Buried Within the Massive Aid Package: The Repo Act

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The Repo Act

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a massive aid package aimed at helping Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan strengthen their respective military. But it was also an omnibus bill that included much more than a mere aid package. Buried within its provisions were potential sanctions against the social media site TikTok and an extension of the regrettable Patriot Act.

However, a third provision within the Bill may prove to be the most costly for you and me, the American Citizens. Initially presented as the “Repo Bill,” this piece of legislation proved to be so unpopular that it could not stand on its own. So, in the usual machinations of our Congress, the Repo Bill was attached to the massive aid package in the hope that few would notice.

Now passed and signed into law by the President, the Repo “Act” is nothing less than an attack on Private Property and the latest blow against global trade and finance.

With extreme irony, this part of the Act was labeled the “Repo” Act. As those familiar with finance know, a Repo is a shorthand for a Repurchase Agreement. In this sophisticated method, governments and other large institutions lend (sell) a security (generally a sovereign debt instrument) to another institution, with the provision that they will buy back (repurchase) that security at a future date.

Central to the Repo transaction is trust—the trust that both parties will fulfill their side of the contract. This trust is so fundamental to this kind of financial transaction that it is rarely stated. It is just assumed. After all, those involved in Repo transactions, and in fact in any transactions of this size and scope, are presumed to be “good actors.” These are many of the world’s most significant governments, institutions, and endowments. The US Treasury is among them.

On this Wednesday, the United States declared it had gone rogue.

You see, part of the legislation passed by the US House and Senate and signed into law by President Biden incorporated the Repo Act, a provision that the United States could confiscate Russian assets held on deposit in US Banks.

It wasn’t even a debatable case. There was no doubt that these were Russian assets. Institutions within Russia had placed these deposits with American financial institutions to provide collateral for trade and finance between the two countries. Remember, as late as last November, the United States was still purchasing Russian oil and gas. No doubt, some of these assets were a result of these trades.

As one more step in Washington’s widening war with Russia over Ukraine, our nation is taking the step to confiscate approximately $6 billion (US) held in this country. This move is unprecedented. Never in our long history has the US Government so blatantly and publicly pilfered international funds held on deposit. It is just the sort of action that Fiduciary Laws across the country are designed to prohibit.

Regrettably, this is just the latest step by the Biden Administration to disregard convention and strike a blow against Global Finance. In fact, America has promoted an all-out economic war in retaliation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—from multiple sanctions to removing Russia from the SWIFT System of trade reconciliation, Washington has been determined to diminish Russia’s ability to trade.

While I can understand that many in this country wish to support Ukraine, the debate needs to include how Washington is destroying our resources and abilities in trade and finance.

There isn’t a day that I have yet to read about the decline of the US dollar’s status as the reserve currency. Those who write about the dollar’s decline are spot on. The decline in the Petro-Dollar is especially significant, as we’ve seen Saudi Arabia express its desire to join BRICS, the emerging competitor to US Dollar hegemony.

The Eurodollar is also under pressure, as Europe’s energy purchases will increasingly be made in Russian Rubles or perhaps Indian Rupees. Historically, both the Petro-Dollar and the Eurodollar came about with the need to hold on deposit American currency to expedite global trade—the very thing that President Biden and Congress now attack.

From my perspective, far more than the billions spent on Ukraine, the damage done by the incorporated Repo Act will leave a lasting legacy on America.

Imagine a country, the United States, that is reliant upon foreign trade to provide many of the products we consume, that is reliant upon foreign investors to purchase nearly a third of our sovereign debt, and that encourages offshore customers to purchase our natural resources, automobiles, and high-tech products that make up our exports.

We are a country built over the past half-century by international trade and finance. And yet here is a president and Congress who have thrown a “monkey wrench” into the most basic of all attributes: trust. After April 25, 2024, the world can no longer trust the United States to be a fair and impartial custodian of assets. The world leader in trade and finance no longer meets the standards of a simple fiduciary.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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