Senator Compares Facebook’s Libra Association to Spectre in James Bond Movie

Spectre Logo

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 17, 2019 ~ Yesterday the U.S. Senate Banking Committee assembled to hear Facebook’s David Marcus explain how the company wants to create a global digital currency called Libra, to be run by a Switzerland-based global organization called the Libra Association, made up of 27 members from the fields of payment systems, technology, telecommunications, blockchain services, venture capital, nonprofits and academic institutions. Given Facebook’s serial history of abusing the privacy rights of its users and selling their data without their permission, not to mention its role in facilitating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, we immediately went to check out the names of the nonprofits that had signed up to monitor this sprawling international monetary system cooked up in a Facebook lab in a year’s time. We were hoping to see names like American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, … Continue reading

Jeffrey Epstein’s Curiously Nimble Trading in LinkedIn Stock Raises Red Flags

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 16, 2019 ~ Is Jeffrey Epstein, the accused sex trafficker and sexual assaulter of dozens of underage girls potentially guilty of financial crimes as well? His criminal profile suggests that may well be worth investigating. Bernie Madoff knew he was no genius and could never compete with the physics and math geniuses employed by the major trading firms on Wall Street. So he simply generated fake investment statements to reassure his thousands of clients of his trading prowess and didn’t buy one stock for their portfolios over the decades he was looting their assets, according to prosecutors. But the criminal profile that emerges for Jeffrey Epstein is that of a man so arrogant and confident of his genius that he felt he could beat anybody – by hook or by crook, or by hiring ruthless lawyers to intimidate and compromise Federal prosecutors. Armed … Continue reading

Tax Filing Suggests Child Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Made His Wealth Flipping Hot IPOs on Wall Street

Jeffrey Epstein Mug Shot from Palm Beach County Sheriff's Dept

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 15, 2019 ~ Jeffrey Epstein is variously called a “billionaire,” a “hedge fund manager,” or a “financier” in the hundreds of articles that have appeared in print this month. But no one can say with any certainty how Epstein obtained his wealth or exactly how much wealth he actually has. We’ve located a highly interesting ledger from one of his nonprofit tax filings which shows he was able to get his hands on highly preferential hot IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) and flipped them on their first day of trading. We’ll explore that in detail shortly, but first some background. Jeffrey Epstein is due in Federal Court in Manhattan this morning to argue his case for being allowed to serve his time until trial under house arrest in his opulent $77 million mansion on the upper East Side rather than the drab confinements of … Continue reading

Charts Suggest the Dow Index Is Being Painted to Get “New Highs” in the Market

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 12, 2019 ~ What we need today is a real life character like Vinny Gambini in the movie My Cousin Vinny to take over the questioning for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee – like Ferdinand Pecora did in the early 1930s to root out the systemic frauds in the stock market of that era. Gambini would haul the heads of equities trading for each of the major Wall Street banks and their Dark Pools to a hearing, put them under oath, and grill them about the highly suspicious trading activity that is going on in today’s markets. Let’s start with what happened yesterday. In the face of punk earnings forecasts for the rest of this year and a growing global economic slowdown, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a historic milestone, closing above 27,000 for the first time. But the rising tide didn’t … Continue reading

Is There a Stealth Financial Crisis? Alarm Bells Are Ringing.

Withdrawals from His Flagship Fund on June 3, 2019 (Photo from Publicly Released Video)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 11, 2019 ~ Shhh! Don’t wake the Wall Street bank regulators from their decade-long slumber to whisper in their ear that the same critical signs they ignored in 2007 and early 2008 are rearing their ugly heads again. Let’s take a look at the clear warning signs that began in July 2007 and then contrast them against what is happening today. On July 17, 2007 Bear Stearns announced that two of its hedge funds, which had held about $1.5 billion in investor capital in the first quarter of the year, were now mostly worthless. On August 9, 2007 BNP Paribas, France’s largest publicly traded bank, announced it was freezing customer withdrawals from three of its funds, effectively preventing customers from accessing $2.2 billion. It cited “evaporation of liquidity,” and the inability “to value certain assets,” as a reason. Fast forward to today: On … Continue reading

With Three Felony Counts Already, Did JPMorgan Chase Really Need to Own a Ship Containing 20 Tons of Cocaine?

MSC Gayane Container Ship

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 10, 2019 ~ Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of the Wall Street mega bank, JPMorgan Chase, has weathered one scandal after another during his tenure, including the bank pleading guilty to an unprecedented three criminal felony counts in the past five years. Now the bank is back in the news for owning a massive container ship which was seized last week in the Philadelphia seaport by U.S. Customs and Border Protection following the discovery of 20 tons of cocaine located in containers on the ship on June 17. The cocaine is estimated to have a street value of $1.3 billion. The container vessel is the MSC Gayane and was being operated by the global shipping firm, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The vessel is the largest ever to be seized in the 230-year history of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to the CBP’s … Continue reading

Following Deutsche Bank’s News, Every Major Wall Street Bank Closed in the Red Yesterday

Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 9, 2019 ~ As of early this morning, Deutsche Bank’s restructuring plan is looking a lot like the lifeboat plan for the Titanic. Research analysts have expressed skepticism that the plan will work and the bank’s stock performance is backing up that assessment. In overnight trading in Frankfurt, the stock had cumulatively lost 10 percent of its value in less than two days of trading since the details of its restructuring were made public. Deutsche Bank’s shares also trade on the New York Stock Exchange, which opens at 9:30 a.m. Deutsche Bank is widely known to be a major derivatives counterparty – meaning its fate could have a spillover effect on other major banks which have taken the opposite sides of its derivatives trades. Notably, every major Wall Street bank closed in the red yesterday with two, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, outpacing … Continue reading

This Will Make You Rethink All that Talk about the Stock Market’s New Highs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 9, 2019 ~ On October 3, 2018 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 26,828. Yesterday, the same stock market index that is watched around the world closed at 26,806 – a loss of 22 points from where it stood nine months ago. If you’ve been invested all this time you’ve essentially gone nowhere plus you’ve had the not so rollicking fun of that brutal 4,000-point plunge from December 3 to Christmas eve 2018, which took the Dow from a close of 25,826 on December 3 to a Christmas eve close of 21,792. So the next time you read that the Dow is setting new highs, do the math and see just how many points you’ve actually gained since October 3, 2018.

Meet the JPMorgan Whale that Ate Deutsche Bank’s Stock Trading Business

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 8, 2019 ~ Yesterday, Deutsche Bank announced it would be cutting its payroll by approximately 18,000 jobs over the next three years and exiting its stock trading business, along with other restructuring moves like creating a “bad bank” to hold toxic assets. What could possibly force a global bank to shed stock trading? According to the most recent report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the regulator of national banks in the United States, four U.S. commercial banks made $8.79 billion in trading revenues in the first quarter of this year. Of that amount, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA represented 60 percent or $5.29 billion. (The other three banks were Citibank, Goldman Sachs Bank USA and Bank of America.) Just to be clear, this is not how much each bank made from trading in all their divisions, this is just … Continue reading

The Fed and Wall Street Have their Worry Beads Out Over Deutsche Bank’s “Bad Bank” Idea

Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 5, 2019 ~   According to press reports around the globe, there’s going to be a hot confab this Sunday by the Board of Deutsche Bank that will focus on the potential to create a so-called “bad bank” to hold some of Deutsche’s toxic assets along with discussions of cutting 15,000 to 20,000 employees from the payroll – meaning as many as one out of every five employees could get the axe. A big part of the job losses will hit Manhattan where Deutsche Bank has a heavy presence on Wall Street — which it plans to severely pare back. Here’s the short version on why the bank is contemplating these radical moves: Deutsche Bank has reported losses in three of the last four years; its share price has lost 90 percent of its value since February of 2007; as of the close … Continue reading

Paul Weiss, the Law Firm that Has Represented Citigroup through Serial Fraud Charges, Is the Number One Donor to Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Harris, Speaking at the Second Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami on June 27, 2019

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 3, 2019 ~ According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps meticulous tabs on political campaign flows, as of this morning, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – which has represented Citigroup through more than two decades of serial fraud charges – is the number one campaign donor to the Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris. As the Center notes, the money isn’t coming from the law firm itself, but from its “PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.” The campaign ad for Harris reads like this: “Kamala Harris has spent her entire life defending our American values. From fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system to taking on the Wall Street banks for middle class homeowners, Kamala has always worked For The People.” But here we are in the early days of … Continue reading

Economist Nouriel Roubini Compares Crypto Coin Market to “Cocaine’s Drug Pushers”

Bitcoin Graphic

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 2, 2019 ~ While the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress finesse a delicate dance around the potential criminality of Bitcoin trading and other cryptocurrencies, NYU Professor and economist Nouriel Roubini has launched a savage attack on the “currencies,” calling them “a joke,” a “scam,” a “sh*tcoin,” and no better than “cocaine drug pushers.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but Roubini is also the man who correctly called the impending financial crisis that landed in 2008 while Federal regulators wore their blinders about the corruption and leverage building inside the largest banks on Wall Street. Roubini, a long-time critic of Bitcoin, has launched his fiercest comments on cryptocurrencies in the past 24 hours on his Twitter page and in an interview on Bloomberg TV. In the Bloomberg interview, Roubini had this to say: “Crypto currencies are not even currencies. … Continue reading

Reimagining the Structure of Wall Street in the National Interest

New York Stock Exchange

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 1, 2019 ~ The current fragmented, opaque, and deeply conflicted structure of the U.S. stock market as well as the structure of the giant Wall Street banks that interact in every imaginable way with capital formation in America, is not in the public interest, the national interest or in the interest of capitalism itself. Let’s start with the structure of the stock market. Those quaint video clips that you see on television of traders mulling about on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at 11 Wall Street in Manhattan, as executives from some new company that just listed its shares ring the bell to begin stock trading, is meant to lull the public into a sense of confidence that humans are still in charge and looking out for your retirement investments in your 401(k) or public pension plan. But 11 Wall … Continue reading

Fed’s Stress Test: Should JPMorgan Chase Have Gotten a Second Chance?

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 28, 2019 ~ How many second chances should a criminal recidivist get? JPMorgan Chase has logged in guilty pleas to three criminal felony counts in the past five years; it has a criminally-charged precious metals trader singing to the Feds currently as JPMorgan admits in regulatory filings that it’s under a new criminal investigation in that matter; the bank has paid $36 billion in fines for wrongdoing since the financial crash, including $1 billion for trading exotic derivatives in London with bank depositors’ money and losing at least $6.2 billion of those depositor funds (the London Whale scandal). And in just the past year it has proven that it’s “game on” for more regulatory fines and illicit profits. (See Could JPMorgan Chase Be Hit with a Fourth Felony Count for Rigging Precious Metals Markets?) Despite all of this, yesterday the Federal Reserve announced … Continue reading

Wall Street Banks, In Drag as Trade Associations, Fight Indictments for Manipulating Precious Metals Markets

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 27, 2019 ~ On July 18 of last year, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted two Merrill Lynch precious metals traders, Edward Bases and John Pacilio, charging them each with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and one count of commodities fraud each.  Pacilio was further charged with five counts of spoofing. (Spoofing is where a trader uses a high-speed computer to issue a rapid barrage of buy or sell orders, with no intention of executing the trades, in order to mislead the market and gain an advantage for his own position in the market.) On Tuesday of this week, a unit of Merrill Lynch was given a deferred prosecution agreement in the same matter by the Justice Department in exchange for an agreement to cooperate. Merrill also agreed to pay a measly $25 million in fines … Continue reading

The Wolves Have Turned on Each Other on Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 26, 2019 ~ Some decades back, the late MIT economist Lester Thurow wrote this: “Essentially, the economic problem is like that of the wolf and the caribou. If the wolves eat all the caribou, the wolves also vanish.” What Thurow did not take into consideration is that if the wolf pack is large enough, it can survive for quite a while by turning on other wolf packs. That’s what is happening right now on Wall Street. The wolves are at war with each other. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq have filed a lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission and are slinging mud in court at a former, long-tenured JPMorgan Chase executive, Brett Redfearn, who now polices them at the SEC. We’ll get to all that in a moment, but first some background. It all started when the stock exchanges decided … Continue reading

Today’s Wall Street Has All the Hallmarks of Tulip Mania

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 25, 2019 ~ In her 2007 book, Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age, Anne Goldgar writes that “the f1000 one might pay in January 1637 for one hypothetical Admirael van der Eyck bulb,” could have bought “a modest house in Haarlem,” or “nearly three years’ wages” of a master carpenter. Comparing that to U.S. dollars in 2007, the year her book was released, Goldgar says it would be like one tulip bulb selling for $12,000. Goldgar notes that as historians have looked back, the tulip mania of the 1630s in Holland has become a “byword for idiocy.”  She quotes from a passage written in 1648 by the historian Theodorus Schrevelius: “I don’t know what kind of angry spirit was called up from Hell…Our Descendants doubtless will laugh at the human insanity of our Age, that in our times the … Continue reading

OCC Report: JPMorgan Chase and Citibank Control 76 Percent of all Precious Metals Contracts at 5,362 Federally-Insured Banks

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 24, 2019 ~ As of March 31 of this year, there were 5,362 Federally-insured commercial banks and savings associations in the United States. Just two of these banks, JPMorgan Chase NA and Citibank NA control 75.7 percent of all precious metals derivatives contracts held by all of the 5,362 Federally-insured banks and savings associations. This finding comes from a report released last week by the regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). (See Table 9 in the Appendix of the OCC report.) Commercial banks are supposed to be making safe and sound business loans to keep the U.S. economy humming, creating good-paying jobs and making America competitive around the world. But according to the latest OCC report, of the $38.57 billion held in precious metals derivative contracts by all Federally-insured banks and savings associations in the U.S., … Continue reading

A Critical House Hearing Gets a News Blackout this Week

Congressman Brad Sherman

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 21, 2019 ~ On Wednesday, June 19, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets held a hearing on “Putting Investors First: Examining Proposals to Strengthen Enforcement Against Securities Law Violators.” Eight pieces of draft legislation were being vetted to address critical gaps in protecting U.S. investors from financial fraud and make sure wrongdoers paid for their crimes. Despite the critical nature of the legislation to be discussed at this hearing, it received a news blackout from corporate business media, with the exception of a report that appeared in advance of the hearing by Francine McKenna of the Dow Jones news outlet, MarketWatch. We knew early on that there was going to be a big push back from Wall Street on this proposed legislation when we saw the name of one of the four witnesses scheduled to testify: Andrew … Continue reading

Goldman Sachs Is Quietly Trading Stocks In Its Own Dark Pools on 4 Continents

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 20, 2019 ~ Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up early this morning by more than 200 points. But the 10-year U.S. Treasury has also had a big rally, which dropped its yield overnight to just below 2 percent. The 10-year Note yield below 2 percent suggests a serious slowdown in the U.S. economy. That’s not something corporate stocks should be cheering about. The continuing aberrations in the U.S. stock market suggest a malfunctioning stock market structure and the first place to look is Dark Pools, which are unregulated stock exchanges run by the same mega Wall Street banks that blew up the U.S. financial system in 2008 and received the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. Apparently unbeknown to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), when Goldman Sachs changed the name of its big Dark Pool that trades here in … Continue reading

Can Trump Fire Fed Chair Powell? Expect Questions at the 2:30 P.M. Fed Presser

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 19, 2019 ~ What good is being the President of the most powerful nation on earth if you can’t humiliate people on Twitter and fire them if they refuse to do your bidding (even if the law mandates their independence from politics.) This appears to be the thinking of Donald Trump, the sitting President of the United States. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, is the latest person to come into the President’s cross-hairs. Yesterday, Bloomberg News broke the story that “In February, the White House counsel’s office examined the legality of stripping Powell of his chairmanship and leaving him as a Fed governor.” The review of Trump’s legal options occurred “as the president repeatedly expressed public frustration with the Fed’s interest-rate increases,” according to the article. In an interview with the Washington Post last November, Trump said he was “not … Continue reading

House Financial Chair Tells Facebook to Halt Plans for Cryptocurrency

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 19, 2019 ~  In response to the stunning announcement from Facebook that it is planning to launch a cryptocurrency, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement yesterday: “Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data. It has also exposed Americans to malicious and fake accounts from bad actors, including Russian intelligence and transnational traffickers. Facebook has also been fined large sums and remains under a Federal Trade Commission consent order for deceiving consumers and failing to keep consumer data private, and has also been sued by the government for violating fair housing laws on its advertising platform. “With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of … Continue reading

President Dow: A Hard Look at Trump’s Threat of an Epic Market Crash if He’s Not Reelected

President Donald Trump Tells Fox News that Americans Would End Up Poor Without His Brain in the White House

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 18, 2019 ~ President Donald Trump has now tied his campaign, and himself, up in ticker tape. On June 15 the sitting President of the United States Tweeted the following message: “The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go….However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT” First, since the stock market lost 90 percent of its value from 1929 to 1932 and the President is calling for “a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before,” he is effectively predicting that the stock market will lose 91 percent or more of its value. (Even for raging bears, that’s quite a stretch.) But since it’s the billionaires and multi-millionaires who … Continue reading

There’s a Critical National Interest in Cleaning Up the Corrupt Stock Market Structure

New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 17, 2019 ~ U.S. stock markets have historically been challenged by corrupt actors. But there have been two extreme periods of corruption in the history of U.S. stock markets. One period occurred in the lead up to the 1929 stock market crash when Wall Street cartels were forming pools to wildly manipulate stock prices. That period led to an economic calamity known as the Great Depression. It also led to two years of intense hearings in the U.S. Senate to investigate the structure of the stock market, followed by intense legislative reforms including the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The second period was the lead up to the 2008 stock market crash which led to the economic collapse known as the Great Recession. In that period, like 1929, Wall Street banks were allowed to … Continue reading

These Charts Suggest the Whole Wall Street Casino Has Become Taxpayer-Backstopped and Too-Big-to-Fail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 14, 2019 ~ According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as of September 30, 2018 there was a total of $13.6 trillion in deposits at all 5,397 Federally insured banking and savings institutions in the U.S. but just nine mega banks represented 40 percent of all domestic deposits. Those nine are the insured banking units of the holding company for JPMorgan Chase with $1.3 trillion in domestic deposits; Bank of America at $1.36 trillion; Wells Fargo with $1.27 trillion; Citigroup at $504 billion; U.S. Bancorp $314 billion; Morgan Stanley $181 billion; BB&T $161 billion; Goldman Sachs $130 billion; and State Street $108 billion. Unfortunately, the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund had only $100.2 billion as of September 30, 2018 to cover losses should any of those trillion-dollar-banks fail – which means they can’t fail and have thus become known as too-big-to-fail, even as they continue to take … Continue reading