Ask and it shall be given: pic.twitter.com/FcnwtuAJQT
— Trevor Chow (@tmychow) March 11, 2021
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 12, 2021 ~
Trevor Chow is a first-year economist and Jardine Scholar at Trinity College, part of the University of Cambridge in England. With his hilarious and profoundly thought-provoking video satire of the four most recent Chairs of the Federal Reserve singing the words to Rick Astley’s 1987 hit single, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” he has immortalized himself with us and, very likely, Nomi Prins, Senator Bernie Sanders and the family of the late, courageous reporter, Mark Pittman of Bloomberg News. All of us have attempted to bring transparency to the wayward path of the Fed.
Debuting in what is sure to be the first of many such Fed singing videos are, left to right, former Fed Chairs Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen and the current Fed Chair, Jerome (Jay) Powell. Chow shows his wickedly funny understanding of the Fed with the eye movements of Fed Chairs Bernanke and Powell as they sing the line “never gonna tell a lie….”
Bernanke hid his unfathomable bailouts to Wall Street from December 2007 through at least the middle of 2010 from the American people. Bernanke and his Fed lawyers battled Mark Pittman and Bloomberg’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in court for years rather than reveal the truth. Pittman died of a heart attack at age 52 on November 25, 2009, one week before Bernanke would sit for his Senate confirmation hearing for a second term as Fed Chair.
Senator Bernie Sanders gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate in January 2010 as to why Bernanke was unfit to serve a second term (see video below) but was out-voted by the Fed sycophants in the Senate. Sanders was then instrumental in attaching an amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of July 21, 2010 which forced a government audit of Bernanke’s bailout programs.
When the government’s audit was released in July 2011, it revealed that a staggering, cumulative sum of $16.1 trillion had been infused by Bernanke’s Fed into Wall Street and global banks through an alphabet soup of programs. But the government’s audit tally did not include all of the bailout programs created by the Fed. When the Levy Economics Institute added in the dollar swaps to foreign central banks and the dodgy Single Tranche Open Market Operation, the tally of the cumulative sums the Fed sluiced to bail out Wall Street and its global derivative counterparties came to a mind-bending $29 trillion.
Jerome Powell is doubling down on the clandestine policies of Bernanke. While repeatedly telling Congress with a straight face that the Fed will be completely transparent with the American people on the new Wall Street bailouts, he has failed to release the names of the Wall Street trading houses that received more than $9 trillion cumulatively in repo loans at below-market interest rates or the names of the Wall Street beneficiaries of three of the programs he resuscitated from Bernanke’s bailout years: the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, and the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility. (See More than a Year Later, Americans Have No Idea Where $9 Trillion of Fed Money Went.)
Greenspan also presided over an opaque bailout of Wall Street but received cover as a result of the events of 9/11. (See our report: The Untold Story of 9/11: Bailing Out Alan Greenspan’s Legacy.)
Janet Yellen’s history has yet to be written. As a result of the Dodd-Frank legislation, she has effectively become the boss of the Fed’s bailouts with the added bonus of having her own slush fund to meddle in markets. (See Janet Yellen Is Set to Inherit a Helluva Lot of Power, Thanks to Stealthy Changes in the Law.)
The Fed Choir video is certain to bring a smile to Nomi Prins as well. Prins wrote the brilliant and seminal work on the 2007-2010 bailouts by the Fed and other foreign central banks, titled: Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World.
Prins is also going to love that eye-rolling by Bernanke as he sings “never gonna tell a lie.” In her book, Prins writes that “Bernanke was such a master of collusion that he made it appear as if the colluders didn’t include him but were somehow acting completely independently of the Fed’s policies and implicit or explicit directives.” In another section, Prins states that Bernanke “was the consummate magician. He provided the illusion of competence in his orchestration of global monetary policy collusion – so long as no one looked behind the curtain.”
What Prins describes as the Wall Street aftermath of the profligate Fed bailout of 2007 to 2010 is repeating itself today. Prins writes in her book that the largest Wall Street banks “that inhaled this cheap money were not required to increase their lending to the Main Street economy as a condition of the availability of that money…Wall Street used its easy access to cheap money to increase speculation in derivatives and other complex securities. They used it to buy back their own shares, thus effectively manipulating their own stock – in broad daylight and with explicit approval from the Fed.”
Sanders not only pushed against a second term for Bernanke on the Senate floor but he also penned a January 27, 2010 editorial in USA Today, writing:
“The immediate cause of this economic disaster is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of the largest financial institutions in the country. One of the major functions of the Federal Reserve is to protect the safety and soundness of our financial institutions and to oversee their actions. It is clear to almost everyone that Chairman Bernanke was asleep at the switch while Wall Street became the largest gambling casino in the history of the world and hurtled into insolvency. His failure to adequately regulate financial institutions should not be rewarded with a reappointment.
“As part of the huge taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, the Fed provided trillions of dollars in virtually zero-interest loans to large financial institutions. Bernanke consistently has refused to provide the transparency needed so that the American people can learn which banks received those loans. Our democracy cannot tolerate this kind of secrecy. We need a new Fed chairman who believes in transparency.”
Wall Street On Parade’s research suggests that Bernanke was not so much “asleep at the switch” as he was willfully laser-focused on a Machiavellian scheme to bail out Wall Street and permanently hide the details from the American people. In 2014 we reported that the details of 84 secret meetings held by Bernanke in the lead up to the Wall Street collapse remained redacted on his appointment calendars more than five years after the crash.
After leaving the Fed, Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen cashed in their chips on Wall Street.
Greenspan joined the infamous John Paulson hedge fund as an advisor. Paulson helped Goldman Sachs create the ripoff 2007 Abacus deal that was designed to fail so Paulson could get rich shorting (betting against) the dodgy subprime mortgages it contained. According to the SEC’s complaint against Goldman, Paulson & Co. paid Goldman Sachs approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing Abacus. By October 2007, 83 percent of the bonds in the portfolio had been downgraded and 17 percent were on negative watch. By Jan. 29, 2008, 99 percent of the portfolio had been downgraded. The SEC estimated that investors lost more than $1 billion in the deal while Paulson profited by a similar amount. Insanely, Paulson was never charged by the SEC.
Bernanke also joined a hedge fund. He opted for Ken Griffin’s Citadel, which is making headlines today for its role in payment-for-order-flow and the GameStop saga. Bernake is still employed by Citadel.
As part of the confirmation process to become U.S. Treasury Secretary, Yellen disclosed receiving more than $7 million in speaking fees after leaving the Fed, the bulk of it coming from Wall Street banks and hedge funds. But that sum is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Yellen did not disclose the speaking fees she received in 2018, the year she stepped down as Fed Chair.
For Wall Street On Parade’s ongoing series on the Fed’s 2019-2021 bailout of Wall Street, see our archive here.