Federal Reserve Inspector General Unable to Answer Basic Questions on Where the Trillions Went

Posted on by

Rep. Alan Grayson asks Inspector General Coleman of the Federal Reserve some very basic questions of about various Fed programs and activities and gets nowhere. And the worse is that the IG isn’t stonewalling, but instead is clearly completely clueless. Watching the video, you get the impression that Coleman can’t name a program beyond the TALF.

But there is a possibly more important issue at stake. The interview is with the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The programs are actually at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For reasons I cannot fathom, the Board of Governors is subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, while the Fed of New York has been able to rebuff them.

So I take Coleman’s inability to answer key questions to be a feature, not a bug. The Fed of New York probably can answer Congressional questions, is taking care to limit what it conveys to the Board so as to keep the information from Congress and the public. Note in the questioning the emphasis on “high level reviews”.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. attempter

    Yves says:
    For reasons I cannot fathom, the Board of Governors is subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, while the Fed of New York has been able to rebuff them.

    Is this because of the legal fiction that the Federal Reserve is a “private” cartel, even as the governors are public appointees?

  2. russell1200

    Wow! She obviously is completely out of the loop. And does not seem to even understand what is going on well enough to do a good job of obfuscating.

    Talk about a captured regulator.

  3. wintermute

    “Federal Reserve Note” is written on the top of $800bn of US currency. All previous Treasury and National banknotes outlawed.
    This is a hugely responsible position held by the Federal reserve. Custodians of the US dollar itself. But this responsibility is greater than that of any similar currency board in all other countries – because the USD is the world’s reserve currency.

    This cannot be taken for granted. The Europeans and Chinese are envious of this position and are slowly but surely developing their alternatives. Reserve currency status allows a country to punch far above its weight in world affairs enriching itself and its citizens accordingly. Without reserve currency status the US would be more like Brazil writ large, amongst a gaggle of countries and blocs with no overarching import to world affairs.

    Yet the Federal Reserve has done nothing but weaken, undermine, and debase the US reserve currency status for decades. The last decade as a bouncer for the FIRE economy and primary dealer banks. It should also be fiercely opposing the avalanche of Treasury debt.

    In the period movie “Gosford Park” there was a throw-away dinner comment about the British Empire of the 1920s. “The steam had gone out of it”. No one knew why as if the event was a mysterious force of nature. But what had happened was that the reserve currency status of sterling had gone. It was not obvious at the time.

    The Federal Reserve is guaranteeing poorer living standards for US citizens over decades to come by improper regualtion of the currency. Unable to explain the flow of trillions of dollars is a damning indictment.

  4. bob

    They are still being too polite.

    (congress)Where is our xx trillion dollars?

    (FED)Well sir, I am afraid you don’t understand modern finance…

    (congress)No, apparently not. You came to us and told us that this money was absolutely necessary, and now you can’t account for it? It couldn’t have possible been that necessary…

    (FED)That may be correct sir, we really didn’t need it, would you like me to call Mr. Blankfien in to explain it all, he’s very good at it…..

    (congress) no, that’s alright I’ll see him tonight at dinner.

  5. Jim T


    You really get that feeling when you read things this insane! Well, what in the hell did we expect when we don’t hire a BANKER to run the WORLD’s LARGEST BANK! No, let’s hire an Academic, Professional Student (Absent minded Professor) to run the WORLD’s LARGEST BANK he’ll do a GREAT JOB!

    Dr. Bernanke we seem to have a minor problem, sir. You forgot to put anyone in charge of accounting for the $9 Trillion Dollars entrusted to us and now we don’t know where it went!

    Do you think some heads should roll over this?

  6. KJ in CA

    I think the the cashiers at Walmart are held to a higher level of accountability for their till contents than the Fed is for its own balance sheet.

    Unfortunately, I’m NOT being sarcastic. This is obviously the truth.

    God help us all.

  7. hbl

    Could someone please link to any outside source, besides other copies of this video, that references the alleged $9 trillion in off-balance sheet transactions? I was not able to find the news story Rep. Grayson mentioned. And I see nothing of that size on the Fed’s official balance sheet.

  8. hbl

    I forgot to re-check comments at ZeroHedge, but someone there says this was it.

    But according to that article, the Fed total so far is $1.7 trillion, so I’m really not sure where the $9 trillion comes from…

  9. Harlem Dad

    After about 2 minutes, I had to stop watching.

    KJ in CA is right. A grocery store cashier being paid minimum wage with no benefits is held to a higher standard of accountability.

    I’m so angry right now that I can’t think straight.

    Tim in Sugar Hill

  10. Brick

    I bet you Americans appoint ballet dancers as chiefs of police, or clowns as politicians, oops you already did that one. Never mind your voice definitely will be heard above all the lobbying and you will be considered for a responsible position if there are no cronies available. Why not just admit your administration is bought and paid for, its just so funny that you all pretend otherwise.

  11. DownSouth

    KJ in CA said…”I think the the cashiers at Walmart are held to a higher level of accountability for their till contents than the Fed is for its own balance sheet.”

    Andrew Bacevich made a similar comment in The Limits of Power:

    No matter how great the disaster–in relation to Iraq alone, consider the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion, the bungled occupation, and the billions of “reconstruction” dollars squandered or stolen as a result of incompetence or blatant corruption–senior officials operate on the implicit assumption that they are immunized from accountability. In May 2007, in a stinging critique of post-9/11 military leadership, Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling wrote in Armed Forces Journal that “a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.” A Pentagon file clerk who misplaces a classified document faces stiffer penalties than a defense secretary whose arrogant recklessness consumes thousands of lives.~

    I call this the “blame the janitor” strategy. We see it deoployed every day, most recently in the blaming of labor for the implosion of Chrysler. And it’s amazing how effective it is. Millions of feckless Americans buy into it without even thinking.

  12. Peripheral Visionary

    Yves, we have precisely the same problem with IG incompetence at the agency I work at. In my agency, the reason for the lack of competence is very simple: the IG group are all lawyers.

    Too many lawyers don’t understand anything but the law. While they understand the policies and procedures and technicalities, they don’t actually understand what the agency does. Everything has to be explained to our IG group in simple terms, and if there’s even the slightest hint of complexity, they’re lost.

    Markopolis was right, but not just with respect to the SEC: the entire Federal government is over-lawyered with people who are incredibly good at law and abysmal at everything else. Unfortunately, the government is involved in a whole lot of “everything else.” But lawyers trust lawyers (and just about only lawyers), and so with lawyers for politicians, we continue to get general practice lawyers appointed for positions of responsibility that require specialized knowledge they simply don’t have. The problem is most acute in financial services regulation, where we have a critical shortage of people with even a working understanding of banking, markets, and the economy.

    I realize this has turned into an anti-lawyer rant, so let me clarify: every government entity needs competent legal representation. They just shouldn’t be the ones making the decisions, or, as is the case with virtually the entire Inspector General system, overseeing operations that they clearly don’t understand.

  13. DownSouth

    Brick said…”Why not just admit your administration is bought and paid for, its just so funny that you all pretend otherwise.”

    The problems go much deeper than that. If only it were so easy as just changing presidents. Quoting Bacevich again from The Limits of Power:

    [T]o imagine that installing a particular individual in the Oval Office will produce decisive action on any of these fronts is to succumb to the grandest delusion of all. The quadrennial ritual of electing (or reelecting) a president is not an exercise in promoting change, regardless of what candidates may claim and ordinary voters believe. The real aim is to ensure continuity to keep intact the institutions and arrangements that define present-day Washington. The veterans of past administrations who sign on as campaign advisers are not interested in curbing the bloated powers of the presidency. They want to share in exercising those powers. The retired generals and admirals who line up behind their preferred candidate don’t want to dismantle the national security state. They want to preserve and, if possible, expand it. The candidates who decry the influence of money in national politics are among those most skilled at courting the well-heeled to amass millions in campaign contributions…

    [A] citizenry that looks to the White House for deliverance is assured of disappointment.~

    And quoting Bacevich from The New American Militarism:

    The Republican and Democratic parties may not be identical, but they produce nearly identical results. Money buys access and influence, the rich and famous get served, and those lacking wealth or celebrity status get screwed–truths not at all unrelated to the rise of militarism in America.

    I have no doubt that the world of politics is not without men and women of honor. But the system itself is fundamentally corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with the spirit of genuine democracy. This anyone with eyes to see recognizes.

  14. Doc Holiday

    Parallel Political Universe & Black Holes?

    I have no doubt Mugabe's (Obama's) administration
    cannot account fully for how the R300m (TARP Trillions) was used. Nor can the South African (American)
    government certify it was not siphoned off by Mugabe (Bush, Paulson, Obama, Clinton) and his cronies. This
    is a dereliction of duty by our government. Our constitution enjoins the
    national treasury, for example, "to ensure transparency, accountability and
    sound financial controls in the management of public finances". Treasury has
    lived up to this mandate in terms of the management of the country's
    finances. It has, among other things, introduced transparency and
    predictability to the budget, largely through the three-year budgeting
    cycle, the introduction of the mid-term budget statement, and the detailed
    documentation that comes with the announcements.


    Also see: enrose concluded that whenever there is a sphere where all the outgoing (and ingoing) light rays are initially converging, the boundary of the future of that region will end after a finite extension, because all the null geodesics will converge.[1] This is significant, because the outgoing light rays for any sphere inside the horizon of a black hole solution are all converging, so the boundary of the future of this region is either compact or comes from nowhere. The future of the interior either ends after a finite extension, or has a boundary which is eventually generated by new light rays which cannot be traced back to the original sphere.


    Then see: But it appears that a collision between a neutron star and a black hole can also cause a GRB, so a GRB is not proof that a "new" black hole has been formed. All known GRBs come from outside our own galaxy, and most come from billions of light years away so the black holes associated with them are actually billions of years old.

    Finally, see & hear:


    I hope this helped, but I have my doubts; for additional info, please write to Yves.

  15. Doc Holiday

    Thinking in Trillions

    It just hit me that one reason we lack accountability, is that no accounting has ever really been done with this vast amount of pirate booty, i.e, TARP and all The Bush Coup and now Obama theft. This is simply the biggest heist that mankind has ever witnessed and the event took place in front of everyone, on TV, the internet, in Congress, in The Senate and everyone watched like the retards they are! These are friggn supercomputer values that simply are out of proportion to the reality of global economics and the reason this happened was because of unregulated derivatives that were allowed to roll over into a pool of debt that kept growing out of control exponentially like a supercharged cancer — like a black hole, like something that only can be related to massive criminal activity! Capitalism is not only dead, our global economy will collapse, because there is no one Earth that can solve this mess — which is one friggn reason why we should nationalize these fuc-ing banks and then destroy the wall street system that brought us to this edge of darkness!!!!!

    Trillions? The greatest minds in physics have very limited ways of measuring the applied reality of the concept of trillions, yet we now have a massive group of retarded bozos wo have positions based 100% on nepotism, who are in control of values they can’t comprehend — and now people would like to know where the trillions are what bullshit!

    See: The distance light travels in one year, about 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km), or almost 800 times the diameter of our solar system. The nearest star is about four light-years away.

    A unit of distance equal to 3.26 light-years. The name means “PARallax-SECond,” and it refers to a way to measure the distances to other stars. The most accurate way to measure the distances to close stars is to use basic geometry. Astronomers measure the position of a star in the sky at six-month intervals, when Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun. If the star is close, then it will appear to shift a bit compared to the background stars. It’s the same effect you see if you hold your finger in front of your face and look at it with first one eye, then the other: the finger appears to move against the background of objects. This effect is called parallax. If a star has a parallax of one second — in other words, it appears to shift back and forth across the sky by exactly one second of arc (1/3600 of a degree), then its distance is one parsec.


    Full Disclosure: The author has recently had cereal and remains baffled as to why there have not been investigations into this corruption!

  16. "DoctoRx"

    Brick 9:21 – agree. My DC sources say this really picked up steam in the later Clinton years in a very bipartisan way. And obv continued this century: The non-barking dog was the complete failure of the Dem Congress in 2007-8 to investigate the Iraq contractor looting.

    Peripheral 10:15 – one reason I never believed a snippet of the Obama hype is that he is a lawyer.
    Consider that the prior two lawyers who were Pres were driven out prior to impeachment (Nixon) and were impeached for obvious lying under oath.

    Policemen and traffic schools know that only lawyers truly think that the laws apply to everyone else except them.

  17. Doc Holiday

    Closing Thoughts On Trillions

    The World GDP was $60.689 Billion in 2007


    Google suggests:

    1 000 000 000 000 / 60 689 000 000 = 16.4774506

    Does that mean $1 Trillion is equal to about 16.5 times one year of World GDP?

    So, maybe that’s wrong, but what if we do go here:

    The Federal Reserve Can Not Account For $9 Trillion In Off-Balance Sheet Transactions


    This is really the deal, we really could be looking at a situation, where America doesn’t have a lost decade, as in following the path of Japan, but maybe we end up as a destroyed society that limps along for a century, trying to uncover where 144 years of debt is hidden.

    This is absurd to think in terms of Trillions lost and unaccounted for; we will need an army of forensic accountants and years with supercomputers to figure out by what degree wall street fucked over the world — and meanwhile, what we end up with is, is people like this retarded fool who claims to be an inspector general, who obviously got her job because she was buddies with someone that had their hands in the cash register — so we friggn end up without an army of accountants and we get to keep the retards that in place, and then they get to find out where 144 years worth of World DDP went to …… I need toast!

  18. Harlem Dad

    Doc Holiday,

    Does cereal help? Because right now I’m thinking we should remove the Charging Bull statue from Bowling Green and replace it with a guillotine. We could line up a bunch of really big baskets with names on them like Goldman Sachs, NY Federal Reserve, you get the idea.

    Tim the Predatory Saver

  19. asphaltjesus

    Enough with the moral outrage.

    What energies that are available should be directed at ways to address the situation within the legal/political framework we have.

    But there will be no such thing. Even Yves’ blog is a kind of retail politics that is socially/politically acceptable because it accomplishes nothing.

    That is no slight to Yves’ work. Instead, it’s an observation that Americans are okay with the systemic theft that has been going on for a loong time. I don’t really understand why they are okay with it, but clearly they are.

  20. Mrs. Watanabe

    I work with a federal agency on legal matters on a daily basis. The level of competency there is about what you see behind the counter at the post office. It’s completely hit and miss.

  21. asphaltjesus

    Regarding Peripheral Visionary’s comments. I would argue that education has made them good Lawyers, but terrible at everything else.

    I would also argue the video feeds people’s warranted mistrust of the NY Fed’s actions. The IG is probably the wrong person to ask these questions right now. The NY Fed is the right organization to drag in front of the committee.

    Generally Off-Topic:
    I think somewhere along the way these acheivers are not taught to think more broadly. Kind of like thoroughbreds, the very fastest on the track, but everywhere else they are a mess. To extend the analogy, these thoroughbreds are trained for racing then sent out to plow the fields.

  22. Peripheral Visionary

    @asphaltjesus, I think the conclusion that many people are reaching is that it has become increasingly difficult to address these issues within the current legal/political framework; in fact, I think that’s the point of this entire post. We can influence the current leadership through the letters, e-mails, etc., but until there is a real change of leadership, that’s not going to have an overwhelming impact.

    The point at which ordinary people can make a difference will come at roughly this time next year, when the parties hold primary elections for Congressional and State offices. At that point, people will be able to decide what leaders and what policies will be put in place. Unfortunately, a large number of Congressional and State races are foregone conclusions at final election time due to demographics and party loyalties; which is why it’s critically important that people be aware of these issues and be very involved in the primary process.

  23. attempter

    asphaltjesus said:

    I think somewhere along the way these acheivers are not taught to think more broadly. Kind of like thoroughbreds, the very fastest on the track, but everywhere else they are a mess. To extend the analogy, these thoroughbreds are trained for racing then sent out to plow the fields..

    I’d say more like gangs of rich fox hunters or steeplechase riders who have historically plagued parts of Europe, So Cal, etc., empowered to charge like maniacs through people’s fields, stalls, yards, even houses, trashing everything as they go, for the sheer sadistic joy of it.

  24. Hugh

    Re how much money the "Fed" has laid out. Here is a link to a Bloomberg article of March 31 which puts it at $12.8 trillion.


    If I am reading the chart correctly the government plus Fed has made commitments of up to $12.8 trillion of which some $4.2 trillion has actually gone out the door.

    The system of Inspector Generals is generally weak and not uniform across government. Some are appointed by the President. Some as at the FRB by the head of the agency or department. Some have independent staff and a budget. Some depend on both from the agnecies they are supposed to oversee. So if you hear that an IG report came out or that it said this or that, you really have to keep in mind that even in the best of cases politics usually trumps qualifications and in the worst of cases (such as at the Fed) the IG is really nothing more than a toothless dog on a short leash.

    Short quick link to a general article on IGs.


  25. joshua

    You commenting people, it’s good to read these comments; they display this sense of humour you’ve stashed away even as events progressively drive you insane. You, among the last of the rational and intelligent sapient beings. In here we have the .00002% that can think; out there it’s Idiocracy under varying degrees.

    Other than that though? Although the total-systemic-breakdown/Collapse scenarios seem plausible, it’s also plausible that something resembling intelligent and improved society will prevail over the next 50years.
    In particular, in the long view it may be misleading to think in terms of stolen trillions, if we are looking at hyper-inflationary events anytime soon. Assuming it’s been spirited away to proprietary holdings and transferred to foreign currency, for it to do the holders any good it would have to be re-invested at some point, that is, given to someone else, to use. The whole process of banking, after all. Of course, I’m not trying to downplay the importance of this scrutiny of current financial affairs, but the longer term prospects will depend more on our ability to engage collective/cooperative cognitive functions, that we might order the physical structure and process of our economies/industries/cultures more effectively. Ultimately, this is of far more import than tracking the paper, which is ultimately bound by a force greater than gravity to the actual. (it ultimately has to be redeployed, or it evaporates)

  26. Doc Holiday

    I know exactly how Paulson, Bernanke, Bush, Obama, Timmy and all the guys feel, I even know how Inspector General Coleman of the Federal Reserve feels, I feel stupid and damn close to being retarded, because I posted the wrong numbers above and I’ve been worried about that, so I’m trying to set an example for these other people that have the numbers mixed up.

    I was wrong with the World GDP value, which I posted as being $60 Billion, it is closer to $60 Trillion and of course instead of looking at 144 years of painful debt, we may only be in the hole for something like a decade. However, with about a 1/3 of the entire global output and savings deep down the hole of this systemic event, wouldn’t it be nice if did have people that could be able to clarify what has happened, and explain where the money is and who did what, when and where?

    The conceptual nature and lack of clarity compounds mistakes, so IMHO, it would be smart of Obama to get things right and if there are mistakes, he needs to not be like Nixon, Clinton or Bush and compound lies with falsified information!

  27. CTMM

    Ugh. The level of bile has reached new heights.

    Why do I pay taxes? I “only” earn 40k a year, most of it at skilled, physical labor.

    As an over-educated, under-employed cynical gen-xer, I can only state that I look forward to gnawing on the bones of boomers as this over populated, polluted, greedy, racist civilization folds.

    (And if you think I’m alone in this attitude, get out of the Lexus and talk to some people who actually produce goods or services for a living.)

  28. bob

    While gnawing on the bones of them might be a good source of protein, its not very good for you. Lots of accumulated crap in them.

    Lamb is much better than Mutton.


    ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled …”

  29. Juan

    DownSouth, thanks for the Bacevich quotes to which I feel compelled to add one from 1848:

    Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general,the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.Certainly simplified but as should be the case in a radical manifesto, right to the point…a point which little by little more and more are beginning to understand. Too bad that communism was given such a bad name by the state capitalism of the old USSR.

  30. Juan

    It just hit me that one reason we lack accountability, is that no accounting has ever really been done with this vast amount of pirate booty, i.e, TARP and all The Bush Coup and now Obama theft.Right and there’s a somewhat earlier example:

    We did not obtain sufficient, competent evidential matter to support the material lineitems on the financial statements. The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)acknowledged to us that DoD financial management and feeder systems did not provideadequate evidence supporting various material amounts on the financial statements. DoDmanagement further acknowledged that the Department is unable to comply with requirements…
    We reported that DoD processed $1.1 trillion in unsupported accounting entries to DoDComponent financial data used to prepare departmental reports and DoD financial statementsfor FY 2000. For FY 2001, we did not attempt to quantify amounts of unsupported accountingentries; however, we confirmed that DoD continued to enter material amounts of unsupportedaccounting entries to the financial data.
    [Independent Auditor’s Report on the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2001 Agency-Wide Financial Statements (Report No. D-2002-055)]

  31. Chontkleer

    “It just hit me that one reason we lack accountability, is that no accounting has ever really been done with this vast amount of pirate booty”

    Doc (Kona?):

    A website… all we need is a stupid website, or a link on a website to a powerpoint, that diagrams where *all* this money is, was, and is going. Let’s just shut everything down until this is provided for us.

  32. haljett

    I find this particularly disturbing. And I think a lot of other people do too. I just wish more of the American public cared. I think there is so much smoke and mirrors going on that are distracting most from this kind of stuff. That and the MSM is in the pocket of DC.

    You know foreign countries like China are looking at this and are doing what they can to get out of the dollar. Shouldn’t be any wonder that China has been building up their gold reserves and is pushing the IMF to sell some more gold so that they can buy it with all those dollar reserves they’ve got.

    People wonder why gold remains so high and its ineptitude like this that answer the question. Looking at the ExactPrice widget I see gold is at $926.60 right now. Even silver is up. My guess they will remain up until inflation sets in from printing all that money to make up for that missing trillions.

    I liked what Peter Grandich had to say about this: “I must say this news and some follow-up research I’ve done in the wee hours scares the living daylight out of me. I’ve been in the trenches for 25 years. I remember the mood immediately after the 1987 stock market crash, sadly after 911 and other terrible events but in all honesty, this display of ineptness and bewilderment by the person in charge of watching the people in charge of the printing press, has taken me to new lows of confidence in my government and our future.”

  33. Jim T

    @ Haljett,

    Haljett said…

    I find this particularly disturbing. And I think a lot of other people do too. I just wish more of the American public cared. I think there is so much smoke and mirrors going on that are distracting most from this kind of stuff. That and the MSM is in the pocket of DC.

    Jim T said…

    I’m with you, but you are right that not enough other people seem to be nearly as concerned as they ought to be. And you are correct too that the MSM is just towing the company line.

    Everybody has been talking about Zombie Banks, they need to look in the mirror and at each other to see they have become Zombie Nation!

    I’ve been around a long time (55+ yrs) and I’ve seen some horrific things in my time, but I think only the (JFK Assassination) comes close in bringing me to the need to question my Government’s motives for what it has, or is doing.

    WAKE UP AMERICA! I wish I could say “BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE” it very possibly is already too late. $9 Trillion Dollars Too Late!

  34. Independent Accountant

    I couldn’t agree more. We are lawyered to death. Your typical lawyer is innumerate and arrogant about it to boot.

  35. malachi

    Thanks for the post and keeping this type of information out there for the public to view. Most in America have not seen this video or the video with Ben Bernanke before Rep. Alan Grayson. Most in America would not probably care… sad. Does anyone think that man can straighten this whole mess out?

Comments are closed.