Trump’s Executive Orders Sow Confusion and Illusions

Trump, Pied Piper

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 10, 2020 ~ President Donald Trump has taken to governing from the 19th Hole in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. On Saturday, speaking from the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump announced four executive actions that he promised would “take care of, pretty much, this entire situation,” meaning economic relief for struggling workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. But by the time the Sunday talk shows rolled around, it became clear that the executive orders and memorandum had been hastily cobbled together with gaping holes and obstacles to providing meaningful relief. Instead of actually extending the $600 supplemental federal unemployment assistance that unemployed workers have been receiving weekly under the CARES Act that Congress passed in March, Trump’s Memorandum offers only the possibility of $400 … Continue reading

Fed Chair Powell Had 4 Private Phone Calls with BlackRock’s CEO Since March as BlackRock Manages Upwards of $25 Million of Powell’s Personal Money and Lands 3 No-Bid Deals with the Fed

Fed Chair Jerome Powell (left); BlackRock CEO Larry Fink (right)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 7, 2020 ~ Earlier this year, Wall Street On Parade reported that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, had an upward range of $11.6 million invested with the investment management firm, BlackRock, and its iShares Exchange Traded Funds, according to Powell’s 2019 financial disclosure form. Powell’s 2020 financial disclosure form is now available. It was signed by Powell on May 15, 2020 and it shows that Powell’s holdings in BlackRock investments have reached an upward range of $24.95 million – an increase of $13.35 million over the prior year’s upward range. (See Editor’s note below.) The date that Powell signed his latest financial disclosure, May 15, is noteworthy. It means that more than 45 days after the New York Fed had hired BlackRock to manage its commercial mortgage-backed securities program and its $750 billion primary and secondary purchases of corporate bonds … Continue reading

The Fed Created an Emergency Lending Program to Hold Interest Rates Down; the Tiny Country of Sri Lanka Was the Major User

Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 6, 2020 ~ At Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference on July 29, he persisted in his explanation that all of the Fed’s bailout programs are really about helping the American people get back on their feet. Here’s one more, among a growing mountain, of reasons to question that. Sri Lanka is an island country situated in the Indian Ocean and located about 9,000 miles from the United States. Its population of approximately 21 million ranks it the size of the state of Florida. Despite those statistics, Sri Lanka somehow became the main participant in an emergency lending facility set up by the Fed. According to an official statement by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), “the CBSL has decided to pledge a sum of USD 1 billion worth of US Treasury Bonds held in the CBSL reserve and enter into the … Continue reading

Wall Street Banks that Got the Biggest Fed Bailouts Have Been Dogs to Shareholders Over the Past 15 Years

Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 5, 2020 ~ Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wants Americans to believe that the mega banks on Wall Street that hold trillions of dollars in federally-insured deposits, while peddling everything from high-risk derivatives to junk bonds to precious metals, “are a source of strength” during this economic downturn. The big problem for the Fed is the above two charts. The chart data comes from BigCharts at MarketWatch, owned by Dow Jones & Company. According to the first chart, Citigroup has lost 90 percent of its share value since January 3, 2005. (It dressed up its share price in 2011, doing a 10-for-1 reverse stock split, meaning shareholders who had previously owned 100 shares, now owned just 10 shares at a higher price.) Bank of America’s share price has lost half of its value and Morgan Stanley’s share price has been essentially flat for … Continue reading

Memo to Biden: Cut Your Ties to Larry Summers

Larry Summers Testifying Before the Senate Budget Committee, June 4, 2013

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 4, 2020 ~ David Sirota has read the collective mind of progressives when it comes to Presidential candidate Joe Biden. On August 1 Sirota Tweeted: “Give us an anti-Wall Street Treasury Secretary and AG [Attorney General], and you can have your sh*tty VP…On the other hand, give us a sh*tty Treasury Secretary and AG and try to paper it over with a good VP, and you’ve basically given everyone the big middle finger.” There is growing concern about Biden among progressives because he has made the decidedly ill-advised move of using the infamous Larry Summers as an advisor. Summers is the man who played an outsized role in the creation of Frankenbanks on Wall Street in 1999 with his push to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act and the deregulation of derivatives in 2000 as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Carrying on the proud … Continue reading

The Fed Has Secreted Away the Transactions of Three of Its Emergency Lending Programs

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 3, 2020 ~ Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Randal Quarles, the Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Fed, have stated in testimony before Congress that they would be providing transaction level details of their Section 13(3) Emergency Lending Facilities on a regular, ongoing basis. But the three oldest of those facilities, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), and the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF), which were all created more than four months ago in mid-March, have yet to release any transaction level details to the public. The Fed is required to provide reports every 30 days on its emergency lending facilities. Those reports are located at this Fed website. If you scroll down, you will find that transaction level reports have been provided for four of the Fed’s emergency lending programs. But the three programs … Continue reading

Amazon Had a Campaign to Destroy Competitors “the Way a Cheetah Would Pursue a Sickly Giselle”

Congressman David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 31, 2020 ~ The CEOs of four of the most valuable technology companies in the world — Google’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook — testified remotely on Wednesday in a House investigation into whether they are exercising monopoly power in violation of antitrust law in the United States and need to be broken up or more tightly regulated. Amazon and Facebook came out of the hearing the most severely damaged with evidence obtained by the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law that strongly suggests they have engaged in illegal, predatory behavior. There was also significant evidence that Google and Apple are engaging in practices that stifle competition and harm America. Fines and new regulatory legislation are going to be needed to rein in the abuses. What was missing from the hearing, unfortunately, was … Continue reading

U.S. GDP Number Tomorrow Expected to Be Worst on Record

GDPNow Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 29, 2020 ~ The very reliable GDPNow forecasting model provided by researchers at the Atlanta Fed was just updated this morning and currently predicts that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States contracted by a jaw-dropping -32.1 percent on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized rate in the second quarter. The public will get the official number from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.  It’s expected that the second quarter GDP number will be the largest decline since quarterly GDP records began being compiled by the BEA in 1947. It is also expected that the number will be exponentially worse than any quarter during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. As the chart above indicates, after the precipitous economic declines in April and May, resulting from the effects of business closures and layoffs … Continue reading

New York Times Rewrites the Timeline of the Fed’s Wall Street Bailouts, Giving Banks a Free Pass

A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 28, 2020 ~ Last Friday, the New York Times officially embarked on what we have been expecting – an attempt to rewrite the current, ongoing Wall Street bank bailout. We were so certain that an alternative reality was going to emerge at the Times, that we had the foresight to create an archive of Wall Street On Parade articles (122 so far) that document every major bailout step the Fed has taken since September 17, 2019 – five months before the first COVID-19 death was reported in the United States. One of our articles, published on January 6, 2020, shows that before the first COVID-19 case had even been reported in the U.S., the Fed had pumped more than $6 trillion cumulatively into the trading units of the largest Wall Street banks — not hedge funds, that the Times now attempts to blame … Continue reading

David Dayen’s New Book Exposes the Dirty Hands of Wall Street Driving Monopoly Power in U.S.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 27, 2020 ~ As Americans wake up each day to the new dystopian normal and reports of another corporate or Wall Street bailout (no doubt at the urging of the corporate lobbyists that have embedded themselves in the Trump administration), there is widespread agreement that big corporations have too much power and control in America. America was founded on blowback to the tyrannical restraints on average Americans’ lives by King George III. Now we have multinational corporations pushing us around while bleeding the U.S. Treasury, mushrooming the national debt, and thus creating an even greater dystopian threat to our children’s generation who will inherit that crippling debt pile. Against this backdrop comes a very welcome new book from David Dayen: Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. Dayen is Executive Editor of American Prospect and one of the most admired and prolific … Continue reading

Citigroup Has Been Paying Out More than It Earned for Years; Now It Has $102.5 Billion in Debt Maturing within Three Years

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 24, 2020 ~ On June 24 Bloomberg News reporters Lisa Lee and Shahien Nasiripour dumped a bucket of cold water on Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s official narrative that the mega Wall Street banks are “well capitalized” and a “source of strength” in the pandemic. The Federal Reserve, and particularly the New York Fed which wore blinders leading up to Citigroup’s blow up in 2008, are walking a delicate tight rope in reassuring the public that all is well under their watch versus what any first year accounting major can see is happening on the mega banks’ balance sheets. The Bloomberg News article revealed the following about the dividends and stock buybacks at Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo: “From the start of 2017 through March, the four banks cumulatively returned about $1.26 to shareholders for every $1 they reported in net … Continue reading

Warnings of Fascism in America Grow

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 22, 2020 ~ If you feel like you’re waking up every day to a country that’s reenacting a page from the Dr. Seuss children’s classic, “Wacky Wednesday,” you’ll be comforted to know you’re not alone. Today is Wednesday. It was wackier than usual. First there was the story by Brentin Mock of Bloomberg News about how the District Attorney of Philadelphia, Larry Krasner, had said this about the potential for Trump’s paramilitary coming into his city and hauling people away in unmarked cars: “Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office.” That Wacky Wednesday statement was made because federal “law enforcement” is actually assaulting and kidnapping peaceful protestors on the streets of Portland, Oregon on orders from Donald Trump, the President of the United States. The Attorney General of Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum, has … Continue reading

Catch and Kill: The Protection Racket Used by Trump, Weinstein, Epstein and Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 22, 2020 ~ When it comes to the crime families of New York, they literally do catch and kill people who can’t be trusted to keep the secrets of their criminal operations. When it comes to the superrich in New York, they’re more inclined to “catch and kill” the story, rather than the accuser. (Jeffrey Epstein’s untimely death last year may be an exception.) On October 11, 2017, Jim Rutenberg, writing for the New York Times about the aiders and abettors to Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, explained the catch and kill strategy as follows: “There is also another dynamic at play, involving something akin to a protection racket. This is the network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view.” Keeping the secrets out of public view … Continue reading

Dodd-Frank Is 10 Years Old Today and the Fed Is Back to Bailing Out Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 21, 2020 ~ Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, named after its two sponsors, former Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and former Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA). The massive piece of legislation was signed into law on July 21, 2010 by President Barack Obama at a time when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress – meaning there was no excuse not to put tough Wall Street reform legislation in place. While the progressive wing of the Democrats was demanding the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, which would have completely separated the federally-insured, deposit-taking banks from the Wall Street casino (the trading firms known as investment banks and broker-dealers), the Wall Street wing of the Democrats didn’t want to upset their big political campaign donors on Wall Street. The result was that the Wall … Continue reading

The Fed Rides to the Rescue of JPMorgan and Citi Again – This Time It’s Their Commercial Real Estate Mortgages

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 20, 2020 ~ Quietly, on July 13, the New York Fed published a list of asset-backed loans that it had approved for eligibility in one of its emergency lending  programs, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, otherwise known as TALF. The New York Fed stuck a smattering of small business loans and one student loan product on the list. Everything else was securitized pools of mortgages on commercial real estate, much of it issued by JPMorgan and Citigroup. TALF was supposed to help the consumer by keeping interest rates down on consumer loans. It’s pretty tough to find a connection between the consumer and commercial real estate mortgages on hotels, shopping malls and office buildings. One thing notable about the New York Fed’s approved list is that the securitizations of these commercial mortgages by JPMorgan had occurred as far back as 2013 and … Continue reading

Here’s What Everyone, Including Mary Trump, Gets Wrong About Donald Trump’s Failed Response to COVID-19

Charles Koch

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 17, 2020 ~ Donald Trump is the man that the libertarian billionaire Charles Koch reluctantly accepted to play Hank Rearden in the Oval Office. Rearden was the fictional character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. The libertarian story line of the novel is that a federal government that grows too big with too many regulations is anathema to the corporate geniuses that should be running the country. According to Nicholas Confessore, writing for the New York Times in January 2015, the Koch Brothers (Charles and David) and their billionaire minions that meet secretly twice a year at tony resorts to strategize on running the country, agreed to spend upwards of $900 million “to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history.” This, writes Confessore, would allow the Koch machine to “operate at the same financial … Continue reading

The Central Bank of Israel Doesn’t Want You to Know What U.S. Stocks It Owns; Neither Does the SEC

Jay Clayton

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 16, 2020 ~ It’s no wonder that American citizens are receiving just a tiny snippet of critical news from mainstream media. Federal regulators have set a new low in withholding documents that the public and the media are entitled to under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These censored documents could inform us on what’s really driving policy decisions in Washington. Take our latest FOIA brush with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Foreign central banks and sovereign wealth funds are required under law to report their publicly-traded U.S. stock positions no later than 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. This is done on Form 13F, which is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, if those stock holdings reach $100 million or more. The central bank of Israel, known simply as the Bank of Israel, has not been doing … Continue reading

Warnings Grow: “We Are in a Massive Economic Downturn”

Congressman Sean Casten of Illinois

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 15, 2020 ~ Yesterday, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard gave a speech via webcast to the National Association for Business Economics. She warned, effectively, that the rosy spin coming out of the Trump administration needed to be weighed against the reality on the ground. Brainard raised the caution that credit downgrades on bonds and corporate defaults are occurring at “a faster pace than in the initial months of the Global Financial Crisis.” Brainard explained as follows: “In downside scenarios, there could be some persistent damage to the productive capacity of the economy from the loss of valuable employment relationships, depressed investment, and the destruction of intangible business capital. A wave of insolvencies is possible. As the Federal Reserve Board’s May Financial Stability Report highlighted, the nonfinancial business sector started the year with historically elevated levels of debt. Already this year, we have seen about $800 … Continue reading

House Hearing Today Examines Wall Street’s Brand of Capitalism Versus the Health of the U.S. Economy

Brad Sherman

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 14, 2020 ~ The House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets will convene a hearing at noon today that is titled: “Promoting Economic Recovery: Examining Capital Markets and Worker Protections in the COVID-19 Era.” You can watch the hearing live at this link. One of the topics for the hearing will be corporations buying back their own stock and paying dividends during the pandemic, actions which benefit shareholders rather than the overall economy. The House is considering legislation that would require that until all federal aid under the CARES Act has been repaid by the corporation, it cannot “pay bonuses to executives, may not pay executives in connection with their termination, may not engage in stock buybacks, and may not pay dividends to shareholders.” The Subcommittee has a very sound, and urgent, basis to explore this topic, particularly as … Continue reading

Using Bank Deposits, JPMorgan Chase Lost $3.2 Billion Trading Stocks and Credit Derivatives in First Quarter

JPMorgan Chase Bank Building

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 13, 2020 ~ Imagine if every bank customer was greeted this week with a big sign just inside their Chase Bank branch that said this: “Dear Customers: We lost $3.2 billion trading stocks and credit derivatives in the first quarter. We did that using your bank deposits. But don’t worry, that pales in comparison to the $6 billion we lost in 2012 in the London Whale mess.” JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States. Each and every week, millions of Americans write out a check on their account at one of the more than 5,000 branches of Chase Bank; or drop into a branch to open a savings account for a grandchild; or to put money into their own retirement account; or to seek financial advice. Everything looks very crisp, clean, consumer friendly and professional inside that individual bank branch. … Continue reading

(Shhh! Don’t Tell Wall Street that the Fed is Tightening.) Repo Loans Hit Zero; Fed Balance Sheet Shrinks by $248 Billion in a Month

Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 10, 2020 ~ Beginning on September 17 of last year, months before the first COVID-19 case had been discovered anywhere in the world, the Federal Reserve – for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008 – jumped into the repo loan market, where financial firms borrow from each other overnight, and began making tens of billions of dollars in loans a week to the trading houses of Wall Street. The Fed calls these 24 trading houses its “primary dealers.” For the vast majority of the Fed’s 107-year existence, it was limited to making loans to only commercial banks, which would assist the general U.S. economy by passing on those loans to businesses and consumers. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the Fed has become a money spigot to the Wall Street casino, based solely on its own interpretation of what it’s … Continue reading

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s Impeachment Lawyer, Collected $1-2 Million in a PPP Loan for his Scandal-Ridden Charity

Jay Sekulow

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 9, 2020 ~ Jay Sekulow’s charities have been under a harsh glare for almost two decades for funneling vast sums to Sekulow and his family members. Now, one of those charities, the American Center for Law and Justice, has turned up on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan database that was released this week by the Small Business Administration. PPP loans were part of the CARES Act passed by Congress to help small businesses with no other source of funding stay alive during the pandemic. According to the PPP database, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) received a loan of between $1 to $2 million. ACLJ is a nonprofit that lists Jay Sekulow as its CEO, Chief Counsel and Board Member, according to its 2018 public tax filing known as a 990.  Sekulow’s brother, Gary, is listed as Vice President of … Continue reading

Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 8, 2020 ~ As we reported yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department has been sitting on mountains of evidence against Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex-trafficking operation and his co-conspirators since July of 2006 when the Palm Beach, Florida Police Chief, Michael Reiter, handed a deeply investigated case against Epstein and his co-conspirators over to the FBI. After crafting a cozy 18-month work-release deal with Epstein in 2008 based on only Florida state charges (and then releasing him from jail five months early) the Justice Department allowed Epstein to return to business as usual for another 10 years until his arrest by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in July 2019. That same Justice Department allowed Epstein to die with many of his secrets intact as a result of the negligence of the federal prison system to properly monitor him. That … Continue reading

Ghislaine Maxwell, Wall Street’s Secrets and the U.S. Attorney’s Office  

Jes Staley

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 7, 2020 ~  Outside of the Wall Street executives that did business with child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, his first lieutenant, Ghislaine Maxwell, knows more about his Wall Street secrets than any other living person. Maxwell was arrested and indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (part of the U.S. Justice Department) on July 2, less than two weeks after the head of that office, Geoffrey Berman, was abruptly fired from his job by Attorney General William Barr. Berman’s former Deputy, Audrey Strauss, conducted the press conference regarding the Maxwell arrest. (See video below.) We immediately noticed a peculiarity about the indictment document provided by Strauss. It covered only a brief 4-year period, running from 1994 through 1997. One of the main accusers of Maxwell, Virginia (Roberts) Giuffre, has credibly indicated in previous court filings that Epstein … Continue reading

Top Men at Justice Department with Final Say on Goldman Sachs Felony Charges Got Big Payouts from Kirkland & Ellis – Goldman’s Law Firm

U.S. Attorney General William Barr

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 6, 2020 ~ Three of the top men at the U.S. Department of Justice who have been involved in negotiations as to whether Goldman Sachs, for the first time in its history, will be charged with a criminal felony and hit with a multi-billion dollar fine, received large sums of money from the law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, before joining the Trump administration.  Kirkland & Ellis is the law firm defending Goldman Sachs in the criminal case. The top dog at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, worked as “Of Counsel” to Kirkland & Ellis prior to joining the Justice Department. Barr’s financial disclosure form shows that Kirkland & Ellis paid him $1,188,257 and a $50,000 bonus for 2018. In addition to the money from Kirkland & Ellis, Barr made another $2.6 million in fees and from cashing out stock options for … Continue reading