75% of the $454 Billion CARES Act Money Never Went to the Fed; It Was Invested by a Mnuchin Slush Fund Called the ESF

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 27, 2020 ~

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27. Congress earmarked $454 billion of that stimulus money to be distributed by the Treasury to the Federal Reserve to be used for emergency lending programs to save businesses and jobs during the pandemic and keep credit flowing to the U.S. economy. The catch was that the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, would have to give his approval for each of the programs.

Since June, Wall Street On Parade has been reporting that $340 billion of the $454 billion that Mnuchin was instructed to turn over to the Fed was unaccounted for. We noted that 98,000 businesses had permanently closed in the U.S. while this money, intended for economic relief, went missing.

On November 19, Mnuchin publicly issued a letter to Fed Chair Jerome Powell, making it sound like most of the CARES Act money has been sitting idle at the Fed and Mnuchin was demanding it back to put to better use.

Adding to our conviction that Mnuchin was intentionally misleading the public, Bloomberg News published an article on Tuesday about the funds that Mnuchin planned to claw back from the Fed. The Bloomberg article carried this sentence: “The money in question includes $429 billion that Mnuchin is clawing back from the Fed — which backed some of the central bank’s emergency lending facilities…”

But for months now, the Federal Reserve’s weekly financial statements known as the H.4.1 have indicated that all the Fed received from Treasury for its emergency lending facilities was $114 billion, leaving $340 billion unaccounted for.

Wall Street On Parade has repeatedly asked the press office of the U.S. Treasury to explain this discrepancy. It has refused to answer our inquiries. We have repeatedly asked the Fed’s press office to explain this discrepancy and it has directed us to its official financial statements which show it has received just $114 billion from the Treasury for its emergency lending programs.

This morning, we located the missing funds on our own with no help from the Treasury’s press office that is paid by American taxpayers to keep the public informed. Tens of billions of dollars of CARES Act money has been put to very strange use by Mnuchin in a slush fund called the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) which states that it gives the U.S. Treasury Secretary “considerable discretion in the use of ESF resources.”

We located the financial statements for the Exchange Stabilization Fund and they confirmed that all the Treasury has given the Fed for its emergency lending facilities was the same $114 billion that the Fed has been reporting on its financial statements.

We compared the Exchange Stabilization Fund’s most recent financial statement for September 30, 2020 to its fiscal year-end financial statement for September 30, 2019. At the end of 2019, the ESF had assets of $93.3 billion. With the money from the CARES Act, that amount had grown to $682 billion by September 30, 2020.

Here are some of the peculiar line items that show how Mnuchin allocated money meant to save businesses in the U.S. during the pandemic and avoid millions of unnecessary job losses in the United States:

$7.5 billion was deposited with “official institutions” to buy Euros — the currency of the European Union;

$5 billion was used to buy Euro-denominated “securities” – whether that means stocks or bonds, we can’t say;

$8.4 billion was deposited with “official institutions” to buy Japanese Yen;

$375 million was invested in Yen-denominated “securities” – whether that means stocks or bonds, we can’t say;

$11 billion was used to buy U.S. government securities. (Apparently, the Treasury has its own Quantitative Easing program in addition to the Fed.)

$481 billion simply describes itself as “Fund balance with Treasury.”

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing with Mnuchin and Powell next Wednesday, December 2. We are forwarding this article to the Congressional members of the Committee, asking that they get to the bottom of this as they question Mnuchin and Powell. We’re not holding our breath.

Editor’s Note:  In case that September 30, 2020 ESF financial statement disappears from the Treasury’s website, we’ve archived a copy here.

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