Search Results for: newest legislator

Meet Your Newest Legislator: Citigroup

By Pam Martens: December 16, 2014 Citigroup is the Wall Street mega bank that forced the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999; blew itself up as a result of the repeal in 2008; was propped back up with the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world even though it was insolvent and didn’t qualify for a bailout; has now written its own legislation to de-regulate itself; got the President of the United States to lobby for its passage; and received an up vote from both houses of Congress in less than a week. And there is one more thing you should know at the outset about Citigroup: it didn’t just have a hand in bringing the country to its knees in 2008; it was a key participant in the 1929 collapse under the moniker National City Bank. Both the U.S. Senate’s investigation of the collapse of the … Continue reading

Fed Chair Janet Yellen Seriously Misleads in London on U.S. Banking Reform

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 28, 2017  Yesterday the Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, was in London for a wide-ranging financial markets discussion with Nicholas Stern, the President of the British Academy. Making headlines from that discussion was Yellen’s stated belief that there will not be another financial crisis in our lifetimes. Yellen stated to Stern: “Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? You know probably that would be going too far, but I do think we are much safer, and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be.” While that remark has dominated the news, the more meaningful story is that Yellen (the top monetary authority in the United States; the head of the U.S. central bank; and the top dog at the Federal watchdog that regulates the largest bank holding … Continue reading

The Contagion Deutsche Bank Is Spreading Is All About Derivatives

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 30, 2016 One day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen failed to reassure the House Financial Services Committee that too-big-to-fail banks no longer pose a threat to the U.S. financial system, the stock market settled the debate. Germany’s largest bank had a dizzy spell and Wall Street banks swooned under a collective anxiety attack. The writing has been on the wall for a very long time that this scenario was going to eventually play out given the lack of serious reform of Wall Street. What was notable about yesterday’s market activity is that among the major Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs fared worst, falling 2.75 percent, followed by Morgan Stanley which shed 2.30 percent and Citigroup, which lost 2.28 percent. All of the major Wall Street banks were dragged down by the 6.67 percent decline in the shares of Deutsche Bank by the … Continue reading

Goldman Sachs: The Vampire Squid’s Alum Control Two Fed Banks, the U.S. Treasury, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England

Government Sachs (Thumbnail Photo)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 23, 2020 ~ The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Robert S. Kaplan), the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Neel Kashkari), the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury (Steve Mnuchin), the President of the European Central Bank (Mario Draghi) and the head of the Bank of England (Mark Carney) all have two things in common: they sit atop vast amounts of money and they are all alums of Goldman Sachs. In addition, the immediate past President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, William Dudley, which secretly sluiced over $29 trillion to bail out Wall Street banks during the financial crisis and has now opened its money spigot for trillions of dollars more, worked at Goldman Sachs for more than two decades, rising to the rank of partner and U.S. Chief Economist. Goldman Sachs has been variously depicted … Continue reading

The Doomsday Machine Returns: Citibank Has Sold Protection on $858 Billion of Credit Default Swaps

Margot Robbie

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 3, 2020 ~ Lily Tomlin is credited with the quote: “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.” Wall Street regularly brings that message home. According to the latest derivatives report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Citibank, the federally-insured, taxpayer-backstopped bank owned by Citigroup, has sold protection to other banks, hedge funds, insurance companies or corporations on a staggering $858 billion of Credit Default Swaps. When a federally-insured bank sells protection to others on Credit Default Swaps, it is effectively taking on the risk of a default event. At a time of unprecedented levels of debt in the system and growing warnings about leveraged loans, that seems like a very unwise move by Citigroup. The OCC notes that Citibank has bought protection via a larger amount of Credit Default Swaps – a total of … Continue reading

These Charts Show Why the Fed Is Still in a Panic Over the Repo Loan Market

Derivatives Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: December 31, 2019 ~ After the epic financial crash on Wall Street in 2008 – the worst since the 1929 crash and ensuing Great Depression – two key reforms were put in place in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to prevent another catastrophic meltdown on Wall Street. The first key reform was that derivatives were to be moved out of the federally-insured, taxpayer backstopped commercial banks, that had been bought up by Wall Street trading houses, into units that could be wound down in a bankruptcy proceeding. It was called the “Push Out” rule. That reform was also meant to prevent the New York Fed from ever again secretly pumping upwards of $29 trillion into Wall Street trading houses and their derivative counterparties in order to bail out a corrupt casino banking system. (And yet here we are … Continue reading

Is There a Stealth Financial Crisis? Alarm Bells Are Ringing.

Withdrawals from His Flagship Fund on June 3, 2019 (Photo from Publicly Released Video)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 11, 2019 ~ Shhh! Don’t wake the Wall Street bank regulators from their decade-long slumber to whisper in their ear that the same critical signs they ignored in 2007 and early 2008 are rearing their ugly heads again. Let’s take a look at the clear warning signs that began in July 2007 and then contrast them against what is happening today. On July 17, 2007 Bear Stearns announced that two of its hedge funds, which had held about $1.5 billion in investor capital in the first quarter of the year, were now mostly worthless. On August 9, 2007 BNP Paribas, France’s largest publicly traded bank, announced it was freezing customer withdrawals from three of its funds, effectively preventing customers from accessing $2.2 billion. It cited “evaporation of liquidity,” and the inability “to value certain assets,” as a reason. Fast forward to today: On … Continue reading

A Look Back at How Reforming Wall Street Failed So Miserably Under Obama

By Pam Martens: March 7, 2019 ~ Progressives have every right to harbor a seething contempt toward the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress in the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency as Wall Street blew itself up and Congress passed the massive taxpayer bailout of the Wall Street mega banks. (Democrats held fewer than 50 seats in the Senate but they held operational majority since two Independents caucused with them.) In Obama’s first two years in office (January 2009 to January 2011), Democrats had increased their majorities in both chambers of Congress. Democrats were in charge when it became crystal clear from Congressional hearings that Wall Street mega banks had created, through unbridled greed and corruption, the most catastrophic financial crash since the Great Depression. Democrats were in charge when it became profoundly evident that Wall Street needed a major … Continue reading

Wall Street’s Derivatives Nightmare: New York Times Does a Shallow Dive

(Left to Right) Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 24, 2018 ~ The New York Times published a 1300-word shallow dive into the byzantine, globally-interconnected world of financial derivatives in its print edition yesterday. After years of ignoring this seismic problem since it last blew up the U.S. financial system in 2008, what accounts for the New York Times’ newfound interest? We can sum up its 1300 word article using only three letters – CYA. What frightened the Times into this foray into the dark web of financial derivatives held by the biggest Wall Street banks was a frightening, 111-page deep dive into the subject by Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland’s Carey School of Law. Greenberger knows a thing or two about derivatives, having previously served from 1997 to 1999 as the Director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) … Continue reading

Two of the Biggest Bailed Out Derivative Banks, Citi and Merrill, Get Fined for Breaking Derivatives Rules

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 23, 2017 Over the past month, with little media attention, both Citigroup and Merrill Lynch have received fines from regulatory bodies for failure to properly report their trading in derivatives – an opaque trading arena that played a significant role in bringing down both firms during the financial crisis. As reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2011, Citigroup received $2.5 trillion in cumulative, secret low cost loans from the Federal Reserve during the 2007-2010 financial crisis while Merrill received $1.9 trillion. These loans, many at almost zero interest rates, were made without the authorization or awareness of Congress. (See GAO chart below.) The loans to the two firms were on top of the publicly disclosed and Congress-approved TARP bailout funds. Significant portions of the money loaned to Citigroup and Merrill Lynch were authorized by the Federal Reserve to be funneled to the … Continue reading

The Power Players Behind Silencing Wall Street Reformers

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 18, 2017 America has now been through various iterations of “it’s time to stop bashing Wall Street” by writers who seem to easily get air time or plenty of print space to make their case. An OpEd in the New York Times today is the latest in this endless series. We’ll get to that column shortly, but first some necessary background. Wall Street did not accidentally run a barge aground and leave a small oil slick on the Hudson River. Wall Street did not accidentally release tainted lettuce that sickened a few dozen people. What Wall Street did was intentional and criminal: it financially engineered a toxic subprime house of cards which it knew from its own internal reviews was going to collapse; it then molded the toxic product into inscrutable bundles; it sold the bundles to unsuspecting investors around the globe while … Continue reading

This Chart Proves Paul Krugman Is Dead Wrong on Wall Street Reform

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 1, 2017 Back in 2014 New York Times columnist Paul Krugman embarked on a mission to defend President Obama’s reform of Wall Street’s biggest banks that had brought the country to the brink of financial collapse just six years earlier. In August of 2014 Krugman wrote that the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that Obama had signed into law in 2010 “is a success story.” Krugman’s rubber stamp of Dodd-Frank came despite the fact that JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, had just two years earlier – long after the passage of Dodd-Frank – used hundreds of billions of dollars of its depositors’ money in its commercial bank, Chase, to make wild gambles in derivatives in London, losing at least $6.2 billion along the way. This so-called “London Whale” debacle correctly convinced millions of Americans that the only way to truly reform Wall Street … Continue reading

What Went Wrong in Wall Street Reform: Obama Versus FDR

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 15, 2017 Following the Wall Street crash of 1929, thousands of banks failed in the United States. More than 3,000 banks went under in 1931 followed by more than 1400 the following year. There was no Federal insurance on bank deposits in those days so both depositors and shareholders were wiped out or received pennies on the dollar when the banks went bust. This deepened the panic and deepened the Great Depression. Many of the bank failures stemmed from the banks using depositors’ money to speculate in the stock market, sometimes to manipulate the price of their own stock. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States on March 4, 1933. Two days later he declared a national banking holiday, meaning that he closed all the banks and sent in the examiners to determine which ones were sound and … Continue reading

Political Revolution Sprouts New Shoots Outside Goldman Sachs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 18, 2017 Sometimes all it takes to win a war is a rallying cry. That cry started in the bowels of Wall Street on September 17, 2011 with the takeover of Zuccotti Park by grassroots protesters calling themselves Occupy Wall Street. The thunder clap from that movement, “we are the 99 percent,” reverberated around the world. Occupy focused the public’s attention on the insidious wealth transfer system that has been institutionalized by Wall Street on behalf of the 1 percent – a system which has minted dozens of billionaires and thousands of multi-millionaires while collapsing the U.S. economy from 2008 to 2010 and leaving millions of Americans homeless and jobless. (See our past coverage of Occupy in related articles below.) Yesterday, green shoots from the Occupy movement sprouted in a light falling rain outside the headquarters of Goldman Sachs at 200 West Street … Continue reading

The New York Times Has a Fatal Wall Street Bias

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 4, 2016 A few years back, when William D. Cohan was writing for Bloomberg News, one could reliably count on him to hold Wall Street’s feet to the fire. Now Cohan is writing for the New York Times and it feels like the Times sent him for an in-house lobotomy or at least a crash course in reoriented thinking. Consider Cohan’s article from yesterday in the Times, titled Why Washington Needs Wall Street. First Cohan piles on to the recent bashing of Senator Elizabeth Warren by Roger Lowenstein in the pages of the Times. Warren has led a meaningful, multi-year charge to expose the failed reforms and lapdog regulators overseeing Wall Street, which is hands-down the most corrupt industry in America and located in the same home town as the New York Times.  (If you can’t clean up your own home town, what … Continue reading

Is Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Legislation a Hoax?

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 15, 2016 The problem with stereotyping Republicans is that when they are screaming from the rooftops about a legitimate fraud, Democrats don’t believe them — even when the evidence is overpowering that they are right. For years now, Republicans have been screaming that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was signed into law in 2010 by President Obama is a fraud on the public. Few have examined Dodd-Frank’s failed promises as carefully as Wall Street On Parade. The legislation promised to rein in derivatives – it didn’t. It promised to end the future need for taxpayer bailouts of too-big-to-fail banks. It didn’t. It promised to institute the Volcker Rule to prevent banks from gambling with insured deposits. It didn’t. It promised to reform the practices of the ratings agencies that played a pivotal role in the 2008 collapse. It … Continue reading

Why the Vampire Squid Wants Small Depositors’ Money in 1 Frightening Chart

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 27, 2016 Back in 2010, with the public still numb from the epic financial crash and still in the dark about the trillions of dollars of secret loans the Federal Reserve had pumped into the Wall Street mega banks to resuscitate their sinking carcasses, Matt Taibbi penned his classic profile of Goldman Sachs at Rolling Stone, with this, now legendary, summation: “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Historically, what smells like money to Goldman Sachs has been eight-figure money and higher. As recently as 2013, the New York Times reported that Goldman had a $10 million minimum to manage private wealth and was kicking out its own employees’ brokerage accounts if they were less than $1 million. Now, all of a … Continue reading

7 Critical Reforms Needed on Wall Street to Prevent Another Bust

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 30, 2015 The problem with Wall Street is not just that individual participants serially disrespect the law. The bigger problem is that Wall Street as an industry has structured itself as an ingrained law-avoidance system. There’s simply no other industry in America where you could start the sentence – “Wall Street is the only industry in America where…” – and find endless ways to finish that thought. Jamil Nazarali, the head of Citadel Execution Services, the trading arm of a hedge fund and dark pool operator, gave the above sentence a trial run on October 27 at a Securities and Exchange Commission meeting on market structure. Nazarali said: “This industry is the only one that I am aware of where a for-profit public company regulates its customers and competitors. And I understand that you guys think that that’s important but what is it … Continue reading

The Republican Debate: Almost Every ‘Fact’ About Wall Street Was False

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 11, 2015  Following the Republican Presidential debate in Milwaukee last evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a blistering statement to supporters. It said, in part: “Did you see the attack ad about me during the GOP debate tonight? A right-wing group launched a full-scale assault on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the watchdog we set up after the 2008 financial crisis to fight back when big banks try to cheat people on credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products…If the Republicans want a fight over the CFPB, I say, ‘Bring it on.’” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is one of the few positive outgrowths of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed by Congress in 2010 after the epic financial crash in 2008. It’s a legitimate and real champion of the little guy.  But because the agency has been exposing student loan frauds … Continue reading

Goldman Sachs’ Rich Man’s Bank Backstopped by You and Me

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 21, 2015 Just when you thought Wall Street’s heist of the U.S. financial system couldn’t get any crazier, along comes a regulator’s report on FDIC-insured banks exposure to derivatives. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), one of the regulators of national banks, as of June 30 of this year, Goldman Sachs Bank USA had $78 billion in deposits, and – wait for it – $45.7 trillion in notional amount of derivatives. (Notional means face amount of derivatives.) According to the OCC report, Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s notional derivatives are an eye-popping 563 percent of its risk-based capital. You and every other little guy in America are backstopping this bank because it’s, amazingly, FDIC insured. Compared to its Wall Street peers, Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a midget. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA has just shy of $2 trillion in … Continue reading

Wall Street’s Fatal Flaw: Confusing “Disruptors” With “Corruptors”

By Pam Martens: May 19, 2015 In the late 1990s, Salomon Smith Barney’s telecom analyst, Jack Grubman, was viewed by his powerful firm as a “disruptor.” He was throwing out the old rules on how a telecom analyst should interact with a company on which he was delivering research to the public and creating a new, innovative model. Instead of following the old rules and remaining pristinely independent and objective, Grubman was sitting in on board meetings at WorldCom, giving investment advice to its executives, while simultaneously issuing laudatory research to induce the investing public to buy the stock. When BusinessWeek questioned Grubman on this new analyst model on May 14, 2000, here’s how the disruptor explained his redesign of his job:  “What used to be a conflict is now a synergy…Someone like me who is banking-intensive would have been looked at disdainfully by the buy side 15 years ago. … Continue reading

Shelby’s Fed Reform Bill Is Just Moving Deck Chairs on the Titanic

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 12, 2015 Senator Richard Shelby, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, is set to release details of his proposed financial reform legislation today which Wall Street hopes will have so much smoke and mirrors to appease the liberal and conservative factions on the Committee that no one will notice that it’s another big sellout to Wall Street. The bill will hold out the promise of reforming the Federal Reserve while failing to do anything material to reform it. It will promise to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens on community banks so that they can survive and compete while leaving intact the very financial structure that is killing off community banks faster than you can say Dodd-Frank. The biggest joke in the proposed legislation is that the Fed will somehow be tamed by allowing the President of the United States to nominate, with Senate confirmation, … Continue reading

Paul Volcker Invests in Foreign Banks as He Lectures on U.S. Bank Reform

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 27, 2015  Last Monday, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker held a press conference at the National Press Club to release his nonprofit’s plan for reforming U.S. bank regulation. Volcker’s plan includes elevating the Federal Reserve to even greater heights as a super regulator of a consolidated system. That’s exactly the opposite of what Congress has in mind as it holds hearings on fatal conflicts of interests between the Fed and Wall Street. At the press conference, Volcker delivered a thoroughly discredited statement suggesting some deep-pocketed backers are putting words in his mouth. Volcker said: “The Federal Reserve is the best-equipped, the most independent and most respected financial agency of the United States government.” Volcker’s views on financial reform must be seen against the backdrop of Volcker’s myriad conflicts and ties with the global ruling elite. His non-profit organization, The Volcker Alliance, has multiplied … Continue reading

Paranoia Reigns in Congress Over an International Financial Cabal

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 30, 2015 It’s tough to keep up with the conspiracy theories that run rampant from day to day in the hallowed halls of Congress. But one that is gaining traction is that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (whose acronym is pronounced F-SOC) is the handmaiden of an international finance cabal and is obediently marching to its beat instead of the mandates of Congress. These suspicions were on display at the Senate Banking Committee hearing last Wednesday and the House Financial Services Committee hearing the week before where U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who Chairs F-SOC, was pummeled with thinly veiled, and not so thinly veiled, accusations. F-SOC was created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. It is charged with the early identification of emerging risks to the financial system. Every major regulator of Wall … Continue reading

The Clintons and the Fed Are Gasping Over the April Issue of Harper’s

By Pam Martens: March 19, 2015 Hillary Clinton just can’t catch a break. As her self-inflicted imbroglio over erasing 30,000 emails involving her time as Secretary of State continues to command press attention, the April issue of Harper’s Magazine is focusing gasp-worthy attention on the “loan-sharking” business that Bill Clinton, as President, assisted in transforming into the too-big-to-fail Citigroup that played a leading role in bringing the country to the brink of financial collapse in 2008. Janet Yellen’s Fed can’t be too happy either about the revelations. The Fed just gave Citigroup a clean bill of health last week under its so-called rigorous stress tests and is allowing the bank to spend like a drunken sailor, raising its dividend 400 percent with permission to buy back as much as $7.8 billion of its own stock. The Fed’s qualitative portion of the stress test is said to look at both risk … Continue reading