Rich and Incompetent

Briton Ryle

Posted September 29, 2021

I guess “histrionics” is a good way to describe what’s been going on in Congress the last few days. Wrangling over raising the debt limit to pay for THEIR spending, calling the Fed chief a “dangerous man”…

You gotta love how these shameless senators — who are mostly millionaires — get on their soapboxes and pretend that massive debt load is somebody else’s fault. It’s truly the theater of the absurd. 

As for Chairman Powell, I’m not sure any senator should be calling him dangerous without taking a good long look in the mirror first. 

The way I see it, the hyperdrive to make quarterly profit numbers that really got cooking in the 1980s (thanks a lot, Jack Welch) drove corporations to gut their pension plans and now all of our retirements are sitting in the stock market. So if Captain Powell tries to keep a little wind in that sail, well, that’s just fine by me. 

At least he’s trying. Perhaps the good senator would like to explain to all of us where our Social Security money went…

Of course, Powell isn’t getting off the hook so easily. He just had two of his governors quit cuz I guess somebody leaked their brokerage statements that detail their trading activity. Very frequent, very large and, huh, whaddya know, very profitable.

It’s almost as if knowing what the Fed is going to do ahead of time could be useful information. Like maybe in March of 2020, when the pandemic hit and the stock market plunged faster than it ever had before. I always wondered who was stepping in to buy that freakin dip…

When an Insider Isn’t an “Insider” 

I mean, we all knew there was going to be an opportunity to pick up stocks on the cheap. Check the Wealth Daily archives and you’ll find plenty of articles saying that there would be a great opportunity to buy when there was blood in the streets…

And there were plenty of suggestions about which stocks would offer the most upside when the market did indeed turn higher…

It was even reasonable to expect that there would be action from Powell and his Fed cronies at some point. 

But it was the “when” that was difficult to nail down. At least for those of us who aren’t insiders at the Fed. 

You may not recall, but Powell’s first pandemic rate cut took place on March 3, 2020. That was a Tuesday. The cut was 50 basis points. And the market didn’t respond well. At all. In fact, in the two weeks after that (deliberately?) tepid response, the S&P 500 fell another thousand points, about 30%.

It was March 14 when Powell pulled out the really big guns. Now, March 14, 2020, was a Sunday. Investors couldn’t respond right away. Of course, if you had some way of seeing the future, like a magic crystal ball or a seat at the Fed table, you could’ve been ready. 

“Let’s Have Drinks at the Club”

I know, the market didn’t bottom for another week after Powell cut rates to zero. Nevertheless, it seems to me that if you’re an insider at the Fed and make investment decisions based on information that only you and a handful of others have, that constitutes insider trading.

But of course, for that to be a law, Congress would have to make it a law. And then Congress would have to abide by that law. And then they’d have to stop trading based on information that hadn’t been made public yet or perhaps face some consequences that you can bet your behind would be a lot milder than anything you or I would face. And then it would suddenly get harder for those in Congress to become millionaires.

What a travesty that would be! The Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if elected officials suddenly had to actually serve the country instead of doing nothing and getting rich in the process, as Jefferson and his buddies clearly intended. 

So two Fed governors quit their jobs and promised to sell their stock to prevent any investigations. You gotta admit, it takes some stones to suggest that converting your paper wealth into actual dollars is some kind of punishment.

The really funny part is, you know any investigation would be led by Congress. And those senators would bitch and moan about the conflict of interest, do nothing, and then meet their Fed buddies at the club and laugh about over some 50-year-old scotch.

What a country.

Until next time,

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Briton Ryle

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A 21-year veteran of the newsletter business, Briton Ryle is the editor of The Wealth Advisory income stock newsletter, with a focus on top-quality dividend growth stocks and REITs. Briton also manages the Real Income Trader advisory service, where his readers take regular cash payouts using a low-risk covered call option strategy. He is also the managing editor of the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Briton, click here.

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