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The Central Bank of Israel Doesn’t Want You to Know What U.S. Stocks It Owns; Neither Does the SEC

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Jay Clayton

Jay Clayton, Chairman of the SEC

It’s no wonder that American citizens are receiving just a tiny snippet of critical news from mainstream media. Federal regulators have set a new low in withholding documents that the public and the media are entitled to under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These censored documents could inform us on what’s really driving policy decisions in Washington.

Take our latest FOIA brush with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Foreign central banks and sovereign wealth funds are required under law to report their publicly-traded U.S. stock positions no later than 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. This is done on Form 13F, which is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, if those stock holdings reach $100 million or more.

The central bank of Israel, known simply as the Bank of Israel, has not been doing that for years, or if it has, the SEC has not been making the information public. The Bank of Israel files a 13F form but simply lists the names of the investment management firms it is using to manage its stock portfolio. It includes a file number for each investment manager but that file number does not unlock any publicly available information on the dollar amount or the names of the stocks owned by the Bank of Israel.

We know that the Bank of Israel, as of the end of 2019, held at least 7 percent of its $126 billion in foreign exchange reserves in U.S. stocks because that information is available on the website of the Bank of Israel. That would mean that it owns somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.82 billion in U.S. stocks, just with those foreign exchange reserves. But it could have other significant holdings as well.

Why is it important for the SEC to actually follow the laws it is required to follow? What if Israel’s investments are heavily concentrated in a handful of tech stocks, helping to create a bubble ready to burst. It’s not in the national security interests of the United States to be in the dark about stock bubbles, as we learned so well in the dot.com bust of 2000 and the epic financial crash of 2008.


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