Trump’s Message of Unity: “Vicious Dogs,” “Ominous Weapons,” “Heavily Armed Soldiers”

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 2, 2020 ~ The words of the President of the United States over the past three days suggest that he is determined to be a wartime president and that he has found the enemy: it’s the American people. As racial justice protests raged in cities across the United States on May 30 over the murder of George Floyd in broad daylight at the hands of four policemen in Minneapolis, President Donald Trump tweeted that if the protesters had breached the fence at the White House, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.” (Considering that the President avoided military service on the basis of bone spurs, he probably hasn’t actually seen too many ominous weapons.) Yesterday, President Trump held a phone conference with state Governors around the U.S. He said this at one … Continue reading

Financial Lynching Must Be Part of the National Debate

U.S. Capitol With Storm Clouds

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 1, 2020 ~ As we watched the dangerous scenes of protesters interacting with riot police and the ransacking of banks and businesses in cities across the United States this past weekend, a warning from the 19th century abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, came to mind: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” The protests last week and this past weekend were sparked by unspeakable cellphone videos of a Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin, torturing and murdering George Floyd with his knee crushing his throat for almost nine minutes as Floyd lay handcuffed and pinned face down on the ground by Chauvin and three other police officers. Only Chauvin has been charged with third degree … Continue reading

U.S. Debt Crisis Comes into View as Fed’s Balance Sheet Explodes Past $7 Trillion

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 29, 2020 ~ On May 29, 2019, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet stood at $3.9 trillion. As of this past Wednesday, May 27, 2020, the Fed’s balance sheet had skyrocketed to $7.145 trillion, an increase of 83 percent in one year’s time. But the explosion in the Fed’s balance sheet cannot be attributed solely to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The math and the timeline simply do not support that argument. According to the timeline at the World Health Organization, on December 31, 2019, China first reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia which were identified in early January to be the coronavirus now known as COVID-19. These were the first known cases anywhere in the world. But on December 31, 2019, the Federal Reserve was already deep into a debt crisis in the United States. We know that from … Continue reading

A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 28, 2020 ~ The bankruptcy epidemic in the U.S. started last year, long before any COVID-19 pandemic had touched down. U.S. retailers ranked among the greatest casualties of 2019 with a total of 17 bankruptcies. Big names among the retail bankruptcies in 2019 included Gymboree on January 16; Charlotte Russe on February 3; Things Remembered on February 6; Payless ShoeSource on February 18; Charming Charlie on July 11; Barneys New York on August 6; and Forever 21 on September 29. Now, the retail shutdowns resulting from COVID-19 have simply accelerated what was already a growing trend of companies seeking relief from debts they cannot pay back. Some of the major bankruptcies this year mean permanent, not temporary, job losses. The 118-year old J.C. Penney Co. had 846 stores when it filed for bankruptcy on May 15 of this year. It said it plans … Continue reading

Fed Admits Corporate Bond Buying Will Be at Least a 5-Year Debt Bailout

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 27, 2020 ~ On May 13 the House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a virtual roundtable with federal regulators. One of the regulators in attendance was the Vice Chair for Supervision at the Federal Reserve, Randal Quarles. At the very end of what evolved into a roundtable beset with static and inaudible passages, it was Utah Congressman Ben McAdams’ turn to ask questions. McAdams’ voice was sharp and crisp. He politely said he had a question about the corporate bond buying program that the Fed was launching (for the first time in its 107-year history). The exchange went as follows: McAdams: “Do you anticipate holding these investments through the life of the purchased bond or do you anticipate selling them at a date TBD [to be determined]? Quarles: “Our intention is to buy and hold.” That answer from … Continue reading

The Fed Made Loans to Wall Street on Over 90 Percent Margin in 2008 – It Could Be Happening Now

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 26, 2020 ~  If you are an individual and you want to buy stocks on margin at a brokerage firm in the U.S., under Federal Reserve Board Regulation T the brokerage firm can lend you a maximum of 50 percent of the total initial purchase price. Not all stocks are eligible for margin. There are also maintenance margin requirements imposed by the industry, stock exchanges and the brokerage house itself if the stock value drops after the initial purchase, which could trigger a margin call and subject you to having to deposit more cash or securities under penalty of having your account liquidated at a loss.) Regulation T grew out of the stock market crash of 1929 and ensuing economic collapse known as the Great Depression. The crash was correctly blamed on the lack of regulation of Wall Street firms which were allowing … Continue reading

The Fed’s Top Wall Street Cop Was Bilked in a Brazen Stock Fraud – Here’s Why It Matters to You

Randal Quarles and Wife, Hope Eccles

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 25, 2020 ~ Randal Quarles is the Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Federal Reserve Board. This is the most important position among Federal regulators when it comes to sniffing out and preventing the kind of systemic in-house bank frauds that collapsed much of Wall Street in 2008 and brought on the greatest U.S. economic downturn since the Great Depression. On November 26, 2018, Quarles was also appointed to a three-year term as Chairman of the Financial Stability Board, the international standard-setting body for financial stability around the globe. Financial stability at the largest global banks that Quarles oversees is looking less certain today than it has since the last financial crisis. Quarles is playing a key role in helping Fed Chairman Jerome Powell establish emergency lending facilities that are making trillions of dollars in revolving loans to Wall Street banks and trading … Continue reading

Fed Chair Powell Promises “Transparency,” then Draws the Dark Curtain Tighter

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 22, 2020 ~ During his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee this past Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Senator Jon Tester that the Fed “has committed to disclose all of the borrowers and the amounts in a timely way.” Powell was referring to the alphabet soup of emergency bailout programs for Wall Street that the Fed has established under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act. In a statement released by the Fed on April 23, it also said this on the subject of transparency: “…the Board will report substantial amounts of information on a monthly basis for the liquidity and lending facilities using Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funding, including the: Names and details of participants in each facility; Amounts borrowed and interest rate charged…The Board will publish reports on its CARES Act 13(3) facilities on … Continue reading

In Last Bailout, the Fed Outsourced Management to the Banks Being Bailed Out – then Paid them Huge Fees for their Work

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 21, 2020 ~ Many of the darkest secrets of the Federal Reserve’s bailout of Wall Street banks during the 2007 to 2010 financial crisis are cryptically contained in the government audit of the Fed’s emergency lending programs that was released to the public on July 21, 2011. A careful reading shows that some of the very same Wall Street mega banks that were in desperate need of, and receiving, bailout funds from the Fed were given assignments by the Fed to oversee parts of the bailout. Making the situation even more ludicrous, those same firms were paid huge fees by the Fed for their work. There is good reason to believe that the same plan is in the works for the Fed’s latest bailout. The audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the nonpartisan watchdog for Congress, shows that during the last financial … Continue reading

Senators Express Outrage at Hearing over Mnuchin’s Sneakiness with $500 Billion of Taxpayers’ Money

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (Thumb Print)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 20, 2020 ~ We’ve been watching Senate Banking Committee hearings for decades. There is typically some level of professional politeness by Senators toward witnesses that are testifying. That didn’t happen yesterday. Both Republicans and Democrats lashed out at Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for effectively cooking up a deal that put him in charge of $500 billion of taxpayers’ money under the stimulus bill known as the CARES Act and has now left Congress in the dark about how that money is being spent. During the hearing, which was held virtually, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts summed up the situation to Mnuchin like this: “You are boosting your Wall Street buddies and leaving Americans behind.” The hearing was called to hear from both Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jerome Powell.  The CARES Act, irresponsibly, gave Mnuchin control of $500 billion, of which $454 billion was … Continue reading

Taxpayers Are on the Hook for 98 Percent of the Fed’s $6.98 Trillion Balance Sheet

Piggy Bank Thumbnail

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 19, 2020 ~ If there has been any positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been that the American people are beginning to take a cold, hard look at how the U.S. economy has been engineered as a vast wealth transfer system for the one percent. We have peeled back the dark curtain further today on how the Federal Reserve has been structured as an unlimited money spigot to enrich that one percent as it privatizes profits for the criminally-inclined Wall Street titans and socializes the losses to the law-abiding 99 percent of hardworking Americans. ~~~ The Federal Reserve Board of Governors consists of seven individuals appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As of today, only five of those Governor seats have been filled. As of last Wednesday, these five unelected individuals were overseeing … Continue reading

The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund with a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 18, 2020 ~ Private equity funds have been variously called “merchants of debt,” “vultures,” or “corporate raiders.” What a private equity fund typically does is to buy up companies by piling debt on the balance sheet, selling off valuable assets like real estate, extracting giant dividends for the private equity partners to the detriment of workers and customers, and then, frequently, letting the company collapse into bankruptcy while laying off thousands of workers or liquidating the whole company. It should give pause to every American that the two top men at the Federal Reserve who are implementing a new $4.54 trillion bailout fund for Wall Street, using $454 billion from taxpayers to absorb the losses, both got rich working for one of the world’s largest such private equity firms: the Carlyle Group. According to his official bio, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell was a … Continue reading

Wall Street Banks Paid $11.7 Billion in Dividends to Investors this Year while Taxpayers Must Absorb $454 Billion of Bank Losses

Randal Quarles, Vice Chairman for Supervision, Federal Reserve, Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on May 12, 2020

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 15, 2020 ~ Following the Wall Street banking collapse in 2008, the then head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Sheila Bair wrote the book Bull by the Horns. She described how the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) had ignored the systemic problems at Citigroup and allowed this “sick bank” to continue paying out cash dividends. Bair wrote as follows: “By November [of 2008], the supposedly solvent Citi was back on the ropes, in need of another government handout. The market didn’t buy the OCC’s and NY Fed’s strategy of making it look as though Citi was as healthy as the other commercial banks. Citi had not had a profitable quarter since the second quarter of 2007. Its losses were not attributable to uncontrollable ‘market conditions’; they were attributable to weak management, high levels of … Continue reading

Evidence Suggests U.S. Financial Crisis Started on August 14, 2019

Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 14, 2020 ~ In the Federal Reserve’s most recent “Supervision and Regulation Report” on the big bank holding companies it “supervises,” the Fed continued its attempts to perpetuate the narrative that “The banking industry came into 2020 in a healthy financial position” and has simply unraveled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That narrative is built on the same flimsy house of cards that the New York Times and Andrew Ross-Sorkin built the narrative that the mega banks on Wall Street were not responsible for the 2008 financial collapse. The Fed is desperate to promote this narrative to stop a new Congress next year from holding hearings on why the Fed, for the second time in 12 years, had to engage in trillions of dollars in Wall Street bank bailouts after reassuring Congress for years that the financial system was fine as … Continue reading

The Fed Hasn’t Spent a Dime Yet for Main Street Versus $735 Billion for Wall Street

Federal Reserve Disbursements to Benefit Wall Street as of May 6, 2020 (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 13, 2020 ~ The stimulus bill known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27. Among its many features (such as direct checks to struggling Americans and enhancing unemployment compensation by $600 per week for four months to unemployed workers so they could pay their rent and buy food) the bill also carved out a dubious $454 billion (or 25 percent of the total $1.8 trillion spending package) for the U.S. Treasury to hand over to the Federal Reserve. This was the Faustian Bargain the Democrats had to agree to in order to get the deal approved by the Wall Street cronies in the Senate. If you subtract the $454 billion from the $1.8 trillion total spending package, that left $1.346 trillion for other purposes. But the $454 billion … Continue reading

BlackRock Begins Buying Junk Bond ETFs for the Fed Today: It’s Already at Work for the Central Bank of Israel

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 12, 2020 ~ It’s off to the races today for BlackRock. The New York Fed, with authority from the Federal Reserve Board and backstopped with taxpayers’ money, will begin the first phase of the Fed’s unprecedented leap into shoring up the sagging prices of investment grade corporate debt and junk bonds. BlackRock has been selected by the New York Fed to be the investment manager for these bailout facilities and will begin Phase I today by buying up Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) containing investment grade corporate bonds as well as junk bonds. Making the situation particularly dicey is that BlackRock just happens to be one of the largest purveyors of said ETFs. The screaming conflict-of-interest that this raises in the minds of many is not ruffling any feathers at the New York Fed (which is itself a bundle of conflicts wrapped in a … Continue reading

Fed Report Shows Magical Thinking on Safety of Wall Street’s Banks

Wizard of Oz (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 11, 2020 ~ The chart above from the November 2019 Federal Reserve report on the condition of the biggest banks in the U.S. shows that almost half were rated unsatisfactory. There have not been any reports since that November report until the latest one from the Fed which was released last week and dated May 2020. The new report carries this headline: “The banking industry came into 2020 in a healthy financial position.” This is part of the Fed’s strategy to lay its abysmal failure to supervise the mega Wall Street banks at the door of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s very easy today to get a totally bogus headline, one that is built completely on magical thinking, flashed across a TV screen in America. As the photo below illustrates, last Friday Steve Liesman of CNBC repeated this magical thinking from the Fed accompanied … Continue reading

Meet the Fed’s Global Plunge Protection Team

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 10, 2020 ~ The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 455 points by the closing bell on Friday. It seemed sadistic to average folks. One hour before the stock market opened, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had reported the worst U.S. unemployment figure since the Great Depression (14.7 percent) along with the staggering loss of 20.5 million jobs in just the month of April. Within the first half hour of trading, the Dow was up more than 300 points. It then added to those gains in afternoon trading. None of the explanations offered by mainstream media to explain the incongruous stock trading were accurate. It was not because the stock market had anticipated worse or that the market was rallying because it thought the worst of the economic fallout was behind us. It was because the one emergency funding facility that the Federal Reserve … Continue reading

U.S. Unemployment Reaches 14.7 Percent – Chart from Great Depression Shows Risks Ahead

Unemployment Rate During the Great Depression

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 8, 2020 ~  

The data is out this morning and it’s not pretty. Nonfarm payrolls collapsed by 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent. The United States is now seeing the worst unemployment rates since the Great Depression.

We prepared the above chart from data available at the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) archives at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Following the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, it was not until August 1931 that the unemployment rate reached 15.01 percent. We’re now at 14.7 percent unemployment from a rate of 3.5 percent just two months ago in February.

Consider using the chart above to figure out just how much cash on hand you need to maintain.

U.S. Financial System “Monitor” Failed to Flash Warning as Fed Pumped $6 Trillion Emergency Liquidity into Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 8, 2020 ~  The Office of Financial Research (OFR) was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 to keep the Financial Stability Oversight Council (F-SOC) informed on emerging threats that have the potential to implode the financial system — as occurred in 2008 in the worst financial crash since the Great Depression. The Trump administration has gutted both its funding and staff. One of the early warning systems of an impending financial crisis that OFR was supposed to have created is the heat map above. Green means low risk; yellow tones mean moderate risk; while red tones flash a warning of a serious problem. On September 17, 2019, liquidity was so strained on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve had to step in and began providing hundreds of billions of dollars per week in repo loans. By January 27, 2020 (before … Continue reading

Congress Sets Up Taxpayers to Eat $454 Billion of Wall Street’s Losses. Where Is the Outrage?

Larry Kudlow, White House Economic Advisor, Speaking at Press Briefing March 24, 2020

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 7, 2020 ~ Beginning on March 24 of this year, Larry Kudlow, the White House Economic Advisor, began to roll out the most deviously designed bailout of Wall Street in the history of America. After the Federal Reserve’s secret $29 trillion bailout of Wall Street from 2007 to 2010, and the exposure of that by a government audit and in-depth report by the Levy Economics Institute in 2011, Kudlow was going to have to come up with a brilliant strategy to sell another multi-trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout to the American people. The scheme was brilliant (in an evil genius sort of way) and audacious in employing an Orwellian form of reverse-speak. The plan to bail out Wall Street would be sold to the American people as a rescue of “Main Street.” It was critical, however, that all of the officials speaking to the … Continue reading

Should You Pare Back Your Exposure to Stocks?

John Bogle, Founder of the Vanguard Group

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 6, 2020 ~ Yesterday, Disney, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a former darling of stock analysts, suspended its dividend. Unlike most companies that pay a quarterly dividend, Disney pays a semi-annual dividend. The company is suspending just the dividend it would have made in the first half of this year without comment as of now on what will happen to the dividend in the second half of the year. Disney’s prior CEO, Bob Iger, was paid a combined compensation of $193.3 million over the prior four years. He stepped down as CEO in February. Dividend cuts and suspensions of dividends are now at their highest level since the financial crash of 2008-2009 with just over 200 companies slashing or eliminating their dividends thus far this year. Here’s a sampling of some of the biggest names: Disney: Suspended its dividend … Continue reading

Fed Chair Powell Has Upwards of $11.6 Million Invested with BlackRock, the Firm that Will Manage a $750 Billion Corporate Bond Bailout Program for the Fed

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 5, 2020 ~ Most Americans likely assume that Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is an economist, like the prior chairs of the Fed over the past 40 years. He’s not. Powell is a former investment banker at the Wall Street firm, Dillon Read; a former partner at the controversial private equity and leveraged buyout firm, the Carlyle Group, which has spent over $1 billion over the past decade lobbying the federal government; and a former lawyer at Davis Polk, a Big Law firm that played a key role advising the government and Treasury in the 2008 Wall Street bailout. Powell’s background would be strange enough but now consider this. The Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Fed, Randal Quarles, who is in charge of supervising the largest and most dangerous Wall Street bank holding companies in the U.S., has an … Continue reading

JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Fossil Fuel Industry Get Bailed Out Under Fed’s “Main Street” Lending Program

Dirty Dozen -- Worst Banks Funding Fossil Fuels Industry (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 4, 2020 ~ U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have apparently never walked down a Main Street in America. We make that statement because there is a huge disconnect between what’s really located on a typical Main Street and what’s in the bailout program they’ve designed and are calling the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP). Americans need to sit up and pay attention to what’s going on here because the U.S. Treasury has committed $75 billion of taxpayers’ money to support this program under the illusion that it’s going to mom and pop operations on a typical Main Street in America. That initial $75 billion will be levered up to $750 billion under the Fed’s ability to create money out of thin air, with taxpayers eating the first $75 billion of losses. Once the loans are originated by … Continue reading

Wall Street’s Financial Crisis Preceded COVID-19: Chart and Timeline

Repo Loans and 10-Year T-Note Yields -- 2008 Crisis Versus 2019 Crisis

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 1, 2020 ~ If a reputable polling outfit were to ask Americans what caused the current financial crisis on Wall Street, they would say the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. If Americans were asked in the same poll when the financial crisis on Wall Street started, they would tie it to outbreaks of the virus in the U.S. this year. But as the timeline below and the chart above clearly substantiate, the financial crisis on Wall Street began in earnest on September 17, 2019, almost four months before the first death from coronavirus anywhere in the world was reported in China on January 11, 2020 and five months before the first death in the U.S. was reported on February 29, 2020, having occurred one day earlier on February 28. (See the New York Times coronavirus timetable here.) This big disconnect between what people believe about … Continue reading