Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A dozen banks collapse, depositors wiped out 

Story in Wall Street Journal. Fortunatly this collapse is in 'Second Life' not on Wall Street proper or our own shores - though the make-believe financial institutions were taking in actual real world money from eager depositors.

Yesterday, the San Francisco company that runs the popular fantasy game pulled the plug on about a dozen pretend financial institutions that were funded with actual money from some of the 12 million registered users of Second Life. Linden Lab said the move was triggered by complaints that some of the virtual banks had reneged on promises to pay high returns on customer deposits.

Though as this Metafilter report (30 Jan 2008) makes clear things are really fairly hairy in the so-called real world.

According to the latest biweekly numbers released last Thursday by the Federal Reserve, for the two weeks that ended January 16th American banks had negative $1.3 billion in non-borrowed reserves. This is, historically, extremely unusual; just two months ago they had $30 billion (positive, of course) in non-borrowed reserves. The only reason some banks haven't been shut due to insufficient -- negative! -- reserve requirements is that the Federal Reserve is currently loaning them enough money through the brand new TAF (Term Auction Facility) program (also running in Canada and Europe) to make up their shortfalls. Today's TAF press release says that 52 American banks or institutions are currently receiving loans totaling ~$40
billion -- but the Fed refuses to name who they are.

Wonder if this secrecy is reassuring...

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