Handed the Reins During Financial Crises: Obama – First Black President, 2009; Jane Fraser – First Female CEO of a Mega Wall Street Bank, Citigroup, 2021

By Pam Martens: September 10, 2020 ~ Leave it to those good ole white men of wealth and privilege to know when to cut and run. President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, (former CEO of Goldman Sachs) handed the smoldering ruins of the U.S. economy to the first Black president in the history of the U.S., Barack Obama, on January 20, 2009. That was right in the midst of the Great Financial Crisis and just four months after some of the most iconic names on Wall Street had either collapsed or were forced into shot-gun marriages. We wrote the following in May 2008 during the runup to the election: “Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now … Continue reading

The Fed Has Loaned $1.2 Billion from its TALF Bailout Program to a Tiny Company with Four Employees

Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 10, 2020 ~ This article was updated at 3:40 p.m. today. See Editor’s note below. ~ Every Wall Street bailout program that the Fed has created since September 17 of last year has, according to the Fed, been ostensibly created to somehow help the average American. According to the Fed’s Term Sheet for the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), it’s going to “help meet the credit needs of consumers and businesses by facilitating the issuance of asset-backed securities.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but asset-backed securities and related derivatives are what blew up Wall Street in 2008, creating the worst economic downturn, at that point, since the Great Depression. According to the Fed’s TALF transaction data, it has made $2.6 billion in total loans. Forty-six percent of that money, $1.2 billion, went to a company that has 4 … Continue reading

The Wall Street Bank Selloff Yesterday Was More About Oil than Big Tech

Oil Rig

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 9, 2020 ~ The mega banks on Wall Street joined the tech wreck yesterday as illustrated on the chart above. The selloff in these banks can be attributed to, primarily, the selloff in the price of crude oil – which suggests the banks will be forced to increase loan loss reserves as the threat of more bankruptcies among debt-strapped U.S. oil producers increases. Domestic crude oil, known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, had a $41 handle on Friday on the Nymex. Yesterday, that turned into a $36 handle – a decline of 12 percent from Friday. A WTI handle below $40 is panic-time for U.S. independent oil producers who are deep in debt and struggling to avoid bankruptcy. The big summer driving season that was expected to boost crude demand was officially over the day after Labor Day. But, in fact, a … Continue reading

The Fed Does Not Ride to the Rescue of Wall Street Yesterday: What’s Up?

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 9, 2020 ~ The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a loss of 632 points yesterday (a 2.25 percent decline) while the Nasdaq erased 465 points for a loss of 4.11 percent. As Wall Street witnessed its most vicious correction since March over the past three consecutive trading sessions, a curious thing happened at the Fed. The Fed’s repo loan money spigot which had churned out more than $9 trillion cumulatively to the trading houses of Wall Street from the inception of the bailout program on September 17, 2019 to our tally in mid-March of this year, pumped out nary a drop of cold cash in repo loans as the market swooned. Big zeros in loans provided by the Fed populated their data sheets on all three days of the selloff. However, to comfort Wall Street with the knowledge that the Fed is … Continue reading

The Untold Story of the Nasdaq Whale: SoftBank’s a Guppy; JPMorgan’s a Whale

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 8, 2020 ~ Last week there was a big buzz among financial media outlets regarding the Japanese conglomerate, SoftBank. According to unnamed sources who spoke to the Financial Times, over the past few months SoftBank has paid about $4 billion in premiums, buying call options on individual U.S. technology stocks. The Financial Times called SoftBank the Nasdaq Whale and said its call buying had “stoked the fevered rally in big tech stocks before a sharp pullback” at the end of last week. A call option on an individual stock is a derivative that gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to purchase the actual stock at a specified price (strike price) over a specified time period. According to the Financial Times, the call options purchased by SoftBank gave it exposure to approximately $30 billion in the stock of big tech companies. … Continue reading

Ghosts of the Dot.Com Bust in Yesterday’s Tech Rout

Chart

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 4, 2020 ~ There were ghosts of the dot.com bust of 2000 to 2002 on every trading screen yesterday. The Nasdaq composite index fell 4.96 percent to close at 11,458.10 but the carnage in many of the underlying stocks was far worse. Notably, 50 stocks in the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 9 percent or more yesterday, including some of this year’s highfliers. One of those highfliers was Zoom Video Communications (ZM). Zoom closed on the first day of trading this year at $68.72; flew to $457 by September 1; lost 9.97 percent yesterday to close at $381.32 – still showing more than a quintupling of its market value in a span of eight months. That stock has a nose-bleed-worthy price-to-earnings ratio of 474. While much of the focus has been on the bubble in the big tech names like Alphabet (parent of Google), Amazon, … Continue reading

The Fed Provides an Unlimited Money Lifeline to Wall Street; 30 Million Americans Facing Eviction Get a No-Money 4-Month Plan

Eviction Protest in New Orleans on July 30, 2020

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 3, 2020 ~ Happy New Year – here’s your eviction notice. That’s how tens of millions of struggling Americans have been set up to fail as the one percent on Wall Street, propped up by unlimited money from the Fed, ring in the New Year with Tiffany flutes of Dom Perignon in their Greenwich mansions. According to a recent study published by The Aspen Institute, 30 to 40 million Americans will be at risk of eviction over the next several months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been dragged into the eviction morass because Democrats and Republicans in Congress cannot find common ground on a meaningful plan. On Tuesday, the CDC issued an order that bans landlords from evicting tenants that cannot afford to pay rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or income reduction. The CDC action follows an … Continue reading

Wall Street’s Felon Banks to Go Live with their Own Stock Exchange this Month

New York Stock Exchange

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 2, 2020 ~  Members Exchange (MEMX), a brand new stock exchange, has announced that it will begin live trading of select stocks for the first time on September 21 with a full phase-in on September 29. Criminal histories are, apparently, no barrier to running a stock exchange in the United States to the deeply conflicted way of thinking of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which issued its approval to operate the exchange on May 5. Investors in the new stock exchange are some of the most serially-charged Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and UBS, along with the hedge fund, Citadel Securities. BlackRock, which is up to its neck in the Federal Reserve’s deeply conflicted bailout programs, is also an investor, as is the high-frequency trading firm, Virtu Financial, and others. JPMorgan Chase has been criminally investigated by the U.S. Department … Continue reading

Should the Secret Service Allow Trump to Travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin Today?

Donald Trump

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 1, 2020 ~ Yesterday, two ominous events occurred. Gina Barton, writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA Today Network, published an in-depth report on what eyewitnesses and journalists had seen occurring on Tuesday evening, August 25. That was the night that 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse gunned down three protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, two of them fatally. Before the killings, Rittenhouse was openly carrying an assault rifle when police provided him with bottled water and stated “We appreciate you guys.” Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter, had traveled to Kenosha from Antioch, Illinois to counter Black Lives Matter protesters who have been in the streets protesting since police officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven bullets at point blank range at the back of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man, on Sunday, August 23. According to Blake’s attorney, Blake is currently paralyzed from the waist down. … Continue reading

Investors Have Stampeded Out of Stock Funds for Two Weeks – So How Did the Stock Market Set a New High Every Day Last Week?

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 31, 2020 ~ The S&P 500 stock index set a new record high on Friday, closing at 3508.01 – the first time it has ever closed above 3500. In fact, the S&P 500 set a record high close every single day last week. Here’s the actual closing numbers: Monday, August 24: 3,431.28 Tuesday, August 25: 3,443.62 Wednesday, August 26: 3,478.73 Thursday, August 27: 3,484.55 Friday, August 28: 3,508.01 Refinitiv Lipper has been reporting fund flows into and out of the stock market for the past 18 years. According to Refinitiv Lipper, for the week ending Wednesday, August 26, stock (a/k/a equity) mutual funds and stock ETFs had a combined negative outflow of -$7.8 billion. For the week ending Wednesday, August 19, stock mutual funds and stock ETFs had a negative outflow of -$6.6 billion. Put the two weeks together and you have investors … Continue reading

As Retirees Anguish Over a Sub One-Percent Treasury Note, U.S. Companies Are Suspending their Dividends at a Rate Not Seen Since the 2008 Crash

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 28, 2020 ~ Thanks to the behemoth banks on Wall Street that engineered the largest Inside Job in the history of global banking and cratered the economy in 2008, retirees are now looking at a yield of 0.75 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note. That paltry yield compares to the 4 percent or higher that retirees have been able to get throughout much of the last century on a T-Note. The Federal Reserve is directly responsible for these unprecedented low yields. For much of the past 12 years, the Fed has been manipulating interest rates lower by buying up trillions of dollars in bonds (quantitative easing) in order to avoid crashing the Wall Street banks. The Wall Street banks are holding tens of trillions of dollars in interest-rate derivative bets — betting that rates won’t rise substantially or will drift lower. So … Continue reading

An Unprecedented 1,640 CEOs Departed in 2019; Now Execs Are Dumping Stock at Highest Pace Since 2006

Congress on Fed's 2019 Money Spigot to Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 27, 2020 ~ A rather fascinating picture is emerging that suggests that things were not as rosy in the U.S. economic landscape prior to the pandemic as President Donald Trump and his Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, would have the public believe. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. has been tracking CEO departures for the past 12 years. Its Vice President, Andrew Challenger, called the numbers for 2019 “staggering.” It was the highest number since their surveys began in 2002. A total of 1,640 CEOs headed for the exits last year. That was 156 more CEOs than those who left their post in 2008 – the year that Wall Street blazed a scorched earth trail through the U.S. economy. The number of CEOs that did not leave on their own accord last year was 101 out of the 1,640. According to … Continue reading

When It Comes to JPMorgan, Warren Buffett Isn’t Buying the Spin from the Fed and the Street

Warren Buffett

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 26, 2020 ~ At his press conference on June 10 of this year, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said this about the U.S. banking system, which includes a little more than 5,000 federally insured banks but is dangerously concentrated in the hands of just five mega banks on Wall Street. “You have a banking system that is so much better capitalized, so much stronger, better aware of its risks, better at managing its risks, more highly liquid. You have all of those things and they’ve been lending, they’ve been taking in deposits, they’ve been a source of strength in this situation.” Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is apparently not buying the story that Powell is attempting to sell to the public. According to Berkshire Hathaway’s 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ending June 30, 2020, Buffett … Continue reading

After 92 Years, Exxon Is Booted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average: A Nod to Sustainable Energy?

Oil Rig

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 25, 2020 ~ Yesterday, S&P Dow Jones Indices made the stunning announcement that Exxon Mobil, which has been in the Dow Jones Industrial Average for 92 years, will be replaced in the index before trading begins next Monday, August 31, by Salesforce, a company that went public in 2004. (Exxon Mobil became a component of the Dow in 1928 under the name Standard Oil of New Jersey.) Two other companies are also being replaced in the Dow before trading begins on Monday. The biotech company, Amgen, will replace the more traditional pharmaceutical company, Pfizer. Industrial technology products company, Honeywell International, will replace Raytheon Technologies. In its official press release announcing the changes, S&P Dow Jones Indices said this: “The index changes were prompted by DJIA constituent Apple Inc.’s decision to split its stock 4:1, which will reduce the index’s weight in the Global … Continue reading

Steve Bannon Is Arrested for Nonprofit Fraud after Using an Octopus of Nonprofits to Help Elect Trump

Steve Bannon

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 21, 2020 ~ One of the key right-wing architects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Stephen K. (Steve) Bannon, was arrested early yesterday morning while cruising in the Long Island Sound on a 150-foot yacht owned by the fugitive Chinese billionaire, Guo Wengui, according to law enforcement officials. Bannon had served as CEO of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and as senior counselor and chief strategist to the president for the first seven months of his term. Bannon, along with three others, were charged with defrauding donors in a $25 million fundraising scheme called “We Build the Wall.” The plan was originally described as money to support President Trump’s efforts to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico but was later changed to a privately-funded project to build a wall. Some of the money did actually build a segment of wall. … Continue reading