Share Buybacks Have Created a Dangerous Bubble in Wall Street Bank Stocks

JPMorgan Building

By Pam Martens: February 14, 2019 ~ JPMorgan Chase is a Wall Street bank that has pleaded guilty to three felony counts in the past five years and lost at least $6.2 billion of its depositors’ money trading high-risk derivatives in London. And yet, somehow, the bank has a market capitalization (the value of all of its shares outstanding) that makes it among the most valuable companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500. The serially fined and investigated bank, as of yesterday’s close, has a market value of $342.817 billion which is $110.8 billion more than Boeing – one of the most sophisticated engineering companies in the world, producing commercial jet airplanes, military aircraft, rockets and satellites for customers around the globe. Looking at the bizarre situation with a wider lens, if you add up the market cap at yesterday’s market close of General Motors ($54.97 billion), GE ($90.199 billion), … Continue reading

Citigroup Pats Itself on the Back for Disclosing It Pays Women 29 Percent Less than Men

wall street sign, thumbnail

By Pam Martens: February 13, 2019 ~ In a blog post on January 19, Citigroup’s head of Human Resources, Sara Wechter, wrote that “Citi’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is longstanding.” She next bragged that “Last year, Citi was the first financial institution to publicly release the results of a pay equity review.” Three paragraphs later, we get the cold, hard facts: “median pay for women globally is 71% of the median for men” at Citigroup. Citigroup didn’t come up with the idea of releasing that data out of some newfound quest for transparency. The data came as a result of a pressure campaign by Arjuna Capital, an investment firm focused on sustainable investing. The campaign is introducing shareholder proposals at the big Wall Street banks, asking that the banks disclose, and then close, their gender pay gaps. After Citigroup released its data, Arjuna withdrew its shareholder proposal at Citigroup. At … Continue reading

All of a Sudden, Fixing American Capitalism Is on Everybody’s Mind

Citizen Capitalism

By Pam Martens: February 11, 2019 ~ Wall Street, the epicenter of American capitalism, brought down economies around the globe in 2008, including a banking, housing and foreclosure crisis in the U.S. Why is it just now that fixing American capitalism is on everybody’s mind? One answer is that it will be a central focus in the 2020 presidential campaign while a more nuanced reading is that the current dystopian billionaire administration has everyone grasping for answers as to how we got here. Harper’s magazine did make a valiant effort to look at the problem at the height of the financial crisis in November 2008 with seven essays on how to fix American capitalism. But the public at that time was more focused on keeping their jobs, a roof over their heads and pulling what little funds they had left from sinking mutual funds and teetering banks. Then the Obama … Continue reading

The Man Who Came to Dinner – With Donald Trump on His Birthday

Jerome Powell Is Sworn In As Federal Reserve Chairman on February 5, 2018 by Fed Vice Chairman  Randal Quarles.

By Pam Martens: February 5, 2019 ~ Remember that late 1930s play, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” In the play (and later movie) the man slips on ice on the doorstep of his host, is injured, and never leaves. The question before the American people this week is if the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome (Jay) Powell, skidded on a slippery slope Monday evening when, on his 66th birthday, he chose to dine at the White House with the same President Donald Trump who has been bashing him for months in the press. Like the character in the play, will the Fed Chair now be thought of as the man confined to the House of Trump rather than as an independent central banker. The time line for Powell’s birthday dinner has the same rancid aroma of Trump’s favored weapon to try to bring people around to his way … Continue reading

Policing Wall Street: Is Maxine Waters Up to the Task?

Wall Street Bank CEOs Are Grilled at House Hearing, February 11, 2009

By Pam Martens: February 4, 2019 ~ The new chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters of California, has held elected office for more than four decades. She has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991. Prior to that, she served 14 years in the California State Assembly. She has been on the House Financial Services Committee for the past 28 years – a period in which she has witnessed the largest Wall Street banks dramatically expand their financial frauds against the public. But can even a knowledgeable, seasoned veteran like Waters tackle the herculean problem that Wall Street banks represent to the country today? Apparently, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon aren’t wasting any time trying to get a handle on the topics on which Waters intends to hold hearings. According to a report by CNBC in late January, both … Continue reading

United States Falls Deeper Into Corrupt Nation Status

U.S. Capitol With Storm Clouds

 By Pam Martens: January 29, 2019 ~ The U.S. is no longer in the top 10, or even the top 20, of least corrupt nations. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018 was released today and the United States has fallen four points deeper into corruption than last year. The U.S. now ranks below Luxembourg, Estonia and France, coming in at number 22 on the chart. In the Americas region, only Canada came in among the top 10 least corrupt nations, earning a number 9 ranking. (View the full list here.) Zoe Reiter, Acting Representative to the U.S. at Transparency International said this about the report: “A four point drop in the CPI score is a red flag and comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power. If … Continue reading

If You’re Looking for Private Capital for Your Business, This Book’s for You

Judy Robinett - 150

By Pam Martens: January 28, 2019 ~ There’s a new book coming on February 5 from the HarperCollins Leadership imprint – and it’s a critical subject for every American, even if you’ve never before thought about starting your own business. That’s because America is losing its dynamism in creating new businesses, as we’ll discuss later in this article. Written by Judy Robinett, Crack the Funding Code: How Investors Think and What They Need to Hear to Fund Your Startup is the how-to guide for young business owners to tap into private capital sources like angel investors or venture capitalists. There are key sections in the book on how to find the people who can help you, how to write a solid business plan, financial statement and projections, and a compelling pitch. Equally important for the unsophisticated but creative entrepreneur, the book offers sound advice on hiring a lawyer to evaluate … Continue reading

Bad News for Deutsche Bank Is Bad News for Wall Street and Trump

Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 23, 2019 ~ There’s a troubling story out this morning at Bloomberg News indicating that the Federal Reserve “is examining how Deutsche Bank AG handled billions of dollars in suspicious transactions from Denmark’s leading lender [Danske Bank], according to people familiar with the matter, further intensifying what could be one of the biggest money-laundering scandals ever.” The story is troubling because (a) probing potentially criminal money laundering is the job of the Justice Department which can impose criminal charges, not the job of the Fed which cannot; and (b) the Fed is notorious for slapping knuckles and imposing small fines. The Fed’s New York regional bank, which plays an outsized role in the Federal Reserve system, is a deeply conflicted regulator. And, let’s not forget that it was the Fed that secretly funneled $16.1 trillion of almost zero interest loans to the global banks … Continue reading

The Silence on Wall Street’s Dark Pools Is Deafening

Citi Dark Pools Puzzle-Thumbnail

By Pam Martens: January 21, 2019 ~ It is destined to go down as one of the greatest journalistic and regulatory failures of our time – the lack of serious attention by investigative business reporters and the U.S. Department of Justice to the glaring fact that the largest Wall Street banks continue to trade their own and each other’s bank stocks in their own Dark Pools. Dark Pools function as unregulated stock exchanges inside the bowels of the largest Wall Street banks. Making the situation even more dicey, some of the big banks own more than one Dark Pool, raising the possibility that there could be cross-trading between those pools to artificially inflate or depress stock prices. JPMorgan Chase owns two Dark Pools; Citigroup currently owns at least two although it owned a lot more in the past; Morgan Stanley owns three; and then there is the Dark Pool that … Continue reading

Former SEC Attorney James Kidney Is Captured Regulators’ Worst Nightmare

By Pam Martens: January 18, 2019 ~ A jaw-dropping video of a lecture James Kidney delivered at Lake Forest College outside of Chicago on October 12 arrived in our incoming email last Friday. The courage and frankness of that lecture took our breath away. It has also, no doubt, caused major ripples among the top brass at what is supposed to be the nation’s most formidable Wall Street cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the lecture, Kidney calls the leadership of the SEC when he worked there “self-serving cowards” who didn’t go after the higher ups on Wall Street following the crash of 2008 because they were simply “looking to move on, to return to their Wall Street job.” (We don’t think much has since changed at the SEC. See SEC Nominee Has Represented 8 of the 10 Largest Wall Street Banks in Past Three Years.) Kidney was … Continue reading

John Bogle’s Bombshell Gift to Americans

John Bogle, Founder of the Vanguard Group

By Pam Martens: January 17, 2019 ~ The legendary John Bogle passed away yesterday in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was 89. Bogle was the founder of Vanguard Group. In announcing his death, Vanguard said that Bogle “introduced the first index mutual fund for investors and, in the face of skeptics, stood behind the concept until it gained widespread acceptance; and he drove down costs across the mutual fund industry by ceaselessly campaigning in the interests of investors.” We’ll always remember Bogle for the courage he demonstrated on April 23, 2013 when he appeared on the PBS program Frontline. Bogle dropped the bombshell that Wall Street has attempted to hide for half a century: If you work for 50 years and receive the typical long-term return of 7 percent on your 401(k) plan and your fees are 2 percent, almost two-thirds of your account will go to Wall Street. Bogle explained the math … Continue reading

Mucking through the Wall Street Banks’ Earnings This Week

Wallstreet Bull-Thumbnail

By Pam Martens: January 15, 2019 ~ If you’ve ever mucked horse stalls full of smelly manure, you’re better prepared for this week. Yesterday, the inscrutable Citigroup ushered in the week of mind-numbing fourth-quarter earnings reports from the financial supermarkets/commercial banks/insurance companies/brokerage firms/investment banks/derivative warehouses that have combined under one highly combustible roof, using the simple moniker Wall Street bank. There is so much going on under one roof that you’d need your own team of 100 accountants to have any clue as to whether the bank is doing well or not. JPMorgan Chase, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, was out with its disappointing earnings this morning. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America report on Wednesday, followed by Morgan Stanley on Thursday. Citigroup’s big reveal was that it had missed analysts’ revenue expectations by half a billion dollars – not exactly small change. The bank reported $17.1 … Continue reading

A Wall Street Felon and High Frequency Traders Announce Plan to Form Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor

By Pam Martens: January 9, 2019 ~ A group of nine financial firms, including an admitted felon and two high-frequency trading powerhouses, announced this week that they plan to open a national stock exchange to compete head on with the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. We’ll detail those players shortly but first some necessary background to explain why this plan must never come to fruition. Yes, our two major stock exchanges are a viper’s nest of conflicts of interest and in desperate need of reform, but this motley crew can only make matters worse. Following the 1929 stock market crash, the U.S. Senate conducted three years of hearings into the brazen self-dealing and rigged trading by the major Wall Street firms that resulted in an epic crash that eventually erased 90 percent of the stock market’s value, led to the collapse of thousands of banks, and brought on the … Continue reading

A Closer Look at Why Mnuchin Called the Big Wall Street Banks to Check on Liquidity

Steven Mnuchin Is Sworn In as U.S. Treasury Secretary by Donald Trump on February 13, 2017

By Pam Martens: January 7, 2019 ~ On Sunday, December 23, 2018, the sitting U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, lit up the airwaves with the announcement on his Twitter page that he had “convened individual calls with the CEOs of the nation’s six largest banks.” The Tweet went downhill from there. The Tweet attached a press release from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Public Affairs which named the six banks and their CEOs involved in the calls. They were Brian Moynihan, Bank of America; Michael Corbat, Citigroup; David Solomon, Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase; James Gorman, Morgan Stanley; and Tim Sloan at Wells Fargo. Mnuchin said he asked the bank CEOs about their liquidity to fund regular operations and they told him they had “ample liquidity.” Let’s pause right there for a moment. These are the same Wall Street banks that brought the U.S. financial system to its knees … Continue reading

In 2019, Wall Street Banks Will Determine the Future of America

New York Stock Exchange

By Pam Martens: January 2, 2019 ~  Inevitably, investors get the kind of Wall Street they demand and deserve. That’s a paraphrase of the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre’s view on an engaged or unengaged citizenry: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” As groggy Americans arise this morning to face the reality that their holiday escapism is over and it’s back to the grind of work and daily doses of White House tyranny and dysfunction, at 8:00 a.m. Dow futures were pointing to an approximate 300 point drop at the open of trading in New York following the worst December for stocks since the Great Depression. In short, Americans have gotten both the stock market and the government they deserve for failing to meaningfully reform both following the epic 2008 financial crash which pointed so clearly to unprecedented corruption on Wall Street and within the corridors of power in … Continue reading

Publishing at Wall Street On Parade Has Been Interrupted Due to Family Health Issues

Thank you for your emails of encouragement and concern. We plan to keep the site alive and return to publishing in the future.

Don’t Believe the Media Hype on Bank Stocks and Rising Interest Rates

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By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 9, 2018 ~ The 10-year U.S. Treasury note touched a 7-year high in yield early this morning at 3.25 percent before falling back to 3.22 percent in mid-morning trading. As rates have risen over the past year, we’ve witnessed a growing chorus of business writers repeating the following mantra, or words to this effect: bank stocks will do well, even in a rising interest rate environment, because the spread will widen on what they pay to their depositors versus the rate that they earn on loans. When it comes to five of the mega Wall Street banks – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – you can throw that advice out the window. That’s because these are not so much banks as they are black holes of interconnected and concentrated interest-rate risk with trillions of dollars of derivatives sitting … Continue reading

Senator Bernie Sanders’ Banking Bill and the Kavanaugh Confirmation

Wall Street Veteran and Author, Nomi Prins, Joins With Senator Bernie Sanders to Launch a Bill to Break Up the Mega Wall Street Banks

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 8, 2018 ~ Last week when Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a new banking bill to break up the mega banks on Wall Street, he had this to say: “In our nation today, we are moving toward an oligarchic form of society where a small number of very wealthy individuals and large corporations have enormous control over our economic and political life. Today, we are in a country where three people, three of the wealthiest people, own more wealth than the bottom half of American society and 52 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.” Sanders made this statement on October 3. Just three days later, on October 6, a thoroughly discredited nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, who had the financial backing of a front group funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch, Americans for Prosperity, … Continue reading

Yesterday’s Stock Market Was Not Normal – And We’ve Been Watching Markets for 32 Years

Dow Jones Industrial Average Versus Wall Street Bank Stocks and Two Large Insurers on October 4, 2018

By Pam Martens: October 5, 2018 ~ Add the stock market to the growing list of things that are not normal in the U.S. We’ll get to the details of yesterday’s appearance of a rigged market in a moment, but first a small sampling of the other abnormal ways the U.S. is currently functioning. The U.S. has a President and Commander-in-Chief who is credibly accused by his own lawyer of engaging in political campaign fraud by paying hush money to women whose stories could have impacted the 2016 presidential election. The same President is credibly accused by the New York Times of engaging in tax fraud. That same man is also the subject of a criminal probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And yet, Donald Trump is allowed to nominate a judge who will sit on the highest court in the land for a lifetime – a man who is, like … Continue reading

U.S. Treasury Yields Go Haywire as Times Reveals Trump Tax Evasion

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  By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 4, 2018 ~ Yesterday’s Treasury market was a mess. So was the front page of the New York Times, which featured a montage of tax records evidencing tax scams by the Trump family. We think there’s a connection. The New York Times’ 14,000 word expose and exhibits effectively render Trump a lame-duck president. That means that the country is left with the unprecedented national debt created under his big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy along with a billionaire Emperor devoid of either clothes or the aura of a self-man man. The outlook for mounting U.S. debt pushing up Treasury yields comes at the same time that the Federal Reserve is scaling back its crisis-era purchases of Treasuries and as the European Central Bank begins this month to halve its bond purchases. The Federal Reserve, using a previously released schedule, began … Continue reading

The State of the Union and Wall Street

U.S. Capitol With Storm Clouds

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 3, 2018 ~ On August 14, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, tweeted that an African-American woman he had previously hired to work in the White House, Omarosa Manigault Newman, is a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog.”  In any other executive job in America, those published words would be grounds for immediate dismissal. Yesterday, while attending a political rally in Mississippi, that same President mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the courageous professor who gave sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was 17. Dr. Ford also submitted to the Senate the results of the lie detector test that she had passed and affidavits from four people she had told about the assault in earlier years. Trump mocked Dr. Ford’s sexual assault testimony … Continue reading

Kavanaugh Pal, Mark Judge, Erases His Creepy Social Media History

Mark Judge (Facebook Photo)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 2, 2018 ~ Editor’s Note: Wall Street On Parade believes the focus on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is highly warranted. We will move back to our regular Wall Street beat shortly. ~~~  Increasingly, the much-aligned U.S. media appears to be doing the job that the FBI failed to do in its first six background checks of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The FBI’s seventh background check isn’t looking much better either, thus far. According to reporting at NBC, even Kerry Berchem, a law-partner at the 900+ lawyer firm, Akin Gump, couldn’t get the FBI to respond to evidence she offered suggesting the possibility of witness tampering by Kavanaugh and/or his team. Akin Gump’s roster of legal luminaries includes multiple former U.S. attorneys and former district attorneys. There is also growing suspicions that there is a coordinated coverup taking place involving the … Continue reading

The FBI’s Failures on Kavanaugh Are Like the SEC’s Failures on Madoff

Brett Kavanaugh Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 1, 2018 ~ Editor’s Note: On June 18, 1991, when I was managing money for individual clients at a Wall Street firm, a client told me that Bernie Madoff had been guaranteeing him, and other members of his Long Island country club, 13 percent annual returns on the stock portfolios Madoff managed for them – and had been delivering those returns for about 15 years. It was then, as it is today, a serious violation to promise guaranteed returns on a stock portfolio for the obvious reason that markets can experience serious losses within any one year and negative returns in multiple years. I told my client this and suggested that a person willing to ignore a well known prohibition against promising investors guaranteed stock returns is highly likely to be lying about bigger things. I suggested to this client that Madoff was … Continue reading

Here’s the Kavanaugh Power Brokers the FBI Will Have to Navigate to Probe Mark Judge

Matt Schlapp, Brett Kavanaugh, Mercedes Schlapp-Revised Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 29, 2018 ~   Mark Judge is a conservative writer who, until the sexual assault allegations surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, had an unremarkable career. Despite the unlikelihood that Judge has squirreled away the funds from this writing career to pay one of Washington D.C.’s top white-collar criminal defense lawyers to represent him, or the kind of credible history that would entice such a legal engagement, Judge has secured an expensive lawyer with a remarkable pedigree.  Judge is the pivotal witness that the FBI will want to interview following President Donald Trump’s announcement yesterday that he will reopen the FBI’s background investigation of Kavanaugh. Trump caved to pressure yesterday from Republican Senator Jeff Flake, the American Bar Association, the Yale Law School (Kavanaugh’s alma mater) and every Democratic Senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee who called for a reopened FBI investigation of … Continue reading

Kavanaugh Hearing: Why Republicans Fired their Sex Crimes Questioner Midstream

Brett Kavanaugh and Rachel Mitchell

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 28, 2018 ~ Apparently, somebody on the Republican staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee forgot to give Rachel Mitchell the memo advising her that she was supposed to lob softball questions at Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee now accused by two separate women of sexual assault and by a third of aiding and abetting the gang rape of women during his teen years. Rachel Mitchell is the long-tenured sex crimes prosecutor from Maricopa County, Arizona who was hired by the Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid the optics of 11 male Republicans questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford yesterday over the intimate details of her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. The Republicans allowed Mitchell to conduct all questioning of Ford, who testified first, on behalf of Republicans, and to proceed with questioning Kavanaugh in the afternoon session that followed. The … Continue reading