The Fed Issues a Warning to Member Banks about Engaging in Crypto Activities

Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 17, 2022 ~ After crypto has blighted trust in the financial landscape of the United States and left tens of thousands of Americans as victims of theft, or locked out of access to their money, the Federal Reserve has finally found the courage to take on the loud-mouthed crypto hawkers and issue a warning. The Fed sent a letter yesterday to supervisory staff at its 12 regional Federal Reserve banks and to all Fed member banks. The letter started out with a curious sentence (potentially crafted to assuage the loud-mouthed crypto hawkers which include a significant number of right-wing members of Congress on the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees which oversee the Fed). The sentence read: “The emerging crypto-asset sector presents potential opportunities to banking organizations, their customers, and the overall financial system…” (Italics added.) The word “opportunities” typically suggests that something of … Continue reading

During Both Obama and Trump Administrations, the Justice Department Has Looked the Other Way at Crimes by the Powerful

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 15, 2022 ~ Last Thursday evening, Justice Department Attorney General, Merrick Garland, held a brief press conference to announce that he had asked a federal court to unseal the search warrant and inventory receipts filed in connection with the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach oceanfront home and beach resort, Mar-a- Lago. As part of his statement to the press, Garland said this: “Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the rule of law evenly, without fear or favor.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans believe there is one set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set of laws for average Americans. According to a Gallup poll released on July 5, only 14 percent of Americans had “a great deal” or … Continue reading

China Moves to Delist Five State-Owned Companies from the New York Stock Exchange

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 15, 2022 ~ This past Friday, five state-owned companies in China announced that they would apply this month to delist their shares from the New York Stock Exchange. The companies plan to continue trading in Hong Kong and mainland China. The companies include the large oil company Sinopec; China Life Insurance; Aluminum Corporation of China; PetroChina; and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company. It is highly likely (and long overdue) that more Chinese share delistings on U.S. exchanges will follow. For the past two decades, China has been stonewalling U.S. regulators over access to the work papers of auditors of publicly traded companies that are based in China but listed on U.S. stock exchanges. China takes the position that these audit work papers hold state secrets and it prohibits audit firms from releasing the documents directly to U.S. regulators, effectively flouting U.S. accounting law. This untenable situation … Continue reading

Astonishing Charts from New York Fed Show the Dire Straits of U.S. Consumers During the 2008 Crash and Its Aftermath — Versus Today

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 11, 2022 ~ At his July 27 press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this: “Households are generally in about as strong a financial shape as they’ve been in a very long time – or perhaps ever given the money that’s on people’s balance sheets. So you have a pretty – from a financial stability standpoint – you have a pretty decent picture.” That statement captures a rear view mirror look at U.S. households. The picture is deteriorating rapidly. More on that in a moment, but first a look at some hair-raising charts that capture the dire straits of U.S. households during the 2008-2010 financial crisis versus today. The New York Fed released its Household Debt and Credit Report for the second quarter of 2022 last week. It showed total household debt rising by $312 billion in the second quarter to reach an historic high … Continue reading

The Apple Credit Card Provided through Goldman Sachs Has Created a Living Hell According to Consumer Complaints

David Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 10, 2022 ~ On August 4, Goldman Sachs provided the following disclosure when it filed its quarterly report (10-Q) with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “The firm is cooperating with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in connection with an investigation of GS Bank USA’s credit card account management practices, including with respect to the application of refunds, crediting of nonconforming payments, billing error resolution, advertisements, and reporting to credit bureaus.” That bland statement doesn’t really do justice to the hundreds of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by consumers using the Apple credit card that is provided by Goldman Sachs. The Apple credit card holders are alleging being put through a living hell by Goldman Sachs when fraudulent charges are made on their Apple credit card and a host of other problems. In typical Goldman Sachs style, it has managed to … Continue reading

China-Owned Banks in the U.S. Are Getting U.S. Taxpayer-Backstopped FDIC Insurance while China Threatens the Second in Line to the Presidency

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 9, 2022 ~ The Federal Reserve recently released its 2021 Annual Report. We decided to peruse its wonky pages. We came upon a passage that gave us pause. It read: “As of year-end 2021, a total of 135 foreign banks from 48 countries operated 144 state-licensed branches and agencies, of which 6 were insured by the FDIC, and 50 OCC-licensed branches and agencies, of which 4 were insured by the FDIC… Altogether, the U.S. offices of these foreign banks controlled approximately 17 percent of U.S. commercial banking assets.” The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) is a federal agency. Its federal deposit insurance is backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer. Why should U.S. taxpayers be insuring foreign bank deposits in the U.S. – especially since federal regulators cannot even provide adequate oversight of domestic megabanks? We knew that big foreign banks like Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank, … Continue reading

Without Any Legislative Powers, the Fed Is Rewriting the Law and Creating a Permanent $500 Billion Bailout Facility for Wall Street

Jerome Powell (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 8, 2022 ~ The Fed is doing something it’s never been allowed to do in its 109 years of operation. And, it’s doing it without any pushback from Congress. The Fed draws its statutory authority from the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which created the Fed’s “discount window” for making loans to Fed member banks which are engaged in making loans for “agricultural, industrial or commercial purposes….” The Federal Reserve Act strictly prohibited the Fed from making loans “for the purpose of carrying or trading in stocks, bonds, or other investment securities….” After Wall Street trading casinos blew up the U.S. economy in 1929 and brought on the Great Depression of the 30s, Congress enacted the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933 which established federal deposit insurance for commercial banks and outlawed the merger of those federally-insured banks with Wall Street trading casinos (investment banks and … Continue reading

Secret Service, DHS, FBI: Trump Appointees Remain at the Helm of Agencies Involved in What the Public Perceives as Evidence Destruction and Coverups

Joseph Cuffari, Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security

By Pam Martens: August 5, 2022 ~ During my career in finance, I had the privilege to work for A.G. Edwards, a century old Wall Street firm led at the time by Ben Franklin Edwards III, the fifth generation of the Edwards family to steward the company. Once, when Edwards was visiting our branch in New York, he shared with us his philosophy on how to deal with a rogue broker. He said he would use a scalpel to remove him from the organization, making sure to get any cancer he might have spread. What kind of cancer could a crooked broker spread? Just think about how Bernie Madoff corrupted everything he touched: his accountants; his IT staff who cooked up fake client statements; his brother, Peter Madoff, who ridiculously served as his Chief Compliance Officer; and even the bank that held his business account, JPMorgan Chase, whose reputation was severely … Continue reading

After Tailoring Windfall Tax Cuts for His Wealthiest Donors, Senator Johnson Wants to Eliminate Social Security and Medicare as Entitlement Programs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 4, 2022 ~ Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) spoke on a right-wing radio show this past Tuesday and suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs and become subject to approval by Congress each year as part of its discretionary spending authority. (You can listen to Johnson’s words at this link.) What Johnson is proposing is the decades-long dream of fossil fuels billionaire Charles Koch and his late brother, David. And that makes perfect sense because, to a large degree, Johnson owes his Senate seat to two Koch-funded front groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Freedom Partners. In Johnson’s close 2016 race against Democrat Russ Feingold, Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners Action Fund ran ad campaigns for Johnson. The Center for Media and Democracy reported last year that “In the 2016 cycle, Freedom Partners Action Fund, the main Koch-backed … Continue reading

Judge Orders Jury Trial for JPMorgan Whistleblower Who Claims Bank Fired Her for Reporting Suspicious Payments to Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair

Tony Blair

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 3, 2022 ~ Playing out in a federal courtroom in Chicago have been JPMorgan traders telling a jury that it was standard operating procedure at the bank to rig precious metals markets in order to make huge profits for their trading desk. That case is U.S. v. Smith in the Northern District Court in Chicago. (Case number 1:19-cr-00669.) Now there may be more explosive revelations spilling out against JPMorgan Chase in the Southern District Court in Manhattan beginning this fall. That case is Shaquala Williams v JPMorgan Chase. (Case number 1:21-cv-0932.) Last week, Judge Jed Rakoff, who is overseeing the Williams case, ruled that JPMorgan’s motion for dismissal would not prevail on Williams’ claim for retaliatory dismissal and ruled that a jury trial would begin on November 7. (Judge Rakoff did dismiss the Williams’ claim that the bank’s actions had adversely affected a job offer.) … Continue reading