A Forensic Look at Jerome Powell’s “Pants on Fire” Explanation for His $1 Million to $5 Million Stock Sale

Fed Chair Jerome Powell

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 21, 2021 ~ On Monday, October 18, the fearless Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect, broke the news that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell had sold between $1 million and $5 million of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund on October 1, 2020, the same day that Powell had been on four phone calls with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who was coordinating the White House response to the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic. The story went viral and forced the Federal Reserve to offer a preposterously lame excuse for what was obviously a desire by Powell to reduce his exposure to the stock market, despite his having access to more insider information than any other human on the planet. The same day that Kuttner’s story ran, Mike Derby, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote that a Fed representative had characterized the … Continue reading

The Fed Is Subsidizing the Money Market Funds Operated by Larry Fink’s BlackRock as BlackRock Manages a Big Part of Jerome Powell’s Wealth

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

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 21, 2021 ~ Last year, during the financial crisis, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell held five confidential phone calls with BlackRock’s Chairman and CEO Larry Fink. The first call on March 19 lasted 30 minutes; there were two calls in April, one on April 3 and one on April 9, both lasting 15 minutes. A phone call between Powell and Fink on May 13 lasted 30 minutes; and one on November 20 lasted 10 minutes. That’s a total of 100 minutes that the Chairman of the central bank of the United States spent on the phone with the man who heads the company that is also managing a large portion of Powell’s wealth through its iShares Exchange Traded Funds. The dates and times of the phone calls come from Powell’s publicly-released daily calendars. Powell’s phone calls with Fink continued this year. On February 5, Powell held … Continue reading

Five U.S. Senators Tell Zuckerberg that Facebook Can’t Be Trusted and to Back Off His Crypto Plans

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress on April 10, 2018 on His Company's Failings

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 19, 2021 ~ Today, five Democratic Senators, including the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Sherrod Brown, sent a scorching letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, telling him that Facebook “cannot be trusted to manage a payment system or digital currency when its existing ability to manage risks and keep consumers safe has proven wholly insufficient.” The letter demanded that Zuckerberg back off plans to launch a cryptocurrency and digital wallet. The letter was authored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Tina Smith (D-Minnesota). The Senators wrote: “Given the scope of the scandals surrounding your company, we write to voice our strongest opposition to Facebook’s revived effort to launch a cryptocurrency and digital wallet, now branded ‘Diem’ and ‘Novi,’ respectively. In October 2019, Senators Schatz and Brown wrote to members of the Diem … Continue reading

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times Censor Yet Another Major News Story on the Fed and the Mega Banks It Supervises

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

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 19, 2021 ~ On October 13, Wall Street On Parade broke the story that the Federal Reserve had quietly released the names of the mega banks that had grabbed tens of billions of dollars of repo loans under the Fed’s emergency repo loan operations that began on September 17, 2019 – months before there was a COVID-19 case in the United States or anywhere else in the world. Repos (repurchase agreements) are a short-term form of borrowing where corporations, banks, securities firms and money market mutual funds secure loans from each other by providing safe forms of collateral such as Treasury securities. Repos are supposed to function without the assistance of the Federal Reserve. But on September 17, 2019, the oversized demand for the repos and the lack of available funds to meet the demand drove the overnight interest rate on repo loans to an … Continue reading

Another Fed Bank President’s Financial Disclosures Fail the Smell Test

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 18, 2021 ~ Private Banks operated by the mega Wall Street banks have an unseemly reputation. So when we opened Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic’s financial disclosure forms and saw that he had a financial relationship with Morgan Stanley’s Private Bank, a red flag went up immediately. Citibank’s Private Bank was previously the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. At a hearing on November 9, 1999, the Chair of the Subcommittee, the late Senator Carl Levin, explained how private banks work. Levin stated: “Once a person becomes a client of a private bank, the bank’s primary goal generally has been to service that client, and servicing a private bank client almost always means using services that are also the tools of money laundering: secret trusts, offshore accounts, secret name accounts, and shell companies called private investment corporations. These private … Continue reading

The SEC Is Taking a Hard Look at Dark Markets, Except for the Darkest of All – Dark Pools

SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 15, 2021 ~ On Tuesday, SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee delivered an exceptionally well-researched speech on the rising dangers to the broader U.S. economy from the burgeoning dark private markets for non-publicly traded stocks. She makes many important points. However, there is a far larger and more dangerous dark market: the Dark Pools owned by the serially-charged mega banks on Wall Street that are trading, on a daily basis in darkness, the publicly-traded stocks that reside in public pension funds and the mutual funds that make up the bulk of retirement funds for tens of millions of Americans. According to an April 2021 report from McKinsey & Company, “global private equity AUM [Assets Under Management] reached $4.5 trillion in the first half of 2020.” That’s the dark market that SEC Commissioner Lee is worried about. The publicly-traded market in the U.S. stood at $54.768 trillion … Continue reading

Senate Banking Chair, Sherrod Brown, Gives Fed’s Quarles a Scathing Bon Voyage

Randal Quarles

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 14, 2021 ~ Yesterday was the last day that Randal Quarles served in the post as Vice Chair for Supervision at the Federal Reserve. Senator Sherrod Brown, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee that oversees the Federal Reserve, used the occasion to send a scorching letter to Fed Chair Jerome Powell assessing Quarles’ performance in the job, which began on October 13, 2017. Brown wrote: “When Vice Chair Quarles was confirmed to his position, banking lobbyists cheered. Not only did he immediately set out a plan to shift post-crisis rules to benefitting industry interests over protecting working families, he dutifully continued his deregulatory efforts even as the economy was shaken by a global pandemic. I am deeply concerned about these efforts during a global economic crisis.” But it’s not just deregulation that has been a problem with Quarles and Powell at the helm of … Continue reading

Quietly, the Fed Releases the Names of Banks that Got Billions in Emergency Repo Loans in 2019

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 13, 2021 ~ The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has quietly posted the names of the banks that grabbed billions of dollars under the Fed’s emergency repo loan operations that commenced on September 17, 2019 – months before there was a COVID-19 crisis anywhere in the world. The emergency repo loans were made via Open Market operations at the New York Fed. Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, the names of the banks, dollar amounts borrowed, interest rate and collateral posted must be made public “on the last day of the eighth calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which the covered transaction was conducted.” Since the emergency repo loans were initiated in the third quarter of 2019, that meant eight quarters had passed and the public was entitled to the information for at least the month of September 2019. (The Fed … Continue reading

The Dallas Fed Board Is Now Complicit in the Robert Kaplan Saga

Thomas J. Falk Represents the Public on the Dallas Fed Board of Directors

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 12, 2021 ~ Last Wednesday, the Editorial Board of the Financial Times of London penned an editorial under a headline that read: “The Fed’s Trading Scandal Undermines Public Trust.” The editorial noted that the President of the Dallas Fed, Robert Kaplan, “held stakes over $1m each in 27 investments, and moved in and out of S&P 500 futures. The precise dates of his transactions are unknown as his form declaring financial interests merely gives ‘multiple’ as the timeframe.” Last Friday, this headline appeared at the Wall Street Journal: “Boston, Dallas Fed Banks Pledge Cooperation With Stock-Trading Probe.” But then the article revealed this: “The Dallas Fed has declined multiple requests to fully disclose Mr. Kaplan’s extensive trading activity. For example, Mr. Kaplan’s disclosures list ‘multiple’ for trades in stocks and other investments without specifying the dates of the transactions.” The financial disclosure form that Kaplan … Continue reading

The U.S. Banking System Is More Dangerous Today than in 1929, Thanks to the Fed’s Reg U and Swaps – Two Well-Kept Secrets from the Senate Banking Committee

Trader on New York Fed Trading Desk (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 11, 2021 ~ Regulation U is a 1936 Federal Reserve rule, that is still in force today, that allows federally-insured, taxpayer backstopped commercial banks to make margin loans for speculating in stocks. Unlike 1936, however, Wall Street trading houses are today allowed to own their own federally-insured, taxpayer backstopped commercial banks. That has allowed a lot of mischief to occur in the making of margin loans for speculating in the stock market. We’ll get to the details of all that in a few moments, but first some necessary background. Following the 1929 stock market crash, 9,096 banks that were holding deposits for average Americans failed as a result of insolvency between 1930 and 1933. (See chart above.) The 1930s banking crisis came to a head on March 6, 1933, just one day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated. Following a month-long run on the … Continue reading