Two Opposing Amendments Emerge That Seek To Either Perpetuate The Fed's Secrecy, Or Overturn It
As the time to make or break the Fiat Money Overlords (no, not Chrysler), aka the Successor to the Second Bank of The United States which President Andrew Jackson managed to disassemble in 1832, yet which came back with a vengeance in 1913 under the guise of the Federal Reserve, approaches, two independent amendments emerged today: one drafted by Fed transparency proponents Ron Paul and Alan Grayson (found here) and one by Bank of America and Citigroup's favorite Congressman, North Carolina democrat Mel Watt (found here). As a reminder, here is a list of the Congressman's top contributors and sources of money in 2007-2008, which may explain some of his motivations: #1 Bank of America;#2 Wachovia Corp;#3 American Express;#4 American Bankers Assn.
Some more color:
in 2007-08, [Watt] received $187,359 from the Finance/Real Estate sector,
more than double the amount of money he received from any other sector.
Outside of North Carolina, his home state, Watt received the most
contributions from Washington D.C. and New York City.
Here is what the HuffPo had to say about the parallel fight between these two amendments, whose outcome will undoubtedly determine the future of America's financial, and thus political, system:
Watt pitched his amendment in a letter to colleagues circulated
Tuesday. "While my amendment will certainly fall short of demands by
those intent on destroying the independence (if not the existence) of
the Fed, the critics of my amendment will have to concede...that my
amendment will provide transparency of the Fed's financial operations
that will be completely unprecedented," he wrote.
In fact, the critics are conceding no such thing. "The Watt
Amendment, as written today, actually places new restrictions on the
little authority that exists, such as it is, for independent auditing
of the Fed," Grayson said. "It keeps in place all existing restrictions
and adds four more. So I don't see why anybody would reasonably think
that it creates unprecedented authority to audit the Fed."
It should be pointed out that Ron Paul's Bill HR 1207 to Audit The Fed has 310 co-sponsors currently: a number sufficient for seamless passage of the bill, absent such purposeful roadblocks as Mr. Watt.
An ever eloquent Grayson had this to say about the recourse the Watt amendment would provide to those intent on "auditing" the Fed: "Count the pencils on the desks," Grayson speculated. "Perhaps check on proper Metro card usage."
As the US is already on its road to having an incremental $10 trillion in budget deficits over the next decade, all likely financed with new debt, the last thing the economy needs is to be saddled with a bankruptcy inducing leverage load, and have no ability to monitor just how the bankers continue to rape and pillage the American middle class. This will become especially critical the next time the bubble pops (and pop it will, as the current batch of Fed inhabitants made about 20 public appearance over the past 24 hours saying how they see no bubbles in the making).
Zero Hedge stands firmly behind the Paul-Grayson amendment, and we believe it would be a huge threat to the country, which is already likely on its way to debt repudiation regardless, if the Watt Amendment were to pass.
Mel Watt's letter to his few remaining colleagues:
Dear Financial Services Committee Colleague:
This week during the Financial Services Committee markup of the
Financial Stability Improvement Act of 2009, I plan to introduce an
amendment to provide historic transparency to the operations of the
Federal Reserve. While my amendment will certainly fall short of
demands by those intent on destroying the independence (if not the
existence) of the Fed, the critics of my amendment will have to concede
(1) that I have worked diligently with them to find all possible common
ground and (2) that my amendment will provide transparency of the Fed's
financial operations that will be completely unprecedented.
My amendment acknowledges that taxpayers have a right to know how
their money is being spent. To that end, my amendment will expand the
audit powers of the Government Accountability Office ("GAO") over the
Federal Reserve to all financial activities of the Fed.
I. Complete GAO Audit Authority of the Numbers.
Under my amendment, the GAO will have complete authority to review and audit, including by onsite examination:
(1) Federal Reserve programs, activities and operations: A full
audit of the functions, programs, activities and operations of the
Federal Reserve Board and Federal reserve banks relating to prudential
supervision, provision of currency, check clearing and collection
services, payment systems operations and provision of wire transfer
(2) Federal Reserve financial statements: A full audit, of the kind
performed by outside auditors, of the Federal Reserve's financial
statements, including all the Fed's assets and liabilities no matter
how they are acquired or incurred; and
(3) "Emergency" 13(3) lending facilities: An audit of the emergency
actions taken by the Fed under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act
("13(3) powers") to extend credit to a single partnership or
corporation, or broad liquidity facilities for distressed markets,
* The effectiveness of the Fed's internal control structure to
ensure limited risk exposure to the Fed with respect to each liquidity
facility and the prevention of waste, fraud and abuse in the use of
* Whether the collateral policies and procedures appropriately address risk to the Fed;
* Whether credit extended and fees charged by the Fed are collected
in accordance with the terms and conditions established by the Fed;
* The manner in which the Federal Reserve system accounts for the
facility on its balance sheet and the adequacy of the procedures for
For example, my amendment would allow the GAO to audit the financial
aspects of multi-billion dollar credit facilities extended to Bear
Stearns and AIG during last year's financial crisis, as well as the
broader market credit facilities such as the Term Asset-backed Loan
Facility (TALF). In addition, the specific names of borrowers of 13(3)
credit facilities would be disclosed after 1 year.
In sum, the GAO will have new powers under my amendment to audit
every aspect of the Fed's nearly $2 trillion balance sheet, providing
unprecedented transparency to the American people.
II. No Interference with Monetary Policy.
The critics of my amendment will say that it does not allow the GAO
to audit or second guess Fed monetary policy decisions. They are
correct. My amendment strikes a sensible balance between providing
increased transparency to the public, while preserving the
long-standing independence of the Federal Reserve regarding the making
of monetary policy. Every industrialized nation observes strict
independence of their central banks to set monetary policy and shields
them from undue political interference. Such independence from
political interference is important for several reasons:
* An independent central bank can limit inflation and promote
economic growth. If there is even the perception that politics is
interfering with monetary policy decisions, fears of inflation could
rise and erode market confidence in the ability of the central bank to
make sound economic decisions, which could cause higher prices and
increased job losses;
* Bond rating agencies view the independence of central banks as an
important factor in determining sovereign credit ratings. An erosion of
Federal Reserve independence could harm the credit rating of Treasury
bills, increasing our cost of borrowing and hurting the economy in the
form of higher prices to all American consumers;
* Foreign central banks would fear engaging in transactions with a
politically compromised Federal Reserve, which could destabilize the
U.S. and international economies.
Recently, over 400 economists, academics and former government
officials signed the attached petition supporting the independence of
the Federal Reserve regarding monetary policy. The petition included
three winners of the Nobel Prize in economics and five former
presidents of the American Economics Association. The notion that we
should allow the GAO or any other government agency to audit or second
guess Fed monetary policy is nonsensical and would be terrible public
My amendment strikes the appropriate balance of increasing Federal
Reserve transparency while preventing political interference with
monetary policy. Only a transparent central bank, free from political
interference, can effectively carry out its congressionally-required
dual mandate of stable prices and fostering job growth. I hope you will
support the amendment to provide an historic advance of transparency at
the Federal Reserve while preserving its independence to be able to
fulfill the dual missions for which it was formed.
MELVIN L. WATT