlining and predatory lending. On June 20th the Center accused Indymac of unfair practices regarding minority borrowers.
A suspicious person might think that a network of lefty attack groups proficient in bank bashing and frequently funded by trial lawyers and short-sellers, coordinated their activities with a law firm on the hunt and a Senator who works closely with the network.
On the other hand, maybe it is a coincidence that CRL and Sen. Schumer attacked the same bank in the same week. Maybe he didn’t know about the CRL report, nor CRL about his letter. Maybe the community group didn’t know about the trial-lawyer class action lawsuit which was launched against Indy a couple of weeks before all of this started.
The political class is shifting left. We’re likely to get Obama and Nancy and Harry running the most advanced economy in the world next year. The investor class doesn’t like what it sees coming. That’s why it is scaling back. Capital is going on strike, and we won’t come back to the table until we see that we have a chance to a fair deal.
Jerry Bowyer is chief economist at Benchmark Financial Network, is a member of the Kudlow Caucus, and makes regular appearances on CNBC. He also writes extensively on finance and history for the National Review, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Crosswalk.com, and The New York Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com.