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Wall Street Watchdog, Better Markets, Calls Fed Presidents’ Trading Binge “Pandemic Profiteering” or, Possibly, “Illegal Insider Trading”

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Dennis Kelleher

Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO, Better Markets

Fortunately for Americans, the keen-eyed Wall Street watchdog group, Better Markets, is not living in the same alternative reality universe as the cable financial news network, CNBC.

Last Friday, CNBC published a crazy headline regarding Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan trading tens of millions of dollars of individual stocks and S&P 500 futures in 2020 while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren traded in and out of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts). The trading occurred despite both men being privy to non-public, market moving information coming from the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. CNBC’s headline read: “After years of being ‘squeaky clean,’ the Federal Reserve is surrounded by controversy.” CNBC was royally roasted on Twitter for its “squeaky clean” fairy tale.

CNBC’s flight from reality comes after the Fed’s former Chair, Janet Yellen, went straight from her position at the Fed to a multi-million dollar money grab at Wall Street banks, and the current Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, had upwards of $25 million of his personal wealth being managed by  BlackRock while handing the firm three no-bid contracts last year to buy up corporate bonds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) for the Fed, including BlackRock’s own ETFs. Oh yes, and the corporate bond bailout program was using American taxpayers’ money as a backstop for losses. The Fed also engaged in a court battle with the media for multiple years during and after the 2008 financial crash, refusing to release the details of the secret $29 trillion it funneled in cumulative loans to prop up insolvent banks on Wall Street. It gave no-bid contracts then as well and was criticized for doing so by an audit conducted by the Government Accountability Office. We could go on and on, and we have.

On Sunday, Better Markets sent a three-page, comprehensive letter to Fed Chairman Powell, making the compelling argument that the Fed should have instituted a trading ban (black out period) for all of 2020 for Fed officials and staff because of the Fed’s unprecedented interventions and market-moving announcements by the Fed that occurred throughout last year. The author of the letter, Better Markets President and CEO Dennis Kelleher, explained in the letter:

“For those officials to now claim that their trading conduct was permissible because their subordinates and direct reports approved their bosses’ trading and/or because the Fed’s so-called ‘code of conduct’ allowed such trading only reveals how grossly deficient their ethical standards and the code of conduct are. Moreover, rules designed for the ordinary course when typical pre-FOMC meeting ‘black out’ periods are appropriate are entirely inapplicable when a once-in-100-year pandemic hits and the Fed engages in innumerable extraordinary and historic actions in the financial markets, including unprecedented interventions in the corporate bond markets (including junk bond markets), muni markets, and virtually every other financial market.

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