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October 19, 2021

Statement on Revelations that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell Engaged in Personal Trading During the Pandemic in 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Dennis Kelleher, Co-founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Better Markets, issued the following statement regarding the revelations that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell traded during the pandemic in 2020:

“It was reported yesterday that the most senior leader of the U.S. central bank, Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell, had substantial personal trading activity during the pandemic in 2020 when millions of Americans were sick, hospitals were overflowing, hundreds of thousands of Americans were dying, and tens of millions of Americans were being thrown out of work, facing economic devastation, and not knowing how they were going to feed their families or pay their rent.

First and most importantly, regardless of compliance with any laws, Chair Powell’s trading violated clear and applicable Fed policies (as detailed here), and that creates a conflict of interest that cripples his ability to fairly and credibly evaluate the conduct of others or lead an “independent” review of the Fed’s policies.  Second, regardless of motive or intent, Chair Powell’s trading further undermines public confidence and trust in the Fed at a time when it can least afford it due to pending major monetary policy changes.  Third, even though his trading is different than regional Presidents Kaplan or Rosengren, it still reflects incredibly bad judgment and a shocking insensitivity to the wrenching economic pain and suffering of Main Street families.  Fourth, these revelations again highlight the need for the Fed to come clean with the American people and disclose the details of everyone at the Fed who traded during the pandemic.  Finally, the Fed has repeatedly claimed that the trading by its leaders complied with its rules and policies, but still refuses to disclose them.  That must stop; the Fed must disclose all of the specific policies, rules and approvals that it claims permitted its leaders to trade during the pandemic.

“The credibility, effectiveness, and reputation of the Fed are at stake and could die of a thousand cuts as this scandal grows.  Unless and until Chair Powell ends the misguided and ineffective incremental damage control strategy and directs the Fed to be fully transparent, neither he nor the Fed will regain or deserve the trust of the American, as we have said for more than a month.  It’s not too late for Chair Powell to do the right thing, but time is running out.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.org.

 

 

 

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