Up until now, the United States has operated under a “fractional reserve” banking system. Banks have always been required to keep a small fraction of the money deposited with them for a reserve, but were allowed to loan out the rest. But now it turns out that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wants to completely eliminate minimum reserve requirements, which he says “impose costs and distortions on the banking system”. At least that is what a footnote to his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services on February 10th says. So is Bernanke actually proposing that banks should be allowed to have no reserves at all?
That simply does not make any sense. But it is right there in black and white on the Federal Reserve’s own website….
The Federal Reserve believes it is possible that, ultimately, its operating framework will allow the elimination of minimum reserve requirements, which impose costs and distortions on the banking system.
If there were no minimum reserve requirements, what kind of chaos would that lead to in our financial system? Not that we are operating with sound money now, but is the solution to have no restrictions at all? Of course not.
What in the world is Bernanke thinking?
But of course he is Time Magazine’s “Person Of The Year”, so shouldn’t we all just shut up and trust his expertise?