And now, the flip side of the story presented yesterday, in which ECB data seems to indicate that monetary financial institutions (MFIs) in Europe have been moving their deposits out of European banks. Where is that money going?
It looks like much of it is being placed with US banks instead. The following chart shows the total deposits at domestically chartered commercial banks in the US. (All data is from the Federal Reserve Board, through August 17, 2011.)
Clearly, something is going on -- the recent rise in deposits with US banks has been dramatic, with an above-trend increase in deposits of approximately $500 billion over the past 6 months.
Who is responsible for this sudden inflow of deposits into the US banking system? The answer is non-US banks, as illustrated in the following picture, which shows the cash assets of domestically chartered banks alongside the cash assets of foreign-owned banks in the US.
The cash assets (i.e. bank deposits) that foreign banks are keeping in the US banking system has risen sharply over the past 6 months -- not coincidentally, by about $500 billion. Meanwhile, domestic US banks have started showing some similar tendency toward accumulating cash, but only to the tune of approximately $150 billion, and only over the past 2 months.
Recall from yesterday's post that MFIs in Europe have drained their bank accounts at European banks by about €700 billion over the past year and half, which at current exchange rates is approximately $1 trillion. It seems that much of that money has recently found its way into the bank accounts that European MFIs keep in US banks. And conversely, it seems likely that the large inflow of cash deposits held at US banks this year is largely from European banks.
Putting it all together yields a compelling story: European banks are shifting their cash assets out of European banks and putting much of them into US banks. (An interesting question is what European MFIs have done with the remaining money they've withdrawn from the European banking system... but that's a story for another day.) This has happened at a significant rate, with a net transatlantic flow from European to US banks that probably totals close to half a trillion dollars in just six months.
If you're wondering exactly who has been the first to lose confidence in the European banking system, look no further. It seems that at the forefront is the European banking system itself.