Bernie Madoff, Mastermind of the Largest Ponzi Scheme in History, Dies in Prison at Age 82

Bernie Madoff

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 14, 2021 ~ Bernard (Bernie) Madoff, mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, died this morning at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He was serving a 150-year prison sentence. Madoff would have been 83 on April 29. A source told the Associated Press that Madoff had died of natural causes. Madoff ran his scheme undetected by regulators and law enforcement for more than four decades until he began to run out of money to meet client redemption requests during the financial crash of 2008 and confessed to his sons. The sons turned him in to the FBI. The case became a national scandal that tarnished both the reputation of the SEC as well as JPMorgan Chase. The public learned that Harry Markopolos, a financial expert, had been sending detailed written reports to the SEC for years (in 2000, 2001, 2005, … Continue reading

One Day Before the Senate Vote on Gary Gensler to Chair the SEC, Senator Toomey, Funded by Wall Street, Berates Him

Gary Gensler

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 14, 2021 ~ Today is the 85th Day of the Joe Biden Presidency and his nominee to Chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler, has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate. Apparently, the moneyed interests that control the corporate wing of the Republican party have put Senator Pat Toomey in charge of attempting to derail the nomination. A full Senate vote will take place on Gensler at 11:45 a.m. today, but that vote will be limited to Gensler serving out the balance of the term of Trump’s former SEC Chair Jay Clayton, which expires in – wait for it – 52 days. The Senate Banking Committee had cleared Gensler to not only fill Clayton’s remaining term but had also cleared his reappointment for a five-year term ending on June 5, 2026. That five-year term will not be voted on by the … Continue reading

Margin Debt Has Exploded by 49 Percent in One Year to $814 Billion. The Actual Figure May Be in the Trillions. Here’s Why.

Congress on Fed's 2019 Money Spigot to Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 13, 2021 ~ When Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, appeared for an interview this past Sunday night on the CBS investigative program, 60 Minutes, he asserted complete ignorance of the amount of margin debt currently being used to inflate the stock market to one new historic high after another. The exchange between Powell and 60 Minutes host, Scott Pelley, went as follows: Pelley: “The securities industry has reported that $814 billion has been borrowed by people investing in the stock market, borrowed against their portfolios. That’s a 49 percent increase over last year. “And the last time it grew that much was in 2007, before the Great Recession. And the time it grew that much before that was 1999, just before the dot com implosion. At what point does the Federal Reserve start to rein in this speculative bidding up of … Continue reading

Fed Chair Jerome Powell Goes on 60 Minutes to Present a False Narrative on Mega Banks He Supervises Loaning Out their Balance Sheets to Hedge Funds

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 12, 2021 ~ The CBS “investigative” program, 60 Minutes, gave Wall Street a pass again last night. This time around 60 Minutes’ host Scott Pelley interviewed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The Fed, and by extension, Powell, are in charge of supervising the holding companies of the mega banks on Wall Street, including those involved just two weeks ago in loaning out their balance sheets to the tune of tens of billions of dollars to a hedge fund run by a man previously charged with insider trading and stock price manipulations. The man is Sung Kook (Bill) Hwang and the hedge fund is Archegos Capital Management. (Fed-supervised mega banks loaning out their balance sheets to hedge funds for nefarious purposes was previously exposed in 2014 in an in-depth report and hearing by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The practice has clearly metastasized … Continue reading

Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown Sends Letters to Wall Street Banks on the Archegos Blowup and Opens a Big Can of Worms, Including Antitrust Issues

Senator Sherrod Brown

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 9, 2021 ~ Yesterday, Senator Sherrod Brown, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, released the content of letters he had sent to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Nomura regarding their interactions with Archegos Capital Management. Archegos is the hedge fund styled as a “family office,” that is making headlines around the world for blowing itself up within a week’s time while inflicting billions of dollars of losses on what are supposed to be heavily supervised global banks. The letters to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Nomura were addressed to their CEOs while the letter to Credit Suisse went to its General Counsel. All four of the letters contained the same ten questions, with only minor variations. Questions five, six and seven of Brown’s letter open some very thorny subjects that could have serious legal ramifications for the banks involved. Question five … Continue reading

Did Archegos, Like Renaissance Hedge Fund, Avoid Billions in U.S. Tax Payments through a Scheme with the Banks?

James Simons, Founder of Renaissance Technologies Hedge Fund

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 7, 2021 ~ It has become clear from the ongoing drip, drip, drip of new revelations of what was going on behind the scenes of hedge fund Archegos Capital Management, its wealthy owner, Sung Kook (Bill) Hwang, and Wall Street’s global banks, that the public has seen just the first act in what is certain to be a far more complex drama. A summary of the basics of what the public has been told thus far sheds light on why the full Archegos story has yet to be revealed. According to major media reports, Archegos was obtaining leverage of more than 6 times the cash it was putting up as collateral to buy stocks that were held in accounts at a handful of Wall Street’s largest banks. Through a privately negotiated derivatives contract, the banks claimed to technically own the stocks but the hedge … Continue reading

Archegos: Wall Street Was Effectively Giving 85 Percent Margin Loans on Concentrated Stock Positions – Thwarting the Fed’s Reg T and Its Own Margin Rules


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 6, 2021 ~ The short version on what the collapse of the Archegos Capital Management hedge fund signifies is that it was one more in a long series of Wall Street’s maniacal wealth extraction schemes for the one percent that blew up in its face. Let’s start with press reports that major Wall Street firms were making 85 percent margin loans to purchase stocks against 15 percent cash collateral put up by Archegos. The Federal Reserve’s Regulation T (Reg T) is codified in 12 CFR § 220.12 and spells out margin requirements on stock trades as follows: “50 percent of the current market value of the security or the percentage set by the regulatory authority where the trade occurs, whichever is greater.” Under the seeming law of the land, broker dealers on Wall Street could not have loaned Archegos more than 50 percent to make its … Continue reading

JPMorgan’s Federally-Insured Bank Holds $2.65 Trillion in Stock Derivatives; How Did It Avoid the Archegos Blowup?

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase

“This raises the serious question as to whether the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees should be investigating the gamification of markets or the monetization of the stock market via Wall Street’s ownership of federally insured deposits.” By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 5, 2021 ~ In late March, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released its quarterly report on “Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities.” Graph 15 of the report shows that using data submitted by banks on their form RC-R of their call reports, JPMorgan Chase’s federally insured bank had exposure to $2.65 trillion in notional equity (stock) derivatives as of December 31, 2020. (Notional means face amount.) That’s a stunning figure for the largest federally-insured bank in the United States to have in exposure to the stock market. But more stunning is the fact that according to the OCC, JPMorgan Chase’s equity derivative contracts … Continue reading

Archegos Blowup Calls Attention to Questionable Listing Standards at New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 1, 2021 ~ We rarely make predictions but we’re going to make one with confidence today. The New York Stock Exchange’s efforts to capture more market share of the IPO business by listing highly questionable Chinese companies and blank-check companies (SPACs) with no prior business history is going to inevitably blow up and cause long-term reputational damage to an institution that is indelibly linked to U.S. markets. Despite U.S. markets now showing all the earmarks of unbridled corruption fueled by insatiable greed, anti-regulatory Republicans in Congress are still calling U.S. markets “the envy of the world” and demanding a hands-off approach. Rather than actually being “the envy of the world,” the rest of the planet actually remembers that it was inadequately regulated U.S. markets that blew up the global economy in 2008. RLX Technology, an IPO (Initial Public Offering) that had its debut on … Continue reading

Morgan Stanley Has Been Strangely Quiet on Its Exposure to Archegos Capital, the Hedge Fund that Blew Up Last Week. Here’s Why.

James Gorman, Chairman and CEO Morgan Stanley (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 31, 2021 ~ On March 9 Morgan Stanley announced that it had been “recognized for industry-leading risk management technology.”  Three weeks later it has landed in the middle of one of the biggest hedge fund blowups since the financial crisis of 2008, raising serious questions about how it manages risk. Adding to the embarrassment for both Morgan Stanley and its bank holding company supervisor, the Federal Reserve, the Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman, sits on the Board of Directors of the New York Fed, to whom the Fed has outsourced much of its oversight of the Wall Street banks. A look at Morgan Stanley’s $647 billion in stock portfolio holdings that it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ending December 31, 2020 explains why Morgan Stanley has been so strangely silent as the Archegos scandal has played … Continue reading