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Originally published October 21 2014

Whistleblower secret audio: the Fed secretly serves the interests of big banks

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) If you have wondered whether the Federal Reserve actually served the interests of the country in general or those of moneyed self-interests, wonder no further: It's not you the Fed is looking out for.

According to several reports, hours of devastating new audio that was secretly recorded by a now-fired bank examiner show that the New York Federal Reserve is far too lenient on the very Wall Street banks it is charged with regulating.

The examiner, Carmen Segarra, a former examiner at the NY Fed, made some 45 hours of audio tapes, capturing "former co-workers, whose job was to keep banks like Goldman Sachs in line, instead deferring to the banks, being unwilling to take action and being extremely passive," the New York Post said, citing original reporting by ProPublica and public radio's This American Life.

Following the financial meltdown and Great Recession of 2008, Congress and Presidents Bush and Obama moved to tighten regulations on the nation's banking and lending industries. Failure of the biggest banks had demonstrated the ability to collapse the U.S. economy and severely damage the global economy in turn, so lawmakers wanted reassurances that better controls were put in place. As noted by ProPublica:

The Federal Reserve, and, by dint of its location off Wall Street, the New York Fed, was the logical choice to head the effort. Except it had failed miserably in catching the meltdown.

New York Fed President William Dudley had to answer two questions quickly: Why had his institution blown it, and how could it do better?

She was exactly what the NY Fed needed

So, Dudley commissioned Columbia University finance professor David Beim to conduct a study, the results of which would remain secret, to find out what happened, why the NY Fed failed so miserably, and what could be done to prevent such a monumental failure in the future.

After interviewing scores of NY Fed employees, Beim was surprised to discover that the NY Fed's own culture was largely to blame: "The New York Fed had become too risk-averse and deferential to the banks it supervised. Its examiners feared contradicting bosses, who too often forced their findings into an institutional consensus that watered down much of what they did," ProPublica reported.

Enter Segarra. She was hired in 2011 as part of a "wave" of new examiners but was fired only months later because she dared to force Goldman Sachs to toe the line on regulations, according to a lawsuit that she has filed.

Goldman began its push back right away, shortly after she was hired. She was informed in no uncertain terms that banking regulations did not apply to the NY Fed's wealthier clients.

"I was shocked," she told public radio. She added that, in her notes of the meeting, she reflected that exact statement.

Goldman officials went further after that initial meeting, telling her that her notes were simply wrong. Also, a more seasoned regulator at the NY Fed tried to get her to change them, the Post and ProPublica reported.

Fired after seven months

But she wouldn't. She said on the radio program that she was told by that senior colleague that "credibility at the Fed is about subtleties and about perceptions, as opposed to reality."

In his report, Beim not only highlighted these problems but also laid out a course moving forward. He strongly recommended that the NY Fed hire aggressive examiners and then encourage them to enforce federal rules and for the Fed to encourage them to do so.

That, he said, was crucial to preventing the next crisis.

Segarra, an Ivy League-educated lawyer with 13 years of regulatory experience, appeared to be precisely what Beim was calling for, but just seven months after she was hired, she was summarily fired.

See the entire ProPublica report here.


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