the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Isn’t Just a $Trillion Crony-capitalism Slush Fund
According to economists Pam Martens and Russ Martens at wallstreetonparade.com, via counterpunch.com, March 27, 2020: ‘Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts’
“The text of the final bill was breathtaking in the breadth of new powers it bestowed on the Federal Reserve, including the Fed’s ability to conduct secret meetings with no minutes provided to the American people.”
The bill provides specific sums that can be made as loans or loan guarantees to passenger airlines ($25 billion), cargo airlines ($4 billion), and loans and loan guarantees to businesses necessary to national security ($17 billion). But when it comes to the money going to the Federal Reserve and then out the door to Wall Street, the legislation says only this:
“Not more than the sum of $454,000,000,000…shall be available to make loans and loan guarantees to, and other investments in, programs or facilities established by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the purpose of providing liquidity to the financial system….”
Why does the Federal Reserve need $454 billion from the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Wall Street when it has the power to create money out of thin air and has already dumped more than $9 trillion cumulatively in revolving loans to prop up Wall Street’s trading houses since September 17, 2019 – long before there was any diagnosis of coronavirus anywhere in the world.
The Fed needs that money to create more Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) — the same device used by Enron to hide its toxic debt off its balance sheet before it went belly up. With the taxpayers’ money taking a 10 percent stake in the various Wall Street bailout programs offered by the Fed, structured as SPVs, the Fed can keep these dark pools off its balance sheet while levering them up 10-fold.
White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged plans by the Fed to leverage the money at a White House press briefing this week, stating that the money the Treasury is handing over to the Fed would result in “$4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power.” [snip]
They describe the March 17, SPV, and a few used during the 2008-2010 financial meltdown to buy up Bear Sterns’ toxic debt and prop up AIG.
“Adding to the suspicions that the Fed doesn’t want to have to battle Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (sunshine law requests) again in court, as it did and lost during the last financial crisis to keep its outrageous $29 trillion bailout program to Wall Street a secret from the public, the Senate-approved stimulus bill repeals the sunshine law for the Fed’s meetings until the President says the coronavirus threat is over or the end of this year. That could make any FOIA lawsuits to unleash details of what’s going on next to impossible since it has been codified in a federal law. The bill states the following:
SEC. 4009. TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT IN THE SUNSHINE ACT RELIEF. (a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subsection 8 (b), notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System determines, in writing, that unusual and exigent circumstances exist, the Board may conduct meetings without regard to the requirements of section 552b of title 5, United States Code, during the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on the earlier of— (1) the date on which the national emergency concerning the novel coronavirus disease (COVID–19) outbreak declared by the President on March 13, 2020 under the National Emergencies Act (50 20 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) terminates; or (2) December 31, 2020.
This could mean that the American taxpayer may never learn why it went into debt to the tune of $454 billion if no records are being maintained.”
They finish by noting the mega-banks (Too Big to Fail again?) and the Federal Reserve aren’t just a threat to the soundness of the US banking system, but an unparalleled threat to the idea of democracy as we know it. I’d take issue with both those metrics, but never mind. They then write how hard it is to believe that Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley voted for the bill while knowing what they used to know from the last meltdown, while I’m not even mildly surprised.