By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He is the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller
The elite consensus in American politics is held together by a small group of well-paid and well-connected insiders who are marbled throughout the world of corporations, banks, government service, and elite nonprofits. Who are they? And what do they believe?
One way to start is to look at who is being recruited to attack Eric Schneiderman, the liberal New York Attorney General going after the big banks. Normally these people stay behind the scenes, but in this case, we’re getting a nice peak behind the curtain. The best example so far is Kathryn Wylde, the chief of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, a big bank/corporate-funded lobbying group that advises political officials on how to build a more business-friendly New York.
Wylde, importantly, sits on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve as a Class C Director, the group that is supposed to represent “the public”. Yet, after Schneiderman got into a contentious legal fight with Bank of New York Mellon over foreclosure fraud, the bank literally referred reporters to Wylde for her comment. She even went so far as to confront Schneiderman at a funeral. Because she’s a director of the New York Fed, her actions reflect on the Fed. Let’s start there. Wylde is appointed, and can be fired, by the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC, according to Section 11(f) of the Federal Reserve Act (these Board members are Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, Elizabeth Duke, Dan Tarullo, and Sarah Bloom Raskin).
Should she be fired? Let’s look at the facts. Wylde is subject to this restriction in the Federal Reserve Act.
“Class C Directors as Employees or Stockholders of Banks No director of class C shall be an officer, director, employee, or stockholder of any bank.”
The odds are high that she owns mutual funds or bank shares. She made $466,000 last year. Unless she has profligate spending habits, or is unusually risk averse, she probably has a decent sized investment portfolio, and if she invested along orthodox lines, a chunk of it would be diversified holdings of domestic stock, which would have to include bank shares. The NY Fed is pretty sloppy about its ethics issues. For instance, former NY Fed class C director and ex-Goldman co-chariman, Steve Friedman, bought Goldman shares while privy to and probably influencing Fed “save the bank” efforts in early 2008. Eliot Spitzer pointed to clear conflicts of interest regarding Jeff Immelt. You’d expect the Federal Reserve Board in DC to put a stop to this, but so far, it has allowed Wylde to continue in her role.
Wylde’s open opposition to New York attorney general Eric Schneiderma’s objecting to a proposed $8.5 billion Bank of America mortgage settlement appears to run afoul of these NY Fed bylaws.
“As a Reserve Bank directorship is a form of public service, directors also must limit their participation in partisan politics. Specifically, directors should not engage in any political activity or serve in any public office where such activity or service might:
associate the Reserve Bank with any political party or partisan political activity;
raise questions as to the director’s independence and ability to perform the duties of his or her position with the System; or
bring embarrassment to the Reserve Bank or the Federal Reserve System.
She’s violated these quite clearly. Meddling in the work of a law enforcement officer is obviously embarrassing and risks the independence of the system. That Bank of New York Mellon is openly referring reporters to her shows that she is not operating independently, or even on behalf of the public. Whether that’s a firing offense is up to Bernanke and company.
Just checking into Kathryn Wylde’s background shows that she’s a standard issue Rubinite who wants to sell out America to bankers and Chinese elites. As head of the Partnership for New York City, she went after unions by attacking education expert Diane Ravitch (aligning her with Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan to complement her alliance with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan). Wylde opposes a living wage for New Yorkers, as well as paid sick leave. Not letting employees go home when they are sick is unsanitary, dangerous and authoritarian. These positions are literally pro-poverty.
But nothing screams “I represent America” like this post of hers.
Within a generation, the U.S. will no longer be the world’s largest economy. Partnerships with foreign-controlled businesses and investors will be more important than ever. China will be larger and is already the most important market for U.S.-based international businesses. Chinese leadership is fed up with U.S. policies and politics that discourage foreign investment in business and real estate, at the same time their country is holding much of our national debt.
Locally, New York is trying to counter this negative sentiment by supporting investment by one of China’s largest real estate companies in five floors of the Freedom Tower that is being constructed on the World Trade Center site. The Beijing-based Vantone Group will develop a 200,000 square foot business and conference center designed to encourage business ties between the two nations and to house the Western headquarters of Chinese companies that are going global.
And let’s be clear – Wylde is excited that this deal is approved by the Communist Chinese government, which is explicitly trying to reduce America’s wealth and power. And this woman is on the board of the New York Fed representing the public. So there you have it. If you feel like American multinationals are too warm and fuzzy for your tastes, you have Kathryn Wylde out there representing you at the New York Fed, making sure that Chinese multinationals are waiting in the wings to take over for them. That, of course, assumes there is anything left worth having in the US once the big financial players are done with their looting.