Senator Warren: “BlackRock Manages More Assets than the Entire GDP of Japan.” (How About JPMorgan Chase Having Custody of Assets That Are 5.8 Times the GDP of Japan.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren Speaking at Senate Banking Hearing, March 24, 2021

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 25, 2021 ~ Yesterday, during a Senate Banking hearing with witnesses Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senator Elizabeth Warren grilled Yellen on why BlackRock wasn’t being investigated for posing a systemic risk to the U.S. financial system. Warren stated: “BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management firm, overseeing nearly $9 trillion in assets. That’s more than double where it was 10 years ago. It also holds a stake in just about every company listed on the S&P 500. To put that in perspective, Blackrock manages more assets than the entire GDP of Japan, or Germany, or Great Britain or any other nation in the world, except the United States and China.” BlackRock may, indeed, pose a systemic risk to the U.S. financial system but it’s not because it holds a stake in just about every company listed on the S&P … Continue reading

Trade Stocks as You Sit On the Toilet – Yes, This Ad Actually Promotes That

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 24, 2021 ~ There’s a full-blown assault occurring right now to lure young, unsophisticated investors to trade their own accounts instead of investing in low-cost passive index funds or using an investment advisor. The enticements are the worst we have ever seen and harken back to what was occurring in the lead up to the devastating 1929 stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression. Consider the video advertisement shown below from stock and options trading app, Gatsby, owned by Gatsby Digital, Inc. A young black man sits unshaven in his bathrobe tapping on his mobile phone, ostensibly getting stock quotes or placing trades. A voice-over reassures him: “Of course you’re ready. You were born ready. And with Gatsby, it’s so easy. You can do it from anywhere.” Fade to the man in the bathrobe sitting on a toilet seat, ostensibly still trading … Continue reading

On One Day Last Year, the Fed Had $495.7 Billion in Loans Outstanding to Unnamed Wall Street Trading Houses

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 23, 2021 ~ Yesterday the Federal Reserve released its “audited” financial statements with the following caveat, among numerous others: “Due to the unique nature of the Reserve Banks’ powers and responsibilities as part of the nation’s central bank and given the System’s unique responsibility to conduct monetary policy, the Board has adopted accounting principles and practices in the FAM [Financial Accounting Manual for Federal Reserve Banks] that differ from accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP).” The Federal Reserve is the regulator of the largest bank holding companies in the United States and, since December of 2007, has been shoveling trillions of dollars at the trading houses owned by these bank holding companies almost on a non-stop basis, if you include Quantitative Easing (QE) programs 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the repo loan bailout that began on September 17, … Continue reading

There’s a Plot to Suck in More Retail Traders at the Top of a Bubble Market

Michael Piwowar

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 22, 2021 ~ At both the March 9 Senate Banking Committee and March 17 House Financial Services Committee hearings on the conflicts with Robinhood and Citadel in trading small investors’ shares in GameStop and other meme stocks, the same witness was called by the Republican side of the Committees. His name is Michael Piwowar. In Piwowar’s opening statements to both Committees, he introduced himself as the Executive Director of the think tank, the Milken Institute, and a former Commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission. He apparently supplied this same information to the Chairs of both Committees because that is also how Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown and House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters introduced Piwowar. What was not disclosed for the public record at either hearing is the fact that Piwowar is also being paid as a Senior Advisor to a Wall Street … Continue reading

Congressman Andy Barr Wants Robinhood’s Young Day Traders to Be Free to Trade Themselves into Poverty While All of His Own Money Remains Professionally Managed

Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 19, 2021 ~ During the Wednesday House Financial Services Committee hearing on the toxic business model gaining steam on Wall Street, where market makers pay for order flow from online brokerage firms like Robinhood in order to trade against the so-called “dumb money” from retail investors, there were regular bursts of hypocrisy from the Wall Street-funded Republicans on the Committee. One of the most gag-worthy lectures came from Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, nine of Barr’s top 15 donors to his Campaign Committee and Leadership PAC for the 2019-2020 campaign cycle are connected to Wall Street. Those donors include Prudential Financial (which is a derivatives counterparty to mega banks on Wall Street); Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm; Bank of America, parent of the giant brokerage firm Merrill Lynch; Charles Schwab, the retail brokerage firm; FMR Corp., … Continue reading

House Hearing Provides a Message to Robinhood Traders: Retail Investors Lose Consistently When They Actively Trade their Own Account

Dennis Kelleher, Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Better Markets

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 18, 2021 ~ There were plenty of fireworks during yesterday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing on the ongoing GameStop trading fiasco and two of the major players involved: retail broker-dealer, Robinhood, which offers free trading accounts to novice investors and provides behavioral messaging like a digital display of confetti when they complete a trade; and Citadel Securities, a giant market-maker that pays Robinhood to route the bulk of its orders to it for execution. The most interesting moment of the day arrived several hours into the hearing in the following exchange between Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) and a hearing witness, Dennis Kelleher, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Better Markets, a Wall Street watchdog that has been working in the public interest for the past decade. Kelleher holds a law degree from Harvard Law School. Himes said he wanted to figure out if “what we’re … Continue reading

Janet Yellen’s Plunge Protection Team Has $142 Billion to Play With

Trading Floor at the New York Fed

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 17, 2021 ~ Most Americans are unaware of the existence of the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF). Together with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed) it has morphed into the U.S. Treasury Secretary’s Plunge Protection Team. The ESF was created in 1934 to provide support to the U.S. dollar during the Great Depression. As recently as March 31, 2007, the ESF was fairly modest in size, with assets of just $45.9 billion. Prior to Trump taking office, it had grown to $94.3 billion in assets. But thanks to a fancy maneuver by President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, the ESF skyrocketed to a staggering balance of $682 billion as of September 30, 2020. Mnuchin was able to give himself this massive slush fund by helping to write the 2020 stimulus bill known as the CARES Act, which handed him $500 … Continue reading

Sal Arnuk of Themis Trading Plans to Bury Robinhood, Citadel and SEC at House Hearing Today

Sal Arnuk, Partner and Co-Founder, Themis Trading

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 17, 2021 ~ Sal Arnuk co-founded Themis Trading in 2002 with Joe Saluzzi. In 2012 they wrote the book Broken Markets: How High Frequency Trading and Predatory Practices on Wall Street Are Destroying Investor Confidence and Your Portfolio. The rigging of Wall Street has only grown worse since that time. Having a professional trader such as Arnuk provide an insider’s analysis of how Robinhood, which accepts retail stock orders and then sells the majority of them to high frequency trader, Citadel, in exchange for payment-for-order flow (PFOF), is just who Congress needs to hear from. Arnuk, according to his written testimony, will tell the House Financial Services Committee the following at a hearing scheduled for today: “Robinhood does something very novel; they combine investing/trading tools with a social media experience targeted to young people – complete with trading addiction, and a herding effect. They … Continue reading

Goldman Sachs Just Landed in the Cross-Hairs of the Senate Banking Committee

David Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 16, 2021 ~ Less than five months ago, Goldman Sachs and its Malaysian subsidiary were criminally charged by the U.S. Department of Justice “for a sweeping international corruption scheme, conspiring to avail itself of more than $1.6 billion in bribes to multiple high-level government officials across several countries so that the company could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fees.” The case has become infamously known as the 1MDB scandal, named after the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund that was ripped off. Goldman Sachs admitted to the charges and paid a criminal penalty and disgorgement of over $2.9 billion to settle the charges with the Department of Justice. That sum was on top of the $2.5 billion in cash it paid to settle with the government of Malaysia. Stripping shareholders of $5.4 billion of their capital for criminal conduct in the midst of the worst … Continue reading

The Dark Money “Ring” of Charles Koch and Leonard Leo Gets an Airing Before the U.S. Senate – Followed by a Mainstream Media News Blackout

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 15, 2021 ~ Last Wednesday, March 10, a Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing of critical importance to every American on the growing tsunami of dark money that is corrupting the U.S court system, up to, and including, the U.S. Supreme Court. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who has written extensively on the corrupting influence of dark money on American democracy, chairs that Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action and Federal Rights. One would have thought that every major print and broadcast news outlet would have covered that hearing. Instead, the silence was deafening and smacked of censorship. The one peep that was heard from a major news outlet was a snarky attack on Whitehouse himself on the day of the hearing by the corporatized, right-wing Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, part of the Rupert Murdoch empire. The “Editorial … Continue reading