Three Critical Steps to Making America Great Again Are Not on Trump’s Agenda

US IPOs by Year - 1996 to 2016

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 23, 2017

In 1996 the U.S. had 845 Initial Public Offerings. Last year, after twenty passing years of research and budding new technologies should have fueled growth in the IPO market, the U.S. had a paltry 98 IPOs. According to a study by the law firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, gross proceeds from IPOs in 2016 were $18.54 billion while the “average annual gross proceeds for the 12-year period preceding 2016 were $35.73 billion — 93 percent higher than the corresponding figure for 2016.”

Not only has the U.S. seriously lost ground in IPOs but the total number of publicly traded companies in the U.S. is down by almost half in the same 20 year span. Last September, Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, the polling company, explained why he thinks this is happening. Clifton wrote:

“The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years — from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can’t grow organically — that is, build more business from new and existing customers — they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs.”

Let’s also not forget that quite a number of those 7,300 companies that were listed in 1996 failed in the great dot.com crash of 2000 because Wall Street’s minions pumped out bogus buy recommendations on new companies that didn’t have a prayer of making it as an ongoing business. The real motive behind the listing was to fuel fat bonuses for themselves.  The largest investment banks were calling the startups they were peddling to the public “dogs” and “crap” behind closed doors while lauding their virtues in “research” released to entice the public to buy.

Writing in the New York Times in 2001, Ron Chernow precisely analyzed how the Nasdaq stock market, Wall Street’s primary market for tech startups, had functioned. Chernow wrote:

“Concern has centered on the misery of small investors maimed in the tech wreckage. But what happened to all the money they squandered in the I.P.O.’s? Think of the stock market in recent years as a lunatic control tower that directed most incoming planes to a bustling, congested airport known as the New Economy while another, depressed airport, the Old Economy, stagnated with empty runways. The market has functioned as a vast, erratic mechanism for misallocating capital across America.”

At the time of Chernow’s article, $4 trillion had been erased from the stock market.

Those who have taken a long, hard, honest look at Wall Street understand that it is in critical need of deep structural change: that America cannot begin to heal economically until Wall Street’s invisible hand is removed from our pocket.

The decline in both the quantity and quality of IPOs began around the same time that the Wall Street mega banks acquired the Four Horsemen — four boutique investment banks: Alex. Brown & Sons, Robertson Stephens, Montgomery Securities, and Hambrecht & Quist. As we previously reported:

“Alex Brown’s roots dated back to 1808.  It was involved in the IPO of Microsoft and Oracle Systems. It was acquired by Bankers Trust in 1997 and two years later merged into the German behemoth Deutsche Bank.

“Robertson Stephens was a much younger firm, starting out in 1978. The firm was involved in the IPOs of Sun Microsystems, Excite and Chiron.  Before being sold to BankAmerica for $540 million in 1997, the company was lead or co-manager on 10 of the top 25 best IPO performers in 1997.  (The firm was resold several times after that, each time to a large commercial bank and eventually liquidated.)

“Montgomery Securities, heavily involved in high-tech issues, was sold to Nationsbank for $1.2 billion in 1997.  Nationsbank would acquire BankAmerica the following year, but keep the name BankAmerica as the legal entity. In 2008, during the financial crisis, BankAmerica purchased the large retail brokerage firm, Merrill Lynch, which was teetering near insolvency.

“Boutique investment bank, Hambrecht & Quist, was the final of the Four Horsemen. The firm was founded by Bill Hambrecht and George Quist in 1968. The firm was the underwriter of the following well known firms: Apple Computer, Genentech, Adobe Systems, Netscape, and Amazon.com.  In September 1999, Chase Manhattan Bank acquired the firm for $1.35 billion. The firm is now part of the largest U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase…”

“There is no question that the current structure of Wall Street is both unsustainable and a critical head wind to ramping up economic growth in America.  The pivotal role played by the previous independent boutique investment firms and investment bank partnerships which had their own money on the line when they invested in startups, must be thoroughly investigated by Congress before it makes any sweeping decisions on restructuring Wall Street.”

Another critical Wall Street reform that must be addressed is restoring the Glass-Steagall Act that would separate banks that hold taxpayer-backed, insured deposits from the gambling casinos on Wall Street. It’s not just that taxpayers should never be put on the hook again for another massive Wall Street bailout. It’s equally critical that five mega banks on Wall Street stop controlling the destiny of the nation through their unprecedented concentration of deposits, derivatives, credit cards, mortgage and commercial loans, hedge fund financing and control of the electoral process through their campaign financing.

And finally, Wall Street’s perpetual invisible hand in our pocket is facilitated by the lack of transparency for its crimes as a result of it setting up its own private justice system which bars the public and the press from these private adjudications which are rigged by their very structure of limiting discovery, selecting arbitrators from a limited pool completely unlike jury pool selection, and ignoring case law and legal precedent in deciding the case. Known as mandatory arbitration, the process has been shown time after time to be as bogus as the dot.coms Wall Street was peddling during the illusory tech boom.

The nation’s courts need to be reopened immediately to hear Wall Street’s crimes against both its customers and its employees. The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees this right:

“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

Darkness, fraud and a rigged wealth transfer system currently constitute the business model of Wall Street. Until critical structural reforms are made to Wall Street, all that the Trump followers have is a meaningless slogan on a red hat growing tattered and dusty with age.

Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 22, 2017

Daniel Brockett, Senior Litigation Partner at Quinn Emanuel

Daniel Brockett, Senior Litigation Partner at Quinn Emanuel

As summer draws to a close and the Wall Street titans enjoy the last of their lazy long weekends in the Hamptons, summering next door to the army of lawyers that keep them out of jail, it’s a curious time to be reading about a major new lawsuit that has the potential to shake Wall Streeters right down to their Gucci loafers. The charges include conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Act and unjust enrichment in a $1.7 trillion market.

Since the Senate hearings of the early 1930s, which examined the Wall Street practices and conspiracies that led to the 1929-1932 stock market collapse and Great Depression, there have been rumblings that Wall Street’s system for lending stock for traders to short is a viper’s nest of ripoffs. Now two major law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Cohen Milstein are suing six of the largest Wall Street banks, alleging that they illegally colluded in this market. The defendants are the usual suspects: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, UBS and their stock lending units. (The only surprise here is that Citigroup is not named.)

You know there’s some high minded legal talent involved when the lawsuit quotes Tolstoy. The plaintiffs’ lawyers tell the Federal Court:

“To paraphrase Tolstoy, all efficient markets resemble one another, but each inefficient market is inefficient in its own way. This case concerns a market variously called the ‘stock loan,’ ‘stock lending,’ or ‘securities lending’ market. It is one of the largest and most important financial markets that exists in the world today.  Unlike many other financial markets, the stock loan market has not evolved to reflect the ways in which modern technology can facilitate efficient and transparent electronic trading. Instead, the stock loan market remains an inefficient, antiquated, and opaque over-the-counter (‘OTC’) trading market dominated by large dealer banks, principally the Prime Broker Defendants. These banks have structured the market in such a way that they take a large cut of nearly every stock loan trade that is made. This arrangement is good for the Prime Broker Defendants. But it is bad for virtually everyone else, including the class members in this case.”

The plaintiffs in the case thus far are the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Orange County Employees Retirement System, and the Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association. The lawsuit is seeking class action status in order to represent others similarly harmed.

Of particular concern to Wall Street is that one of the law firms that filed the suit, Quinn Emanuel, has some huge wins notched in its belt. It notes on its web site that it has won five jury verdicts of $100 million or more; 34 nine-figure settlements and 15 ten-figure settlements. It also shares a quote about the firm from The American Lawyer, which called it: “Better. Faster. Tougher. Scarier.” Daniel Brockett, a senior litigation partner at the firm, is a lead lawyer in the case.

“Scarier” will resonate with the defendants as they read the lawsuit. The plaintiffs’ lawyers are asking for treble damages and they conveniently provide the court with the history of how the defendants have admitted to engaging in conspiracies to rig markets in the past: rigging the bidding in municipal markets; rigging the Libor interest rate benchmark; rigging the foreign currency exchange market. In the case of foreign exchange rigging, one of the current defendants, JPMorgan Chase, pled guilty to a felony charge brought by the U.S. Justice Department on May 20, 2015. At the same time, UBS admitted to a felony charge in the Libor matter.

The lawsuit reminds the court:

“The stock loan conspiracy is but the latest in a string of conspiracies involving the financial markets in which the Prime Broker Defendants have participated. In several instances, certain Defendants have pled guilty to the anticompetitive conduct. These admissions not only demonstrate a pattern of repeated conduct, they demonstrate more generally the existence of a corporate culture wherein the Prime Broker Defendants are ready and willing to violate the law and collude with one another whenever they deem it necessary to preserve profits. This culture of collusion demonstrates that the stock loan conspiracy alleged herein is plausible.”

Big profits are involved here and Wall Street can be expected to throw major bucks into defeating the allegations. According to Bloomberg News, “JPMorgan loaned or swapped $21.9 billion of equity securities as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing. Goldman Sachs loaned $13.2 billion as of the same date, a filing shows.”

The reality is that the collusion charges against the mega Wall Street banks that the Justice Department has, after decades, finally gotten around to settling and/or obtaining deferred prosecution agreements, are just the tip of the iceberg.

In February 2015, Jean Eaglesham and Christopher M. Matthews reported in the Wall Street Journal that “U.S. officials are investigating at least 10 major banks for possible rigging of precious-metals markets….”

In 2014 the Senate opened hearings and an investigation into the sprawling tentacles of Wall Street banks in the ownership of physical commodities and non-financial corporations. In one hearing, Senator Sherrod Brown stated that “the six largest U.S. bank holding companies have 14,420 subsidiaries, only 19 of which are traditional banks.”

In July 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued a study titled A Structural View of U.S. Bank Holding Companies. That report revealed that U.S. bank holding companies own at least 16 utilities; 479 insurance companies; 2,388 real estate firms; 1,682 healthcare and social assistance companies; and 5 mines.

In 2013, beer and soda manufacturers alleged before Congress that Wall Street banks controlled the London Metal Exchange and were rigging the price of aluminum to the detriment of both the manufacturers and consumers.

Given what the U.S. Justice Department already knows about Wall Street’s rigging of markets, one has to question why it is that pension funds are bringing these current charges to Federal Court instead of the top law enforcement agency funded by the taxpayer to stop this unending pattern of collusion.

Related Articles:

Goldman Sachs Top Lawyer Is Part of a Secret Banking Cabal as CEO Blankfein Denies One Exists

Wall Street Mega Banks Own Tankers, Pipelines, Utilities, Mines, Metal Warehouses – And That’s Not the Worst of It

Wall Street’s Metals Cartel On Trial Today in the Senate

Cartels R Us: Tab for Rigging Foreign Exchange $3.3 Billion and Rising

Banking Fraternity Felons

After Charges of Running a Price Fixing Cartel on Nasdaq in the 90s, Wall Street Banks Are Now Trading Their Own Stocks in Darkness

Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 21, 2017

Occupy Wall Street's People Puppets Marching in Manhattan

Occupy Wall Street’s People Puppets Marching in Manhattan

Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.)

One of the men helping to peddle this narrative is Steve Hanke, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a taxpayer-subsidized nonprofit that was secretly owned by the billionaire Koch brothers for decades.

Hanke’s bio at Cato lists him as a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and provides the following titillating background:

“Prof. Hanke served as a State Counselor to both the Republic of Lithuania in 1994-96 and the Republic of Montenegro in 1999-2003. He was also an Advisor to the Presidents of Bulgaria in 1997-2002, Venezuela in 1995-96, and Indonesia in 1998. He played an important role in establishing new currency regimes in Argentina, Estonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Lithuania, and Montenegro. Prof. Hanke has also held senior appointments in the governments of many other countries, including Albania, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yugoslavia.”

Hanke is also a contributing writer at Forbes and in his latest submission he has this to say about the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression:

“It is worth mentioning that most Americans date the start of the Great Recession as 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed. In fact, the crisis started on August 9, 2007. That’s when France’s BNP Paribas barred investors from accessing three money-market funds that had subprime mortgage exposure, citing a ‘complete evaporation of liquidity.’ With that, Northern Rock, a bank that was formerly a building society, started to wobble, and eventually faced the first bank run in the U.K. since the Great Depression…These troubles eventually worked their way across the pond…”

Got that – the Wall Street crash actually was started by the French and then spread to the U.K. with the collapse of Northern Rock bank and then Europe’s troubles “eventually worked their way across the pond” to the heretofore unblemished markets of America. And, mind you, it wasn’t morally corrupt bankers who caused the financial calamity, it was, according to Hanke, the U.K. government’s fault for failing “to make ‘lender of last resort’ loans efficiently and promptly. This fiasco was clearly the result of government, not market, failure,” writes Hanke.

In a comparison of the Great Depression with the 2007-2010 Wall Street crash, Hanke states later in the article:

“Both catastrophes were laid at the feet of market failure (read: the capitalist system is inherently flawed and prone to failure). To correct for the alleged market failure associated with the Great Depression, Roosevelt came up with the New Deal.  In short, the prescription was a massive increase in the scope and scale of the government’s reach and involvement in the economy. This type of intrusive response has also followed the Great Recession, ushering in a plethora of government regulations, particularly those that affect banks and financial institutions. And why not? After all, the politicians told us that banks (and bankers) caused the Great Recession (read: market failure).”

It wasn’t “the politicians” who told us that the banksters caused the Great Recession. It was an exhaustive report from the official Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and another exhaustive 252-page report from the nonpartisan watchdog for Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which revealed that the U.S. central bank had secretly funneled a cumulative $16 trillion in almost zero-interest loans from 2007 to 2010 to prop up the insolvent carcasses on Wall Street. The GAO report unequivocally states that the U.S. crisis “began in the summer of 2007.”

But here’s the funniest part. Nowhere in Hanke’s missive does he indicate to his readers that the BNP Paribas funds in France collapsed because of their holdings of the toxic sludge manufactured by U.S. bankers on Wall Street. BNP Paribas issued a press release on August 7, 2007, the day it shut down redemptions on its three funds, which stated the following:

“The complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments of the U.S. securitization market has made it impossible to value certain assets fairly, regardless of their quality or credit rating.”

The U.S. “securitization market” was shorthand for the practice across Wall Street’s biggest firms to knowingly bundle residential mortgage loans (which they knew were destined to default as a result of their own internal warnings from whistleblowers) as AAA-rated securities and sell them to unsuspecting banks, credit unions, public and private pension funds around the globe, and anyone else dumb enough to buy their house of cards.

The Dow Jones MarketWatch report of August 9, 2007 spelled it out further, indicating that the three BNP Paribas funds “had fallen roughly 20% to just under 1.6 billion euros in less than two weeks” and had invested in “U.S. asset-backed securities, which are pools of debt that include mortgages.”

Hanke is not the only writer peddling this revisionist history of the Wall Street crash. A surprising number of other writers have joined the chorus.

On August 10 of this year, Wall Street Journal reporter James Mackintosh penned this sentence: “The global financial crisis began 10 years ago this week, when a French bank suspended three money-market funds. What savers thought was money turned out to be merely credit, and the realization rapidly trashed U.S. money-market funds and the global banking system.”

The well known Mohamed El-Erian, the former CEO and Co-Chief Investment Officer of PIMCO, the massive investment management firm, who continues to serve as Chief Economic Advisor to Allianz, PIMCO’s parent, had this to say last Thursday at Project Syndicate:

“Ten years ago this month, the French bank BNP Paribas decided to limit investors’ access to the money they had deposited in three funds. It was the first loud signal of the financial stress that would, a year later, send the global economy into a tailspin.”

In point of fact, the action by BNP Paribas on August 7, 2007 was far from “the first loud signal.”

As we previously reported, these were the loud signals occurring in the U.S. in the spring of 2007, long before the action of BNP Paribas:

“In February 2007, HSBC, one of the largest subprime lenders in the U.S. at the time, announced that it was increasing its provision for losses by a whopping $1.8 billion. The next month, New Century, which ran a close second to HSBC in subprime loans, said in an SEC filing that federal investigators were ‘conducting a criminal inquiry under the federal securities laws in connection with trading in the company’s securities, as well as accounting errors regarding the company’s allowance for repurchase losses.’ The following month, April of 2007, New Century filed bankruptcy. Two months later, June 2007, two of Bear Stearns’ multi-billion dollar hedge funds were teetering. Bear conceded to counterparties that it lacked the cash to meet the margin calls on the funds and asked for a reprieve. None came. On July 31, 2007, both funds filed for bankruptcy.

“By July 2007, the credibility of the pay-to-rate model of the U.S. rating agencies was collapsing. The tens of billions of dollars of structured subprime debt that had been given the preposterous rating of AAA, began its descent to junk bond status as the rating agencies began their downgrades.”

Wall Street desperately wants to shed its history of greed and hubris and its starring role in the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression in order to get Congress to roll back the weak reforms that exist. The public should pay close attention to these maneuvers and stand ready to call them out.

Related Articles:

Dodd-Frank Is Two Today; And Wall Street Has Never Been More Corrupt

The Wall Street Cartel: 1913 Versus 2013

Dodd-Frank Versus Glass-Steagall: How Do They Compare?

The De-Branding of a President

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 18, 2017

Economist Cover, August 19, 2017

The Economist Cover, August 19, 2017

Promising to cut corporate taxes, roll back regulations on Wall Street, and get government off the back of business, Donald Trump was enjoying a honeymoon with the stock market and the CEOs of the most iconic brands in the U.S. What a difference four days can make.

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 274 points. Also yesterday, Trump announced that he was cancelling his business advisory council on infrastructure. That move followed his prior day’s axing of his star-studded CEO councils on manufacturing and Strategy & Policy Forum. According to published reports, Trump was saving face by axing the councils after getting a heads up that the CEOs were leaving en masse.

The rapid move by top CEOs to distance themselves and their brands from the President came after Trump delivered impromptu remarks on Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he appeared to equate the KKK and neo-Nazi groups that protested in the weekend Charlottesville, Virginia rally with the protesters opposing them.

The question now is this: if Trump has lost the confidence of big business, exactly what is his presidency about?

On May 19 of this year, Der Spiegel, one of the most widely read news magazines in Europe, published a brutal assessment of the President of the United States. Written by its Executive Editor, Klaus Brinkbäumer, the editorial made the following observations:

“Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.”

Now, another widely read magazine on the global stage, The Economist, has delivered a one-word headline assessment of the U.S. President: “Unfit.” Behind a magazine cover showing Trump using a Ku Klux Klan hood refashioned into a bullhorn, the authors write:

“Mr Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defence of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view.”

Time Magazine Cover, August 28, 2017

Time Magazine Cover, August 28, 2017

Time Magazine is also using its cover to elevate the debate about the resurgence of hate groups in America. Nancy Gibbs, one of a series of writers for Time on the topic, writes:

“Having long petted and pampered the demons of racial politics, President Trump should have known his response would get maximum attention. Most successful leaders, certainly most Presidents, preach an American gospel about freedom, justice, imagination, ambition. They invoke enduring values in the service of both achieving goals and healing wounds. But that is not this President’s liturgy. Instead of summoning our better angels, he strums deep chords of grievance and resentment: The world is not a community; it’s a business. If you’re not winning, you’re losing. And anyone who invests in a common good or a shared sacrifice is a sucker.”

New Yorker Cover, August 28, 2017

New Yorker Cover, August 28, 2017

The upcoming New Yorker cover is the most brutal of all, captioned inside as “Blowhard,” and showing Trump providing the wind for a shallow-hulled boat with a Ku Klux Klan sail. Yesterday, John Cassidy wrote these words at the New Yorker:

“By dint of his pigheadedness, or prejudice, or both, he has moved onto political ground that makes it virtually impossible for other people in influential positions, such as C.E.O.s, or the heads of other organizations, or senior government officials, or celebrities, or even his own Cabinet members, to stand with him, or even to be seen to cooperate with him. That is what happens when a President throws away his own legitimacy.”

This is not just a crisis for Republicans but a crisis for Democrats as well. Millions of Americans voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election because they felt the Democrats had provided them with an even worse presidential choice: Hillary Clinton — a Wall Street Democrat whose campaign was funded by Wall Street and hedge fund billionaires and whose household coffers had also been lined to the tune of millions of dollars for speeches she and her husband had delivered, mostly in secrecy, to the one percenters.

The Stock Market Is Confident; Business Leaders, Not So Much

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 17, 2017

Trump Press Conference at Trump Tower, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Trump Is Flanked by (left to right) Gary Cohn, Former President of Goldman Sachs, Now Chair of Trump's National Economic Council, Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s Press Conference at Trump Tower, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Trump Is Flanked by (left to right) Gary Cohn, Former President of Goldman Sachs, Now Chair of Trump’s National Economic Council, Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation.

As the stock market repeatedly set new highs this year, confidence in the President was eroding among the general public. That erosion of confidence now extends to dozens of the top corporate leaders in America.

There is apparently a new social standard in America. When it was revealed in the final weeks of Trump’s Presidential bid that he had stated on video that he could sexually assault women (“grab ‘em by the p*ssy), it was not a serious impediment for the top executives of the largest corporations in America to continue to pander to Trump, take top posts in his administration and serve on his business advisory councils.

Even though it is generally accepted that women “drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence” the male executives that sit atop the most famous brands in America had no trouble hitching their wagon and their brands to Donald Trump’s chaotic White House.

Even after Trump’s highly controversial Executive Order on immigration in January, there was only mild whimpering from most of the suits in the corner offices — with a few exceptions. Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, did join protesters at San Francisco International Airport while noting that he was protesting in his personal capacity as a refugee, not in his official Google capacity. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed strong objections to the Trump order. Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, also protested at the San Francisco airport and released a statement on his blog. He wrote that Trump’s “precedent of invalidating already-issued visas and green cards should be extremely troubling for immigrants of any country or for anyone who thinks their contributions to the US are important.  This is not just a Muslim ban. This is a breach of America’s contract with all the immigrants in the nation.”

But by late January, Trump had recruited top execs for his manufacturing advisory group, including the heads of Ford, Dow Chemical, GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, United Technologies and Intel. Another advisory body, the Strategic and Policy Forum, also had no trouble attracting CEOs from multinational brands like Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Following Trump’s prepared statement on the white supremacy rally in Virginia on Saturday, which included members of the KKK and neo-Nazi groups, where Trump blamed “many sides,” there were a few public CEO defections on the manufacturing advisory group. Then, Trump delivered shocking impromptu remarks on Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he appeared to equate the white supremacy groups with the protesters opposing them. According to news reports, those remarks led to a conference call among CEOs on Wednesday morning with mass defections in the offing. Before more resignations could be publically announced by CEOs, Trump Tweeted the following at 10:14 a.m. yesterday morning:

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

According to NPR’s transcript of Trump’s press conference, the President said that “there were very fine people on both sides” at the rally. The President’s response to one reporter’s question was as follows:

“Ok what about the alt left that came charging — excuse me. What about the alt left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this, what about the fact they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news.

“That was a horrible day. [cross-talk]

“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely. Much more closely than you people watched it. And you have, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now.”