Two weeks ago, Fed Presidents Robert Kaplan and Eric Rosengren (and to a lesser, though still notable extent, Fed Chair Powell himself) were ‘outed’ for their multi-million-dollar stock and bond trades, sparking widespread outrage, bolstering claims that not only is the market rigged and manipulated by the Fed but that it is rigged directly for the benefit of Fed members like Kaplan and Rosengren who – whether they intended or not – benefited monetarily from their own decisions and their inside information that nobody else was privy to..
While none of the transactions appears to violate the Fed’s code of conduct, CNBC reported, municipal bonds are an asset class that are far more niche that stocks or ETFs.
Officials “should be careful to avoid any dealings or other conduct that might convey even an appearance of conflict between their personal interests, the interests of the system, and the public interest,” the Fed’s code of conduct says.
It was such ‘bad optics’ that less than two days after the widespread public fury at this grotesque discovery, the presidents of the Federal Reserve banks of Boston and Dallas said they would sell their individual stock holdings by Sept. 30 amid “ethics concerns”, and invest the proceeds in diversified index funds or hold them in cash.
Kaplan: Data Now Suggest Sept. Taper Announcement, Oct. Start
“Dump it all” pic.twitter.com/3ztLyKYXYO
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 8, 2021
While we are sure the Fed officials hoped this would satisfy the ignorant masses… it has not. And as The Wall Street Journal reports, two advocacy groups and a former Fed adviser have said that The Fed should fire at least one (and perhaps both) of the Fed officials over their “pandemic profiteering trading conduct.”
Better Markets, a group that pushes for tighter financial regulation; the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy’s Fed Up campaign; and Andrew Levin, a former top Federal Reserve staff member and now a professor at Dartmouth College, are calling for the Fed to take action against Messrs. Kaplan and Rosengren.
“It’s time for the Fed to do what leaders are supposed to do: Lead by example,” Better Markets president and chief executive officer Dennis Kelleher wrote in a letter sent to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell Tuesday.
Messrs. Kaplan and Rosengren, both should resign or be fired “for having lost the confidence and trust of the American people and, one would think, the Chairman of the U.S. central bank,” Mr. Kelleher said.
As The Fed is about to shift policy regimes into a taper of its unprecedented fre-money-gasm-machines, Mr. Kelleher added:
“This is no time for the American people to lose confidence and trust in the Fed, which must be above reproach, not set the lowest bar for ethical and legal conduct,”
Some Fed watchers say the trading raises questions about who policy was designed to help.
“There are a lot of reasons that working people are right to wonder if the Fed has their best interests in mind,” said Benjamin Dulchin, campaign director for Fed Up.
“These trades are only the most obvious reason, but it makes it harder for the Fed to do its job,” Mr. Dulchin said, adding if he were Mr. Kaplan or Mr. Rosengren, “I would resign.”
There is, however, one man supportive of Kaplan – his predecessor at the Dallas Fed, Rich Fisher, who shrugged off the million-dollar trades as nothing, noting that in fact, Kaplan was “talking against his own book…”
“Remember Robert Kaplan was talking against his own book. He’s a hawk,” says Former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher. pic.twitter.com/hDgIiNyR4s
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) September 21, 2021
But, ‘Dick’, actions speak louder than words eh? And now that he has been shamed into cutting all market exposure, who cares whether he is hawkish or dovish – he’s made his!