An Open Letter to the Federal Reserve
By Matt Koppenheffer and Morgan Housel
Dear Ben Bernanke and distinguished members of the Federal Reserve:
We are writing today to formally solicit your help in obtaining approvals to start a new bank holding company, Money Unlimited. We of course understand that the approval process for a new bank is typically done through the FDIC, but as the Federal Reserve plays a crucial role in our business plan, we hope that you can expedite the process.
First, let us assure you that we will start from day one as a very well capitalized institution, with no need to raise outside capital. While actual cash is on the lower end of the spectrum, we both own stock portfolios that we plan to use as collateral for our banking operations. Our current holdings include Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO).
For the purposes of this application, we are choosing to mark these assets to model rather than to market. Our basic assumptions include 7% U.S. GDP growth, 12% global GDP growth, a 4% U.S. unemployment rate, rising corporate profitability, U.S. debt repudiation, and the end of cloudy days.
In addition, Matt owns a home in Las Vegas. Though this asset is currently considered "under water" based on market valuations, a house down the street just sold for slightly more than Zillow.com said it was worth. We extrapolated that gain into infinity and determined the housing bust is simply a figment of the media's imagination.
Now the good news: Without getting into the complexities, our models show our combined net worths at just over $1 billion, all of which we'll use as capital for Money Unlimited. We hired a 22-year-old right out of college who's pretty darn good with Excel. He assures us it's a conservative figure.
While neither of us has any "formal" banking experience, our time-tested business model more than compensates for this apparent shortfall. As with Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), which was recently made a bank holding company, we have no plans to engage in actual banking operations such as deposit-taking and lending. That stuff just sounds hard. Regulators are always all, "You need to lend money to people who can pay you back." We'd rather just avoid that whole sticky situation altogether.
Instead, we're going to leverage our borrowings from the Federal Reserve to create a massive, money-spewing trading operation.
It's quite simple, really. We're going to borrow money from the Federal Reserve at 0%, then lend it back out to the U.S. Treasury at 3%. The Treasury can then use that money for fantastic programs like Cash for Clunkers. If we leverage our $1 billion asset base 20-to-1, we'll pull in $600 million in year one without breaking a sweat.
Because we want to do what's right for the economy, we plan to keep operating expenses to a bare minimum and limit our bonuses to $20 million each for the first five years. By plowing the remaining money back into the bank -- and, of course, leveraging it at 20-times -- we'll be able to grow like a weed. Assuming you folks at the Federal Reserve continue to do your part by lending money at 0%, we expect to clear $120 billion in assets in five years flat.
And don't worry about us. We understand that hard work and tangible economic contributions need to be rewarded, so in the sixth year of operation we both plan to take $500 million bonuses and use company money to buy ourselves private jets.
Money Unlimited will offer other significant benefits to the economy as well. We'll compete against banking organizations such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Citigroup (NYSE: C), who are no doubt engaging in similar practices. (Have you seen their earnings?) Plus, we'll allow other banks to buy credit defaults swaps against us. As any financial professional worth his salt can tell you, this "increases liquidity" and helps small businesses. We can't tell you exactly how that works, but salesmen who wear shiny cuff links and talk really fast tell us it's true.
But helping the economy isn't all we're about. As Goldman Sachs' CEO Lloyd Blankfein recently put it, this is "God's work," and we certainly don't disagree with that.
Before long, the founders of Money Unlimited expect our trading operations will become so large that we will be considered "too big to fail." While some may consider this a concern, we disagree. There should be more competition among "too big to fail" institutions so that the risk of a Chernobyl-type catastrophe in our financial system is spread more broadly.
Thank you for your time and we look forward to your help obtaining a speedy approval for Money Unlimited.
Matt Koppenheffer and Morgan Housel
Friday, November 27, 2009
Great article, via Fool.com: