After your article has finished printing, click here to return.

The Federal Reserve is rife with conflicts of interest.

Heads of big banks sit on the boards of the Federal Reserve, giving themselves bailouts and cut-rate loans at the expense of the taxpayer.

The Federal Reserve is also, in fact, not entirely a federal agency. In 1982 the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, found[1] that the Federal Reserve banks are actually “independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations” and “for purposes of the FTCA [Federal Tort Claims Act]”.

Image placeholder
The Federal Reserve is largely comprised by the banks that it is meant to regulate.

An amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act resulted in a second audit of the Federal Reserve by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), after which a 120 page report was publicly released.[2]

The office of Senator Bernie Sanders produced a shorter summary report on October 19, 2011 entitled “The Sanders Report on the GAO Audit on Major Conflicts of Interest at the Federal Reserve.” [3]

The GAO was able to uncover 18 former and current individuals sitting on the Federal Reserve’s board who were affiliated with the financial institutions and corporations that received the so-called emergency loans, better known as “bailouts” from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis in the United States. This includes major companies like JP Morgan Chase, General Electric and Lehman Brothers.[4]

On top of this, many of the members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors actually own stocks or even work directly by the banks that are supervised and regulated by the Federal Reserve, meaning that essentially the regulators are regulating themselves. These same board members have power over many of the Federal Reserve’s operations, even matters of salaries and personnel.[5]

Directors of Federal Reserve Banks who are also employees of banking institutions or hold stock in said entities are currently able to participate in deciding the interest rates for financial institutions receiving loans from the Federal Reserve, along with being allowed to participate in the approval or disapproval of loans to certain financial institutions.[6]

The Federal Reserve system not only does not publicly disclose their regulations in matters of real or potential conflicts of interest but it also does not disclose when or why it grants waivers for the conflict of interest regulations to select banks.[7]

In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Reserve Board utilized their emergency authority under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 several times in order to authorize new financial assistance to particular financial institutions.

Under two of the Federal Reserve’s programs, less than 50 percent of the total transaction amount by parent company country of domicile was devoted to the United States. The Government Accountability Office found that only 35% of loans went to American companies under one of the Federal Reserve’s programs while 41% in loans went to American companies under another one of the Federal Reserve’s lending programs.[8]

Under one program, roughly 65% of the loans were made to American branches, agencies and subsidiaries of entirely foreign institutions.[8]

From December 1, 2007 to July 21, 2010, the Federal Reserve made more than $16 trillion in loans[9], including large sums to institutions not based in the United States. $868 billion went to Barclays PLC of the United Kingdom, $541 billion to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC of the United Kingdom, $354 billion to German Deutsche Bank AG, $287 billion to Switzerland’s UBS AG, $181 billion to the United Kingdom’s Bank of Scotland PLC and more.[9]

In all, these loans are larger than the entire current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011, which was a relatively small sum of $15.294 trillion.[10]

Since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 passed the dollar has steadily declined in value[11], while the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Consumer Price Index has steadily risen[12].

The failure of fiat currency, like the notes issued by the Federal Reserve, dates back not only to the American colonial period[13][14], but also to the Roman empire[15]. The most dramatic example of how fiat currency can quickly spiral out of control is the hyperinflation experienced in Germany, which at the time was the Weimar Republic, between 1921 and 1924. From 1918 to around 1923, the value of one gold Mark in paper Marks skyrocketed from one to one trillion.[16]

While inflation in the United States has never been so dramatic, there have been some great concerns over the conflicts of interest and practices at the Federal Reserve coming from both conservatives and progressives – spawning works like 2009’s “End the Fed” by Congressman Ron Paul[17], and the National Emergency Employment Defense Act from Congressman Dennis Kucinich[18].


Go back