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Showing results for 'crypto' in content posted by richardmurray.
@Troy yeah I saw it on my sports check ... in defense of musk, he did say he wanted to make twitter profitable and change its nature as a firm. Considering what reddit is doing, and even MEta, it is clear all of these sites are figuring out how to exist in the next phase of the internet. @ProfD in the world of esocial media, users are currency, so you want a black owned website(s) to rival userbases from the likes of facebook/tiktok/youtube and the other most followed global websites or the likes of tumblr/weibo/line of nippon at the top of the regional websites. In either case three problems exist. 1)Gimmicks matter, Youtube was the first to have a functional wide user base video sharing system, not cheap and it didn't make money, so white financiers at that time, were willing to put money into it. Tiktok is the first wide short video functional system, again not cheap, and worked in china beforehand, and exported through investment by financers in china. Twitter was the first to focus on short text messages. Gimmicks matter. But photo sharing/video sharing/text sharing ala blogs have all been done. Crowdfunding like kickstarter or subscription like onlyfans has been done already. So what is really left? Potentially some form of Crypto but that has unforseen financial limits or challenges in the future and its backend is quite expensive. Augmented reality but none of the current systems are cheap and research and development is not cheap, it is very expensive. 2) Absent gimmicks to get people on board, you will need to invest in users. The reality of the internet is all the big websites paid for the big users. The presidents/sports stars/music stars/self help gurus all were given money to be on platforms, maybe the money wasn't grand for us but that is besides the point. The users that attracted common folk were paid. So that is money. 3) The black financial aristocracy throughout humanity tends to be financially arisky. Meaning, they like to invest in things that are safe to return. This is a consequence or prosequence depending on how you look at it, of black history. Black wealth rarely comes from legal cheats. In modern humanity , for the most part, Black folk have never been allowed or provided stolen land grabs or administrative abusive powers in government or various perfectly legal financial transaction abuses. So, we are used to getting money illegally which makes one considerate for the most part or through long labors which teaches one to be risk averse or luck which makes one cautious with a sudden jump,ala black lottery winners. Sequentially, it isn't in the heritage of the black financial aristocracy in modernity to take the risk that is needed to invest in an esocial website. You have to comprehend, most websites with a gimmick were not the first but for one reason or another had an advantage that causes populariity. This means all the investment in a new esocial website could lead to nothing. It is possible a bunch of black engineers+ black fiscal aristocrats get together try to make a website and fail and then whites try the same thing and succeed simply learning what went wrong with the prior attempt which is how many of the most popular websites made their difference. I end with another thought, i think more functional. Why can't the black fiscal elite + computer/electronic engineers support an already made website. Like AALBC perhaps?
@Pioneer1 well, yes, it doesn't seem wise to invest in a secret:) but the name comes from cryptography, literally the study of secrets, but functionally the study of private information in electronic devices. The hashtag and more importantly its utilization is what made crypto from a technical point of view and thus the name Cryptocoins. The reason why crypts are attached to graves is that in early christianity, when it was illegal or an impotent community, christian places had to be kept safe from authorities or others, thus crypts.
@Troy thanks for sharing your personal journey with crypto. I could had did similar. I just didn't. But I want to say the people I know offline who invested in crypto did just like yourself. They didn't put in rent money so to speak.
@Stefan Can you provide a link of when i ever said crypto was a viable investment for black people ? I will help you. The following is a link to all post from me with the word crypto in it, in aalbc. https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=crypto&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=or&sortby=newest The only truly credible proof is a private financial investment ledger which I am not privy too. Cause I repeat , I have never personally supported investing in crypto. And if I was privy to such information I doubt i would display it without the permission of the people it relates to. Now, I have never suggested I can provide irrefutable proof on anything. And regardless of my offline information, which I wouldn't convey online anyway, that isn't proof. I wanted you to help me write something. I don't recall I ever wrote anything like that. Here is one half of my proof , these are all the posts with frank james concerning me. Never once did I ask or desire you to help me write anything. You like proof, check yourself. https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=frank james&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=and&sortby=newest The following is the other half. I don't usually submit a private multilog, but your lies force this. If you notice, you started this private message, not me. I never asked you for... anything. I never wanted anything from you. And I refuted your view toward me. You kept suggesting your assisting me by communicating to me. Now, for your next positions Again, I never said ideal. I have never said offline or online that at any moment in the history of the usa or the european colonies that proceeded it that anything was ideal concerning black people, no plans no situation no ideas have ever been ideal for black people in the usa. What I said, and here is your proof https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=black political party&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=and&sortby=newest is the following I want you to quote when I said anything was ideal some of my earliest quotes, say nothing about ideal situations. And you can use the link above if you want more proof. I messaged in a public post that it is a Black party of Governance. And I never said one existed , I said one was needed, and hasn't been tried. And for the historical record, so many black men were lynched , black women raped, black towns burned completely, I don't comprehend why a Black party of governance would had made more of a negative difference, when even whites will admit that violence against black people after slavery in those early years was worse than during slavery. https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-495 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-496 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-498 https://aalbc.com/tc/topic/5787-black-party-to-governance-after-listening-share-your-thoughts/ https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/8/?tab=comments#comment-898 https://aalbc.com/tc/topic/9211-the-black-community-in-the-usa-need-an-alternative-to-black-officials-from-the-party-of-andrew-jackson-or-abraham-lincoln/ And lastly, your position of black ignorance of the past. The articles are all cited. And clearly show the idea that black people were ignorant to their condition in the past is a lie, or that they were disengaged. I repeat, black leadership made a choice and that choice led to the changes black leadership wanted in the black community but they had other options that I think were better and still today, the black community in the usa has elements it lacks which its leadership isn't supporting. https://aalbc.com/tc/profile/6477-richardmurray/?status=2346&type=status My only problem was I went against what I said and I replied to you. That was my mistake. I will not make it again.
@ProfD No I meant luck. Inside knowledge isn't luck, that is a cheat. Which always occurs . but I meant true luck. Some people made fortunes in crypto without inside knowledge Prof.
@ProfD yeah:) and the usa has seen this story many times: The gold rush or the oil rush in the late 1800s early 1900s, the original stock market boom in 1920s, the dot com boom, the crypto boom, the usa is the home of get rich quick schemes. the luckiest invest a lot before the stampede but get most out before the winter. the lucky invest the same way with affordable funds. while most, overwhelming majority, have bad timing or investment and lose money. I imagine extraterrestrial mining will have a similar fate.
@Stefan fair enough @Pioneer1 Well, I have to first say, I opposed getting involved in the cryptos and didn't like what I knew in terms of financial stability or long term financial quality, and I spoke against getting involved with crypto to others. But having said that I want to defend those who involved themselves in the crypto. I remember three articles: 1) one where a white guy in his 20s living downtown manhattan boasted of being a crypto millionaire. He was highlighted in the new york times. 2) another white guy admitted he put millions of dollars, his life savings into crypto, he is trying to suit to get it back but the case isn't in his favor. 3) the ftx wall street journal advertisement where a side of a page was bought. My point, lower rich whites was the fuel to this thing. Many of them lost money in it, but they fueled it, and those who got in early and sold before the fall made millions of dollars. Like the gold rush or oil rush, most lose money in these get rich quick schemes historically. But a minority always get lucky and are the stories people remember. ame with crypto. Yes, I advised against it. but I do comprehend why people were suckered in. Those who were purely lucky enough to gamble right in their timing made a lot of money.
SHAQ’S LEGAL TEAM FIRES BACK, WANTS FTX LAWSUIT DISMISSED Cedric 'BIG CED' ThorntonMay 10, 2023 https://www.blackenterprise.com/shaquille-oneal-ftx-lawsuit-legal-papers-shaq-moving-car/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_05/10/2023 After successfully evading attorneys trying to serve him papers in a lawsuit against FTX celebrity endorsers, Shaquille O’Neal was finally served the legal documents. But not so fast! According to lawyers representing O’Neal, he was never properly served, and because of this, the claims against the NBA Hall of Famer should be dismissed. According to Business Insider, in a recent court filing, Shaq’s attorneys said the legal paperwork was “tossed” in front of Shaq’s car as he drove away from his Georgia residence. They also claim the documents were left “on the road where they landed.” “Mr. O’Neal has not evaded service by failing to be at the residences where plaintiffs belatedly attempted service or by driving past strangers who approached his car.” This latest action by the TNT commentator has placed Adam Moskowitz, managing partner at The Moskowitz Law Firm, in disbelief. In a written statement to the media outlet, he says, “It is really disappointing and surreal. The video will show Mr. O’Neal finally being served, after many months of hiding, as he attempts to possibly injure the process server. We expected better from an officer of the law. Mr. O’Neal and his lawyers need to stop running and finally deal with the serious allegations.” In March, Moskowitz tweeted that his law firm finally got the paperwork to Shaq after he evaded them for months. He represents investors in the cryptocurrency company FTX who filed a class-action lawsuit against the retired basketball player and other celebrities who endorsed the firm. Earlier this year, The New York Post reported that Shaq was successfully avoiding being served the legal documents from the lawsuit. O’Neal is among several celebrities named in the case filed in December based on their involvement with the bankrupted cryptocurrency company FTX. Other stars, like NBA champion Stephen Curry, and NFL champion, Tom Brady, were also named in the lawsuit filed by an investor in the company, Edwin Garri. My Thoughts The following is a repeat but I find all financial questions must start with a simple truth. Most of the money in the USA comes from crimes towards others, usually legal crimes. Taking land/enslaving others/getting relatives to sign contracts/laws from elected officials were legal acts that led to all the fortunes in the usa. Yes, Black people have made little money but most black wealth in the usa, honestly enough, comes from civilian activity. Black people working for government, entertainers, athletes, employed in the private sector doing arduous is where more black money in the usa comes from. Shaq is simply part of the modern allowance of black wealthy people able to join white wealthy in such schemes. And in defense the lawsuit is against the multiracial set of entertainers not merely shaq. But for me the crypto scam is more statian of the usa than all the humanity talk and united talk and rest of the lies spurted every day. For Laughs, forgive me any abused women Rudy Giuliani 'demanded oral sex while on phone to Trump' https://www.yahoo.com/news/rudy-giuliani-accused-coercing-ex-033519722.html some excerpts:) "He often demanded oral sex while he took phone calls on speaker phone from high-profile friends and clients, including then-President Trump. "Giuliani told Ms Dunphy that he enjoyed engaging in this conduct while on the telephone because it made him 'feel like Bill Clinton'." "He made clear that satisfying his sexual demands - which came virtually anytime, anywhere - was an absolute requirement of her employment." "often demanded that she work naked, in a bikini, or in short shorts with an American flag on them that he bought for her." "took Viagra constantly” "worked under the constant threat that Giuliani might demand sex from her at any moment. "When they were apart, they would often work remotely via videoconference, and during those conferences Giuliani almost always asked her to remove her clothes on camera."
Michelle Yeoh and opportunity
Silicon Valley Bank and risk in fiscal capitalism
Tiktok and the war over who owns the internet
Maternity Deaths in the usa
Londonium, the roman name for london
The live streaming former elected official in japan
Michelle Yeoh with her historic trophy. She has roles lined up but no starring ones.Credit...Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times
After Her Oscar Win, Will Michelle Yeoh Get to Lead Again?
The historic victory should mean opportunities to star again, but too often after such milestones, Hollywood doesn’t find central roles for women of color.
By Kyle Buchanan
Published March 15, 2023
Updated March 17, 2023
We’re conditioned to think of an Oscar win as the endpoint to a journey. For some actors, holding that trophy is the realization of a dream held since childhood. For others, it’s the culmination of a well-deserved comeback.
But what happens after that win? In our eagerness to treat Oscar victories as career capstones, do we pay too little attention to the opportunities that are supposed to come afterward, yet often don’t?
I’ve been mulling that over since Sunday night, when Michelle Yeoh took the best actress Oscar for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” It happened at the 95th edition of the Academy Awards, the kind of big, tantalizing milestone that prods you to contemplate what has come before, and Yeoh’s win proved especially historic: The first Asian star to win best actress, she was greeted onstage by Halle Berry, the first Black woman to have pulled off that feat.
Asking Berry to announce the winner with Jessica Chastain (the previous year’s winner) was a gamble twice over. If Yeoh had lost to one of her four competitors — all of whom were white women — the ensuing photo op would have served as a stark example of a best-actress category that has been hostile to women of color for 95 years. And though Berry has returned to the Oscars several times since her 2002 win for “Monster’s Ball,” it has always been as a presenter and never as a nominee. To see her there is to be reminded that an Oscar win carries no guarantees when an actress is already liable to receive fewer scripts and career opportunities than her white counterparts.
So though Yeoh’s triumph was a long time coming, and I teared up as she addressed “all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight,” I also found myself worrying that it won’t be enough. The people in the Dolby Theater looked awfully proud of themselves after Yeoh’s win, but if they really want to do right by her, they have to keep writing lead roles for 60-year-old Asian actresses; otherwise, it’s just empty back-patting.
That, after all, was the real breakthrough of “Everything Everywhere,” Yeoh told me in October. We were at an awards event where, flanked by the “Everything Everywhere” directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, she reminisced about a Hollywood career that had mostly been filled with supporting parts.
“Look, I’ve been very blessed — I’ve continuously worked, and I’ve worked with great directors,” she said. “But for the first time, I’m No. 1 on the call sheet, thanks to these guys. I do meaningful roles, like in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Shang-Chi,’ but it was not my movie.”
Yeoh said she hoped that “Everything Everywhere” would not be a one-off, but more than a year after the film’s release, it’s unclear when, or if, she will have another lead film role. Coming projects — including the big-screen musical “Wicked,” the third “Avatar” movie, and the ensemble mystery “A Haunting in Venice” — all consign her to supporting parts. Though she is a headline-making superstar who led the hip studio A24 to its biggest ever worldwide hit, Yeoh is still too often treated as additional casting rather than the main event.
“Even you, Michelle Yeoh — on the top of the world — has struggled to find the right roles,” Kwan told her when we met in October. “I think that has taken a lot of people by surprise.”
Yeoh laughed ruefully. “I read scripts and it’s the guy who goes off on some big adventure — and he’s going off with my daughter!” she said. “I’m like, no, no.”
Few Hollywood movies are conceived with a woman over 50 as the central character, and the ones that are greenlit tend to offer those leads to a triumvirate of white women: Meryl if she’s older, Cate if she’s younger and Tilda if she’s weirder. To ensure that Yeoh can be first on the call sheet again, filmmakers must think more creatively, as Kwan and Scheinert did when they revamped “Everything Everywhere” for Yeoh after conceiving the film as a Jackie Chan vehicle. (And while they’re at it, can they find something juicy for last year’s best supporting actor, Troy Kotsur, similarly a boundary breaker — with “CODA,” he became the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar — who has been seen in little since?)
As momentum in the best-actress race swung from the “Tár” star Cate Blanchett to Yeoh over the last few weeks of awards season, I kept hearing a common refrain from voters: While Blanchett already had two Oscars and would surely be nominated again — she has eight nominations overall — this could be Yeoh’s only chance at gold. Though I understand the practicality of that argument, I hope those voters understand that their job isn’t done simply because of how they marked their ballot. Yeoh’s Sunday-night win is a big one, but the real victory will come when the lead roles that had long eluded her grasp start to become commonplace. If Hollywood can make that so, then instead of an endpoint, Yeoh’s historic Oscar will serve as a long-needed new beginning.
Kyle Buchanan is a pop culture reporter and serves as The Projectionist, the awards season columnist for The Times. He is the author of “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road.” @kylebuchanan
A bank official trying to reassure worried depositors in 1933. Credit...Associated Press
The Silicon Valley Bank Rescue Just Changed Capitalism
March 15, 2023
By Roger Lowenstein
Mr. Lowenstein is a financial journalist and author of “When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management.”
After a career of writing about bank failures, I wound up in the middle of one when my bank, Silicon Valley Bank, was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. On Saturday, when I tried to pay a bill online, I was greeted by this not very reassuring missive:
“This page will be unavailable throughout the weekend, but will resume next week in accordance with the guidance provided by the F.D.I.C.” I wasn’t truly worried; small depositors like me had long ago internalized the rule that it made no sense to worry about your bank’s condition, since the risks of failure were borne by the F.D.I.C.
Federal deposit insurance was introduced 90 years ago during the heart of the Great Depression. Ever since then, small depositors within the F.D.I.C. limit of coverage have slept soundly. Now, in light of the bank failures of the last few days and the F.D.I.C.’s extension of coverage, why will any depositor worry about risk? Having bailed out depositors of two banks in full, how will the government refuse others?
Established as part of the landmark Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation initially provided deposit insurance up to $2,500, supported by premiums from member banks. The act was written by two Democrats, Senator Carter Glass of Virginia and Representative Henry Steagall of Alabama. Steagall wanted to protect rural banks, which had many small depositors, from contagious panics.
In that era, banking “progressives” were centered in the heartland. During the 1920s, low farm prices led to waves of bank failures. Various states adopted insurance, but the statewide systems failed. Scores of bills for federal insurance were also introduced.
The idea was controversial. The president of the American Bankers Association protested that insuring deposits was “unsound, unscientific and dangerous.” It was opposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and by his Treasury secretary, William H. Woodin. Roosevelt opposed insurance because he thought it would be costly and also encourage bad behavior. If there was no need to mollify depositors, then banks would be free to take all sorts of risks. Today we call this “moral hazard.”
In 1933, an estimated 4,000 banks failed. Roosevelt took office in March, and declared a national bank holiday to prevent more failures. After a pointed debate, in June Roosevelt signed the Glass-Steagall Act.
The F.D.I.C. definitely prevented panics. From its creation until America’s entry into World War II, banks failed at a rate of close to 50 per year, not bad considering the economic depression in most of that period. And most of the banks that failed were small.
By the postwar period, deposit insurance seemed to have been created for an era that no longer existed. Bankers schooled in the 1930s tended toward prudence, and the industry was risk averse. The failure rate was exceptionally low. That all changed in the 1970s and ’80s. A combination of financial deregulation, revived animal spirits on Wall Street, and rising inflation led to financial instability and swings in interest rates. Voilà — bank failures returned.
In recent days, many have been reminded of 2008 and ’09 (165 banks failed in those two years alone). But for the most part, that crisis was not the result of depositors pulling funds. Bear Stearns, Lehman and others failed or sought bailouts because overnight funding from professional investors disappeared. It dried up for two good reasons: Banks like Lehman had too much leverage, and they were overexposed to a very weak and widely held asset, mortgage securities.
That was not the case with S.V.B.
This panic was a classic bank run, and it bears an echo to a different historical episode. In the 1980s, lenders known as savings and loans had invested their funds in long-term mortgages paying a fixed rate of interest. When the Federal Reserve, under pressure of rising inflation, began to jack up rates, S.&L.s had to pay higher rates to attract deposits.
The mismatch between the cost of their money and the (lower) rate that their mortgages earned sank the industry. Many switched to riskier assets to juice their returns, but as these investments soured, their problems worsened. Roughly a third, or about 1,000, S.&L.s failed. The F.D.I.C. was not (luckily for it) involved, because the S.&L.s were covered by a separate federal insurer. This agency, known as F.S.L.I.C., became insolvent, and the subsequent bailout was estimated to have cost taxpayers more than $100 billion.
Silicon Valley Bank’s failure looks a bit like an S.&L. crisis in miniature. Like its 1980s counterparts, S.V.B. grew extremely rapidly, had many assets parked in fixed, long-term bonds, and was done in when inflation caused the Fed to raise interest rates, raising the cost of keeping deposits.
Like the S.&L.s, Silicon Valley Bank was heavily concentrated. It catered to start-ups for whom an S.V.B. account was a matter of status. One tech savant who had recently changed jobs (aren’t they always switching jobs?) told me that in his experience, roughly two thirds of start-ups banked with S.V.B. (the bank claimed that nearly half the country’s venture capital-backed technology and life science companies were customers).
These crises provoked a widening of the federal safety net. Until the 1970s, the F.D.I.C. limit on deposit coverage increased only slowly. But in 1980, as banks came under pressure from soaring inflation, Congress raised the cap to $100,000, over the objections of the F.D.I.C. itself. In the 2008 crisis, the limit was raised to $250,000. And after the failure of IndyMac in 2008, the F.D.I.C., when possible, quietly protected uninsured depositors.
In the rescue of S.V.B. on Friday and of Signature Bank in New York two days later, the F.D.I.C. overtly ignored the cap and rescued all depositors, irrespective of size. This is a breathtaking leap.
Rescued seven-figure depositors were primarily venture companies steeped in the ideology of investing. The first plank of capitalism is that it entails risk. You cannot sensibly invest without assessing the chance for loss. If venture firms relied on groupthink rather than financial due diligence, that was their doing. In the case of Signature, which was exposed to the crypto industry, the rescue probably bailed out gamblers on speculative assets.
Federal officials have seized on a technicality to claim that it is not a bailout: Any required rescue payments will come from a special assessment on (private) banks, not the public. Prudent banks, which hedged their exposure to interest rates and suffered a competitive cost for doing so, will be hit with the added expense. Most likely, banks will pass along the rescue costs in the form of higher fees to consumers.
Strictly speaking, President Biden’s assurance that taxpayers are not on the line was accurate. However, in the sense that banking customers are a pretty big group, the “public” will be affected.
Moreover, the hazardous effect on behavior will be the same.
The regulators clearly failed to monitor S.V.B.’s unhealthy mismatch of assets and liabilities. Their job will be more difficult in the future, as risk taking on deposits has effectively become socialized. What if a bank opts to attract more funds by raising its interest rate on deposits? Can the regulators permit it? Wait a second, this is what all banks do.
Once you take risk out of a part of a bank’s operations, it is hard to let market principles govern the rest. We should expect, at a minimum, tougher standards on bank capital (as now exists at the biggest banks), more regulation and higher costs. As this newspaper’s DealBook newsletter has predicted, more loans will move away from F.D.I.C.-member institutions to so-called shadow banks such as hedge funds, outside the purview of regulators.
In past bank failures, uninsured depositors did not lose all — 10 to 15 percent was typical. And in this episode, there wasn’t any systemically bad asset à la mortgages in 2008. Given that the risk was contained, and that the Federal Reserve provides liquidity to banks facing runs (and provided emergency liquidity this week), allowing uninsured depositors of banks that fail to suffer a haircut might have been healthier for the system in the long run.
And the bailout does nothing to address the condition that fostered financial instability: inflation. It may even exacerbate it. This is not what Henry Steagall had in mind.
Roger Lowenstein is a financial journalist and the author of “Buffett” and, most recently, “Ways and Means:Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War.”
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, in the ByteDance offices in Singapore. The White House is hardening its stance toward the Chinese-owned video app.Credit...Ore Huiying for The New York Times
U.S. Pushes for TikTok Sale to Resolve National Security Concerns
The demand hardens the White House’s stance toward the popular video app, which is owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance.
By David McCabe and Cecilia Kang
March 15, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration wants TikTok’s Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban, TikTok said on Wednesday, as the White House hardens its stance toward resolving national security concerns about the popular video service.
The new demand to sell the app was delivered to TikTok in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter said. TikTok is owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance.
The move is a significant shift in the Biden administration’s position toward TikTok, which has been under scrutiny over fears that Beijing could request Americans’ data from the app. The White House had been trying to negotiate an agreement with TikTok that would apply new safeguards to its data and eliminate a need for ByteDance to sell its shares in the app.
But the demand for a sale — coupled with the White House’s support for legislation that would allow it to ban TikTok in the United States — hardens the administration’s approach. It harks back to the position of former President Donald J. Trump, who threatened to ban TikTok unless it was sold to an American company.
TikTok said it was weighing its options and was disappointed by the decision. The company said its security proposal, which involves storing Americans’ data in the United States, offered the best protection for users.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” Maureen Shanahan, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said in a statement.
TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. He is expected to face questions about the app’s ties to China, as well as concerns that it delivers harmful content to young people.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which has led the negotiations with TikTok. The Justice Department also declined to comment. The demand for a sale was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
TikTok, with 100 million U.S. users, is at the center of a battle between the Biden administration and the Chinese government over tech and economic leadership, as well as national security. President Biden has waged a broad campaign against China with enormous funding programs to increase domestic production of semiconductors, electric vehicles and lithium batteries. The administration has also banned Chinese telecommunications equipment and restricted U.S. exports of chip-manufacturing equipment to China.
The fight over TikTok began in 2020 when Mr. Trump said he would ban the app unless ByteDance sold its stake to an American company, a move recommended by a group of federal agencies known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.
The Trump administration eventually appeared to reach a deal for ByteDance to sell part of TikTok to Oracle, the U.S. cloud computing company, and Walmart. But the potential transaction never came to fruition.
CFIUS staff and TikTok continued to negotiate a deal that would allow the app to operate in America. TikTok submitted a major draft of an agreement — which TikTok has called Project Texas — in August. Under the proposal, the company said it would store data belonging to U.S. users on server computers run by Oracle inside the United States.
TikTok officials have not heard back from CFIUS officials since they submitted their proposal, the company said.
In that vacuum, concerns about the app have intensified. States, schools and Congress have enacted bans on TikTok. Last year, a company investigation found that Chinese-based employees of ByteDance had access to the data of U.S. TikTok users, including reporters.
Brendan Carr, a Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, said the administration’s new demand was a “good sign” that the White House was taking a harder line.
“There is bipartisan consensus that we can’t compromise on U.S. national security when it comes to TikTok, and so I hope the CFIUS review now quickly concludes in a manner that safeguards U.S. interests,” Mr. Carr said.
The White House last week backed a bipartisan Senate bill that would give it more power to deal with TikTok, including by banning the app. If it passed, the legislation would give the administration more leverage in its negotiations with the app and potentially allow it to force a sale.
Any effort to ban the app or force its sale could face a legal challenge. Federal courts ultimately ruled against Mr. Trump’s attempt to block the app from appearing in Apple’s and Google’s app stores. And the American Civil Liberties Union recently condemned legislation to ban the app, saying it raises concerns under the First Amendment.
David McCabe covers tech policy. He joined The Times from Axios in 2019.
Cecilia Kang covers technology and regulation and joined The Times in 2015. She is a co-author, along with Sheera Frenkel of The Times, of “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination.” @ceciliakang
Covid Worsened a Health Crisis Among Pregnant Women
In 2021, deaths of pregnant women soared by 40 percent in the United States, according to new government figures. Here’s how one family coped after the virus threatened a pregnant mother.
By Roni Caryn Rabin
March 16, 2023
KOKOMO, Ind. — Tammy Cunningham doesn’t remember the birth of her son. She was not quite seven months pregnant when she became acutely ill with Covid-19 in May 2021. By the time she was taken by helicopter to an Indianapolis hospital, she was coughing and gasping for breath.
The baby was not due for another 11 weeks, but Ms. Cunningham’s lungs were failing. The medical team, worried that neither she nor the fetus would survive so long as she was pregnant, asked her fiancé to authorize an emergency C-section.
“I asked, ‘Are they both going to make it?’” recalled Matt Cunningham. “And they said they couldn’t answer that.”
New government data suggest that scenes like this played out with shocking frequency in 2021, the second year of the pandemic.
The National Center for Health Statistics reported on Thursday that 1,205 pregnant women died in 2021, representing a 40 percent increase in maternal deaths compared with 2020, when there were 861 deaths, and a 60 percent increase compared with 2019, when there were 754.
The count includes deaths of women who were pregnant or had been pregnant within the last 42 days, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy. A separate report by the Government Accountability Office has cited Covid as a contributing factor in at least 400 maternal deaths in 2021, accounting for much of the increase.
Even before the pandemic, the United States had the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized nation. The coronavirus worsened an already dire situation, pushing the rate to 32.9 per 100,000 births in 2021 from 20.1 per 100,000 live births in 2019.
The racial disparities have been particularly acute. The maternal mortality rate among Black women rose to 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021, 2.6 times the rate among white women. From 2020 to 2021, mortality rates doubled among Native American and Alaska Native women who were pregnant or had given birth within the previous year, according to a study published on Thursday in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The deaths tell only part of the story. For each woman who died of a pregnancy-related complication, there were many others, like Ms. Cunningham, who experienced the kind of severe illness that leads to premature birth and can compromise the long-term health of both mother and child. Lost wages, medical bills and psychological trauma add to the strain.
Pregnancy leaves women uniquely vulnerable to infectious diseases like Covid. The heart, lungs and kidneys are all working harder during pregnancy. The immune system, while not exactly depressed, is retuned to accommodate the fetus.
Abdominal pressure reduces excess lung capacity. Blood clots more easily, a tendency amplified by Covid, raising the risk of dangerous blockages. The infection also appears to damage the placenta, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, and may increase the risk of a dangerous complication of pregnancy called pre-eclampsia.
Pregnant women with Covid face a sevenfold risk of dying compared with uninfected pregnant women, according to one large meta-analysis tracking unvaccinated people. The infection also makes it more likely that a woman will give birth prematurely and that the baby will require neonatal intensive care.
Fortunately, the current Omicron variant appears to be less virulent than the Delta variant, which surfaced in the summer of 2021, and more people have acquired immunity to the coronavirus by now. Preliminary figures suggest maternal deaths dropped to roughly prepandemic levels in 2022.
But pregnancy continues to be a factor that makes even young women uniquely vulnerable to severe illness. Ms. Cunningham, now 39, who was slightly overweight when she became pregnant, had just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes when she got sick.
“It’s something I talk to all my patients about,” said Dr. Torri Metz, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the University of Utah. “If they have some of these underlying medical conditions and they’re pregnant, both of which are high-risk categories, they have to be especially careful about putting themselves at risk of exposure to any kind of respiratory virus, because we know that pregnant people get sicker from those viruses.”
In the summer of 2021, scientists were somewhat unsure of the safety of mRNA vaccines during pregnancy; pregnant women had been excluded from the clinical trials, as they often are. It was not until August 2021 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with unambiguous guidance supporting vaccination for pregnant women.
Most of the pregnant women who died of Covid had not been vaccinated. These days, more than 70 percent of pregnant women have gotten Covid vaccines, but only about 20 percent have received the bivalent boosters.
“We know definitively that vaccination prevents severe disease and hospitalization and prevents poor maternal and infant outcomes,” said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, chief of the C.D.C.’s infant outcomes monitoring, research and prevention branch. “We have to keep emphasizing that point.”
Ms. Cunningham’s obstetrician had encouraged her to get the shots, but she vacillated. She was “almost there” when she suddenly started having unusually heavy nosebleeds that produced blood clots “the size of golf balls,” she said.
Ms. Cunningham was also feeling short of breath, but she ascribed that to the advancing pregnancy. (Many Covid symptoms can be missed because they resemble those normally occurring in pregnancy.)
A Covid test came back negative, and Ms. Cunningham was happy to return to her job. She had already lost wages after earlier pandemic furloughs at the auto parts plant where she worked. On May 3, 2021, shortly after clocking in, she turned to a friend at the plant and said, “I can’t breathe.”
By the time she arrived at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, she was in acute respiratory distress. Doctors diagnosed pneumonia and found patchy shadows in her lungs.
Her oxygen levels continued falling even after she was put on undiluted oxygen, and even after the baby was delivered.
“It was clear her lungs were extremely damaged and unable to work on their own,” said Dr. Omar Rahman, a critical care physician who treated Ms. Cunningham. Already on a ventilator, Ms. Cunningham was connected to a specialized heart-lung bypass machine.
Jennifer McGregor, a friend who visited Ms. Cunningham in the hospital, was shocked at how quickly her condition had deteriorated. “I can’t tell you how many bags were hanging there, and how many tubes were going into her body,” she said.
But over the next 10 days, Ms. Cunningham started to recover. Once she was weaned off the heart-lung machine, she discovered she had missed a major life event while under sedation: She had a son.
He was born 29 weeks and two days into the pregnancy, weighing three pounds.
Premature births declined slightly during the first year of the pandemic. But they rose sharply in 2021, the year of the Delta surge, reaching the highest rate since 2007.
Some 10.5 percent of all births were preterm that year, up from 10.1 percent in 2020, and from 10.2 percent in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
Though the Cunninghams’ baby, Calum, never tested positive for Covid, he was hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. He was on a breathing tube, and occasionally stopped breathing for seconds at a time.
Doctors worried that he was not gaining weight quickly enough — “failure to thrive,” they wrote in his chart. They worried about possible vision and hearing loss.
But after 66 days in the NICU, the Cunninghams were able to take Calum home. They learned how to use his feeding tube by practicing on a mannequin, and they prepared for the worst.
“From everything they told us, he was going to have developmental delays and be really behind,” Mr. Cunningham said.
After her discharge from the hospital, Ms. Cunningham was under strict orders to have a caretaker with her at all times and to rest. She didn’t return to work for seven months, after she finally secured her doctors’ approval.
Ms. Cunningham has three teenage daughters, and Mr. Cunningham has another daughter from a previous relationship. Money was tight. Friends dropped off groceries, and the landlord accepted late payments. But the Cunninghams received no government aid: They were even turned down for food stamps.
“We had never asked for assistance in our lives,” Ms. Cunningham said. “We were workers. We used to work seven days a week, eight-hour days, sometimes 12. But when the whole world shut down in 2020, we used up a lot of our savings, and then I got sick. We never got caught up.”
Though she is back to work at the plant, Ms. Cunningham has lingering symptoms, including migraines and short-term memory problems. She forgets doctor’s appointments and what she went to the store for. Recently she left her card in an A.T.M.
Many patients are so traumatized by their stays in intensive care units that they develop so-called post-intensive care syndrome. Ms. Cunningham has flashbacks and nightmares about being back in the hospital.
“I wake up feeling like I’m being smothered at the hospital, or that they’re killing my whole family,” she said. Recently she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Calum, however, has surprised everyone. Within months of coming home from the hospital, he was reaching developmental milestones on time. He started walking soon after his first birthday, and likes to chime in with “What’s up?” and “Uh-oh!”
He has been back to the hospital for viral infections, but his vocabulary and comprehension are superb, his father said. “If you ask if he wants a bath, he’ll take off all his clothes and meet you at the bath,” he said.
Louann Gross, who owns the day care that Calum attends, said he has a hearty appetite — often asking for “thirds” — and more than keeps up with his peers. She added, “I nicknamed him our ‘Superbaby.’”
Two skeletons that were found last year as part of an archaeological dig in northern England.Credit...West Yorkshire Joint Services
A 1,600-Year-Old Coffin May Shed Light on Roman Britain
A lead-lined coffin that was discovered in northern England could offer clues about the area’s transition from the Roman Empire to its Anglo-Saxon period.
By Jenny Gross
Published March 15, 2023
Updated March 16, 2023
LONDON — British archaeologists have uncovered an ancient coffin in a 1,600-year-old cemetery in northern England, a discovery, they said, that could shed light on the end of Roman Britain and the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
Discovered during an archaeological dig in Leeds, the lead-lined coffin contained the remains of an aristocratic woman who most likely lived in the fourth century.
Archaeologists also found the remains of more than 60 people who lived in the area more than a thousand years ago. Some bodies were buried on their backs with their legs straight out, in accordance with late-Roman customs. Others adhered to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, within which burials often included items such as clothes fasteners and knives.
The archaeological dig was part of a consultation process for a company applying for permission to build on the site. Archaeologists had previously uncovered late-Roman stone buildings and a number of structures in the Anglo-Saxon architectural style in the area.
“Very quickly, we started finding burials,” said David Hunter, the principal archaeologist of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, which works with the West Yorkshire planning authorities. “The potential is there to give us much better information on how this transition from the Roman population to Anglo-Saxon England happened.”
Mr. Hunter said that the presence of both late-Roman and early-Anglo Saxon people on the same burial site was unusual. Whether the use of the graveyard had overlapped between the two eras would determine the significance of the find, he added.
The Roman occupation of Britain, from 43 A.D. to around 410, transformed the culture, as settlers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa arrived. Around the third century, market towns and villages were established, and Roman objects became more common even in poor, rural areas, according to English Heritage, which manages prehistoric sites, medieval castles and Roman forts in England.
After the Romans retreated from Britain, society became much more insular and parochial, Mr. Hunter said. A lot is unknown about the period, including how the area transitioned from being part of the Roman Empire in the early fifth century to part of the English nation in the 10th.
“Different people have different theories as to how this could have happened: It could’ve happened by cooperation, it could’ve happened by aggression,” he said.
These findings may add to knowledge about an era that is largely undocumented, Mr. Hunter said. Radiocarbon dating could help determine exactly when the remains were buried. Chemical tests could reveal the diets and ancestry of the people.
Researchers would also like to understand why there were a number of instances in which two or three people were buried in the same grave, as well as why there were multiple burial styles in the same cemetery.
Mr. Hunter said that the two different burial styles could be for reasons of practicality; Since the area was already recognized as a burial place by Roman Britons, it would have been easier for subsequent groups of people to have used the same site.
While the discovery was made in February 2022, the findings were only announced on Monday, in order to keep the site safe and conduct tests on some of the findings, the Leeds City Council said in a statement. The discovery of a lead-lined coffin is rare, with only a few hundred having been discovered in Britain, said Kylie Buxton, on-site supervisor for the excavations.
The council has not released the exact location of the dig. After the analysis is completed, the lead coffin may be displayed at the Leeds City Museum, in an exhibition on death and burial customs, officials said.
A correction was made on March 16, 2023: An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to English Heritage. The organization manages prehistoric sites, medieval castles and Roman forts in England, not in the rest of Britain. (Other groups manage such sites in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.)
When we learn of a mistake, we acknowledge it with a correction. If you spot an error, please let us know at email@example.com.Learn more
Jenny Gross is a general assignment reporter. Before joining The Times, she covered British politics for The Wall Street Journal. @jggross
Mr. Higashitani, seen on a computer monitor, celebrating after winning his election to a seat in the House of Councillors in July 2022.Credit...Kyodo News, via Getty Images
How to Get Kicked Out of Parliament: Livestream Instead of Legislating
The upper house of Japan’s Parliament almost unanimously voted to expel an eccentric YouTuber who won a seat last year. The reason: He never showed up for work.
By Tiffany May and Hisako Ueno
March 15, 2023
Since he was elected to Japan’s Parliament in July, Yoshikazu Higashitani has spread celebrity gossip on his YouTube channel, explored the sights of Dubai and handed out snacks to children displaced by an earthquake in Turkey.
One thing he has not done is show up for work.
On Wednesday, he was expelled from Japan’s upper house of Parliament, the House of Councillors, making him the first elected lawmaker in the country to be removed from office in more than seven decades.
Before his short-lived career as a lawmaker, Mr. Higashitani, 51, was well-known for his lengthy livestreams during which he dished out salacious celebrity gossip under the alias “GaaSyy.” He ran for Parliament from Dubai, claiming that he could not return to Japan because the police were investigating him for fraud. While in self-imposed exile, he campaigned and promised to expose dozens of celebrity scandals.
To the surprise of many, he won — running as the candidate of the single-issue NHK Party, which is dedicated to making changes to how Japan’s national broadcaster is funded. But he has missed every session in the House of Councillors since then.
In the meantime, he has maintained diverse interests, balancing his lengthy rants about celebrities with breezy posts about touring La Sagrada Familia in Spain and playing water sports in Thailand, using the hashtag “#endlesssummer.” Last week, he said he traveled to Turkey, and in videos posted online was seen distributing snacks to children in areas devastated by a February earthquake, in front of a camera crew.
The founder of the NHK Party, Takashi Tachibana, told reporters in January that the police had asked Mr. Higashitani, a fellow party member, to cooperate with investigations related to accusations of defamatory comments and threats he had made in his videos, and that the YouTuber would return to the country in March. (The police declined to comment.)
In February, the House of Councillors demanded that Mr. Higashitani apologize in an open session, a disciplinary act second only to expulsion. He had agreed to do so, only to backtrack on that decision last week, saying that he did not feel safe enough to return, despite having immunity from arrest as a lawmaker.
Mr. Tachibana said last Wednesday that he would step down as head of the party. “As party leader, I will take responsibility for GaaSyy’s failure to keep his promise that he would come back to the upper house to make an apology,” Mr. Tachibana said at a news conference.
He added that the party would be renamed “Seijika Joshi 48 To,” which translates to Politician Girls 48 Party, and that the actress Ayaka Otsu would replace him. Mr. Tachibana said that the party would broaden its goals and would also recruit only female candidates to run for upcoming local elections.
Koichi Nakano, a professor of comparative politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, said that the party’s rebranding was a response to a movement to increase the number of female candidates in elections.
“NHK Party must have thought that they can poke fun at that in a right-wing, misogynist way, by treating female candidates as if they were teen pop idols like AKB48,” Professor Nakano wrote in an email, referring to a popular female pop group.
He added that Mr. Higashitani’s notoriety and what he characterized as the populist appeal of his party got him elected. “It’s unusual, to a degree, but Japan has had its own share of media-celebrities who are complete amateurs of politics, including comedians, actors and pop singers, though none was as unserious as GaaSyy,” Professor Nakano added.
Jeff Kingston, a professor of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus, wrote in an email: “The NHK party, despite rebranding, has achieved little except to register discontent with the establishment and unhappiness with the mandatory fees every household has to pay, even if they don’t watch NHK.”
Muneo Suzuki, who heads a key disciplinary committee in Parliament, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Higashitani had already been given ample time to correct his behavior, but that he had ultimately undermined the electoral process. “GaaSyy doesn’t understand what democracy means in principle,” he said.
Dozens of protesters, mostly members of the Seijika Joshi 48 Party, rallied in front of the legislature before lawmakers cast votes over whether to expel Mr. Higashitani. Among the 236 lawmakers who attended the session, all but one voted in favor of his ouster.
Mr. Higashitani could not be immediately reached for comment, but in a statement read on the House floor by Satoshi Hamada, a fellow lawmaker, Mr. Higashitani said that his removal was unjust.
“There will continue to be people like me running for office. If you do not want the world you have made to be destroyed, please exclude those people from candidacy from the very beginning,” he wrote in the statement. “I wish the same punishment upon lawmakers who leave their seats immediately after propping up their nameplates and ones who are asleep and don’t show up like myself.”
Tiffany May covers news from Asia. She joined The Times in 2017. @nytmay
Hisako Ueno has been reporting on Japanese politics, business, gender, labor and culture for The Times since 2012. She previously worked for the Tokyo bureau of The Los Angeles Times from 1999 to 2009. @hudidi1
The two questions that come to my mind are: 1) what will the USA financial scenario be absent the federal reserve? Take out its powers of printing money + interest rate control , and what would the USA economy be. Without interest rate control how will the value of financial transactions or assets be decided? who will decide them? Can a firm suggest what value its transactions have in the market place without other firms objecting? LEt alone who or what will dictate the evaluation of financial transactions, from crypto to bonds, to future, to stocks. What will prevent someone from saying a stock doesn't have that kind of value? In my mind regulation will have to occur but regulation comes with a huge problem too. Regulation or deregulation essentially make financial winners or losers. They are market manipulators of the highest order. Marijuana is a prime example. The marijuana industry has been regulated since the war on drugs completely. From illegal to legal it has been regulated. When illegal it meant any who performed financial transactions risked jail and a criminal labeling that will blockade legal activity in many fields. When legal , the various registrations have meant those without the money to have an initial investment are blockaded from operating in the legal field. Even the fact that the federal government of the usa provided a legal environment while states differed in their time lines to act in the legal industry was influential in market management. New York state or city that imprisoned more than any other for illegal marijuana transactions was the slowest to act on legal marijuana industry, and this is with more blacks than most other state in the union. and that leads to my second question 2) When will the black financial elite, the black one percent be taken to task for their activities as it pertains to the betterment of the black community ? I argue that black people herded and guided black people into participating in financially negative transactions , suggesting falsely or criminally that black people who spoke against them, like myself, were holding the black community back or not playing the game.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/age-of-easy-money/ TRANSCRIPT MALE NEWSREADER: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaking at an annual economic summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. MALE VOICE: Yep, we’re on with him. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Powell and his colleagues at the Fed are under pressure to curb inflation. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Powell could take a harder line, or he could simply play his cards close to the vest. MALE VOICE: Here we go. He’s on the move. MALE NEWSREADER: It’s going to be a tough crowd at Jackson Hole because of the fact that he made a call simply last year that didn’t age well. Now— CHRISTOPHER LEONARD, Author, The Lords of Easy Money: Every year the Federal Reserve holds an economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in August. It's sort of like the Oscars of the Fed world. And media comes from all around the world and the Fed chairman gives a keynote speech that gets all the attention. MALE NEWSREADER: All eyes on Jackson Hole this morning. MALE NEWSREADER: He’s giving a speech as central banker to the world. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN, Chief economic advisor, Allianz: So Jackson Hole plays a very important role in the central bank community, because you're basically bringing the central bankers of the world and economists to a place to discuss critical issues. So people looked to Jackson Hole to see, is there a reset in monetary policy? FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: The economy has slowed. We’re likely in recession and perhaps going deeper into it. Are they going to keep taking us down this road? Are they going to keep slamming the brakes on rates? Raising 75 basis points until we've got job cuts across the corporate sector? RAGHURAM RAJAN, Fmr. head, Indian Central Bank: Central bankers were saviors post-global financial crisis. This time it was different. The mood was more "for the first time, we're failing." FEMALE REPORTER: Is Powell ready to risk recession? This is the question. MALE SPEAKER: Chair Powell, the floor is yours. Please come to the podium. NOURIEL ROUBINI, Economist: Jackson Hole in 2022 was quite important. JEROME POWELL: Thank you, Peter, and good morning, everyone. NOURIEL ROUBINI: The market were feeling in the summer that maybe the Fed would have a pivot, would stop raising rates and maybe start cutting them. MALE INVESTMENT ADVISER: The market started talking about a Fed pivot. FEMALE REPORTER: —market, so maybe they’ll just ease up a bit. MALE INVESTMENT STRATEGIST: The market is, I think, anticipating that they’re going to blink. JEROME POWELL: Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth. NOURIEL ROUBINI: And what Powell told them in Jackson Hole, he said, "Listen, inflation is still way too high, it's not peaking, it's not going to fall fast enough. And if you guys think that we're going to stop raising rates, or even cutting them, you are a bit delusional." JEROME POWELL: The U.S. economy is clearly slowing from the historically high growth rates of 2021. NEEL KASHKARI, Pres. & CEO, Fed. Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: I think the chair’s objective at Jackson Hole was to deliver a very concise message that, "We know what our job is: Our job is to get inflation back down to 2%, and we're going to do what we need to do to get it back down to 2%." JEROME POWELL: While higher interest rates, slower growth and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain. NEEL KASHKARI: His remarks were remarkably brief for a Jackson Hole speech, and that was by design to deliver a very direct message. And I think his message was very effective. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Pain. LARRY SUMMERS: Pain. MALE NEWSREADER: Pain. MALE NEWSREADER: Some big— MALE NEWSREADER: —pain ahead. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Pain for American families. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MA: What he calls “some pain” means putting people out of work. DION RABOUIN, The Wall Street Journal: Jay Powell is not messing around. And that is when the markets reacts and says, “Oh, my God. Things are going to change.” JEROME POWELL: Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: If the Fed puts us into a higher interest rate world, it will change everything. The financial system globally has been built around extremely low, ultralow interest rates for 10 years. All of these of things that got built up over the last decade are going to have to be dismantled or changed. JEROME POWELL: We will keep at it until we're confident the job is done. Thank you. NOURIEL ROUBINI: We lived in a bubble, in a dream, and this dream in a bubble is bursting. FEMALE NEWSREADER: —as rising interest rates in the U.S. and many other countries are intensifying fears of a recession. JAMES JACOBY: Ever since that Fed meeting at Jackson Hole, we’ve been getting mixed signals about the economy. Is it bound for recession, or is it in a booming recovery? MALE NEWSREADER: An economy with such a strong labor market is not in a recession. JAMES JACOBY: At the center of the debate are the actions of the Federal Reserve, which seems to have our economic fate in its hands. MALE NEWSREADER: The Fed is trying to stop inflation. But is the medicine worse than the disease? JAMES JACOBY: Lately, it’s been raising interest rates at the fastest pace in decades, trying to tamp down on inflation. But for most of the past decade, the Fed was keeping interest rates incredibly low, trying to stimulate the economy, creating what has been called an age of easy money. MALE NEWSREADER: Tonight, the economic alarms are blaring. JAMES JACOBY: For the past two years, I’ve been investigating the Fed and the far-reaching consequences of its easy money policies. THOMAS HOENIG, Pres., Fed. Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 1991-2011: I'm game if you are. JAMES JACOBY: I’m definitely game. I’ve been speaking to current and former Fed officials. Is that really the first time you’re in a suit since COVID? RICHARD W. FISHER, Pres., Fed. Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2005-15: From the waist down. SHEILA BAIR, Chair, FDIC, 2006-11: Can I take my mask off? JAMES JACOBY: Titans of finance. You were thinking what? JIM CHANOS, Founder, Kynikos Associates: I was thinking this is the craziest market I've seen in 40 years. JAMES JACOBY: Those who follow the decision making— CHARLES DUHIGG, The New York Times: None of us think about this because it’s boring, but it’s everything. It touches everything. JAMES JACOBY: —and those who have been hit the hardest by it. FEMALE SPEAKER: It’s like choosing between your rent and your food. JOHN ADEL, Client, Money Management Intl.: They do not understand what everybody's going through. CHAPTER ONE An Emergency Measure JAMES JACOBY: The Fed's easy money experiment traces back to pivotal decisions made over a decade ago in 2008— FEMALE REPORTER: Right now, breaking news here: Stocks all around the world are tanking because— JAMES JACOBY: —when investors, speculators and Wall Street bankers nearly brought down the global economy. MALE FLOOR TRADER: Right? Get on the train, otherwise it's going to leave the station without you. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: —with Wall Street shaken to its very foundation today. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We are in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the federal government is responding with decisive action. FEMALE REPORTER: The Bush administration— JAMES JACOBY: The president and Congress spent hundreds of billions of dollars to restart the economy, but at the center of the rescue effort was the Federal Reserve. Richard Fisher was the head of the Fed’s bank in Dallas at the time. RICHARD W. FISHER, Pres., Fed. Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2005-15: What the Federal Reserve does is provide the blood supply for the body of our capitalist economy. And what happened in 2008 is all the veins and the capillaries and the arteries collapsed. So every financial function had failed. It had collapsed, and we had to restore them. MALE NEWSREADER: We’re at the precipice of the apocalypse. MALE NEWSREADER: We’re on the edge of the abyss. SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations. MALE NEWSREADER: There was nothing but panic yesterday. There's been panic all week. MALE NEWSREADER: The bottom to America’s financial woes appear nowhere in sight. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The banks are still not lending to one another, and as long as that’s not happening, the system remains stuck and imperiled. JAMES JACOBY: In normal times the Fed’s job is to promote employment and keep inflation in check, primarily by raising and lowering short-term interest rates, making borrowing cheaper or more expensive. But amid the crisis, Fed officials decided to do something they hadn’t done in half a century: They began dropping rates, eventually to almost zero. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Those massive rate cuts have not been stimulating the economy, so it's the other things— JAMES JACOBY: With Americans still suffering and the banking system on the verge of collapse, Fed officials there at the time told me they felt compelled to go even further. RICHARD W. FISHER: And then the question was, "What else can we do?" And the committee came up with the idea of quantitative easing. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Quantitative easing. What in the world is it that? FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Quantitative easing. That’s just a Greek term to a lot of people. FEMALE NEWSREADER: A lot of people want to know what they’re going to say about what we call quantitative easing. JAMES JACOBY: Quantitative easing, or QE, was championed by Ben Bernanke, then the Fed chairman. BEN BERNANKE: The Federal Reserve is committed to using all available tools to stimulate economic activity and to improve financial market functioning. JAMES JACOBY: QE was an experimental way for the Fed to inject money into the financial system and lower long-term interest rates. RICHARD W. FISHER: It's almost like alchemy. You can create money out of thin air if you're at the central bank. So creating more money puts more money in the banking system, put more money out there for the economy to take it and put it to work and to grow and to restore itself. BEN BERNANKE: The Federal Reserve has been putting the pedal to the metal. So we're doing everything we can to support the economy, and we hope that that's going to get us going next year sometime. JAMES JACOBY: Their hope was that the new money would help shore up the failing banks and get them lending again. It would become the heart of their easy money policies. THOMAS HOENIG: It was an emergency measure. I mean, the economy was imploding. No one would lend to anyone. There was no ability to borrow. The economy was going to be a stop dead. JAMES JACOBY: Thomas Hoenig was the president of the Kansas City Fed and initially supported the quantitative easing plan. THOMAS HOENIG: These are trying times, and as you just heard, there is much to be done as we try and work through this financial crisis. When you have a crisis, that's when you want your central bank to be willing to put cash in, and so to avoid a major depression, where everything just stops, you provide the cash. So I agreed with, yes, we need to provide this money on the expectation that once we got through the crisis, we would go back to a more normal policy. ANDREW HUSZAR, Fed. Reserve Bank of NY, 2001-11: Again, you can tell me if I’m giving too long answers or what have you. JAMES JACOBY: The task of managing most of the program went to Andrew Huszar, a former Fed official who was then working on Wall Street. ANDREW HUSZAR: I realized very quickly what I was being asked. I was being asked if I would manage the largest financial markets intervention by a government in world history. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed began creating hundreds of billions of dollars to buy things like mortgage-backed securities and government bonds from banks and financial institutions. ANDREW HUSZAR: This was a $5 trillion market. This was the largest private bond market in the world, and the Fed had never once before bought a mortgage bond in its history. And basically in the fall of 2008, it announced that it would buy basically 25% of the entire market within 15 months. JAMES JACOBY: And that was your job to do that purchasing? ANDREW HUSZAR: That was my job, to think about how to get the program done. SARAH BLOOM RASKIN, Fed. Reserve Board of Governors, 2010-14: Many of these tools had not been tried before. They were definitely like "break the glass" kind of tools. Like, what are we going to do in order to restart the economy here? JAMES JACOBY: Sarah Bloom Raskin joined the board of governors while QE was already underway. SARAH BLOOM RASKIN: As QE began, it showed great promise. We started to see that people's sense of economic well-being was ticking up somewhat. People were finding jobs. People were finding homes. The foreclosure rate had slowed. So there was a sense that something was working. Now how it was working was a different question altogether. MALE NYSE FLOOR TRADER: Things are not as bad. We’re getting better. And things will get better. There’s no question about it. SARAH BLOOM RASKIN: So view it as an experimental drug that actually is doing some good things, but nobody quite knows how or why at the moment. JAMES JACOBY: The financial sector had begun to stabilize, but there were early signs that not everything would go according to plan. MALE NEWSREADER: The banking industry fat cats still aren't lending money. MALE NEWSREADER: Well, the big banks aren’t lending. JAMES JACOBY: Despite the money the Fed was pouring into the banks, they still weren’t back to lending. MALE SPEAKER: The government's not doing anything to help small business, and the banks are sitting on their butts and they’re still not lending money. JAMES JACOBY: Instead, they were taking a lot of the money and investing it themselves. MALE ECONOMIST: The banking sector is broken. It is not lending to small business. Somebody’s got to get the money there. The government is the actor in this case. JAMES JACOBY: You were injecting money into the banks, more than a trillion dollars worth at that point, and what were the banks doing with that money? ANDREW HUSZAR: The Fed's idea was the banks would be taking that money and lending it, effectively, at lower interest rates. What the banks were doing instead was that they were just investing in the same bonds that the Fed was buying. They were taking that money and they were turning around and buying the same mortgage-backed securities and other bonds. Why? Because the Fed had made very clear that its goal was to drive up the price of financial assets. And so Wall Street turned around and thought, "Why would I go through the effort of making a mortgage when I can just press a button and buy millions, if not billions, dollars of bonds and ride that trade, as the price of those assets are very consciously being inflated by the Fed?" JAMES JACOBY: Huszar grew increasingly disappointed by the program and would eventually leave in 2011. ANDREW HUSZAR: I hadn't seen the benefits accrue to the average American, and I wasn't seeing larger structural reform in favor of the average American. I began to question whether it was my role any more to be at the Fed. JAMES JACOBY: Were you seeing that the banks were gaming the Fed? That they were in some ways taking advantage of this program that was intended to help the real economy? ANDREW HUSZAR: I think you could say they were gaming the Fed, or I think you could just say that they have a different mind, and they're not part of the Fed, and they have their own interests. You know, it's sort of like the Aesop's fable of the scorpion and the frog. On some level, it's in their nature to do what's in their nature, and their nature is to make the most money possible in the quickest way possible. And just because the Fed wanted to do something, and wanted to help the average American, it doesn't necessarily mean that Wall Street has the same interests. CHAPTER TWO Volatility and Anger PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Twenty billion dollars worth of bonuses. It is shameful. MALE NEWSREADER: Are these executives greedy or stupid? Personally, I am stumped for an alternative word. BARACK OBAMA: There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now is not that time. MALE VOICE: It’s socialism for the rich. JAMES JACOBY: By the end of 2009 the banks were back to making money, and paying themselves record bonuses, while the real economy lagged. MALE ECONOMIST: Washington loaned them money at cut rates, so our thanks is they’re going to stuff it in their pockets even as many Americans are suffering from unemployment and reduced wages. MALE VOICE: People absolutely ought to be outraged. I mean, these guys just don’t get it. JAMES JACOBY: The inflation rate was well below the Fed’s target of 2%, signaling weak demand. Unemployment had shot up, and foreclosures were continuing across the country. MALE PROTESTER: Banks got bailed out, we got sold out! SARAH BLOOM RASKIN: People had lost homes. Household net worth had plummeted. It really wasn't an inclusive recovery. It was a recovery that benefited only portions of the economy. FEMALE PROTESTER: I’m here to support all of the people who want their taxpayer dollars back, me included. SARAH BLOOM RASKIN: There was a sense that the banking sector, the financial sector benefited primarily, and not so much everybody else. And that had a political taste to it which became the basis, I think, for a lot of anger, and really set the stage for the next chapter in our country's political history. MALE PROTESTER: We have you surrounded. Come out with the Constitution intact, you usurpers! FEMALE REPORTER: Demonstrators opposed to what they call out-of-control government spending begin a series of rallies this afternoon. JAMES JACOBY: That resentment helped give rise to the Tea Party— PROTESTERS [singing]: We ain’t going away! JAMES JACOBY: —fueled by the belief that government spending and bailouts had been out of control and ordinary people weren’t seeing any benefits. MALE PROTESTER: Hedge fund bankers, Bear Stearns—they didn’t build this country. Workers like us did. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: The only political constant in 2010 was volatility and anger. FEMALE PROTESTER: Hell no, we won’t go! FEMALE PROTESTER: Nobama, Nobama! CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: And there was a real loss of faith in the political and economic system. And that manifests as the Tea Party. SARAH PALIN: Tea Party Americans, you’re winning! You’re winning! JAMES JACOBY: They were especially outraged by the $800 billion stimulus package that President Obama and Congress had passed in 2009 to get the economy going again. PROTESTERS [chanting]: Can you hear us now? Can you hear us now? CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: The entire principle of the Tea Party, the entire platform was to stop Washington, D.C., from intervening. MALE PROTESTER: This is just the beginning. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: It was an agenda of "no." SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KY: We’ve come to take our government back. JAMES JACOBY: As Republicans swept the 2010 midterm elections, aided by the Tea Party’s growing influence— SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WI: We need to restore fiscal sanity to this nation. JAMES JACOBY: —the prospects for Congress and the White House working together to pass another stimulus bill were growing dim. REP. CHIP CRAVAACK, (R) MN: Let this serve as a warning to Congress: We don’t work for you, you work for us. JAMES JACOBY: Into the political vacuum stepped the Federal Reserve. Was it palpable that the Fed was sort of the only game in town here? RICHARD W. FISHER: Yes. The fact was we were carrying the load all by ourselves. CHAPTER THREE Unintended Consequences FEMALE NEWSREADER: Resurgent Republicans racked up huge gains Tuesday. MALE REPORTER: A devastating night for the Democrats that fundamentally changes American politics. BARACK OBAMA: People are frustrated, they're deeply frustrated, with the pace of our economic recovery. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed wasted no time. The day after the midterm elections, they took a dramatic step: another round of QE, not just to stabilize the economy, but to boost it. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: What happened on Nov. 3, 2010, represents a step change in the Fed’s role in our economy, when the Fed changes from a central bank that manages the currency to the primary engine of economic growth in America. Whatever your philosophy is—small government, limited government, big government that hires people to go out and build roads to stimulate growth—whatever it is, it's supposed to be our democratic institutions that do that, not the central bank. JAMES JACOBY: You're basically saying that because our democratic institutions are so paralyzed and there's so much political dysfunction, that we as a society, we as a country have become overly reliant on the Fed to run things? CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: Totally. Economic affairs. I think one of the most important things to think about is that our democratic institutions in America are becoming less and less capable and less and less effective. I think that point is almost undeniable. So what we're doing in this country is we're relying on our nondemocratic institutions to take up the burden, like the central bank in economic affairs. Which leads you to the surreal place where we are today, where this committee of 12 people is making these decisions that could very well plunge our economy into a deep, deep, deep recession and cause financial crisis. JAMES JACOBY: In the early days of the easy money experiment, Fed Chair Bernanke promoted his plan saying it would create a wealth effect—that boosting the stock market would make people feel wealthier and start spending again. MALE REPORTER: There’s no doubt that there is quite a bit of opposition. JAMES JACOBY: But he was met with some skepticism and concern that the decision risked causing runaway inflation. He went on television to push back on the critics. BEN BERNANKE: What they're doing is they’re looking at some of the risks and uncertainties associated with doing this policy action. What I think they’re not doing is looking at the risk of not acting. FEMALE NEWSREADER: QE2 has become a punching bag for everyone from top-tier economists to Sarah Palin. JAMES JACOBY: Inside the Fed itself, Thomas Hoenig was sounding alarms about the long-term consequences. FEMALE REPORTER: You are the one member of the Fed that has been critical of 0% interest rates. Why? JAMES JACOBY: Over the course of 2010 he argued against Bernanke’s plan at every meeting and cast the lone dissenting vote eight times in a row. THOMAS HOENIG: It was difficult, but this was fundamental. And so I really did think that it was a wrong policy, and I didn't want to be associated with it, so I voted no. JAMES JACOBY: Did you think it was a radical policy? THOMAS HOENIG: I most certainly did think it was a radical policy, and I think most people did. It was meant to be radical. And so my concern was we had come through a crisis and we provided the liquidity necessary to come through it and we were on the other side of that crisis. The economy was recovering. And yet we were engaging in a deliberate effort to have easy money. JAMES JACOBY: What were you most concerned about, if easy money continued? THOMAS HOENIG: I thought that it was unnecessary to do. I thought it brought new dangers. When you keep interest rates at zero and keep pumping money into the economy, you favor the debtor and you penalize the saver. You are saving for nothing. I mean, you get nothing for that. And if you are a borrower, well, life is good. You borrow for nearly nothing. And so you actually encourage speculation. You encourage additional risk-taking. In fact, that's one of the reasons they did quantitative easing, was to encourage greater risk-taking. CHAPTER FOUR Dangerously Addicted FEMALE NEWSREADER: The stock market rally on Wall Street today pushes the Dow to its highest level in nearly nine months— MALE NEWSREADER: That figure includes activity fueled by recent government stimulus programs. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed’s quantitative easing set off what would become the longest bull run in the stock market’s history. MALE NEWSREADER: Investors took the good news and, well, they basically ran with it. JAMES JACOBY: By design, QE effectively lowered long-term interest rates, making safer investments like bonds less attractive and riskier investments like stocks more attractive. RANA FOROOHAR, Associate editor, Financial Times: The Fed goes out and buys certain kinds of assets, and it kind of puts a floor under the market, and it artificially pushes up prices. And when I say artificial, what I really mean is nothing changed at Apple or IBM or GE. It wasn't like somebody invented the new new thing, post-2008, but a lot more investors got bullish in the stock market, so the stock prices of those companies go up. But what's really happening? Nothing's changed. Nothing new has been invented. It’s a sugar high. It’s like drinking a Coke instead of having a meat-and-potatoes meal. FEMALE NEWSREADER: You’ve got oil up. You’ve got gold up. You’ve got copper up. You’ve got stocks up. Stock futures are up. All because of central banks and the stimulus they’ve been putting into the economy. JAMES JACOBY: On Wall Street, no one seemed to mind. The stock market rally continued. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: The old saying is "don’t fight the Fed." FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Don’t fight the Fed. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Don't fight the Fed. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Rule number one as a young trader you’re taught is "don’t fight the Fed." FEMALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: I don’t know what the hangover’s going to look like down the road from all this extraordinary stimulus, but for now the markets love it. Don’t fight the Fed. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Don’t fight the Fed. The one institution that has a printing press in the basement, and there's no limits to how much it can use it. That is what makes the Fed such an influential player in the marketplace. JAMES JACOBY: Mohamed El-Erian remembers it well. He was running the largest bond fund in the world at the time and helped advise the Fed on its QE experiment. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Keep an eye on the Treasury market— JAMES JACOBY: He shared with them his concerns that the markets were becoming dangerously addicted to the Fed’s easy money. MALE NEWSREADER: To taper or not to taper. JAMES JACOBY: His prediction played out in 2013 when after multiple rounds of quantitative easing totaling more than $2 trillion, Bernanke signaled the Fed might start to taper off. BEN BERNANKE: If we see continued improvement and we have confidence that that is going to be sustained, then we could, in the next few meetings, we could take a step down in our pace of purchases. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: I was on the trade floor. I remember Chairman Bernanke saying that he would taper. First we had to figure out "what does taper mean?" And the minute people realized what "taper" meant, which is that the Fed would step back from buying all these securities, and even though the Fed said it's going to be gradual, it's going to be measured, the markets had a massive tantrum. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: The market selling off after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank could start tapering its economic stimulus measures— RICHARD W. FISHER: It shows you how addicted the markets are. The markets went into a fit, became dysfunctional. It was known as the "taper tantrum." FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Well, we all know it: When Ben Bernanke talks, and the Federal Reserve speaks, the markets listen. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Markets are like little kids. They want candy, and the minute you try to take the candy away, they have a tantrum. SARAH BLOOM RASKIN: You had big Wall Street reaction, right? You have extreme volatility where Wall Street says, "Whoa, whoa! No, no, no! Unacceptable!" and values plunge. And of course the Fed doesn't like that. Nobody likes that. That's a precursor to instability, right? But it put the Fed in a real bind. MALE ANNOUNCER: Chairman Bernanke. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: And Chairman Bernanke had to go in a conference in Boston and say, "No, no, no, we're not tapering." BEN BERNANKE: You can only conclude that highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future is what's needed in the U.S. economy. RANA FOROOHAR: Every single time the Fed would start talking about, "OK, we're going to maybe taper back faster, or we're going to think about raising rates." Boom! Stocks would correct, because stocks wanted that easy money dopamine hit. JAMES JACOBY: Bernanke’s successor, Janet Yellen, had better luck the following year. She was able to pause the quantitative easing part of the easy money policy without a tantrum, in part by suggesting she’d maintain the Fed’s massive balance sheet of assets it had bought and to keep short-term interest rates low. JANET YELLEN: The FOMC reaffirmed its view that the current zero to one-quarter percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed justified its actions in part because the fears about runaway inflation hadn’t materialized, and in fact it was running below its target of 2% because economic growth was still low. But Yellen’s partial easy money pullback didn’t dampen concerns and criticisms about the ill effects of the Fed’s policies. CHAPTER FIVE Who Owns the Stocks JOSEPH STIGLITZ, Chief economist, The Roosevelt Institute: So you're doing a documentary on the Fed and monetary policy? JAMES JACOBY: We are trying to. JOSEPH STIGLITZ: OK [laughs]. JAMES JACOBY: Are we insane? JOSEPH STIGLITZ: No, no, no. I think it's a great idea. JAMES JACOBY: OK. Joseph Stiglitz is one of the most well-known economists in America and a winner of the Nobel Prize. JOSEPH STIGLITZ: The intention of the Fed was to stimulate aggregate demand. JAMES JACOBY: He told me that while the Fed had done some good, he worried at the time that by stoking the stock market so aggressively, it was exacerbating economic inequality. JOSEPH STIGLITZ: The main thing I was concerned about was that the way they were trying to revive the economy was a kind of trickle-down economics. The way quantitative easing works is that it's a lowering of the interest rates. That leads stocks to go up. And so who owns the stocks? It's the people in the top. Not just the top 10%, 1%, one-tenth of 1%. And so it increases enormously wealth inequality. We had had increasing inequality really since the late '70s, and this was putting that on steroids. JAMES JACOBY: What sort of response did you get from folks at the Fed to what you were saying at the time? JOSEPH STIGLITZ: "Our mandate is to do what we can to increase employment, to use the tools that we have, and that's what we're doing." JAMES JACOBY: I heard a similar response when I raised these issues with the president of the Minneapolis Fed, Neel Kashkari, in March of 2021. He was the only current Fed official who agreed to speak to us. NEEL KASHKARI: The Fed has been on a mission—I've been on a mission—to put Americans back to work and to help them get their wages up, especially for those lowest-income Americans. And if it has had some effect on Wall Street, to me, the trade-off is well worth it if we can put Americans back to work so that they can put food on the table, they can take care of themselves. That is profoundly beneficial to society. JAMES JACOBY: One of the things that we have seen in this country is a widening wealth gap. The question is what role, if any, the Fed has played in widening that wealth gap? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, this is a great point, and I'm glad you raised it. Most people who make this argument ignore the fact that for many Americans, they don't own a house. They don't own stocks. They don't have a 401(k). The most valuable asset they have is their job. So by putting people back to work and helping to boost their wages, we are actually making their most valuable asset more valuable. BARACK OBAMA: Middle-class economics works. FEMALE NEWSREADER: President Obama today in Wisconsin fired up over jobs. Another 223,000 added in June. Unemployment at its lowest— JAMES JACOBY: In fact, by 2015, the employment was heading toward record lows. But critics I spoke to said the Fed’s focus on jobs was missing the full picture. I mean, Neel Kashkari told me that a job is a great asset. That when I— KAREN PETROU, Author, Engine of Inequality: [Laughs] His may be. I'm not so sure that that's true for the folks working three jobs behind the counter at the supermarket. Sorry, Neel, I think that is an elitist assumption of what labor income is good for. JAMES JACOBY: Karen Petrou is an unlikely critic of the central bank. We’ve got Pete here— KAREN PETROU: Go lie down. Down. There we go. JAMES JACOBY: She spent her career inside the financial system, advising banks and big investors. MALE CAMERA OPERATOR: Interview [inaudible], take five marker. JAMES JACOBY: 2015 to 2020 was actually considered a time of recovery. Unemployment was getting to record lows and there was a kind of conventional wisdom that the economy was in a good place at that point in time. So, you disagreed with that? KAREN PETROU: I did, because most Americans disagreed with that. The majority of Americans said they were economically anxious. Significant percentages of people who were in the statistical middle class were skipping medical treatments because they didn't think they could afford them. Forty percent of the United States didn't have $400 in a rainy day fund and they were at risk of imminent financial peril if a tire blew. That's not a good place. JAMES JACOBY: What about this idea that there was record unemployment? KAREN PETROU: Record unemployment was judged the way conventionally the Fed chooses to judge it, not by taking into account the people sitting out working because they couldn't get enough wages with their jobs to make going to work pay. Employment was fine, by at least some numbers. Wages weren't, and people work to eat. They don't work because of some noble ideal. JAMES JACOBY: So just to understand, what was wrong with the models that the Fed was using in order to judge the success of their programs? KAREN PETROU: Paul Krugman, a well-known economist, has a great example. You've got four guys in a bar, each one of whom is making $60,000 a year. Jeff Bezos walks into the bar, and he's making two gazillion dollars. Does that mean that the four guys in the bar are doing any better? No, it doesn't. It's distorting statistics. You have to look at how much each person has, not at what the averages are, to understand what's going on in the economy. And when four out of five guys in the bar are not doing well, the country isn't doing well. CHAPTER SIX A Missed Opportunity JAMES JACOBY: The growing sense that the system was not working for the poor and middle class became a central theme of Donald Trump’s populist campaign. DONALD TRUMP: Sadly, the American dream is dead. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: When you have a society with the middle struggling and the rich realizing almost unimaginable gains, it starts to corrode the civic foundation. DONALD TRUMP: We have to clean up the country. Our country is a mess. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: People start to feel like this cliche you hear all the time: that the system is rigged. MALE TRUMP SUPPORTER: Like he says, I think the system is rigged. MALE TRUMP SUPPORTER: You know what? He’s just speaking what we’re all thinking. But he’s saying it in the public domain. He’s saying it in the political domain. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: You know, the fact that a huge portion of Americans were willing to vote for a president like Donald Trump, whose entire campaign seemed to be burning down the system— DONALD TRUMP: We are going to drain the swamp. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: —that doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. CROWD [chanting]: Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! DONALD TRUMP: We are going to fix our inner cities, and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. JAMES JACOBY: It was a moment of potential for the Fed’s easy money policies. Trump promised to take advantage of the low interest rates and create jobs by investing in new infrastructure. DONALD TRUMP: We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true. JAMES JACOBY: But once in office, the political paralysis in Washington only intensified— FEMALE VOICE: Congress simply hasn’t been willing to find the amount of money necessary to do it. JAMES JACOBY: —making big economic investments all but impossible. RANA FOROOHAR: There just wasn't the political cohesion to push through these major programs. And you saw a lot of op-eds, by a lot of economists, and even Fed bankers themselves, after the first or second, or certainly third and fourth round, of quantitative easing. They were saying, "Please, give us some fiscal policy," meaning "Give us some government action to direct this money to the right places. We can't do all this alone. We can keep rates low, we trying to keep rates low here, trying to keep confidence high. But we can't make you spend on a bridge or revamp a school." JAMES JACOBY: Are you saying that there was sort of a squandered opportunity here? RANA FOROOHAR: A hundred percent it was a missed opportunity. We didn't use the cheapest money in memory—I don't want to say in history, but certainly in the last several decades. We didn't use that opportunity to spend on the things that would have been almost free, in terms of debt. We really missed something that now will be more costly, because now that interests rates are going up—I still think, for example, we should do more infrastructure spending. That we should revamp education. But it's going to be more costly to do it now. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s the largest—I always say the most massive, but it's the largest tax cut in the history of our country. And reform, but tax cut. JAMES JACOBY: The marquee legislative achievement of the Trump administration would instead be a tax cut that further boosted the markets and deepened economic inequality. DONALD TRUMP: That’s your bill. JAMES JACOBY: The jury is still out on whether it contributed to the economic growth that had started to tick up during the Trump presidency. But to some inside the Fed, it seemed like an ideal time to pull back on the easy money experiment. One of them was Jerome Powell. CHAPTER SEVEN The Fed Blinked DONALD TRUMP: It is my pleasure and my honor to announce my nomination of Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Congratulations. JAMES JACOBY: Trump appointed Powell in late 2017. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: Jay Powell is a profoundly competent, smart guy who has spent his entire career at the nexus of big money and big government. JEROME POWELL: In the years since the global financial crisis ended, our economy has made substantial progress toward full recovery. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: A self-acknowledged Republican. He's a conservative. He tends to embrace the deregulatory view of the economy. And he's also a Wall Street guy, who came up through the business of corporate debt and deal-making. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: The Fed is seen continuing to raise interest rates going forward. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed had already begun raising rates and reversing QE. They’d call it quantitative tightening, or QT. Powell took office eager to accelerate the effort. JEROME POWELL: The really extraordinarily accommodative low interest rates that we needed when the economy was quite weak, we don’t need those anymore. They’re not appropriate anymore. JAMES JACOBY: Once again the market threw a tantrum. MALE NEWSREADER: The Dow closing down more than 500 points today. FEMALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: A brutal week in the market. The Dow and the S&P now on track for their worst December since the Great Depression. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: The global financial system short circuits. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: The decline will accelerate if Jay Powell doesn’t walk things back. JAMES JACOBY: The president threw a tantrum, too. DONALD TRUMP: I think the Fed has gone crazy. It’s a correction that I think is caused by the Federal Reserve. If the Fed knew what it was doing, they would lower rates and they would stop quantitative tightening. MALE NEWSREADER: The president has been attacking the Fed chair on Twitter very often for raising interest rates. FEMALE NEWSREADER: —with the Fed's decision to raise interest rates. He suggested it would hurt the economy. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: In a tweet, he said that quantitative tightening is a killer, should have done the exact opposite. JAMES JACOBY: Powell would change course. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The Federal Reserve cut a key short-term interest rate today after raising it as recently as December. DION RABOUIN: You see this complete reversal and what a lot of investors and economists saw as a capitulation to financial markets. Financial markets don't like this, so the Fed's going to reverse course. And that has defined Chair Powell ever since then. MALE NEWSREADER: A tricky balancing act for Chairman Powell. He’ll now face criticism that the Fed has bowed to pressure from the White House or Wall Street or both, sacrificing the central bank's precious independence. JIM CHANOS, Founder, Kynikos Associates: The Fed blinked, and the Fed reversed course when the market was down 20% and went from tightening policy to easing policy. And it became very clear to the market that saving the stock market was now one of the Fed mandates, and I think that had really ominous ramifications for the future. CHAPTER EIGHT A Giant Bloodsucker JAMES JACOBY: By 2019, the Fed’s easy money experiment had been going on for a decade. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: The Fed’s job isn't to help the president of the United States. JAMES JACOBY: What had started out as an emergency measure to save the economy had become the status quo. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Yes, quantitative easing is there, but it’s a tool you don’t want to overdo. JAMES JACOBY: And it was deepening the concerns about how the Fed was fueling troubling trends. Taking advantage of the Fed’s low rates, private equity firms had been buying up huge swaths of the economy with borrowed money— MALE AUCTIONEER: A hundred and ten thousand, 128,000. MALE REPORTER: For multimillion-dollar private equity firms, this is a bargain hunt. JAMES JACOBY: —concentrating wealth and ownership of everything from houses to hospitals. BLACKSTONE SPOKESMAN: Across Blackstone, we own a range of things. So SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Birds Eye Foods, Michaels Stores, Hilton and Waldorf. What we like to do is come in, buy either real estate or companies. We see an opportunity to grow something faster, to invest capital, fix whatever that is that's broken, and then sell it. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed’s policies had also been fueling a frenzy in Silicon Valley— MALE REPORTER: WeWork has announced it’s received a massive $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank Group. JAMES JACOBY: —leading to all sorts of excesses— MALE NEWSREADER: Venture capitalists pumped nearly half a billion dollars into the food delivery start-up industry. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Airbnb is now valued at $10 billion, more than big hotels chains, including Hyatt and Wyndham. JAMES JACOBY: —and enabling certain tech companies to disrupt and dominate entire industries without ever turning a profit. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: WeWork is saying its total opportunity is $3 trillion dollars. I mean, that’s 3.5% of the entire world’s GDP. JAMES JACOBY: But perhaps the most destabilizing consequence to the economy was how the Fed’s low interest rates had been incentivizing public companies to take on more and more debt. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Valuations are generally elevated, especially corporate debt. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: We have flagged the rise in corporate debt. FEMALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: We have entirely too much corporate debt out there. JAMES JACOBY: I saw numerous studies and reports detailing the extent of the debt and how even marquee companies were becoming so leveraged their credit ratings plummeted. The Fed had hoped that companies would put all that borrowed money to good use and invest in their workforce and their infrastructure. But in reality, it played out differently. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Buybacks. MALE NEWSREADER: Buying back stock. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Stock buybacks. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Stock buybacks robbing the American worker. JAMES JACOBY: Companies were often borrowing money to buy back their own stock, making the remaining shares more valuable and the prices higher. DION RABOUIN: As a corporation you realize all that matters is the stock price. So what do we have to do to increase the stock price? And more often that is buying back the stock. So it used to be the Fed would lower interest rates. Businesses would then take on more debt. They would use that debt to hire more workers, build more machines and more factories. Now what happens is the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, businesses use that to go out and borrow more money, but they use that money to buy back stock and invest in technology that will eliminate workers and reduce employee headcounts. They use that money to give the CEO and other corporate officers big bonuses and then eventually issue more debt and buy back more stock. So it's this endless cycle of things that are designed to increase the stock price rather than improve the actual company. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: GE just authorized a $50 billion stock buyback. JAMES JACOBY: The numbers were astounding: More than $6 trillion in corporate buybacks during this easy money decade after the financial crisis. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: Fifty billion dollar stock buyback. That makes a big deal, big difference to the stock price. SHEILA BAIR, Chair, FDIC, 2006-11: Buybacks were an embarrassment, and so it’s just another example of things that used to be viewed as kind of "ew" just going mainstream. JAMES JACOBY: Sheila Bair, a former top banking regulator, was issuing public warnings at the time that the Fed was incentivizing bad behavior on Wall Street despite its best intentions. SHEILA BAIR: I can't fault the companies so much, because this interest rate environment creates very strong economic incentives to do exactly what they're doing. It's hard to create a new product. It's hard to come up with a new idea for a service. It's hard to build a plant and hire people and run the organization. It's real easy to issue some debt and pay it out to your shareholders to goose your share price. That's real easy to do, but it doesn't create real wealth. It doesn't create real opportunity. It doesn't create jobs. It doesn't improve the labor market. But it's just another example of how these very low interest rates have really distorted economic activity and frankly been a drag on our economic growth, not a benefit. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Warren Buffett likes Apple’s buybacks. MALE NEWSREADER: Well, why wouldn’t he? He’s a shareholder, and they’re buying back $100 billion in stock. RANA FOROOHAR: When you get an age of easy money like what we've seen, you get a financialized economy that's really more in service to itself. So, most of what it's doing is buying and selling existing assets rather than helping real businesses and real people make real investments. But one of the things that's so diabolical, I would say, about easy money and our financialized economy in general, is that we're all in it. We're all part of this Faustian bargain of pretending that there's something wonderful happening in the real economy, when really it's just Wall Street going up. But we all kind of want the market to go up, because we're in it, with our pension funds, and with our 401(k)s. So everybody's money is kind of helping to push this whole cycle along. JAMES JACOBY: Even some of the largest beneficiaries of this trend told me it made them uncomfortable, like legendary investor Jeremy Grantham. JEREMY GRANTHAM, Co-founder, GMO LLC: In my career in America, the percentage of GDP that goes to finance has gone from 3 1/2 to 8 1/2 [laughs]. We're—In a way, we're like a giant bloodsucker, and we have more than doubled in size and sucking more than twice the blood out of the rest of the economy. And we do not generate any widgets. We do not generate any real increase in income. We are just a cost. JAMES JACOBY: When you say "we," you mean you and other members of the financial community have been this kind of bloodsucker on the economy? Is that what you're saying? JEREMY GRANTHAM: Yes. Collectively we fulfill a completely necessary service, but what we have done is created layers upon layers of more and more convoluted, expensive financial instruments. And that's what makes all the profits for the financial industry. It's taken a lot of ingenuity and salesmanship to make this happen, and a lot of lobbying in Congress, etc., etc., and we have imposed on the rest of the economy the idea that banking and finance are utterly important at all times. If you do anything wrong to us, the entire economy will collapse in ragged disarray. JAMES JACOBY: Corporate buybacks. The elevation of corporate debt. How was that viewed by you and others at the Fed? NEEL KASHKARI: Something we pay a lot of attention to. But when companies are buying back their stock, one of the things they're telling us is, "We don't have profitable places to invest, and it's easier for us just to buy back our stock." That's concerning in terms of the future of our economy, but that's not because of the Fed. So we pay attention to it, it really matters, but in my view, we don't—It's not something we control. JAMES JACOBY: Kashkari and others have pointed out that it’s the job of Congress and regulators to address some of these concerning trends. And when we sat down in 2021, he was quick to dispute the criticism that the Fed’s policies had really just been boosting financial markets and helping Wall Street. We hear it all the time from Wall Street people, that basically that prices are completely untethered from some fundamental reality. There is this idea on Wall Street that the Fed has our back, and that because you may have well-intentioned policies that are trying to get everybody to work, there is this side effect, this unintended side effect, of just kind of really helping the rich. NEEL KASHKARI: That argument ignores the benefit to the poor. And for sure, if you're going to ignore the benefit to the poor, then we're only helping the rich. But of course, that's an incomplete analysis. When you actually sit down and say, "Well, let's go through the trade-offs of the choices that the Fed has," whether it's interest rates or it's quantitative easing, it's not just about Wall Street. It's not just about asset prices. It's also about thinking about the men and women in America who are trying to find work and who want to have higher earnings and who deserve higher earnings. If we are benefiting them by helping them find work and helping them have higher wages, I will take that trade-off. CHAPTER NINE A Source of Instability JAMES JACOBY: Beyond the debate over the effects on Main Street, there were increasing concerns about the risks on Wall Street. What would happen to all those companies that had gone deep into debt—and their investors—if there was a downturn? But some of the most dire warnings were about a largely unregulated sector of the financial world that had become a key player in all the borrowing going on. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Finance was getting bigger and bigger and riskier and riskier. And then there was something else going on that was only noticed later on. The risk had migrated to what we call the non-banks, to the financial system that are not banks, and it had morphed, it had changed. And in doing so, the ability to understand what was going on came down, because the non-banks are not supervised and regulated as well as the banks. The phrase that was used at the time was "shadow banking." That there were banking activities happening, but they were happening in the shadows, in the shadows of the banks themselves. These are the asset management companies, these are the hedge funds. These are not well-regulated, but suddenly become systemically important. JAMES JACOBY: When it comes to shadow banks, what was your big concern? LEV MENAND, Economist, Fed. Reserve Bank of NY, 2016-17: The core of the problem of the shadow banking system is that it's extremely fragile. JAMES JACOBY: Lev Menand, who’d been an economic adviser to the Fed and Treasury Department, was warning that even though Congress had imposed regulations on big banks after the financial crisis, shadow banks were largely untouched—and they were endangering the whole system. LEV MENAND: Anybody who is an investor in a shadow bank, who has their money in a shadow bank instead of a real bank, is going to have an incentive to withdraw in the face of any uncertainty. So little economic shocks that cause asset prices to fall have the potential to trigger runs and panics. And so what we've done is, by allowing this shadow banking system to develop, is we've inserted a source of instability in our entire economic system that doesn't need to be there and that has the potential of throwing us all off course. JEROME POWELL: Let me start by saying that my colleagues and I strongly— JAMES JACOBY: That potential instability posed by the shadow banking system was on the Fed’s radar. REP. JIM HIMES, (D) CT: How are you thinking about potential risk bubbling up in the broader shadow banking system? JEROME POWELL: This is a project that the Financial Stability Oversight Council is working on now. And also, the Financial Stability Board globally is looking carefully at leveraged lending. And we think it's something that requires serious monitoring. JAMES JACOBY: But by the end of 2019, little action had been taken by the Fed, financial regulators or Congress to rein in the shadow banks and other growing risks. The system remained vulnerable to a shock. It would arrive in early 2020. CHAPTER 10 Whatever It Takes MALE NEWSREADER: A preliminary investigation into a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, has identified a previously unknown coronavirus— NEEL KASHKARI: When the pandemic hit, it was so unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lifetimes. MALE NEWSREADER: Already, 45 cases have been reported in China, including two deaths. The victims are thought to have contracted the virus in a meat and seafood market. NEEL KASHKARI: We'd been paying attention to what was happening in China for a few months. MALE NEWSREADER: There are new images out of Wuhan that purport to show the dire conditions in hospital. NEEL KASHKARI: I was calling my contacts, global businesses that had big operations in China, to understand what their employees and staffs were seeing. And we were all trying to learn as much as we can about pandemics and what it's likely going to mean. FEMALE REPORTER: Major selloff across Europe this morning. NEEL KASHKARI: I think we all figured out very quickly the pandemic and the virus would drive the economy. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Investors are spooked by the growing number of infections outside China. NEEL KASHKARI: But how fast would it hit us? How widespread? What would the health care response be? It was maximum uncertainty. And you were seeing that uncertainty manifest in financial markets. MALE NEWSREADER: What you have here are concerns, fears, worries and deep uncertainties about what’s likely to happen next. NEEL KASHKARI: People were scared. Investors were scared. Individuals were scared. And they said, "You know what? I just want cash." FEMALE NEWSREADER: Markets giving us the worst two-day point drop ever in history. NEEL KASHKARI: "I don't even want Treasury bonds. I don't even want corporate bonds. I don't want stocks. I just want cash." And when everybody in the economy says "I want cash" at the same time, that leads to potentially a collapse of financial markets. MALE FINANCIAL TRADER 1: On the bell, on the bell! MALE NEWSREADER 1: Means the first circuit breaker— MALE NEWSREADER 2: For whom the bell tolls. MALE NEWSREADER 1: —has been triggered. MALE FINANCIAL TRADER 2: I knew we were going to [unintelligible]. JAMES JACOBY: All the weaknesses of the system that had built up over the years of easy money were being exposed. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Market functioning was starting to cascade into failure. MALE NEWSREADER: The Dow plunging again today. The 11-year bull market has ended. DION RABOUIN: Stocks were just on a downward free fall. You had credit markets seizing up. People were selling anything that wasn't nailed down. MALE FLOOR TRADER: I can’t do anything, I'm frozen. JAMES JACOBY: Attention was focused on the highly leveraged shadow banks. LEV MENAND: What we saw was a full-blown panic in the shadow banking system. It wasn't something that you have when you have a pandemic, you have a bank panic. It was you have a bank panic because you had some exogenous shock in the economy and you have these underlying vulnerabilities in your monetary system that you haven't resolved. JAMES JACOBY: The Fed responded to this new crisis with an old tool—once again, quantitative easing. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The Fed will try to steady the ship after a week that echoed the financial crisis of 12 years ago. JAMES JACOBY: It bought up hundreds of billions in debt from financial institutions. MALE REPORTER: We have seen the Fed inject money into the economy in the last couple of days. JAMES JACOBY: By mid-March they had made more than a trillion dollars available to the shadow banks and they cut interest rates back down to near zero. FEMALE NEWSREADER: What that tells all of us is that the economic impact of the coronavirus is going to be crippling. LEV MENAND: The Federal Reserve lent half a trillion dollars to securities dealers, half a trillion dollars to foreign central banks, bought $2 trillion of Treasury securities, another trillion dollars of mortgage-backed securities. It flooded the zone with new government cash to stabilize this system. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Incredible effort from the Federal Reserve, taking major action to— CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: Everything that Ben Bernanke's Fed had done over the course of the financial crisis of 2008, Jay Powell did that in a weekend. The scary part is it wasn't enough. The crisis continued, and they had to intervene even further. MALE NEWSREADER: Good morning. We are here for you on this morning when the stock market has taken a dramatic plunge. At least— FEMALE NEWSREADER: —as the emergency rate cut failed to calm investors. In fact, it did the opposite. Futures immediately dropped— JAMES JACOBY: Despite the Fed’s actions, the corporate debt market froze up and companies were unable to pay their bills, putting the wider financial system at risk. RANA FOROOHAR: There's just this corporate debt picture out there, and we're just beginning to see how those dominoes are going to fall. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Then comes the realization that we have to lock down. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The list of closings and activities being suspended is growing from coast to coast. JAMES JACOBY: In the White House, Eric Ueland was the Trump administration’s point person dealing with Congress on the response. ERIC UELAND, Dir., Trump Office of Legislative Affairs: Every day and into the evening as we're going through and hearing more information and trying to explore the health side of this exploding virus crisis, there's also an economic impact that is just getting larger and larger and more significant. And so what's the impact on a community when suddenly you're telling it a significant amount of economic activity needs to slow or actually cease? That's pretty dramatic. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Three point four million people filed for unemployment last week. FEMALE NEWSREADER: You can't really compare this to the financial crisis, or even 9/11. There's never been a time in history where the U.S. government told the economy to shut down. ERIC UELAND: Then we're talking about impacts on businesses—from small businessmen, who are the real heartbeat of our economy, communities, and how to keep people employed. What's the impact on industries and significant economic sectors of the American economy? But the policy response that we need to design and hopefully execute here inside this crisis is a lot broader than anybody conceived up to that point. REP. ANTHONY BROWN, (D) MD: The motion is adopted. JAMES JACOBY: In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the Trump administration and Congress would end up passing the largest economic stimulus ever. DONALD TRUMP: All right, thank you, all. JAMES JACOBY: The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which unlike after the crisis in 2008, was aimed not just at Wall Street but directly at individuals and small businesses as well. ERIC UELAND: You encouraged your team to be bold, be brave and go big, and we certainly delivered today: $6.2 trillion. MALE NEWSREADER: You ain't seen nothing yet, from what the Fed is about to do. JAMES JACOBY: Part of the money would go to the Fed, which announced a new range of loan programs worth trillions. And for the first time, it began buying up corporate debt. The easy money experiment went into overdrive. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: A guy inside the Fed was telling me that what they were doing was not that sophisticated. They were just looking at any part of the market that looked like it was on fire and dumping money on it. FEMALE NEWSREADER: We often talk about the Federal Reserve using a bazooka to tackle markets and the economy. This is bazooka, cannons and tanks all at once. DION RABOUIN, Axios, 2018-21: So this was huge. This was the Fed stepping in on an unprecedented scale and saying to the market, "We will do whatever it takes." JEROME POWELL: Many of the programs that we’re undertaking rely on emergency lending powers that are available only in very unusual circumstances such as those we find ourselves in today. We will continue to use these powers forcefully, proactively and aggressively until we're confident that we are solidly on the road to recovery. JAMES JACOBY: I don't think most people are aware that we came this close to a bona fide financial crisis. LEV MENAND: Yeah. I think a lot of it is missed for two reasons. One, there was a lot of other stuff going on in the news at the time. The other is the Federal Reserve did an amazingly good job at putting out the flames of this panic. And even though the panic in March 2020 was more severe along many metrics than anything we saw in 2008, the government's response was more powerful in certain respects. And we're lucky that the government was successful or we could be living through a true depression. CHAPTER ELEVEN Moral Hazard MALE NEWSREADER: Everything has been thrown at this market to try to keep it floating. MALE NEWSREADER: The Federal Reserve now getting into junk bonds. MALE NEWSREADER: It's a joke. The market is manipulated. They're printing trillions of dollars to pump up the value of publicly traded stocks. JAMES JACOBY: In trying to keep workers employed and companies afloat, the Fed had also used its power to rescue some of the riskiest parts of the financial system, like the junk bond market. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR 1: Is this just like a high-yield junk bond bailout? I mean, I don’t get— MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR 2: Yeah, we've got to live with it now, Tom. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR 1: —why this is an emergency. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR 2: We've got to live with it. JAMES JACOBY: To the critics, the Fed was rewarding the same players and practices that had helped make the system so fragile in the first place. JEREMY GRANTHAM, Co-founder, GMO LLC: Over the years, we've been trained to believe that the Fed is on our side. What the Fed has trained us to believe is that if we make a bet in the market and we win, we're on our own. We get to keep the profits. If we lose, they will bend every effort and every dollar they can get their hands on, one way or another, to bail us out. This is asymmetry of the most splendid kind. MALE CAMERA OPERATOR: A speeds. Go ahead and clap it off, please. JAMES JACOBY: Billionaire bond investor Howard Marks called the Fed out at the time, saying it was undercutting the way the free market is supposed to work. HOWARD MARKS, Co-founder & co-chair, Oaktree Capital Management: There are negative ramifications to this. One called moral hazard, which means conditioning people to believe that if there's a problem the government will bail you out. And if people really believe that, then there's no downside to risky behavior, because if there's a problem, it won't fall on you. You'll get bailed out. If you play it aggressively and succeed, you make money. If you play it aggressively and fail, you'll get bailed out. MALE NEWSREADER: We are truly getting to a point of moral hazard. MALE NEWSREADER: Do we want to live in a world—Do central banks themselves want to live in a world where their interventions are so central to the market outlook and of market performance? JAMES JACOBY: So has moral hazard gotten worse as a result of this bailout? HOWARD MARKS: There’s no barometer of moral hazard, so I can’t give you a reading. All I can say is that for the last year or so, risk-taking has been rewarded, and that tends to bring on more risk-taking. FEMALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's anything that investors should be applauding, necessarily, because it's a nail in the coffin of capitalism. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: This is going to be a test of whether or not capitalism is just a call sign when CEOs are looking for bailouts. JAMES JACOBY: Do you see moral hazard in what has just happened? SHEILA BAIR, Chair, FDIC, 2006-11: Oh, absolutely. I think now the entire business community has had a taste of bailouts [laughs]. And boy, doesn't it work really, really nicely. Yeah, so I fear that now, the Fed stepping in, not just to bail out Wall Street, but the entire corporate America, is starting to be embedded into people's thinking. People talk about the survival of capitalism, but this is the biggest threat to capitalism. In good times, when anybody can make money, you reap those profits. In bad times, the Fed just keeps stepping in. You have this never-ending ratchet up. The markets never correct. JAMES JACOBY: It's like a no-lose casino. SHEILA BAIR: It is. It is a no-lose casino. That's exactly right. JAMES JACOBY: This is the second time in 12 years that you and your institution have had to funnel into the financial system trillions of dollars, and there is this sense that the financial markets have an iron-clad backstop from the Fed. NEEL KASHKARI, Pres. & CEO, Fed. Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: Well, I completely agree that it is unacceptable that 12 years after 2008, we had to do this again. I am proud that we did what we did. It was the right thing to do. It was necessary. But it is unacceptable as an American citizen that we have a financial system that is this risky and this vulnerable. JAMES JACOBY: But what, if any, responsibility or accountability does the Fed have for the financial system having been so risky and so vulnerable to a shock? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I think all financial regulators that have a seat at the table have responsibility for what was left incomplete after 2008 and where we go from here. We need to use this crisis to finish the work that we did not finish after '08. JAMES JACOBY: With all due respect, I wonder if you could be a little bit more explicit with me. What will the Fed own when it comes to the vulnerability of the system? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I reject the thesis. I actually don't think it's been the Fed's monetary policy that has led to these vulnerabilities. I think it's been incomplete regulatory policy that has led to these vulnerabilities. CHAPTER TWELVE Orgy of Speculation FEMALE NEWSREADER: The coronavirus pandemic has left millions of Americans out of work. MALE FOOD BANK VOLUNTEER: The people have gone now without four or five or six or seven paychecks, and it's starting to catch up. They need food. It's the most basic thing. JAMES JACOBY: In the months following the Fed’s rescue, we saw a troubling disparity. MALE BBC REPORTER: Have you got any income at the moment? FEMALE SPEAKER: No. No. And we have kids, too, so— JAMES JACOBY: As businesses were shuttered and millions of Americans were living on the edge, the markets did indeed look like a no-lose casino, thanks to the Fed's safety net. MALE NEWSREADER: The economy may be facing major hardships, but the stock market is thriving. MALE NEWSREADER: The best quarter for the Dow in 33 years, it surged 17%. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN, Chief economic advisor, Allianz: We ended up in a world where bad news was good news. MALE NEWSREADER: The unemployment rate is now a staggering 14.7% MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Bad news for the economy was good news for markets. Why? FEMALE NEWSREADER: In the midst of all the economic turmoil, Wall Street actually closed out its best week in 45 years. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: Because when people saw bad news, they said, "The Fed will have to do more." MALE NEWSREADER: Anna, today the markets say, “Bring on the next quarter!” MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: And then over the next few months we saw one record after another in stock markets. MALE NEWSREADER: Stocks surging even as America enters its darkest chapter yet of this pandemic. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD, Author, The Lords of Easy Money: Even after the initial emergency passed the Fed was pumping $120 billion a month into the economy through quantitative easing on an indefinite basis. The fire hose was simply turned on and left on the curb. The extraordinary measures of 2010 literally become the daily operating procedure of 2020. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The S&P 500 hitting another record high today after surging 55%. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: The stock market didn't just regain all of its losses in a matter of months but started breaking new records. MALE NEWSREADER: I see quite a bit of green on the markets this morning. Dow, S&P, NASDAQ—all of them higher. JAMES JACOBY: Over the next two years, tech stocks would soar. MALE NEWSREADER: Apple is now the first publicly listed U.S. company to be valued at $2 trillion. MALE NEWSREADER: Tesla shares are soaring. MALE NEWSREADER: This company has just gone through the roof this year. The stock price has more than quadrupled. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Right now it's a seller's market, and homes are selling fast. JAMES JACOBY: The price of real estate would shoot up across the country. MALE NEWSREADER: The housing market has never been hotter. JAMES JACOBY: And corporate America would take on even more debt, which investors gobbled up. MALE NEWSREADER: Massive issuance of corporate debt. FEMALE NEWSREADER: More than $10.5 trillion. JAMES JACOBY: For the richest Americans, it was an extraordinary time. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VT: Mark Zuckerberg has increased his wealth during the pandemic by more than $37 billion. MALE NEWSREADER: Elon Musk has added over $10 billion to his wealth just this week. MALE NEWSREADER: Jeff Bezos reportedly earning over $50 billion this year. MALE FINANCIAL REPORTER: Billionaires now hold two-thirds more in wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population. Let that sink in for a moment. And as I mentioned— DION RABOUIN: Just the billionaires in the United States, from March 2020 to February 2021, have grown their wealth by $1.3 trillion. One point three trillion dollars. JEREMY GRANTHAM: It's the burst of euphoria that typically brings these things to an end. JAMES JACOBY: But even some of those billionaires were worried the Fed was fueling a dangerous bubble. JEREMY GRANTHAM: The housing market, the stock market and the bond market, all overpriced at the same time. If the Fed knew what it was doing it would not allow bubbles of this magnitude to take place. MALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: Smash the "like" button. Invest consistently. JAMES JACOBY: But the epic rise in the markets proved irresistible to millions of new small investors, too. FEMALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: So when a stock does well because of internal or external factors, you secure the bag, honey. ROBINHOOD COMMERCIAL: An app that's changing the way we do money. DION RABOUIN: All these brokerage platforms saw the largest growth of new users they'd ever seen because people said, "Now is my opportunity. I'm going to invest my money in the stock market. I may not understand what the Fed's doing or how it works or what exactly is going on—" FEMALE NEWSREADER: —the S&P 500 now on track for the best week going back since 2008. DION RABOUIN: "—but I understand the Fed takes action, stock prices go up, these people get rich." And it became a very clear mandate for people: "If I want to get in on this economic recovery we're having, I've got to buy stocks." FEMALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: I’m going to take my stimulus check and I’m going to put it in the stock market. DION RABOUIN: So they're online, they're trading stocks, they're buying and selling and putting money into these stock accounts. They started creating their own community. ROARING KITTY, Social media personality: Welcome, Declan, Michael Lee—ah, so many people. Bob Smith— MALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: We've got the get the Dow Jones up! JAMES JACOBY: Fed Chair Powell became a kind of cult figure, master of the money printer. REDDIT MEME VIDEO: Money printer go BRRR. MALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: Invest in these four tickers. I’ll put them right above. JAMES JACOBY: And billions poured into so-called “meme stocks.” ROARING KITTY: This GameStop situation, we will never encounter a setup like this again. JAMES JACOBY: And new, risky asset classes like cryptocurrency took on a life of their own. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Bitcoin. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Bitcoin. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Bitcoin has been on a wild ride. MALE NEWSREADER: It really is the new currency. DION RABOUIN: There's just too much money. [Laughs] People just have so much money and there's not really places to put it. So what folks have started doing is investing in these very speculative assets, things like bitcoin, because they're just seeing ridiculous rates of return. It doesn't really matter what the underlying value of the thing is, just like it doesn't matter what the underlying value of a company is, right? As long as the stock price goes up, you want to buy because the stock is going to keep going up and then you'll sell. It's the greater fool theory of investing. STEPHEN COLBERT: Cryptocurrency. BILL MAHER: Cryptocurrency. "SILICON VALLEY" VIDEO CLIP: Cryptocurrency. "THE SIMPSONS" VIDEO CLIP: Cryptocurrency. ELON MUSK ON SNL: Blockchain technology. BEN McKENZIE, Actor: It's actually—This is actually a very comfortable chair. JAMES JACOBY: Crypto was all the rage in Hollywood, where actor Ben McKenzie saw it being pushed on an unsuspecting public. With reporter Jacob Silverman, he began raising alarms. BEN McKENZIE: Crypto exchanges primarily were driving the advertising dollars here, so it's not unreasonable to think that these folks got paid not just multiple millions of dollars, but potentially tens of millions of dollars to sell this stuff. MEGAN THEE STALLION: Bitcoin is a new kind of money. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Cash into crypto. MALE SPEAKER: What's up? TOM BRADY: I'm getting into crypto with FTX. You in? MATT DAMON: History is filled with "almosts." BEN McKENZIE: When you're talking about an ad like the Matt Damon ad that went viral, and not in a good way. What does he work, one day? He walks around a studio and points at stuff that isn't there and talks about how brave you need to be to buy crypto? It's a pretty easy paycheck. MATT DAMON: Fortune favors the brave. BEN McKENZIE: I certainly understand how easy it is to get lured in to cryptocurrency, especially when you see, at least for one brief, shining moment, all of your friends and neighbors or people you follow on social media getting rich. Of course you're going to try it. JAMES JACOBY: How does the Fed figure into this? Was there just so much money sloshing around that it just needed to go somewhere, and crypto was one of those places where it just was like, "All right, we'll throw it in there." BEN McKENZIE: Yeah. When money is cheap, people gamble. It's just undeniable. And fraud runs rampant. JACOB SILVERMAN, Freelance reporter: You would hear, even within crypto circles, people started talking about Ponzi schemes in a non-derisive way, saying, "Well, maybe we're doing new types of economics." There are all forms of irrational thinking, and rationalization also, that come together to help sort of conjure this illusion that there's value here until something pops it. MALE CAMERA OPERATOR: Sound speed. JAMES JACOBY: A number of serious investors, like Jim Chanos, began speaking out. JIM CHANOS, Founder, Kynikos Associates: It just became this orgy of speculation by the first half of 2021. Anyone who wanted to raise money for anything could do so. The amount of fraud we saw being floated on top of legitimate companies was really concerning, particularly in places like the crypto space, which was sort of not being regulated. People were creating new coins or NFTs and selling them on to the public, who was eager to get in on the latest fad. And that bothered me. JAMES JACOBY: And you would draw a direct link between what the Fed was doing and the crypto craze? JIM CHANOS: Well I just—It was all part of speculation that led to people doing really silly things with their money. At the end of bull markets, at the end of speculative markets, all kinds of crazy schemes get floated to separate people from their money. NEEL KASHKARI: At least these are different questions and not the same question over and over again. JAMES JACOBY: Was last time the same question over and over again? NEEL KASHKARI: It was the same question for 90 minutes. JAMES JACOBY: I don't know about that. NEEL KASHKARI: Yes, trust me. I have a tape of it. JAMES JACOBY: Oh, yeah? When I sat down with Neel Kashkari again recently, I asked him how the madness in the markets looked to the Fed. It kind of was mania at the time, but the Fed was continuing to flood the markets with liquidity, with money. Did you not see all of that mania as a sign of overheating? That an indicator in the markets was telling you something about what was happening in the economy? NEEL KASHKARI: Yeah, I mean, we see froth in financial markets not infrequently. There have been other times when we've seen booms in financial markets. If we are going to try to raise interest rates to control excitement in the stock market, the cost—Who's going to bear the cost of that? The people who are out of work today. If we had said, "Let’s go raise interest rates to try to keep crypto down, keep bitcoin from going too high, and we're going to keep millions of Americans out of work as the way to do that," that strikes me as a bad trade. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Economics 101 MALE VOICE: I think interest rates and inflation are going to rise well above what the Fed has projected. JAMES JACOBY: As the markets were heating up, so were concerns that the Fed's policies would fuel inflation. MALE NEWSREADER: Prices are rising at the fastest pace in more than a decade. JAMES JACOBY: But it wasn’t just what the Fed was doing. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I'm going to help the American people who are hurting now. JAMES JACOBY: The new Biden administration was sending $1,400 checks to many Americans— FEMALE NEWSREADER: —stimulus money from the latest COVID relief bill is arriving in bank accounts all over the country. JAMES JACOBY: —extending unemployment benefits, tax credits and other relief programs. LARRY SUMMERS: I think there is a real possibility that within the year we're going to be dealing with the most serious incipient inflation problem that we have faced in the last 40 years. JAMES JACOBY: Critics like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers were publicly expressing concern that all the stimulus money from the Fed and the government would boost economic demand at a time when supply problems from the pandemic were still an issue. NOURIEL ROUBINI, Economist: People like myself, like Larry Summers and other, saw that that massive stimulus—it was unprecedented, an order of magnitude greater than the one we had after the global financial crisis—would lead to excessive demand, overheating and inflation. So we had an unprecedented fiscal stimulus. An unprecedented monetary stimulus. We had bail-out checks sent to everybody—every household, every firm, every financial institution. It was too much and should have been more selective. DION RABOUIN: There really just was all this money being pushed out in the economy. At the same time you've got the Federal Reserve, they're pushing out another $4 or $5 trillion into the economy, and so prices rose. MALE NEWSREADER: Core CPI inflation is set to rise sharply over the next three months. DION RABOUIN: This goes back to your Economics 101 textbook, right? When there's too much money chasing too few goods, prices go up, and that drives inflation higher. JAMES JACOBY: It only took a few months for the warnings to come true. FEMALE NEWSREADER: It seems like everything across the board is becoming more expensive. MALE ON-STREET INTERVIEW: Gas prices going up, food prices going up. JAMES JACOBY: But the Fed didn’t flinch. MALE NEWSREADER: A surge in energy, housing and food costs. JAMES JACOBY: It didn’t raise interest rates or pull back on quantitative easing. MALE REPORTER: The question now haunting economists is whether these price hikes are a pandemic blip or a sign of a long-term threat to the economy. JAMES JACOBY: And they had a word for the highest inflation in more than a decade. MALE NEWSREADER: Transitory. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Transitory. MALE NEWSREADER: Transitory. MALE NEWSREADER: Transitory. REP. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PA: Now, I know you believe this is transitory, but everything's transitory. Life is transitory. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: This inflation round is not transitory. This is a very hot inflation environment, and the longer the central banks wait, the greater the risk. I reacted quite strongly to the assertion that inflation was going to be transitory. I remember warning at that time that we simply don't have enough evidence that it's going to be transitory. Transitory is a very reassuring term, because I tell you, "Don't worry about it, it is temporary. It is reversible. Therefore you don't need to change behavior. So yes, we have inflation, but don't worry." JAMES JACOBY: What kind of evidence were you seeing that this may be stickier inflation than it is transitory? MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: One, what companies were telling us. And companies were saying, "I am not sure it's transitory. This is beyond the pandemic." I was talking to CEOs, and they were giving me a very clear message, the same message that was in one earning call after another earning call: They did not view the disruptions as being transitory. JAMES JACOBY: Why transitory? Why that word? What did you think at the time? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, saw a number of factors that we thought were conspiring to lead to high prices and that many of those factors would fade away over time. So for example, supply chains we saw were getting gummed up. But we also know that businesses were working very hard to un-gum those up, to untangle those supply chains. So we thought that they'd probably make more progress there than we expected. JAMES JACOBY: The Business Roundtable, for instance, was coming out and saying—polling their CEOs and saying, "Look, we're seeing inflation everywhere in what we're doing, OK?" How does something like that land for you at that time? NEEL KASHKARI: I mean, I take it seriously. I don't dismiss it. But then I map it against the data that we're seeing. But I'll just say if we did not have an outlier view on inflation or the economy overall, if you look at the consensus of forecasts of my experts in America, on Wall Street, around the world, they all basically had the same forecast, which is inflation's going to be transitory. It's going to come back down. Yes, there were outliers, but if you look at the consensus, we were well within the consensus of the experts who study this. JAMES JACOBY: Any regret about not taking the foot off the pedal, seeing what, for instance, the federal government was doing at that point in time? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I think, again, knowing what I know now, absolutely. JAMES JACOBY: I put the same questions to Brian Deese, one of the chief architects of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Rescue Plan. Were the inflation concerns at the time part of your internal deliberation about doing the Rescue Act? BRIAN DEESE, Dir., National Economic Council, 2021-23: It was an issue that we were always aware of and focused on and weighing in the weighing and balancing that you have to make when you do policymaking in the face of uncertainty. JAMES JACOBY: You’re saying that you knew that that could be a potential tradeoff. BRIAN DEESE: It is always a tradeoff. It was always a tradeoff, and the logic behind our actions was to get ahead of the pandemic, help bridge for families and businesses and also ensure against the downside risks to our economy. And I think if we look back now and recognize that the inflation challenge that the U.S. economy faces is not unique, it is a global challenge. Inflation is higher in Europe and the U.K. today than it is in the United States. JAMES JACOBY: Was there a concern at the White House that the Fed was running the economy too hot for too long? BRIAN DEESE: That is a question that I will institutionally not answer. JAMES JACOBY: Why? BRIAN DEESE: Because one of the hallmarks of our system is the independence of monetary policymaking. This has been something that you can't take for granted in our system, that prior presidents have not necessarily honored. But this president, this administration is quite committed to the proposition that the strength of our system, one of the strengths of the U.S. economy, is the trust that people have in the independence of our monetary authority. And therefore we make deliberate choices to not make comments on questions like that. FEMALE NEWSREADER: We're going to begin tonight with the rough road to recovery for America's economy. JAMES JACOBY: Through late 2021 and into 2022, stimulus from the Fed and the government would contribute to a rapid economic recovery. JOE BIDEN: As our economy has come roaring back, we've seen some price increases. JAMES JACOBY: But inflation continued climbing at the fastest pace in decades, hitting the poor and middle class the hardest— MALE REPORTER: You know, these price increases will be a real impact on families, and they're not going away any time soon. JAMES JACOBY: —the people the Fed had hoped its easy money policies would help the most. CHAPTER FOURTEEN A Different World MALE NEWSREADER: This is the epicenter of this rise in inflation. FEMALE NEWSREADER: —the highest inflation rate of any major city in the country. Housing prices— JAMES JACOBY: No city had it worse than Phoenix, which had the highest inflation rate in the nation. When I visited St. Mary’s Food Bank, the cars were lined up first thing in the morning. TOM KERTIS, Pres. and CEO, St. Mary’s Food Bank: Every day, my key team, we get an email with the number of people that come through. Yesterday was a 1,007 households. And it's not people, it's households coming through. They're feeding four or five people. And it's like, wow. And that's five days a week. They just don't have any other choice. We're hearing that their budget is being eaten up by all the impacts of inflation, and it's either that or they don't have food for their children. FEMALE SPEAKER 1: I'm a single mom, so sometimes at the end of the month I need the assistance. Because life has gotten a lot more expensive, and being a single parent, I can feel it. It's like choosing between your rent and your food. FEMALE SPEAKER 2: It's like, yesterday I spent a hundred bucks just to get cereal, milk and bread. And eggs. And that was basically it. And some lunch meat. And that was a hundred bucks, and that was our week's worth of food. And that's not going to feed six kids. JAMES JACOBY: When you did start seeing an increase in people coming? TOM KERTIS: It was the end of February this year, 2022. We saw a slight uptick, didn't know if it was real, but it kept climbing. And it's climbed all through summer. We thought that was a plateau, and then at the end of summer, it's continued to climb. And here we are today with 1,000 households coming through. We've seen a 26% increase year over year in the number of people coming to us for help. JAMES JACOBY: From 2021 to 2022? TOM KERTIS: Yes. And of that, 18% of the people are first-time people coming to the food bank. JAMES JACOBY: Is what you're seeing now actually worse than what you saw during the height of the pandemic? TOM KERTIS: It is worse now. And it's worse because the food was more available during the pandemic. We're seeing food availability going down. What was once predictable doesn't appear to be predictable anymore. It's probably going to get worse before it's going to get better, unfortunately. JAMES JACOBY: What brings you here? MALE SPEAKER: I'm just trying to get a little extra food. Can't really—you know, trying to stretch the dollar. JAMES JACOBY: Yeah. MALE SPEAKER: It's not hard to spend $200 at a grocery store and only have one week's worth of food for two people. JAMES JACOBY: Have you been coming here for a long time, or this is more recent? MALE SPEAKER: It's more recent, since probably the last six months I've been coming here. JAMES JACOBY: Are you working? Are you— MALE SPEAKER: Yeah, I'm working, but it's just not enough. JAMES JACOBY: We heard similar stories from credit counselors and their clients at a money management counseling center. KATE BULGER, Dir. of research, Money Management Intl.: You know, we're getting all these folks who are telling us for the first time they can't pay their bills, they can't make ends meet. And often when when they say that, they say, "I'm a good person. I've always paid my bills before." CRAIG BLECK, Counselor, Money Management Intl.: With the inflation, they have just eaten away their savings. People have told me, "I did the three to six months of savings for an emergency fund. That’s gone." JAMES JACOBY: So you're saying that it's not just folks that you're seeing that have had chronic problems with credit or—these are, there's a lot of new people that are coming to you now. OK. WANDA JENKINS, Counselor, Money Management Intl.: Yeah, a lot of new people. KATE BULGER: These are folks who had been making it before and were solidly middle class now, and today are struggling to make ends meet, struggling to keep their utilities on, struggling to stay in their apartment or their home, and are really in danger of falling out of the middle class. It's a shrinking middle class problem. JAMES JACOBY: How real are rent increases right now? DOMINIQUE PAYTON, Client: At a local shelter here in Phoenix, we've seen an uptick of new families and individuals coming in that just could no longer afford where they were living. Because even where they were living, their rents increase $500 to $1,000 in one month. WANDA JENKINS: Sometimes clients have called me—now, and they're angry when they call. They need our help, but they're angry, and I understand it. They're ashamed and they're crying and all of that, but I was there. I was one of them. JAMES JACOBY: Are your numbers up in terms of people that are seeking out help at the moment? KATE BULGER: So it's not just that we're getting more calls, it's that the folks who are calling us are in greater distress. Because now instead of calling us because they're just behind on their credit cards, they're calling us because they're behind on their credit cards and they're behind on their utilities and they're struggling with their housing payment. They are facing greater economic challenges I think and more diverse economic challenges than what they faced just a few years ago. JOHN ADEL, Client: It's a different world, but I have to tell you, I go to the store and I am just shocked. I'm keeping my nose above the waves right now, but I feel like that wave is a lot bigger than I thought and it's behind me and it's coming. CHAPTER FIFTEEN Things are Gonna Get Harder JAMES JACOBY: In the fall of 2021, with inflation at 6.8%—well above the Fed’s 2% target—Chairman Powell acknowledged it might not be transitory after all. JEROME POWELL: So I think the word "transitory" has different meanings to different people. To many it carries a sense of short-lived. We tended to use it to mean that it won’t leave a permanent mark in the form of higher inflation. I think it’s probably a good time to retire that word and try to explain more clearly what we mean. JAMES JACOBY: It would be the start of a new phase in the easy money experiment. JEROME POWELL: The committee is determined to take the measures necessary to restore price stability. Thank you. I look forward to your questions. JAMES JACOBY: Over several months, they’d raise interest rates. May 2022 JEROME POWELL: Good afternoon. It's nice to see everyone in person for the first time in a couple of years. JAMES JACOBY: In response to the rising inflation, the Fed would also pause quantitative easing and begin tightening. JEROME POWELL: At today's meeting, the committee raised the target range for the federal funds rate. We also decided to begin the process of reducing the size of our balance sheet. MALE FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR: But neither Powell nor any other Fed official has explained with any precision just how far the Fed will go. MALE NEWSREADER: The Federal Reserve raising a key interest rate three-quarters of a percent. MALE NEWSREADER: —its biggest hike in nearly three decades. MALE NEWSREADER: The Federal Reserve has raised its key interest rates again. MALE NEWSREADER: —and a move that seemed unfathomable to many just months ago has now happened twice in a row. JAMES JACOBY: Other events, like the war in Ukraine— MALE NEWSREADER: Russia is picking off Ukraine's military facilities one after another. JAMES JACOBY: —lockdowns in China— MALE NEWSREADER: China has decided to put its southern tech hub Shenzhen under a citywide lockdown. JAMES JACOBY: —and companies raising prices— RODNEY McMULLEN, CEO, Kroger: A little bit of inflation is always good in our business. JAMES JACOBY: —would all send inflation even higher and accelerate the Fed’s moves. MALE NEWSREADER: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaking at an annual economic summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming— JAMES JACOBY: Which brings us back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in August 2022—that annual meeting of central bankers where Jerome Powell signaled that he’d keep the Fed on course— MALE NEWSREADER: He made a call simply last year that didn't age well. JAMES JACOBY: —raising rates to try to combat inflation. JEROME POWELL: While higher interest rates, slower growth and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. JAMES JACOBY: How do you explain, for instance, to someone who is seeing their gas bills go up, their food bills go up, and groceries, their rents go up, how is it that higher interest rates and what you're doing with this very blunt instrument, how do you say that that's going to help them with those issues in particular? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, one of the reasons prices are high is because there's too much demand in the economy. And by raising interest rates—For example, we are going to slow down demand for housing, people going out and buying up homes, which eventually should prevent home prices and rents from continuing to climb. That should benefit workers. But things like gas prices, that's not being driven by us. I mean, that's being driven by the war, Russia invading Ukraine, Saudi Arabia cutting back production, big geopolitical forces. So there's some pieces of this that we can directly affect. Some pieces of this are out of our control. JAMES JACOBY: I mean, some people have said you're kind of—interest rates are almost like a hammer, a sledgehammer. It's not like a scalpel. Can these problems be solved with a scalpel, or you really do believe that you need to bring the hammer down to some extent? NEEL KASHKARI: Well, here's the thing. I would love to be able to bring it with a scalpel, and a year ago I argued that I thought many of these factors were transitory, meaning you've got these one-time events, they're going to pass and then inflation will come down, so let’s not bring out the hammer. That was my view. That didn't happen. So now we have to bring the hammer, because if we don't bring the hammer, this thing can get out of control. JAMES JACOBY: So to those who point to the Fed and say you ran it too hot for too long and that was an epic mistake, you say what? NEEL KASHKARI: I say look around the world. Other central banks adjusted more quickly than we did, to their credit, and unfortunately their economies are facing very similar inflation. And so yes, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we had tightened sooner, but I'm not kidding myself to think it would have made a big difference in where we are in inflation today. MALE NEWSREADER: Stick around for just a second as we watch the clock here, counting down to 2:30. JAMES JACOBY: A month after Jackson Hole, I caught up with business reporter Chris Leonard as the Fed was announcing another rate hike, moving at the fastest pace in 40 years. JEROME POWELL: Good afternoon. Today, the FOMC raised its policy interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: It can be a little bit hard to understand, because you hear, OK, the Fed hiked rates today to 3 1/2%. Well, what does that mean? That my credit card rate is going to be a little bit higher, or I'll have to borrow more money for a house? He is talking about a fundamental restructuring of the financial system. The financial system globally has been built around extremely low, ultra-low interest rates for 10 years. JEROME POWELL: My colleagues and I are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2% goal. CHRISTOPHER LEONARD: I think people don't appreciate the magnitude of what the Fed did over the last decade, and so this is going to be like a long-term thing playing out over time, probably over a year or two, of shifting to a higher rate environment and then the correction that that's going to cause. So he's talking about a huge adjustment that's not going to be an adjustment upward. Things aren't going to get easier. Things are going to get harder. MALE NEWSREADER: Tonight, the economic alarms are blaring. JAMES JACOBY: The specter of this kind of economic upheaval has heightened concerns about a recession— FEMALE NEWSREADER: The Fed has made it clear its number one priority is fighting inflation, even if it means the jobless rate, unemployment, goes up. MALE UNION ORGANIZER: Good evening! Are we going to let this corporation stop workers from joining a union? CROWD: No! JAMES JACOBY: It's also raised fears of layoffs, which has aggravated the organized labor movement. LIZ SHULER, President, AFL-CIO: I'm here with 12 1/2 million union members— JAMES JACOBY: Liz Shuler leads the largest union in the country. She's been urging the Fed to slow down. LIZ SHULER: Listen to your workers! We met with Chairman Powell and six board of governors because I think the Fed doesn't often get to hear from actual working people and how they're seeing things in the economy. JAMES JACOBY: What was your message for the Fed when they started to raise rates? LIZ SHULER: That raising the interest rates is bad for working people. That we think it puts the trajectory that we're on at risk, in terms of coming out of this pandemic. We know that we're in a consumer-driven economy, right? And if working people are not able to make ends meet, they're not going to be buying goods, and it's going to grind the economy to a halt. We can't take aggressive moves that are going to throw people out of work and basically balance the economy on the backs of working people. JAMES JACOBY: But I mean, the Fed is tasked with controlling inflation, and inflation is definitely bad for working people. So why advocate for the Fed to take its foot off the pedal? LIZ SHULER: Well, because the interest rate hikes they were implementing were happening quickly, and we thought it was happening too fast. And also, though, their tools aren't necessarily going to impact the things like gas prices and food prices, which is what most working people are worried about. DION RABOUIN: The Fed doesn't ever want to say this out loud, but their goal is, quite literally, to make businesses not want to hire people or to get businesses actually to lay people off. The Fed has estimated that the unemployment rate, under their very rosy projections, by the end of this year would rise to 4 1/2%. There is no real way for unemployment to get from 3 1/2% to 4 1/2% without millions of people losing their jobs. JAMES JACOBY: I understand the best-case scenario being that you bring down inflation without unemployment going up, and that somehow we avoid a recession. But if employment does stay strong and inflation stays high, then don't you have to basically hurt the jobs market? Isn't that the bottom line here? NEEL KASHKARI: We do have to. We are going to have to keep raising rates until we get inflation back down, that is absolutely true. And one of the sources of optimism, and it's mild optimism, is when there have been recessions that have been caused by the central bank raising interest rates, the good news is, once inflation is in check and they reverse the policies, the bounce back can be very quick. So we're not trying to engineer a recession, but if one were to happen, I feel pretty confident that we could have a very fast recovery. JAMES JACOBY: So how remote is the possibility that there could be much higher unemployment in the next couple of years? NEEL KASHKARI: I mean, I wouldn't say it's remote. It's hard to put the odds on it. CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Tide Goes Out JAMES JACOBY: Throughout 2022, the economy remained strong. Unemployment hovered near historic lows. FEMALE NEWSREADER: —showing unemployment at a half-century low. JAMES JACOBY: Wages were on the rise. MALE NEWSREADER: We also saw some wage growth, about 5% annually. JAMES JACOBY: —causing the Fed to continue pumping the brakes to try to cool down inflation. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The Fed has been raising rates in hopes of slowing the economy, and with so many businesses still hiring, that means the economy isn't really slowing that quickly. JAMES JACOBY: That riled Wall Street. MALE NEWSREADER: Facing the growing possibility of a recession, Wall Street spent another day in turmoil. FEMALE NEWSREADER: And you're probably feeling it in those 401(k)s. Stocks are headed— JAMES JACOBY: For the stock market and bond market, it was the worst year since the great financial crisis in 2008. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The NASDAQ down for four straight quarters for the first time since the dot-com bust. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: In 2022, we've had this very unusual situation whereby you've made double-digit losses on both risky assets, stocks, and risk-free assets, U.S. Treasuries. That's not supposed to happen. But there's been absolutely nowhere to hide. That is a big issue for retirement plans, pension systems, because no matter how well you diversified your portfolio, there was no risk mitigation in it at all. JAMES JACOBY: It was all losses? MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: It was all losses. FEMALE NEWSREADER: U.S. existing home sales plunged to a 12-year low in December. DION RABOUIN, The Wall Street Journal: You've seen a huge impact on the housing market. FEMALE NEWSREADER: The Federal Reserve's interest rate hiking cycle has pushed housing into a recession. DION RABOUIN: Housing prices have started actually coming down for the first time in a very long time. Mortgage applications have decreased. The crypto market, you've seen a number of companies wiped out. MALE NEWSREADER: Crypto winter is here. DION RABOUIN: That is not unrelated to what's happened with the Fed. MALE SPEAKER: Hold on to me, Sam. Let's go. FEMALE NEWSREADER: Sam Bankman-Fried faces investigations from U.S. regulators and potentially the Department of Justice. MALE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY: He invested $3 million into Luna, and now it's worth $1,000. STEVEN PEARLSTEIN, Contributing columnist, The Washington Post: You create these asset bubbles—that is, bubbles in stock markets and bond markets and real-estate markets and art markets, whatever people invest their money in with borrowed money. And then those bubbles burst, and then that causes a downturn. So rather than having— JAMES JACOBY: Steven Pearlstein has been reporting on the financial markets and the economy for almost 40 years. STEVEN PEARLSTEIN: Bubbles tend to be everything bubbles these days because if the source of it is cheap money, then you can be pretty much sure that it's not just real estate, or it's not just stocks, or it's not just tech and telecom. It's not just bitcoin. These things are connected by rubber bands with each other in a sort of way, and what propels one propels all of them. JAMES JACOBY: There's a famous line by investor Warren Buffet. WARREN BUFFET: You don't find out who's been swimming naked until the tide goes out. [Laughter] JAMES JACOBY: Almost everyone I spoke to repeated that line to describe what's been happening. RANA FOROOHAR, Associate editor, Financial Times: When interest rates start to rise and the tide pulls out, as Warren Buffet would say— CHARLES DUHIGG, The New York Times: You don't know who's swimming naked— DENNIS KELLEHER, Pres. & CEO, Better Markets: —until the tide goes out. AARON BENDIKSON, Partner, Onsight Capital Management: You see who's swimming without a bathing suit— NOURIEL ROUBINI: —when the tide is receding. SCOTT MINERD, Chief investment officer, Guggenheim Partners: We'll find out who's wearing their swimsuits when the tide goes out. RANA FOROOHAR: What's amazing is that a lot of people, and I would say I'm included in this, think that there probably will be a bigger correction at some point. JAMES JACOBY: Look, when you say you expect there to be a bigger correction, what does that actually mean? I mean, a lot of people are going to see this and get concerned about that, obviously. RANA FOROOHAR: Yeah. Yeah, let me try and be honest but not scare people [laughs], if that's possible. So the markets were down 20% last year. That seems like a lot, and if we were in a normal market cycle, I'd say, "OK, we're done. We're probably at the bottom." I don't know if I can safely say that we're at the bottom because of what we're looking back at, this age of easy money. Not just even since the financial crisis, but before that, for the decades that rates have been going down and down and down and debt has been going up and up and up. That's a long period of time where assets have arguably been artificially inflated, and so is it possible that you could see a continued correction at some point? It is possible. Now, I'm personally not going out and selling my entire stock portfolio; I don't want to scare people. But I do want to say that I think we are in a once-in-a-lifetime financial transition, and I think that everybody needs to sort of strap in for that, and if you need your money in the next couple of years, I would be more cautious than not. JAMES JACOBY: In these early months of 2023, on Wall Street, some have been betting that the Fed will relent and stop raising interest rates. Maybe even tolerate higher inflation. Because the higher it pushes rates, and the longer it does, the greater the risks. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: So the marketplace is saying the Fed is going to go too far and is going to be forced to reverse course. That is really unusual. And we've got to a situation now where the markets dismiss what the Fed is telling us. It's a moment where there are many more potential outcomes. Some are fine—a "soft landing." Some are not—a hard landing. And the truth is, you cannot distinguish enough between them. JAMES JACOBY: One of the most pessimistic voices is economist Nouriel Roubini, who became famous for his accurate prediction of the financial crisis in 2008. NOURIEL ROUBINI: We have had literally a few decades of ever-increasing bubbles that have been fed and supported by central banks. And not only have we had bubbles, but we've had bubbles that have been fed by excessive leverage, excessive private and public borrowing and excessive risk-taking. The party is over. Inflation is high and rising. Central banks have to increase interest rates. That is bursting the asset bubble. It's increasing the amount of the debt servicing of everybody who over-borrowed like crazy. So we lived in a bubble, in a dream, and this dream in a bubble is bursting and is turning into an economic and a financial nightmare. JAMES JACOBY: If Roubini's prediction of a debt crisis is correct, then Jim Millstein would be on the front lines of it. He’s known on Wall Street as the guy who countries and companies turn to when they run into trouble and need their debts to be restructured. Wouldn't a debt crisis actually be good for your business? JIM MILLSTEIN, Co-chairman, Guggenheim Securities: [Laughs] You know, I'm getting a little too old for this. [Laughs] JAMES JACOBY: [Laughs] Meaning what? Too old for what? JIM MILLSTEIN: This business! No, I—Yeah, no, it'll be a boom for the restructuring business. But I just don't think it's avoidable at this point. I think we're just—The bill has come due and it's going to have to be paid. JAMES JACOBY: How worried are you about what's happening right now? JIM MILLSTEIN: I've never been more worried in the 42 years that I've been a professional, either as a lawyer, banker or government servant. The American corporate sector has never been more levered in American history, never had more debt, and American households are just about as levered as they were heading into the 2008 financial crisis, whether it's student loans or mortgage loans or car loans or personal loans or credit card loans. We've borrowed a lot of money as a people. And so the Fed is absolutely right to try and get it under control by raising interest rates and slowing economic activity. But the most highly levered players in our economy are going to come under real stress, whether that's households or businesses or governments, as interest costs rise. JAMES JACOBY: Are you basically saying that we should be preparing right now? That there would be a bursting of this massive credit bubble? JIM MILLSTEIN: It's happening right in front of us. It may—It's happening right now. JAMES JACOBY: Are you usually this gloomy, or am I just getting you on a bad day? JIM MILLSTEIN: You got me on a bad day. [Laughs] JAMES JACOBY: One of the concerns is that there's a kind of debt bomb out there, both in the American economy as well as the global economy. How concerned are you about a credit bubble popping? NEEL KASHKARI: We're looking at the data. We're not seeing evidence of such a popping. We're not seeing evidence of delinquencies taking off. Might it happen in the future? It might, but I'm not seeing evidence of it. Households on average have very strong balance sheets. The big banks, which can be very risky for the economy, are well-capitalized relative to where they were before 2008. So we're not seeing evidence of it yet. Can't rule it out. JAMES JACOBY: So I guess the question though is how much disruption in the financial markets are you willing to tolerate now that they're adjusting to this new interest rate environment, after more than a decade of zero rates? NEEL KASHKARI: We live in a market economy, and market participants need to find a way to adjust to a changing economic landscape. It's not the Fed's job to bail out Wall Street investors if their stock portfolios go down. Obviously, we need to keep systemic risk from spilling across the whole economy, and when those events happen, we are prepared to act. But from—in my view, the bar of us acting, the bar from us acting should be quite high. JAMES JACOBY: I mean, the Fed has come to the rescue several times, and we've talked about this in the past, of the financial markets that had grown vulnerable and brittle. So, are you saying—I'm just, again I'm asking, what degree of disruption would you have to see in order for the Fed to intervene? NEEL KASHKARI: We're a long, long way away from that. I guess I would say it that way. We're a long, long way for any kind of disruption that would warrant us stepping in in that way. JAMES JACOBY: Less than five months after that interview, the Fed would indeed have to step in. FEMALE NEWSREADER: In breaking news, a U.S. Federal Reserve has bailed out the Silicon Valley Bank, which had collapsed over the weekend. JAMES JACOBY: It enacted emergency measures to shore up the banking system after two banks collapsed. MALE NEWSREADER: This is the biggest bank collapse since the 2008 financial crisis. JOE BIDEN: There are important questions of how these banks got into the circumstance in the first place. SHEILA BAIR: We're seeing a potential fragility in the system related to monetary policy. If we hadn't been driving our economy for 14 years with easy money and then trying to really quickly undo that, no, we wouldn't be having these problems now. Absolutely not. JAMES JACOBY: What should the Fed do? SHEILA BAIR: So, for a long time, I've advocated that the Fed should be raising rates. But even I believe now they need to hit pause. They've gone too far, too fast. They need to hit pause and assess the impact on the financial system and the economy. JAMES JACOBY: It's unclear what the Fed will do next. But just days before the bank failures, Jerome Powell appeared before Congress to answer tough questions about the economy. JEROME POWELL: We actually don’t think that we need to see a sharp or enormous increase in unemployment to get inflation under control. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MA: I’m looking at your projections. Do you call laying off 2 million people this year not a sharp increase? JAMES JACOBY: The hearing was a showcase of partisan politics and government gridlock. SEN. KEVIN CRAMER, (R) ND: Raising interest rates won’t stop Senate Democrats and President Biden from overtaxing, overspending, overborrowing, overregulating. JAMES JACOBY: And it was yet another reminder of how, in an era of political dysfunction, we’ve become so dependent on the Fed, and on easy money, to drive the American economy. STEVEN PEARLSTEIN: The economy needs to get back into balance, and that will be painful. And if we keep putting off the day of reckoning, we’ll just make the day of reckoning a bigger day of reckoning. JAMES JACOBY: How do you think we’ll look back at this era of easy money? STEVEN PEARLSTEIN: Unfortunately, I think we may look back on it as something of a golden era, because cheap and free money, without consequences, is great. But in other ways, we will think about it as a lesson for the future, which is that it was a mistake. MOHAMED A. EL-ERIAN: I think that we're going to look back on this era as being totally exceptional historically, and one where we didn't fulfill its potential. We lost sight of something critical: We lost sight of how we grow our economy in a sustainable and inclusive fashion. The world of easy money went way too far. Way, way too far. Let's do the other stuff that's needed. The stuff that really promotes genuine, durable, inclusive growth and not this stuff that creates artificial growth. We are capable of producing that. None of that is in the hands of the Fed. They don't invest in infrastructure. They can't reform the tax system. They can't help labor retraining. This is a political problem.
How does a bank collapse in 48 hours? A timeline of the SVB fall
By Ramishah Maruf and Allison Morrow, CNN
This week, the go-to bank for US tech startups came rapidly unglued, leaving its high-powered customers and investors in limbo.
Silicon Valley Bank, facing a sudden bank run and capital crisis, collapsed Friday morning and was taken over by federal regulators.
It was the largest failure of a US bank since Washington Mutual in 2008.
Here’s what we know about the bank’s downfall, and what might come next.
What is SVB?
Founded in 1983, SVB specialized in banking for tech startups. It provided financing for almost half of US venture-backed technology and health care companies.
While relatively unknown outside of Silicon Valley, SVB was among the top 20 American commercial banks, with $209 billion in total assets at the end of last year, according to the FDIC.
Why did it fail?
In short, SVB encountered a classic run on the bank.
The longer version is a bit more complicated.
Several forces collided to take down the banker.
First, there was the Federal Reserve, which began raising interest rates a year ago to tame inflation. The Fed moved aggressively, and higher borrowing costs sapped the momentum of tech stocks that had benefited SVB.
Higher interest rates also eroded the value of long-term bonds that SVB and other banks gobbled up during the era of ultra-low, near-zero interest rates. SVB’s $21 billion bond portfolio was yielding an average of 1.79% — the current 10-year Treasury yield is about 3.9%.
At the same time, venture capital began drying up, forcing startups to draw down funds held by SVB. So the bank was sitting on a mountain of unrealized losses in bonds just as the pace of customer withdrawals was escalating.
The panic takes root…
On Wednesday, SVB announced it had sold a bunch of securities at a loss, and that it would also sell $2.25 billion in new shares to shore up its balance sheet. That triggered a panic among key venture capital firms, who reportedly advised companies to withdraw their money from the bank.
The bank’s stock began plummeting Thursday morning and by the afternoon it was dragging other bank shares down with it as investors began to fear a repeat of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
By Friday morning, trading in SVB shares was halted and it had abandoned efforts to quickly raise capital or find a buyer. California regulators intervened, shutting the bank down and placing it in receivership under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Contagion fears subside
Despite initial panic on Wall Street, analysts said SVB’s collapse is unlikely to set off the kind of domino effect that gripped the banking industry during the financial crisis.
“The system is as well-capitalized and liquid as it has ever been,” Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi said. “The banks that are now in trouble are much too small to be a meaningful threat to the broader system.”
No later than Monday morning, all insured depositors will have full access to their insured deposits, according to the FDIC. It will pay uninsured depositors an “advance dividend within the next week.”
So, while a broader contagion is unlikely, smaller banks that are disproportionately tied to cash-strapped industries like tech and crypto may be in for a rough ride, according to Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.
“Everyone on Wall Street knew that the Fed’s rate-hiking campaign would eventually break something, and right now that is taking down small banks,” Moya said on Friday.
The FDIC typically sells a failed bank’s assets to other banks, using the proceeds to repay depositors whose funds weren’t insured.
A buyer could still emerge for SVB, though it’s far from guaranteed.
U.S. regulators try to reduce bank-run risk, discuss fund to backstop deposits if more banks fail in wake of SVB collapse
BYTONY CZUCZKA, VICTORIA CAVALIERE AND BLOOMBERG
US regulators are racing against the clock to find solutions for failed Silicon Valley Bank while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said officials are focusing on protecting depositors, as officials seek to avoid a wider bank run.
After SVB collapsed into receivership on Friday in the biggest bank failure in over a decade, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. kicked off an auction process for its assets late Saturday, as it aims to make a portion of clients’ uninsured deposits available as soon as Monday, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The agency and the Federal Reserve have also discussed a fund to backstop deposits if more banks fail as part of wider contingency planning, people said.
Those efforts are aimed at protecting depositors, rather than bailing out investors, Yellen said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“During the financial crisis there were investors and owners of systemic large banks that were bailed out,” the Treasury Secretary said. “And we’re certainly not looking — and the reforms that have been put in place means that we’re not going to do that again. But we are concerned about depositors and we’re focused on trying to meet their needs.”
Democratic Representative Ro Khanna, whose California district is home to SVB, said the FDIC is working to find a buyer and urged the US government to guarantee all of the bank’s deposits. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” he’s “hopeful that something can be announced today to move forward.”
Concern about the health of other smaller banks focused on the venture capital and startup communities is prompting regulators to consider extraordinary measures. Officials have discussed the new fund to backstop deposits in conversations with banking executives, in the hope that setting up such a vehicle would reassure depositors and help contain any panic, said the people. They asked not to be identified because the talks weren’t public.
Final bids for SVB’s assets are due Sunday afternoon but a winner may not be known until late in the day, other people with knowledge said.
In her CBS interview, Yellen renewed assurances that the US banking system is safe, well-capitalized and resilient.
“I simply want to say that we’re very aware of the problems that depositors will have,” she said. “Many of them are small businesses that employ people across the country and of course this is a significant concern and working with regulators to try to address these concerns.”
US regulators are under time pressure to sell assets of SVB Financial Group, the bank’s parent, prompting offers by some investment firms to provide financing to companies with cash trapped at Silicon Valley Bank.
Asked whether the FDIC might be open to a “foreign bank” coming in as a buyer, Yellen said, “I’m sure they’re considering a wide range of available options that include acquisitions.”
While the FDIC insures deposits of up to $250,000, the vast majority of funds held in at SVB far exceeded that. The agency has said it will make 100% of protected deposits available on Monday.
Asked on “Face the Nation” about the option of a private-sector bank buying SVB’s assets, Khanna said: “That would be the ideal situation and our delegation that talked to the FDIC last night made that clear. That’s what we urged them to work on, they said they’re working on it.”
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Saturday that US taxpayers shouldn’t bail out Silicon Valley Bank. “Private investors can purchase the bank and its assets,” Haley, a former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement.
The White House repeated its assurances on the US banking system, with Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young citing regulatory changes put in place after the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“What I’ll say about the banking system overall is it’s more resilient, and has a better foundation than before the financial crisis,” Young said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Americans can have confidence in the safety and soundness of our banking system” and the US economy is “extremely strong,” Yellen said on CBS.
List of bank failures in the usa
Wiki of collapse of silicon valley bank
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@Pioneer1 they are lazy... and afraid. Too many black people in the usa don't admit they are afraid of white power. Even if they can't comprehend why, or give details to history, they are. A family member once told me a personal story about being a child and how their elders reacted to white power. I do not speak about my personal life so I can't give details. but the story proved to me that fear > than laziness. Fear is > ignorance. Let's be blunt, Trayvon MArtin's mother was on nationwide television and talked about forgiveness. Now, what message does that give? We all know trayvon martin murdered and why? it was clearly based on a negative bias toward a black child by a white person. So we can talk of media influence and lawyers and guidance but what do children really see with those responses... fear. Study plus discipline matter in energy/manufacturing/real estate... but also cruelty. Exxon former standard oil wasn't built on hard work alone. rockefeller killed or hurt many people. Real estate, i just have to mention the native american. Yes, study plus discipline. but the people who own most industries in the usa if you look at the root of their ownership it isn't merit, it is violence that is at the core of alot of their money, and Black people... are guided to not be violent by our elders in the usa historically. Look at crypto. Many rich whites put their money in for a get profit quick scheme, which was perfect. new market, most people, white black female male or other don't know, millions of people had their money taken. Yes, it takes study to know when. it takes discipline to organize when to pull out. but, they also committed an act of violence. they knew they were using media to support a financial trick, that was and did hurt many people, of all races. I am not saying your wrong but important added elements exist with black people and we are not willing to admit them usually. Remember the million man march. Many black people said Black men were too lazy too undisciplined to gather together, commit no violence, but the black men did, but what did our leaders reply with? did they reply with planning, did they reply with focus, did they reply with the bare minimum of honesty? no, the leaders present, many of them not entertainers, many of them elected officials/ religious leaders did no different than entertainers. We have a ways to go You are right the black populace in the USA needs to grow, to weed out laziness, ildiscipline, but it also needs to weed out lies + fear cause lies+ fear will breed laziness + ildiscipline
@Stefan just for the record, I didn't share this as someone who is personally invested in any crypto. I just know people who are and I know people in this community who are. so I shared. but I want it known I am not an investor in crypto and I have offline spoken against crypto to my friends, some of whom are deeply involved. I don't share cause I always concur or agree with. I share Black cause the black community is internally multiracial and I want all of the races in the Black community to grow. @Troy I concur to your point about crypto not being for the general populace. But I use more statistics. During the sars -cov-2 the white man admitted that circa 70% of children in the poor sections of los angeles didn't have internet for the online school thing. A similar number the white man stated for the entire continent of africa, which the white man also states has the quickest growing quantity of under twenties in humanity. The internet, all the financial management schemes touted all the time, are clearly not for the general populous in the usa or on earth with such numbers. @ProfDyes, the greatest lesson in monopoly is what happens when a player has a little money , owns no lands, and all lands are sold, and is still playing:) In defense, ever since the dutch started their stock market, the white community has always created radical financial markets to sucker those who think they can get lucky. The slot machine is a well known device by know and yet, still does a lot of damage to personal accounts. Fiscally wealthy whites comprehend all others, including poor whites, will always have many who will gamble even knowing the odds is bad, crypto is merely one of many. Why do people keep playing monopoly when they are clearly finished:) @Delano truth. but, people will always risk cause the truth is, .001 percent risk and win, that is the genius of stock markets, card tables at macau, crypto, many people know, if you are not willing to kill somebody for their wealth or enslave somebody for their labor, then absent those sturdier schemes to get rich quick, you have to gamble to get quick and ...
here is some crypto information, shared to me by someone black , who is into crypto, but not a member of this forum or website
@Mzuri conditioning is the key, athletes play in thier 30s , near 40s some after 40s all based on conditioning, not age, find the time and slowly build yourself up and you can do those moves, it takes time, it takes time, but you can get there...now you may have to take time off your crypto analysis so:) ... get out there and dance on the roller skates in terms of rollerskating, I like skateboarding plus roller derby. IN NYC many rollerskating rinks exists and I have been to a few, but that dancing on rollerskates or congenial activity on rollerskates never clicked for me
A person asked: is black america really prepared to take on crypto?
The questionner offered the pulpit to any, to say what they want, their initial question started with the black community, not black individuals. all the responses before my miniature reply in the post concern black individual actions.
What black individuals have money?
What black laborers can afford to do?
The mindset of black individuals?
The financial opportunity of black individuals?
The black community of the USA has a large quantity. tens of millions of people at least. The black community in the USA never had and has no centralized organization. So, the most raw, unhopeful, totally strategic, absent faith answer to your question is...
The black community is not prepared in anyway to do anything
Now, I like to be positive or functional. Black america is like white america like native america like latino america like asian americans. I can tell you with no doubt that in NYC, the russian/italian/white jews/white latinos/white rich/white dirt poor are not huddled together plotting and planning. I can tell you that the old chinese/new chinese/taiwanese/indians <from india>/koreans/phillipinos/asian rich/asian dirt poor are not huddled together plotting and planning. I can tell you the dominicans/puerto ricans/mexicans/colombians/latino rich/latino dirt poor are not huddled together plotting or planning. What is my point? no group in the usa is cohesive. Not one. The white community has power in their parts, that is how they have the illusion of unity. The white jew has media/ the italian plus irish have the law enforcement/ the russians do a lot of modern mob work. They each have their silos. Tentative peace with knives always ready. Now I know the black community has a penchant for individuals in it to advertise our community as the only one not huddled together, but none are. The problem is, the black communities parts are less pleasant to each other. The haitian/jamaican/trinidadian/nigerian/south african/ yes the DOSers/ < my particular tribe> /Black asians <and all of their parts from india/phillipines et cetera>/black latinos and all of their parts from dominican republic/haiti/colombia/mexico and et cetera/black jews/black rich/black poor are less congenial to each other. We tend to fight more loudly with each other when we coalesce. But in our defense we have many problems.
Now that I have deleted the lack of a cohesive community argument, which tends to arrive with these questions as being a factor.
What is the positive or functional path?
The question is, which group in black america is prepared or nearest prepared to invest in crypto currencies/dominate sectors of crypto currencies?
To that end, fiscally wealthy blacks are. But dominating a financial market as a small populace needs to have an agenda.
When the dutch made the east india company, that started new amsterdam, that became new york, they did it cause holland has no natural resources and is surrounded, at that time, by center countries of enpires or their rivals. So the dutch realized the idea of a financial trading mechanism may give them a way to compete in between giants. But, the dutch didn't realize that no matter how smart a little group is, a little group is still little on the battle field and in the end, holland was fanned away.
So, the sequent question after which group in black america is what is their plan upon success? What do they plan to do with the wealth from crypto?
Is the answer live it up? so...
Hill Harper Launches First Black-Owned Digital Wallet And Cryptocurrency Exchange App In U.S. History
from Njera Perkins < https://www.linkedin.com/in/njera-perkins >
Famed actor Hill Harper is getting into the money game by way of financial technology that’s powering a newly-launched digital wallet for investors of color.
According to a press release, Harper announced the launch of The Black Wall Street app just in time for Financial Literacy Month as a means to empower Black and Latinx investors and contribute to closing the racial wealth gap in America. This feat marks the first-ever Black-owned digital wallet and cryptocurrency exchange platform to exist in the U.S.
Through this digital fintech platform, Harper hopes to create the world’s largest investment and financial literacy curriculum/toolkit for communities of color to use across the diaspora.
“Our technology seeks to replicate the brick and mortar Black Wall Street, as a digital ecosystem that will galvanize the financially excluded and directly stimulate the economic growth and spending in marginalized communities everywhere,” Harper shares in a statement. “With the Black Wall Street technology, we seek to make obsolete payday lenders and other financial predators plaguing our communities, while simultaneously creating cross generational wealth transfer, for people who have historically been taught to work for our wages instead of making our wages work for us…because Black Cash Matters.”
The Black Wall Street app is both named after and inspired by the legacy of the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was once considered the epicenter of thriving Black businesses.
Next month, the new digital platform will acknowledge the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with a monumental, 30-market financial literacy campaign and bus tour starting in Los Angeles, CA and ending on Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, OK from May 31 to June 1.
The tour will visit some of the most disenfranchised communities across the country and introduce financial literacy as well as cryptocurrency in an effort to celebrate the Greenwood legacy, which is considered the most successful Black economic community in U.S. history.
“What the Black Wall Street was in Tulsa and the Greenwood district is just very empowering,” Harper told CNBC. “There were three pillars that created the wealth that was created in the Black Wall Street [in Tulsa],” he notes with the first two being institutional ownership and institutional trust by the community.
“Pillar number three was the movement of money or capital within the ecosystem where dollars changed hands 60 to 100 times within a year before it left that Black community,” he adds.
The Black Wall Street’s Crypto-curriculum and DigitalWallet campaigns will be led by Harper in partnership with world-leading cryptocurrency exchange expert, Najah Roberts.
The ultimate goal of The Black Wall Street is to offer Black and Brown communities a fighting chance to get involved in the transfer of wealth through cryptocurrency and decentralized finance.
The time for communities of color to regain their financial independence is now and Harper hopes to use his new platform to pave the way for better financial futures for generations to come.
For more information about The Black Wall Street, visit its website. < https://theblackwallstreet.com/ >