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| January 21, 2019

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Central Banks Struggle With Policy Settings

January 20, 2019 |

The eurozone’s economic slowdown has taken European Central Bank officials by surprise, potentially disrupting their plans to lift short-term interest rates this year.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

January 20, 2019 |

Bitcoin Again Targeted by Mainstream Media for Not Being Environmentally Friendly – but What About the Banks?

Another mainstream media outlet has published a piece warning of the dangers Bitcoin poses to the environment. We’ve heard these overly simplistic arguments countless times before. But even if one was to accept that Bitcoin’s energy consumption is substantial, the figure still pales in significance to traditional financial institutions, whose carbon footprint is colossal.

Also read: South Africa Wants to Mandate Registration of Crypto Service Providers

‘Bitcoin Is Oil’

Journalist, former bitcoin miner, and current partner at crypto firm Ocuis, Ethan Lou, penned a Guardian article this week, “Another thing you may not know about bitcoin: it’s killing the planet.” In the article, he argues that “all who dabble in it [bitcoin] will be reborn as enemies of the environmental movement” just like those involved in the oil industry. He goes on to compare bitcoin to the black gold as both have suffered crashes and experienced manipulation by major players, adding:

It is not this day, but a day may come when big oil shrinks or changes, becoming less of a target for environmentalists. Bitcoin is the natural next enemy.

The article adds that the closure of mining sites due to electricity concerns is further cause for alarm, and that firms will continue to fight for their right to mine, as cryptocurrency adoption inevitably grows. These companies will also continue to be confronted for their behavior, the author asserts. “While academics and the media have long noted mining’s electricity usage, 2018 marked the year environmental and progressive publications started sounding the alarm,” Lou writes.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

Why Not Blame the Banks Then?

Like most Bitcoin hit pieces, the Guardian’s effort was one-sided. It is true that cryptocurrency mining uses a lot of electricity. And it’s certainly true that environmentalists have targeted Bitcoin repeatedly of late. But if we are to have an intelligent debate, we must look at all the facts. Attacking cryptocurrencies for their supposed environmental impact is misleading – especially when banks are the prime culprits in the energy-guzzling stakes.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

Dr. Katrina M. Kelly-Pitou PhD, Research Associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, made this clear in her article “Stop worrying about how much energy bitcoin uses” where she argued that the “conversation around bitcoin and energy has been oversimplified,” adding:

Banking consumes an estimated 100 terrawatts of power annually. If bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.

As well as looking at how much energy is being used by banks, it’s important to consider what kind of energy is being used. Bitcoin mining typically uses energy which is surplus to demand and which would have otherwise gone to waste. By and large it doesn’t use dirty base power such as coal. Banks, on the other hand, have funneled billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry – with JP Morgan Chase criticized for funding tar sands oil and coal mining. Kelly-Pitou further uses Iceland, where bitcoin mining is becoming popular, as an example. The country relies on nearly 100 percent renewable energy for its production, and therefore its energy consumption is relatively benign from an environmental perspective. Rather than targeting cryptocurrency, the media should be focusing on major industries – including banking – whose reliance on fossil fuels should be substituted for something greener.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

It is ironic that bitcoin, a genuinely useful and transformative financial system, is being targeted for not being green enough when the corrupt institutions that exert hegemony over the global financial system are complicit in exacerbating climate change. Bitcoin, in comparison, leaves only the faintest of footprints on planet earth.

What is your opinion about how bitcoin is portrayed in the mainstream media? Do you think its impact on the environment is overstated? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.  


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

The post Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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CNN

World’s central banks will have trouble fighting next recession

January 18, 2019 |

If there’s a serious recession on the horizon, the world’s central banks may have trouble fighting it.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

January 16, 2019 |

How Indian Crypto Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

Banks in India have been closing the accounts of customers they believe have made transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The majority of crypto users in the country, however, have reportedly found a way to avoid their accounts being closed by their banks which are complying with the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Avoiding Problems With Banks

Reports of banks in India closing customer accounts with cryptocurrency-related transactions have been on the rise. Banks cite compliance with the circular issued by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), that bans them from providing services to customers and businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies.

How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

A spokesperson for local cryptocurrency exchange Instashift told news.Bitcoin.com that banks have been closing the accounts of customers when they find any cryptocurrency-related words such as “bitcoin” in transaction remarks. He clarified that if a customer’s bank account “comes under scrutiny and the bank officers read the crypto keywords in remarks” then the bank account will be closed.

The CEO of crypto exchange Wazirx, Nischal Shetty, shared with news.Bitcoin.com on Tuesday that the:

Majority of the people understand not to enter such terms in the remarks. So simply avoiding entering anything related to crypto in the payment remarks is more than enough to avoid any problems from banks. There’s no other way for banks to know if a P2P transaction was done to transact in crypto.

Other Indian crypto users agree with this strategy. Twitter user Cryptomaniac advised, “Use P2P without writing anything related to crypto in remarks. And don’t do heavy transactions.” P2P is the exchange-escrowed peer-to-peer style of trading which has been growing in popularity since the RBI ban. Most crypto exchanges in India offer this type of trading. Another Twitter user, Vivekmacha, agreed and wrote that “If we use P2P they can’t track us,” emphasizing the importance of not writing any crypto-related terms such as bitcoin or BTC in remarks when making transactions.

The Instashift spokesperson explained that crypto users that have their bank accounts closed just “open a fresh account in another bank” and continue to trade without “using any crypto terms for transactions,” emphasizing:

It’s easy to open a new account for a person in India & banks also welcome people to open accounts.

He noted that “no matter how many accounts you open, all bank accounts get linked with your PAN card” which he said is similar to the social security number used in the U.S.

More Banks Closing Accounts of Crypto Users

Many banks in India have been closing customer accounts showing evidence of cryptocurrency transactions. Two major banks in the country — Kotak Mahindra Bank and Digibank — have recently gained more attention for doing so when Twitter user Indiancryptogirl posted letters she claimed to have received from them. Digibank is powered by DBS, a major Asian financial services group. “We have observed few transactions in your account with brokers / traders, dealing in virtual currencies,” the letter reads, adding:

Since these types of transactions are not permitted in India, we are constrained to place a credit freeze in your account. Further as per the extant guidelines, we are required to exit such relationships where transactions with brokers / traders, dealing in virtual currencies are observed.

A credit freeze, the bank explained, means that customers “will not be able to deposit any funds” into their accounts. The bank proceeded to inform that “Hence 30 days from the date of this communication your account will be closed by the bank.”

How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

Kotak Mahindra Bank and Digibank are not the only ones taking a hostile approach toward customer accounts showing crypto transactions. Twitter user Pushpendra Singh wrote, “So many Indian banks doing the same thing,” claiming that one of them is UCO Bank. Another Twitter user, Bluecrypto, said the “same happened with me and my HDFC account got closed.”

Another bank with a similar policy is Standard Chartered bank which requires customers opening an account in India to agree to this statement: “I confirm that this account will not be used for settling transactions or dealing in virtual currencies, including but not limited to bitcoins.”

However, Twitter user Yatharth Vashishth pointed out that banks are only following RBI’s order. “Kotak Bank is acting as per regulations by the RBI. All banks are instructed to shut accounts of all entities dealing in crypto. Not a big deal.”

What do you think of how Indian crypto users respond to banks closing their accounts? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold

January 10, 2019 |

Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold

At the Israel Bitcoin Summit at Tel Aviv University on Jan. 8, veteran cryptographer Nick Szabo explained that the use of censorship-resistant cryptocurrencies will rise in countries sanctioned from trade and economies suffering from failed monetary planning. Szabo also argued that the world’s central banks might turn to cryptocurrency reserves in the future in order to supplement national gold reserves.

Also Read: Nonprofit Eatbch Shows How Every Little Microtransaction Helps

Nick Szabo Strongly Believes Distraught Economies and Sanctioned Countries Will Seek Refuge In Cryptocurrencies

Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold
Veteran cryptographer Nick Szabo.

Cryptographer Nick Szabo is an interesting character and a well known figure in the cryptocurrency community. Long before Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin, Szabo designed the Bitgold concept back in 1998. Two years before that, Szabo’s writings forecasted the use of smart contract technology and autonomous organizations. On Jan. 8, Szabo spoke at the Israel Bitcoin Summit at Tel Aviv University and gave the crowd a history lesson on the use of currencies worldwide. During the talk, Szabo explained to attendees that he believes countries blacklisted from trade and regions dealing with hyperinflation will turn to digital assets. Over the last two years, cryptocurrencies like BTC and BCH have been gaining traction in areas like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Iran.

According to attendees at Tel Aviv University’s cryptocurrency event, Szabo’s keynote was in response to comments made by Avi Simhon, senior economic policy advisor and Israel’s head of the National Economic Council. Simhon remarked at the summit that Bitcoin technology is “intrinsically inefficient” and “will disappear.” Moreover, the economic policy advisor for the prime minister explained that using the technology on a global scale would waste “trillions of dollars of actual cost in energy.”

Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold
Szabo on stage with the renowned cryptographer David Chaum.

Even Central Banks May Attempt to Hoard Bitcoin Reserves Over Gold

Of course, Szabo wholeheartedly believes in cryptocurrencies and his talk explained the many benefits of the digital revolution. Additionally, Szabo asserted that it is possible in the future some of the world’s central banks will turn to cryptocurrencies rather than gold.

“There’s going to be some situations where a central bank can’t trust a foreign central bank or government with their bonds for example,” Szabo emphasized during his talk. “One solution that’s been developed is to have the Swiss government hold it for you – that’s not a trust minimized solution. The Swiss government itself is subject to political pressures and so a more trust minimized solution is cryptocurrency.”

Szabo continued:  

The other problem with gold reserves is that they’re physically vulnerable. When the Nazis conquered countries in Europe, the first place they went to was a central bank’s gold reserves.

Over the last few weeks, a number of top market makers and economists have asserted that the world is facing tumultuous times. Traditional investment vehicles like equities and stocks have been extremely volatile, but precious metals markets have recently seen significant gains. In contrast, this past Monday the spot price of gold touched a six-month high at $ 1,288.03 per ounce and gold futures settled at $ 1,289.90 per ounce. Meanwhile, because of increased demand and worldwide shortages, palladium hit an all-time peak in value this week.

Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold

During the speech in Israel, Szabo seemed to be far more confident about the future of digital assets over precious metals. Many cryptocurrency proponents over the years take the cryptographer’s predictions seriously because of his early forecasts about the future of smart contracts. An audience member at the Tel Aviv summit even quoted Szabo for saying “Bitcoin could survive a nuclear war.”

What do you think about Szabo’s statements about cryptocurrencies? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below. 


Image credits: Twitter, Steph Vaughan, Shutterstock, and Pixabay. 


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even look up the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

The post Nick Szabo: Central Banks May Turn to Cryptocurrency Reserves Over Gold appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Report Claims Central Banks Are Cautious About Issuing Their Own Digital Currencies

January 8, 2019 |

Report: World Central Banks Proceed Cautiously on Issuing Own Digital Currencies

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has published a survey showing that most central central banks are “proceeding cautiously” on issuing their own digital currencies. Only a handful are planning to do so in the near future, it said.

Also read: Coinflex Exchange to Offer Leveraged BCH and BTC Futures

70 Percent of Central Banks Working Towards Own Digital Money

Swiss-based BIS, dubbed the central bank of central banks, surveyed 63 of its members on central bank digital currencies (CBDC), a form of government issued digital money that might not necessarily be underpinned by blockchain, as the case is with bitcoin.

About 70 percent of the banks surveyed said that they were involved in some kind of work to issue their own CBDCs, according to the report, which gathered views from central banks that are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s population.

Report Claims Central Banks Are Cautious About Issuing Their Own Digital Currencies

Five central banks have initiated pilot projects, including the central banks of Sweden, Uruguay and South Africa. BIS found that less than a quarter now have the authority to issue a digital currency of their own in the near term and 40 percent remain uncertain. Many are progressing from conceptual work into experimentation and proofs-of-concept, but a great number remain unsure of issuing their own digital coins.

“Only a limited number of central banks are proceeding to the pilot stage with CBDCs, and even fewer see issuance of a CBDC as likely in the short or medium term,” reads the report. “At this stage, most central banks appear to have clarified the challenges of launching a CBDC but they are not yet convinced that the benefits will outweigh the costs.”

The survey revealed that “central banks are proceeding cautiously, and also that they are collaborating and sharing the results of their work.” It highlighted two types of digital currencies that can be issued by central banks – wholesale and general purpose. Whereas wholesale digital currencies are generally limited to specific tasks such as interbank payments, general purpose currencies are designed to replace cash and will be made available to the public. The report said:

Caution and collaboration will reduce the likelihood of unintended consequences. To meet the payment needs of the future, physical cash is unlikely to be the main answer. Most people will have to wait to use a central bank digital currency. However, central banks are working hard to make sure the wait is worth it.

‘Bitcoin Is a Niche Pursuit’

While some central banks from Canada, Singapore and South Africa are attempting to replicate wholesale payment systems using distributed ledger technology – the backbone of major independent cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin – almost all of them refused to acknowledge the impact of these digital currencies in their jurisdictions. Central bankers tended to regard cryptocurrency as a niche pursuit, rather than as the future of money.

Report Claims Central Banks Are Cautious About Issuing Their Own Digital Currencies

“No central banks reported any significant or wider public use of cryptocurrencies for either domestic or cross border payments in their jurisdictions,” BIS said. “Usage of cryptocurrencies is assessed to be either minimal (‘trivial/no use’) or concentrated in niche groups.”

BIS added that the majority of central banks believe that the use of cryptocurrency “will remain minor” due to “low retail acceptance, compliance issues, better public understanding by the general public of the risks involved and, for some jurisdictions, outright bans.”

What do you think of central bank digital currencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and BIS.


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The post Report Claims Central Banks Are Cautious About Issuing Their Own Digital Currencies appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Keep Crypto Exchange Accounts Open

January 5, 2019 |

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange Accounts

Following the ruling by Chile’s supreme court that a bank can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange, the country’s Court of Defense of Free Competition reaffirmed that banks must reopen crypto exchanges’ accounts. The Chilean antitrust court continues to hear the case alleging that banks exploit their dominant position to keep crypto exchanges off the market.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Supreme Court Ruling Inconsequential

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange AccountsChile’s Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC) rejected banks’ request on Wednesday to vacate its injunction that forced them to keep accounts of crypto exchanges open. Their request was “based on the ruling of the supreme court, issued in early December, which determined that the closure of an account of [crypto exchange] Orionx by Bancoestado was legal,” La Tercera publication wrote. Dario Financiero news outlet elaborated:

The TDLC noted in its resolution that the ruling of the country’s highest court ‘does not constitute a new precedent that will change the resolution.’

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange AccountsMartín Jofré, the CEO of crypto exchange Criptomkt, commented after the ruling: “For us, it is a success since we need bank accounts to operate in the market. In any case, we always rely on Chilean institutions, especially on the TDLC for its role as defender of free competition.”

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange AccountsCryptocurrency exchanges filed a lawsuit with the TDLC against 10 major banks in Chile last year, accusing them of abusing their dominant position after they unilaterally decided to close their accounts. The TDLC then ordered banks to reopen accounts of the exchanges for the duration of the trial.

Bancoestado and Itau took the case to the country’s supreme court which subsequently ruled that the banks can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange. With the supreme court’s validation, the two banks asked the TDLC to cancel its order for them to reopen accounts of the exchanges.

Sound Judgement

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange Accounts“The resolution of the court [TDLC] seems completely legally sound to us,” lawyer Samuel Cañas, representing local crypto exchange Buda.com, was quoted by Dario Financiero as saying after the TDLC ruled on Wednesday.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Reopen Crypto Exchange Accounts“On the other hand, the issuance of judgments such as that of the supreme court” against crypto exchanges “should not have legal relevance on the decisions that the Tribunal [Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC]” makes on the subject of free competition, therefore it should be “inadmissible,” he added.

Mario Bravo, legal advisor to Cryptomkt, said that “the witnesses that we have cited, that is, the finance minister, the economy minister, the president of the central bank, the superintendents of banks, [and] the director of the UAF [Unidad De Analisis Financiero]” will give their testimonies to the TDLC in February. He concluded:

We believe that we will be able to prove that the banks illegitimately expel Buda and Cryptomkt from the market because they are companies that compete with them.

What do you think of the TDLC’s decision? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, TDLC, Cryptomkt, and Buda.com.


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The post Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Keep Crypto Exchange Accounts Open appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Indian Central Bank’s Report Shows Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a Threat

January 4, 2019 |

Indian Central Bank's Report Says Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a Threat

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published a report indicating that cryptocurrencies are not a threat currently. However, the central bank says, with rapid growth and adoption of cryptocurrencies, this assessment could change, adding that constant monitoring of cryptocurrencies is needed.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

No Threat Currently

Indian Central Bank's Report Says Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a ThreatThe RBI published its “Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2017-18” on Dec. 28. The report cites an analysis by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international body which monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.

Quartz India summarized on Thursday, “A global financial body, which includes India, says cryptocurrencies aren’t a threat.” India’s central bank wrote in its report:

The FSB has undertaken a review of the financial stability risks posed by the rapid growth of crypto-assets. Its initial assessment is that crypto-assets do not pose risks to global financial stability currently.

The RBI, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Ministry of Finance are all members of the FSB, along with 23 other countries plus international organizations such as the European Commission, the Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Indian Central Bank's Report Says Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a ThreatThe wording in the RBI report resembles the FSB’s own report released in October which states that “crypto-assets do not pose a material risk to global financial stability at this time.”

The central bank’s latest report echoes its annual report which states that “Though cryptocurrency may not currently pose systemic risks, its increasing popularity leading to price bubbles raises serious concerns for consumer and investor protection, and market integrity.”

RBI Says Constant Monitoring Needed

Indian Central Bank's Report Says Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a ThreatThe RBI reiterated in its latest report that it has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of cryptocurrencies about the various risks associated with these assets. Furthermore, the central bank issued a circular on April 6 prohibiting regulated entities from providing services to crypto businesses. The central bank gave them three months from the date of the circular to exit relationships with crypto companies.

A number of industry participants have filed petitions against the ban. The supreme court is set to hear the case this month, after postponing it repeatedly last year.

The RBI continued to describe in its latest report:

The market continues to evolve rapidly, however, and this initial assessment could change if crypto-assets were to become more widely used or interconnected with the core of the regulated financial system … Cryptocurrencies need constant monitoring on overall financial stability considerations, given the rapid expansion in their usage.

No Hurry for Crypto Regulation

Indian Central Bank's Report Says Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a ThreatOn the same day, Dec. 28, the Indian Ministry of Finance reportedly provided some clarification to Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament, about the country’s cryptocurrency regulation. Despite the media reporting that the draft regulatory framework would be ready last September or by the end of last year, Shri Pon Radhakrishnan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, indicated no urgency for cryptocurrency regulation.

He wrote, “In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise [a] technically feasible solution, the department is pursuing the matter with due caution. It is difficult to state a specific timeline to come up with clear recommendations.”

Following this report, the CEO of local cryptocurrency exchange Wazirx, Nischal Shetty, told news.Bitcoin.com, “in a way it also puts out any fear of ban in India.” He elaborated:

Next step is to see if [the] supreme court sees this as the basis to grant [a] stay against the RBI banking restriction as this means that government of India does not see crypto as a threat or matter of immediate concern.

Do you think the Indian government sees cryptocurrencies as a threat? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Indian Central Bank’s Report Shows Cryptocurrencies Are Not Currently a Threat appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Rewards Credit Cards Gained a Fanatic Following—Now Banks Are Pulling Back

January 3, 2019 |

Major perks like airfare and cash back were meant to lead to higher returns. But consumers figured out how to game the system. Now banks are trying to figure out how to keep customers happy while cutting extras.
WSJ.com: US Business

Mnuchin: Everything’s Fine, Banks Have Money to Lend

December 24, 2018 |

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Sunday that he had called the CEOs of America’s six largest banks and they had confirmed him that they had ample cash available for lending. His tweet , however, alarmed some analysts, who noted that Treasury secretaries don’t call bank chiefs on a Sunday seeking reassurances…
Newser