According to the OCC, as of September 30, JPMorgan Chase (which lost $6.2 billion from its federally-insured bank in wild derivative trades in 2012) is still allowed to sit on $54.4 trillion in derivatives. Citigroup’s Citibank, which blew itself up in 2008 from derivatives and off-balance-sheet vehicles and received the largest bailout in global banking history, is sitting on more derivatives today than at the time of its crash in 2008. OCC data shows Citibank with $35.6 trillion in derivatives on September 30, 2008 (see Table 1 in the Appendix here) versus a staggering $51.3 trillion as of September 30, 2023. Goldman Sachs, whose federally-insured bank has just $538 billion in assets, has $51.6 trillion in derivatives. (In what alternative universe from hell would Goldman Sachs be allowed to own a federally-insured bank?)
We knew this was a completely bogus argument because the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that “agriculture, food, and related industries contributed roughly $1.264 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021….”
In other words, U.S. farmers need to hedge less than $2 trillion while just three mega banks on Wall Street were holding $157.3 trillion in derivatives as of September 30 of this year – which is $56.74 trillion more than the GDP of the entire world last year. (See chart above.)
If the bulk of these derivatives aren’t being used by farmers and business owners to hedge against losses, what are they being used for? According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the federal regulator of national banks, the trillions of dollars in derivatives at the mega banks on Wall Street are being used for trading – likely for the benefit of the banks themselves or their billionaire speculator clients, such as hedge funds and family offices.
Then there is the matter of concentrated risk. According to the FDIC, as of September 30, there were 4,614 federally-insured banks and savings associations in the U.S. – the vast majority of which found no need to involve the bank in derivatives at all. But, for some inexplicable reason, three banks with highly dubious histories have been allowed to establish insane levels of concentrated risk in derivatives. The $157.3 trillion in derivatives held by JPMorgan Chase Bank, Citibank and Goldman Sachs Bank USA represent 77 percent of all derivatives held by all 4,614 federally-insured financial institutions in the U.S. (See chart below.)