Eliot Spitzer: The Federal Reserve is a Ponzi Scheme

The Raw Story

The Federal Reserve — the quasi-autonomous body that controls the US’s money supply — is a “Ponzi scheme” that created “bubble after bubble” in the US economy and needs to

be held accountable for its actions, says Eliot Spitzer, the former governor and attorney-general of New York.

In a wide-ranging discussion of the bank bailouts on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, host Dylan Ratigan described the process by which the Federal Reserve exchanged $13.9 trillion of bad bank debt for cash that it gave to the struggling banks.

Spitzer — who built a reputation as “the Sheriff of Wall Street” for his zealous prosecutions of corporate crime as New York’s attorney-general and then resigned as the state’s governor over revelations he had paid for prostitutes — seemed to agree with Ratigan that the bank bailout amounts to “America’s greatest theft and cover-up ever.”

Advocating in favor of a House bill to audit the Federal Reserve, Spitzer said: “The Federal Reserve has benefited for decades from the notion that it is quasi-autonomous, it’s supposed to be independent. Let me tell you a dirty secret: The Fed has done an absolutely disastrous job since [former Fed Chairman] Paul Volcker left.

“The reality is the Fed has blown it. Time and time again, they blew it. Bubble after bubble, they failed to understand what they were doing to the economy.

“The most poignant example for me is the AIG bailout, where they gave tens of billions of dollars that went right through — conduit payments — to the investment banks that are now solvent. We [taxpayers] didn’t get stock in those banks, they didn’t ask what was going on — this begs and cries out for hard, tough examination.

“You look at the governing structure of the New York [Federal Reserve], it was run by the very banks that got the money. This is a Ponzi scheme, an inside job. It is outrageous, it is time for Congress to say enough of this. And to give them more power now is crazy.

“The Fed needs to be examined carefully.”

I must differ with Mr Spitzer on one point.  I doubt the Fed “failed to understand what they were doing to the economy,” I think they knew exactly what they were doing — looting this country’s treasury.

Other than that, I agree completely.  The Federal Reserve needs an independent audit ASAP.  Do I have any illusions that it will happen?  Not many.

Be careful, Mr Spitzer…

The Most Powerful Financial Institution You’ve Never Heard Of – The New York Fed

This is an insightful article done by Eliot Spitzer – about who actually runs the New York Fed, what do they do, and whom does this person report to?  His article titled Fed Dread is in Slate and here are a few interesting excerpts:

Just as the millions in AIG bonuses obscured the much more significant issue of the $70 billion-plus in conduit payments authorized by the N.Y. Fed to AIG’s counterparties, the small issue of Friedman’s stock purchase raises very serious issues about the competence and composition of the Federal Reserve of New York, which is the most powerful financial institution most Americans know nothing about.

*snip*

Given the power of the N.Y. Fed, it is time to ask some very hard questions about its recent performance. The first question to ask is: Who is the New York Fed? Who exactly has been running the show? Yes, we all know that Tim Geithner was the president and CEO of the N.Y. Fed from 2003 until his ascension as treasury secretary. But who chose him for that position, and to whom did he report? The N.Y. Fed president reports to, and is chosen by, the Fed board of directors.

So who selected Geithner back in 2003? Well, the Fed board created a select committee to pick the CEO. This committee included none other than Hank Greenberg, then the chairman of AIG; John Whitehead, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs; Walter Shipley, a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, now JPMorgan Chase; and Pete Peterson, a former chairman of Lehman Bros. It was not a group of typical depositors worried about the security of their savings accounts but rather one whose interest was in preserving a capital structure and way of doing business that cried out for—but did not receive—harsh examination from the N.Y. Fed.

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Eliot Spitzer: Regulatory System Was Structurally Flawed

Question:  Where do you see the flaw having been?

Eliot Spitzer said ” the Regulatory system was structurally flawed, but that is not why this happen.  After the last round of scandals such as Enron, Tyco and we passed Sarbanes-Oxley, ah ha, we have solved the problem.  Now we have another set of scandals.  There are enough laws and regulations on the books for smart, aggressive regulators and prosecutors to make all the cases, what was missing was judgement.  You can’t legislate judgement.   You can’t regulate judgement.  Either the people who are regulators will walk into a bank and say your leverage is too great.  We are going to take actions to pull it back.”

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How to Ground The Street

How to Ground The Street
By Eliot L. Spitzer (published in the Washington Post)

[..] First, we must confront head-on the pervasive misunderstanding of what constitutes a “free market.” For long stretches of the past 30 years, too many Americans fell prey to the ideology that a free market requires nearly complete deregulation of banks and other financial institutions and a government with a hands-off approach to enforcement. “We can regulate ourselves,” the mantra went.

Those of us who raised red flags about this were scoffed at for failing to understand or even believe in “the market.” During my tenure as New York state attorney general, my colleagues and I sought to require investment banking analysts to provide their clients with unbiased recommendations, devoid of undisclosed and structural conflicts. But powerful voices with heavily vested interests accused us of meddling in the market.

When my office, along with the Department of Justice, warned that some of American International Group’s reinsurance transactions were little more than efforts to create the false impression of extra capital on the company’s balance sheet, we were jeered at for attacking one of the nation’s great insurance companies, which surely knew how to balance risk and reward.

And when the attorneys general of all 50 states sought to investigate subprime lending, believing that some lending practices might be toxic, we were blocked by a coalition of the major banks and the Bush administration, which invoked a rarely used statute to preempt the states’ ability to probe. The administration claimed that it had the situation under control and that our inquiry was unnecessary.

Time and again, whether at the state level, in Congress or at the Securities and Exchange Commission under Bill Donaldson, those who tried to enforce the basic principles that would allow the market to survive were told that the “invisible hand” of the market and self-regulation could handle the task alone.

The reality is that unregulated competition drives corporate behavior and risk-taking to unacceptable levels. This is simply one of the ways in which some market participants try to gain a competitive advantage. As one lawyer for a company charged with malfeasance stated in a meeting in my office (amazingly, this was intended as a winning defense): “You’re right about our behavior, but we’re not as bad as our competitors.” [..]

Go read it ALL!

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Spitzer’s shame is Wall Street’s gain

Truthdig, by Robert Scheer

Excerpts from the piece:

Tell me again: Why should we get all worked up over the revelation that the New York governor paid for sex? Will it bring back to life the eight U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq that same day in a war that makes no sense and has cost this nation trillions in future debt? Will it save those millions of homes that hardworking folks all over the country are losing because of financial industry shenanigans that Eliot Spitzer, as much as anyone, attempted to halt? Perhaps it provides some insight into why oil has risen to $108 a barrel, benefiting most of all the oil sheiks whom our taxpayer-supported military has kept in power?

The sad truth is that reporting on major corruption, say, the rationalizations of a president who has authorized torture, doesn’t cut it as a marketing bonanza. Just days before this grand exposé, the president vetoed a bill banning torture, and instead of being greeted with horrified disgust, the president’s deep denigration of this nation’s presumed ideals was met with a vast public yawn. Torture, unlike paid sex, doesn’t have legs as a news story.

The New York Times, which editorially has supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, whose vast White House experience clearly did not include corralling her husband, now editorializes contemptuously about Spitzer’s betrayal of the public trust as well as about his exploitation of his “ashen-faced” wife, who, like Hillary, stood by her man.

I wouldn’t have written this column had I not read The Wall Street Journal’s Page 1 news story headlined “Wall Street Cheers as Its Nemesis Plunges Into Crisis.” The article begins with the crowing statement “It’s Schadenfreude time on Wall Street” and goes on to quote those whom Spitzer went after over what should be considered the criminal greed that has predominated on Wall Street. It was Spitzer, as much as anyone, who sounded the alarm on the subprime mortgage crisis, the obscene payouts to CEOs who defrauded their shareholders and the other financial scandals that have brought the U.S. economy to its knees.

Go here to read the whole thing.