Members of the U.S. Federal Reserve are getting criticized this week after the central bank published its minutes report from the policy meeting on December 14-15. Following the update, the outgoing vice chair of the Federal Reserve’s trading activities has reignited ethics conversations.
Richard Clarida’s Trades Under Scrutiny
The U.S. central bank can shake up markets and this was seen earlier this week when the Federal Reserve published last month’s policy meeting update which indicated the Fed’s plans to raise rates and cut back quantitive easing (QE). Not too long after, the New York Times (NYT) published a new disclosure report concerning the outgoing vice chair of the Federal Reserve, Richard Clarida.
NYT author Jeanna Smialek wrote that “corrected disclosures show that Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida sold a stock fund, then swiftly repurchased it before a big Fed announcement.” The reporter further added that “Clarida, the departing vice chair of the Federal Reserve, failed to initially disclose the extent of a financial transaction he made in early 2020 as the Fed was preparing to swoop in and rescue markets amid the unfolding pandemic.”
Trades Executed by Kaplan and Powell Criticized in the Past, Former Obama Administration Ethics Official Calls Clarida’s Trades ‘Peculiar’
It’s not the first time members of the U.S. central bank have been criticized for their trades. Last September, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article that revealed Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan “made multiple million-dollar-plus stock trades in 2020, according to a financial disclosure form provided by his bank.” The controversy pushed Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell to direct his staff to start an ethics inquiry into the financial activities of Fed members.
Smialek’s report shows that Clarida’s trades are described as “rebalancing” and Clarida called the discrepancies “inadvertent errors.” Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania told Smialek that the issue with Fed members is “deeply problematic.” Norman Eisen, an ethics official for the Obama administration told the NYT reporter that it was “peculiar.”
“It’s fair to ask — in what respect does this constitute a rebalancing?” Eisen further remarked.
Fed members are being scrutinized a great deal for the trades they did prior to the advancement of Covid-19-related monetary easing policies. Clarida’s trades, in particular, were reportedly settled the day before Powell announced the Fed’s emergency measures to help bolster the economy. The Fed member’s alleged trades have caused politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to call on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the ethical issues.
What do you think about the Federal Reserve members getting scrutinized and criticized this week for their stock trades? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.