Trump’s Immigration Policy: It’s Child Abuse According to Experts

President Donald Trump Berates the Media in a Hastily Called Press Conference on February 16, 2017

By Pam Martens: June 19, 2018 ~  According to Dr. Colleen Kraft, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. President of the United States, Donald Trump, is deploying a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border that is tantamount to child abuse. Speaking on CBS News (see video below), Dr. Kraft said when she visited a detention facility for separated children in Texas she saw a toddler girl “sobbing, wailing and beating her little fists on the mat.” She said staff there are told they are not allowed to hold a child to comfort them when they are crying. Dr. Kraft explained that what this kind of emotional stress can do to a child is “disrupt the synapses and the neurological connections that are part of the developing brain.” When asked if the children can recover from this kind of trauma, Dr. … Continue reading

Goldman Sachs Gets into the Non-Collateralized Personal Loan Business

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 18, 2018 ~  Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously said in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis that he was “doing God’s work.” What Goldman Sachs was actually doing in secret at that time was receiving billions of dollars in undisclosed loans from the Federal Reserve – often at the insanely low interest rate of .01 percent. Goldman was also living off billions of dollars in publicly acknowledged taxpayer bailouts, while paying out obscene bonuses to its executives, including those who had shorted (made bets against) the U.S. housing market as it collapsed into the greatest disaster since the Great Depression. (See related articles below.) Last week we received an unsolicited direct mail offer from Goldman Sachs. It was offering us the ability to borrow a personal loan ranging from $3500 to $40,000 with rates ranging from 6.99 to 24.99 percent. The … Continue reading

How Did JPMorgan Reverse an Arrest Warrant for its Mexico Bank Chief?

JPMorgan Building

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 15, 2018 ~  On Monday Reuters reported that “a judge in Mexico has issued an arrest warrant for the country head of U.S. investment bank JPMorgan for alleged fraud….” Details about the arrest warrant were provided the same day in a lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit explained that “…a prosecutor has conducted a criminal investigation into fraud by J.P. Morgan. Based on the preliminary evidence collected, the prosecutor recently (in June 2018) requested that a judge detain Eduardo Cepeda, the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Defendant’s Mexican unit, and former J.P. Morgan managing director Miguel Barbosa. Upon review of the evidence presented by the prosecutor, a criminal court judge has found the elements of felony fraud in the amount of $100 million, and issued a detention order for … Continue reading

Bitcoin Price Manipulation Versus What’s Going on in Dark Pools

Bitcoins and Bubbles

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 14, 2018 ~ Finance Professor John Griffin and fellow researcher Amin Shams, both at the University of Texas, released a study yesterday that is causing alarm bells to ring for investors in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Titled “Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?” the researchers found strong evidence that Tether, another digital currency, is being used to artificially support the price of Bitcoin when it comes under selling pressure. Griffin and Shams found further that “Tether seems to be used both to stabilize and manipulate Bitcoin prices.” Bitcoin soared over 1400 percent last year but has been selling off this year. It’s lost about 70 percent from the peak it set last year. The researchers write: “To illustrate the potential magnitude and predictive effect of Tether issuances on Bitcoin prices, we focus on the hours with the largest lagged combined Bitcoin and Tether ?ows on … Continue reading

Merrill Lynch Fine Renews the Question: Can You Trust Your Broker?

merrill

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 13, 2018 ~  Yesterday the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) quietly dropped a bomb on the relationship that the behemoth Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch has with its institutional clients. For those willing to skip past the timid press release from the SEC and dig carefully through the Administrative Proceeding Order, there was this startling revelation: Merrill Lynch had charged obscene markups (profits for the house) on bond trades over a three and a half-year period that were in two cases cited 23 times and 3 times the industry prescribed legal limit of less than 5 percent. Merrill Lynch agreed to settle the charges by paying $10.5 million in disgorgement to its ripped-off customers and to pay penalties of $5.2 million to the SEC. Merrill Lynch is best known as a firm with 15,000 brokers (financial advisors) in branch offices across the United … Continue reading

WaPo and SEC Commissioner Wake Up to Looming Crisis from Stock Buybacks

Robert J. Jackson, Jr., SEC Commissioner

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 12, 2018 ~ Last Friday, Steven Pearlstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning business and economics columnist at the Washington Post, penned an in-depth article on the hubris of stock buybacks and the role they are playing in retarding future growth of the U.S. economy as well as fueling the next debt implosion. That dire warning was followed yesterday by equally ominous remarks delivered at the progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress, by newly appointed SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson, Jr. (Jackson was appointed by President Trump to fill a Democratic seat on the SEC.) Pearlstein outlined the looming problem as follows: “Last year, public companies spent more than $800 billion buying back their own shares and, thanks to all the cash freed up by the recent tax bill, Goldman Sachs estimates that share buybacks will surge to $1.2 trillion this year. That comes … Continue reading

Even after Madoff, Ponzi Schemes Touting Promissory Notes Proliferate

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 11, 2018 ~   Most Americans are not aware that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had the opportunity to stop Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme 16 years before he confessed in 2008. In 1992, the SEC settled an investigation against two Florida accountants, Frank Avellino and Michael Bienes. The duo had been raising money for Bernie Madoff to “invest” for their clients for 30 years by handing out promissory notes to investors that promised returns of 13.5 percent or higher. Avellino and Bienes sold over $440 million in these unregistered notes to thousands of unwitting investors. The Avellino and Bienes matter was settled by the SEC with an order for the accountants to stop selling unregistered securities and with Madoff returning the money. No inquiry was made into where Madoff obtained the funds to pay back investors. The SEC did not lay a finger on … Continue reading

Trump’s Assault on a Free Press Takes a New, Dangerous Turn

One of Numerous Trump Cartoons by Rob Rogers that Were__ Censored by His Newspaper-iii

  By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 8, 2018 ~ A long-tenured cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has recently had his anti-Trump cartoons censored by the editorial director at the newspaper. Yesterday the New York Times reported that the Justice Department has seized years of one of its reporters’ email and phone records. Before we get to those details, it’s important to look at the backdrop around these actions. Four days after Donald Trump’s inauguration as President on January 20, 2017 he began a propaganda campaign against a free press in the United States on his Twitter page, labeling major media outlets as “Fake News.” According to the searchable database of Trump Tweets, he has since that time posted a total of 230 Tweets calling out major media as “Fake News.” Former FBI Director James Comey wrote in a memo regarding a February 2017 meeting he had with the … Continue reading

Wall Street’s Misallocation of Capital Is Worse Today than the Dot.com Era

Wall Street Bull Statue in Lower Manhattan

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 7, 2018 ~ Short memories are going to once again doom millions of stock market investors who are getting their advice from Wall Street’s minions of deeply conflicted analysts and brokers. This is a good time to reflect on the fact that when the dot.com bubble went bust from 2000 to 2002 it wiped 78 percent of the value off the Nasdaq stock index. In the midst of the crash, this is how Ron Chernow correctly described what was happening for New York Times’ readers on March 15, 2001: “Let us be clear about the magnitude of the Nasdaq collapse. The tumble has been so steep and so bloody — close to $4 trillion in market value erased in one year —  that it amounts to nearly four times the carnage recorded in the October 1987 crash.” Chernow characterized the Nasdaq stock market … Continue reading

Wall Street Has Placed a Derivatives Noose Around the U.S. Insurance Industry

Bank Logos

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 6, 2018 ~  Several early warning signs emerged in the stock market yesterday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed at a record high but every major Wall Street bank with large exposures to derivatives closed in the red yesterday. Leading the decliners were Deutsche Bank with a loss of 1.61 percent; Morgan Stanley closed down 1.49 percent; Bank of America lost 0.95 percent while Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase were in the red by less than one percent. But the red ink didn’t stop there. Five of the seven U.S. insurance companies that were singled out in the 2017 Financial Stability Report from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research also closed in the red yesterday. The five insurers showing losses of less than one percent were Ameriprise Financial, Hartford Financial Services Group, Lincoln National Corp., Prudential Financial and Voya Financial. Two … Continue reading

Wall Street CEO to Worker Pay Ratios Don’t Capture What’s Going On

Sanford (Sandy) Weill, the Man Who Put the Serially Charged  Citigroup Behemoth Together

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 5, 2018 ~ The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that was passed in 2010 required that publicly traded companies report publicly how much the CEO makes compared to the median salary of workers. The Securities and Exchange Commission, with its close ties to Wall Street, stonewalled for years in passing the final rule and had to be pressured and publicly embarrassed in open letters from members of Congress before it finally implemented the rule. As a result, eight years later, we are finally seeing the hard numbers that define CEO greed in America. In May, Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota’s 5th District released a study on the new data that was being released. The study was titled “Rewarding or Hoarding: An Examination of Pay Ratios Revealed by Dodd-Frank.” Among the key findings in the study were the following: Two-thirds of the richest 1 … Continue reading

Citigroup Faces Criminal Charges in Australia: 3x Felon JPMorgan Is Said to be Cooperating

citigroup-logo

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 4, 2018 ~ The largest bank in the United States, JPMorgan Chase, is already a 3-time felon. It received two felony counts in 2014 for its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and pleaded guilty to an additional felony count in 2015 for its role in a bank cartel that was rigging foreign currency trading. One more felony count and its Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, might have finally been sacked by the bank’s timid Board for placing the bank’s global reputation under yet another scandal. So, it appears this morning, based on an avalanche of reporting from Australia, that JPMorgan Chase has ratted out U.S. behemoth, Citigroup; the troubled German bank, Deutsche Bank; and Australian bank ANZ, in order to save its own skin. The Australian Financial Review politely writes that “JPMorgan blew the whistle” on the other banks over a … Continue reading

Deutsche Bank, not Michael Cohen, May Be Donald Trump’s Biggest Problem

Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 1, 2018 ~ Yesterday the Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell into financial markets with a report that “about a year ago” the U.S. Federal Reserve had “designated Deutsche Bank AG’s sprawling U.S. business as being in a ‘troubled condition.’ ” The Financial Times added to market angst by also reporting yesterday that the FDIC, which provides Federal deposit insurance to U.S. banks, has designated Deutsche Bank as a “problem bank” sometime within the past year. Until yesterday, both of these actions by Federal regulators were secret and unknown to Deutsche Bank’s shareholders, to the markets and to the New York Stock Exchange where Deutsche Bank’s stock trades in the U.S. Over the past year, Deutsche Bank’s stock has lost more than 40 percent of its value as a result of a lack of positive earnings for three years and serial regulatory lapses … Continue reading

Jamie Dimon Goes Way Out of Town for Shareholders’ Meetings: For Good Reason

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Explaining Losses to the House Financial Services Committee, June 19, 2012

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 31, 2018 ~ JPMorgan Chase likes to hold its annual shareholders’ meetings far away from the media glare of New York City’s pesky press corps. Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has good reason to want to dodge Manhattan’s investigative reporters – who might start to see a pattern of fraudulent behavior. At the 2011 shareholders’ meeting in Columbus, Ohio more than 1,000 protesters descended on the event to protest the bank’s unsavory foreclosure practices. JPMorgan Chase’s 2013 shareholders’ meeting in Tampa – 1100 miles from New York City — came less than two months after the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a 300-page report on how JPMorgan Chase had used its bank depositors’ money to gamble in risky derivatives in London, eventually losing $6.2 billion of that money. The 2014 shareholders’ meeting, also in Tampa, came four months … Continue reading

Wall Street Banks Tank Yesterday as Contagion Threat Grows

Systemic Risk Among Deutsche Bank and Global Systemically Important Banks (Source: IMF --  "The blue, purple and green nodes denote European, US and Asian banks, respectively. The thickness of the arrows capture total linkages (both inward and outward), and the arrow captures the direction of net spillover. The size of the nodes reflects asset size.")

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 30, 2018 ~  Big Wall Street bank stocks outpaced the decline in the markets yesterday by a big margin. That’s a serious problem but here’s a bigger problem: if you get your information from mainstream media, you have no idea this happened or what it portends for the U.S. economy. Corporate media (a/k/a “mainstream” media) is obsessed with ratings, clickbait and celebrities behaving badly – which goes a long way in explaining why the U.S. has a billionaire celebrity in the oval office who publicly talks about television ratings when he greets hostages released by North Korea. It’s also now clear why so many members of Congress claimed that nobody could have seen the 2008 financial crisis coming: mainstream media simply refused to heed and report on the many warnings. The same thing happened yesterday. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index fell by … Continue reading

Welcome to Risk-Off Tuesday as Italy Rattles Markets

Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 29, 2018 ~ U.S. investors have returned this morning from a 3-day Memorial Day break for parades and barbecues to find that turmoil in European stock markets may serve up losses to U.S. portfolios. At 7:18 a.m. this morning, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were projecting a loss of 191 points at the open of trading in the U.S. The turmoil is rooted in a failed coalition government in Italy over the weekend with the prospect for Euro-sceptics gaining more power in a new Italian election in the fall. Italy’s finances are in no condition for a flailing government. It has over 2.3 trillion Euros in outstanding debt. Last Friday the credit ratings agency, Moody’s, placed Italy’s sovereign debt rating under review for a possible downgrade. The rating is already weak at Baa2, just two rungs above junk bond status. Moody’s … Continue reading

America Has Reason to Hope: Leslie Cockburn Is Running for Congress

Leslie Cockburn

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 25, 2018 ~  On May 5 Leslie Cockburn, a former prize-winning 60 Minutes producer and journalist with no prior political credentials, won the Democratic nomination for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Two qualities sum up how Cockburn has come this far this fast: she is willing to work twice as hard as the average politician and she is sincere in her desire to do the people’s work in what Americans previously called the People’s House – until it became the lapdog of Koch money and corporate interests. What would have been a major obstacle to most new candidates became an edge for Cockburn. Virginia’s 5th District is huge – it’s larger than New Jersey with 440,000 voters spread across 308 precincts. For a candidate willing to spend 7 days a week traveling the District from end to end, genuinely listening to the concerns of … Continue reading

SEC Charges Elizabeth Holmes with “Massive Fraud” but Says She Can Head a Public Company in 10 Years

SEC Chair Jay Clayton Responds to Questioning by Senator Elizabeth Warren During Senate Banking Committee Hearing, September 26, 2017

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 24, 2018 ~ On March 14 the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes with a “massive fraud.” According to the SEC, Holmes had made wild and false claims about the company’s purportedly revolutionary blood testing device as the company fraudulently raised $700 million from investors. But despite the SEC investigators’ well-developed “massive fraud” charges against Holmes, five days later the SEC let the 30-something woman off the hook with a $500,000 fine, surrender of her shares in the company, and barred her from being an officer or director of a publicly traded company for 10 years. In other words, when Holmes is in her early 40s, she will have the opportunity to once again run another massive fraud and bilk investors. This is exactly the kind of hubris we have come to expect from the SEC. (See related articles … Continue reading

Rollback of Wall Street Reforms Didn’t Just Happen Yesterday

Washington and Wall Street's Revolving Door Illustration

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 23, 2018 ~ Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-159 to approve a rollback of provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that grew out of the epic financial collapse of 2008 – which ushered in the greatest economic bust since the Great Depression. The bill originated in the U.S. Senate and is now awaiting the signature of President Donald Trump, who is expected to quickly sign it. If you are thinking that Congress would never have approved this rollback of reforms if Wall Street was still as dangerous as it was in 2008, think again. Members of Congress approved this dangerous giveaway to Wall Street because they simply can’t say no to Wall Street’s political donations, its lobbyists, and those high-paying jobs that might await them if they play their cards right. The Washington Post called the rollback “the most … Continue reading

Supreme Court Justice’s Wife Paid by Right-Wing Outlet that Outed FBI Informant Stefan Halper

Virginia (Ginni) Thomas

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 22, 2018 ~ The name of a confidential FBI informant, Stefan A. Halper, was revealed by a right-wing news website known as the Daily Caller News Foundation on Saturday. Curiously, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, wife of the sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has been collecting an undisclosed amount of compensation from the same nonprofit and its anonymous right-wing donors for years. At 9:35 a.m. this past Saturday morning, the Daily Caller ran this headline: “Cambridge Professor Spied On Trump Campaign Advisers.” The very next day, President Donald Trump Tweeted the following: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Yesterday the Justice Department agreed to … Continue reading

Trump and Clarence Thomas Financial Disclosures Prove U.S. Is Officially a Kleptocracy

President Donald Trump Berates the Media in a Hastily Called Press Conference on February 16, 2017

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 20, 2018 ~ According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a kleptocracy is “a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people.” Stealing can also be interpreted as a public official depriving citizens of their right to honest services, as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1346. Two men serving in the highest offices of the United States, one man black and one man white, are now the poster children for a government that more closely resembles a kleptocracy than a democracy. The two men also have three other things in common: they are both shameless in flaunting their disregard for conflicts of interest; their previous Federal financial disclosure reports contained serious falsehoods; and neither has been removed from their high office. Last week Donald Trump, the President of the United States, released his financial disclosure form … Continue reading

Vatican Assails Wall Street for Creating an “Amoral Culture”

Pope Francis, Who Advocates Against Materialism, Arrives at the White House on September 23, 2015 in a Humble Little Fiat

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 18, 2018 ~  The Vatican released a lengthy report yesterday on how the drive for accumulating money at any cost has turned Wall Street and much of the global financial system into an “amoral culture,” noting that the idea that markets will be self-policing is pure bunk. The Vatican has apparently decided to keep the debate alive that Senator Bernie Sanders started during the presidential campaign of 2016 when he repeatedly railed against Wall Street for having a “business model of fraud.” The Vatican’s entry into this critical conversation would be much more meaningful if each time it or the Pope lectures the world on the meaning of morality they would acknowledge the Catholic Church’s own moral failings over decades in protecting sexual predators of children, refusing to report the assaults to law enforcement and moving the predators from parish to parish — … Continue reading

Michael Cohen Got $3 Million More from Unnamed Sources; Records Vanish

Michael Cohen Leaves Federal Court in Manhattan, April 16, 2018

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 17, 2018 ~  The intrepid investigative reporter, Ronan Farrow, who has a shiny new Pulitzer on his shelf for his investigations into Harvey Weinstein, published an article last night at The New Yorker that should alarm every American. It turns out that it was a law enforcement official who leaked the confidential  government file on Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen out of concern that someone in the government was making other undisclosed files on Michael Cohen’s funny money transactions involving an additional $3 million disappear. Cable news has breathlessly been reporting for days now on the financial file that the law enforcement official leaked to Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 from Cohen’s secret account – a limited liability corporation established in Delaware with the name Essential Consultants LLC.  (“Essential” suggesting that if you want the President’s … Continue reading

What Is the Yield Curve Telling Us About the U.S. Economy?

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 16, 2018 ~  On November 9 of last year, a mere six months ago, we asked the question: “Does Jerome Powell Hear the Alarm Bells from Flattening Yield Curve?” Jerome Powell is, of course, the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve — the U.S. central bank and the body in which the United States has entrusted its monetary policy, for better or worse. We wrote at the time: “As of 7:48 a.m. this morning, the spread between the 10-year Treasury Note (yielding 2.33 percent) and 30-year Treasury Bond (yielding 2.81 percent) is even smaller, at a meager 48 basis points or less than half of one percent. “It is a serious commentary on the bizarre financial times in which we live that a fixed income investor would be rewarded with less than half a percent of additional income to add 20 years of … Continue reading

Giuliani Was Wrong: Even Children are “Disposable” in Gaza

Patrick Galey, Reporter for AFP, Tweets this Image on May 14, 2018 as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 15, 2018 ~  Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made the bizarre remark on Fox News recently that Jared Kushner might be “disposable” because men, in general, are disposable. Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law who was safely protected as he delivered a speech at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem yesterday. What played out in Gaza yesterday was very different: under the Trump administration, all Palestinians in Gaza are “disposable,” even children. According to news reports this morning, more than 60 Palestinians died in Gaza yesterday with more than 2,000 injured. The United Nations reports that eight of those dead are children under the age of 16. The massacre was the direct result of the Israeli military firing live bullets at protesters. But Donald Trump’s White House doesn’t see it that way. At a press briefing yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah … Continue reading