Disclosure forms reveal that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sold up to $5 million worth of stock from his personal account on Oct. 1, 2020, shortly before the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked significantly.
Powell sold shares from a Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund that had not been previously reported, The American Prospect reported on Monday, Oct. 18.
The Dow lost 1,600 points or 6 percent of its value in October 2020 — its worst month during the pandemic since March 2020. Those losses were later recouped.
“There is no American with more insider knowledge about government policy that drives financial market movements than the chair of the Federal Reserve,” Robert Kuttner wrote for The American Prospect. “And as covid caseloads, hospitalizations, and deaths spiked last fall, the economy was in a precarious condition.”
Nominated by former President Donald Trump, Powell took office as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in February 2018, for a four-year term ending in February 2022.
Powell isn’t the only Federal Reserve official who has faced criticism or raised questions about insider trading for making stock trades during the pandemic but he is the highest-ranking. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan were forced to take early retirement after their trades were disclosed. Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida also came under fire for stock trading. Other trades are being investigated by the Fed’s own inspector general and the Securities Exchange Commission, The American Prospect reported.
All three men defended their trades as permissible under existing ethics rules but Powell has acknowledged those rules need tightening, according to NPR.
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