These Charts Prove It’s Time to Break Up the Big Wall Street Banks

Public Debt as a Percent of GDP

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 12, 2018 ~   According to a statistical release from the Federal Reserve, as of March 31, 2018 there were 1,812 commercial banks in the United States holding consolidated assets of $300 million or more. Of those 1,812 banks, just four banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup’s Citibank) held 45 percent of the consolidated assets of those 1,812 banks. But looking at data at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) the situation is even more extreme. The FDIC shows there are 5,606 insured banks in total holding $17.531 trillion in assets. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup’s Citibank are holding 40.42 percent of the assets of all the insured banks in the country. Let us put it another way. Those four banks represent 0.07 percent of all banks in the U.S. but they have somehow managed to … Continue reading

Ad Calls Senators Warren, Sanders, and Merkley “Extremists” Over Supreme Court Position

Source: Judicial Crisis Network Website

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 11, 2018 ~  Just days before President Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday evening, a dark money group called the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) was airing a television ad calling some of the most trusted  Democrats “extremists.” As photos of Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley flashed across the screen (along with other well known Democrats) a voice warned that these “extremists will lie and attack the nominee.” One thing this threesome actually stands out for is telling the hard truths to the American people. During his presidential bid in 2016, Sanders traveled around the country telling tens of thousands of people at his rallies that the “business model of Wall Street is fraud.” Warren exposed the $6 trillion in a backdoor bailout that the Federal Reserve had funneled secretly to Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch during … Continue reading

The Dark Money Behind Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

Brett Kavanaugh and His Family - Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 10, 2018 ~ There is something revoltingly un-American about a man who stands with his wife and two young daughters to accept the nomination for the highest court in America, talks about feeding the homeless and coaching girls’ basketball – all the while knowing that a lot of very dirty corporate money lurks in the shadows of his nomination. We’re talking about the fact that Trump made his Supreme Court nominee selection of Brett Kavanaugh from a list that was pre-approved by the Federalist Society – a receptacle for the dark money that flows from the billionaire Charles Koch’s network of corporate polluters and democracy-killing front groups that got the Supreme Court to rubber stamp unlimited corporate money in political campaigns via the Citizens United decision in 2010. According to the Desmog, using data compiled by the Conservative Transparency project, Donors Trust and Donors … Continue reading

Meet the Secret Wall Street Group Whose Fingerprints Are All Over the 2008 Crash

Protester Wears a Swamp Creature Costume Outside Goldman Sachs Headquarters, January 17, 2017

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 9, 2018 Since 1999 the chief risk officers of the Wall Street banks that blew themselves up in 2008 because of reckless and irresponsible risk practices have been meeting in secret and calling themselves the Counterparty Risk Management Policy Group (CRMPG). Their plan was to periodically release erudite-sounding reports to regulators suggesting that Wall Street could police itself under a set of “Guiding Principles” in order to perpetuate its off balance sheet debt bombs, unregulated OTC derivatives and a self-regulation regime. The group was led by former New York Fed President E. Gerald Corrigan who then moved on to a lucrative career at Goldman Sachs. Representatives from banks like Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch sat on key committees of the Group and helped to formulate the “Guiding Principles” for Wall Street. Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy on September 15, 2008 – … Continue reading

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, “The Chickenshit Club,” and Spiraling Corporate Crime

Chickenshit Club Thumbnail-90pix

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 6, 2018 ~ Last year Simon & Schuster released The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at ProPublica, Jesse Eisinger. If you read nothing else this summer, you should read this book followed by Nomi Prins’ Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World. The two books provide Americans with a comprehensive understanding of how the Justice Department, Federal regulators, a growing number of Federal judges and the central bank of the United States known as the Federal Reserve have been corrupted by corporate influence. To a large degree, they now serve their corporate masters, not the American people. The Chickenshit Club is a lively, fascinating and disturbing look behind the scenes at the U.S. Justice Department, its U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the judges and lawyers who … Continue reading

Did JPMorgan Rat Out Fellow Bankers in a Criminal Cartel Case in Australia?

Bank Felons Revised-ii

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 5, 2018 ~ Australia is showing its muscle in an area where the U.S. has tip-toed around for almost two decades. We’re talking about Wall Street’s brazen antitrust activity in securities offerings. Last month the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that “criminal cartel offences” had been brought against Citigroup Global Markets Australia and Deutsche Bank over a share offering for Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) that had been conducted in 2015. ANZ was also criminally charged in the matter as were three executives of Citigroup Australia, two executives at Deutsche Bank and one at ANZ. Although JPMorgan had been part of that underwriting syndicate, it wasn’t charged. The Financial Times reported at the time that “JPMorgan, which jointly underwrote the share placement with Citi and Deutsche, has not been charged by prosecutors and has reportedly been granted immunity after … Continue reading

An Open Letter to Fellow Americans on the 242nd Anniversary of our Nation

Statue Of Liberty With Tear-150pix

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 4, 2018 ~ Happy Independence Day. Or not. Today marks the 242nd anniversary of America adopting the Declaration of Independence and throwing off the yoke of King George III – the tyrant against whom much of our founding document was written. These are among the charges that the crafters of this historic document leveled against the King: “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good… “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries… “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world… “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury…” Now consider where we Americans stand today. Within six months of assuming the most powerful position in the world, President Donald Trump, who … Continue reading

Warnings Grow About the Next Stock Market Crash

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 3, 2018 ~ Here’s the thing about stock market bubbles: they can last far longer than even expert analysis suggests they should. But correctly defining a stock market as an unsustainable bubble is still a worthy exercise since it clarifies how much one stands to lose when the bubble does eventually pop. One of the market watchers who is unabashedly calling for a major market correction – potentially in the realm of 60 percent from peak to trough – is John P. Hussman, President of Hussman Investment Trust. In his most recent market commentary, Hussman writes: “Unlike much of the recent bull market, present market conditions reflect not only extreme valuations (including a full syndrome of overvalued, overbought, overbullish features), but also divergence and dispersion in our measures of market internals. It’s that deterioration in market internals that threatens to unleash the beast … Continue reading

As Crime Soars on Wall Street, Its Top Cop Launches a PR Offensive

SEC Chair Jay Clayton

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 2, 2018 ~  Wall Street’s top cop, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Jay Clayton, will embark on a four-city Town Hall type event with retail investors beginning next Monday, July 9. The cities targeted will be Miami, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Denver. The SEC says it wants to hear first-hand about retail investors’ experiences with their investment advisers. That announcement came from the SEC on Friday. On Monday of the previous week, Clayton delivered a speech on improving the Wall Street culture at a full day symposium held by the New York Fed  — an institution whose culture has also been deeply compromised by Wall Street. (See Is the New York Fed Too Deeply Conflicted to Regulate Wall Street?) The low point of Clayton’s speech came in the opening minutes when he lavished praise on the scandal-laced tenure of the President of the … Continue reading

The Fed Gives Wall Street Banks Okay to Prop Up Their Stock Prices

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 29, 2018 ~ The U.S. Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank that is supposed to serve the interests of the nation, gave the largest Wall Street banks a big, irresponsible gift yesterday. The big banks will now be able to spend approximately $170 billion buying back their own stock and paying out increased dividends to shareholders instead of doing what banks are supposed to do: make loans to worthy businesses to stimulate the U.S. economy. But don’t expect to find that critical news on the front page of your local newspaper. The front pages of newspapers across America proved once again today that chaos in the running of the Federal government is dominating news reporting while it continues to relegate to the back pages the alarming risks that are growing again on Wall Street. This raises the question as to whether the chaos … Continue reading

Here’s What Else Isn’t Normal: The Stock Market

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 28, 2018 ~ There’s an old maxim on Wall Street that says “the trend is your friend.” It’s sort of like Newton’s first law of motion, frequently expressed as “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Today, there is an unusually “unbalanced” factor weighing on everything we previously took for granted about our democracy and our American values. Does it also have its fingers in the U.S. stock market? Yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m. the Dow Jones Industrial Average e-mini futures contract was showing a loss 107 points. That loss continued to grow gradually. By 7:15 a.m. the futures were showing a loss of 122. But that trend turned out not to be your friend. By 8:14 a.m. the … Continue reading

Will the Fed Land the One-Two-Three Punch to the Markets


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 27, 2018 ~  Despite President Donald Trump’s leanings toward authoritarianism, he is likely to learn a hard truth this year and next – that the Federal Reserve can make or break his presidency by delivering up to three different gut punches to the markets, which are very likely to spill over into the economy. And without a good economy, even Trump’s most fervent supporters may begin to doubt his omnipotence. For starters, next Monday the Federal Reserve is scheduled to shrink its purchases of U.S. Treasury securities and Federal agency debt and mortgage-backed securities by another $10 billion a month, from a shrinkage of $30 billion to $40 billion. And by October 1 of this year, the Fed will move from draining $40 billion a month from the markets to draining $50 billion, according to its previously announced schedule. (See chart below.) At … Continue reading

The Yield Curve Makes Headlines – But What Does It Mean for Your Finances?

10-Year Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 26, 2018 ~ Over the past week, everyone from the New York Times to Mother Jones is writing about the yield curve – a topic previously considered so esoteric by newspaper editors that only an economic nerd of a reporter would dare suggest writing a story about it. The concern today is that the yield curve (a measure of short, intermediate and long-term interest rates) is getting very close to inverting. An inverted yield curve occurs when short rates are higher than longer term rates. Under normal circumstances, an investor should be rewarded with a higher yield for taking greater risk in buying a longer-dated bond since future inflation would erode his purchasing power from the interest payments on the longer bond over time. At Wall Street On Parade, we’ve been calling our readers’ attention to what’s happening with the yield curve since … Continue reading

Meet the Couple Who Facilitated Trump’s Order to Snatch Kids from Parents

Juan Sanchez, CEO of Southwest Key Programs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 25, 2018 ~ Southwest Key Programs first gained national media attention when Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon traveled to Brownsville, Texas on June 3 and attempted to enter one of its Federally-funded facilities to check on the immigrant children who had been forcibly taken from their parents under a Trump administration policy called “zero tolerance.” Southwest Key called the police on Merkley and denied him entry. Under the policy that was fully implemented in early May by the Trump administration, even immigrant parents fleeing violence in Central America, with a previous lawful right to seek an asylum application in the U.S., were being incarcerated and having their children and infants as young as three months old forcibly taken from them. Over 2,000 children currently remain separated from their parents as a result of this policy. After enormous public outcry and medical professionals stepping forward … Continue reading

America Searches For Its Soul in Magazine and Newspaper Covers

New Yorker Cover Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 21, 2018 ~ This past week has seen the worst of an American President in modern history and the best of America’s free press. From MSNBC’s almost non-stop coverage of the child abuse inherent in Trump’s policy to incarcerate children and take infants as young as three months old from their immigrant parents at the U.S. southern border to ProPublica’s release of the stunning tape recording of crying, traumatized children calling out for their “Moma” and “Papa” inside a “tender age” detention center, to searing newspaper editorials and OpEds, it has been a week where we can take courage from the fact that America’s press cannot be bullied into the cult-like submission to Trump that has engulfed so many of the Republican members of Congress. Above and below, we highlight three of the media graphics that have accompanied this invigorated search for America’s soul … Continue reading

24 Hours of Unprecedented News on Trump’s War on Immigrant Children

This Viral Photo by Pulitzer Prize Winning Photograher John Moore of Getty Images Captures the Trauma of a Two-Year Old Girl from Honduras at the U.S. Southern Border

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 21, 2018 ~ Over the past 24 hours, everyone from the Pope to Fox TV producers to foreign leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to top corporate CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook to U.S. airlines (who learned they had unwittingly transported snatched children hundreds of miles away from their parents) spoke out in condemnation of President Donald Trump’s inhumane policy to forcibly remove children and toddlers and babies as young as three months old from their immigrant parents attempting to enter the United States at our southern border. In many of these cases, the parents were attempting to pursue asylum applications after fleeing deadly gang violence in their central American country. The outcry and repulsion of this policy of taking children from their lawful parents, without due process, and incarcerating them in internment camp conditions reached a fever pitch yesterday with longtime … Continue reading

Removal of GE from the Dow Looks Suspiciously Like Citigroup’s Exit

Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric Co.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 20, 2018 ~ General Electric Co. (GE) will be unceremoniously sacked from the Dow Jones Industrial Average on June 26, it was announced yesterday by the S&P Dow Jones Indices folks. GE was one of the original 12 companies in the index when it was created in 1896. The Dow now consists of 30 companies and GE has been in the index continuously since 1907. Curiously, GE – an industrial giant that makes highly sophisticated commercial jet engines for Boeing and turbines for power plants among numerous other lines of business – will be replaced in the Dow by a retail drugstore chain, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). GE’s exit from the Dow has a lot of the same hallmarks as the exit of Citigroup from the Dow. Citigroup got the same one-week notice that GE is getting. The announcement came on June 1, … Continue reading

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?


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