Fox Business Network’s Charles Payne batted back the assertion from White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s call to the CEO’s of the major banks was “extremely normal.”
“It’s extremely normal for the Treasury Secretary to keep his finger on the pulse of financial markets,” Hassett explained on Wednesday’s “Varney & Co.” “And right now, as you’ve mentioned, markets have been quite volatile. And they’ve headed down, something like 8 percent over the last few weeks. And when something like that goes on, then it’s absolutely natural for a treasury secretary to call people up and say ‘Hey, what are you seeing? Is there something going on I should know about?'”
But Payne, who was guest hosting the show, wasn’t buying that defense. “Let’s be honest. The psychology…to make this a couple days from Christmas on a Sunday, it felt like a sense of panic.”
Two days before Christmas, the U.S. Treasury Department of Public Affairs put out a statement saying that Mnuchin held calls with the CEOs of the six largest banks in the U.S. “The CEOs confirmed they have ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations,” the statement read. “He also confirmed that they have not experienced any clearance or margin issues and that the markets continue to function properly.”
U.S. stocks plunged on Monday, a day after the statement was released, with the Dow Jones dropping 653 points, and was the worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever.
“He had the call with these banks. It didn’t work. The markets collapsed on Monday. I don’t know what’s going on right now, we’re losing all of the rally, and big-name dragging us on the Dow once again is Goldman Sachs,” Payne said. “Should we be worried that Steven Mnuchin had to make this call? Was it a mistake?”
Payne made the comparison to former Treasury Secretary James Baker, saying that he “did something very similar to this in 1987 and it helped create, I think, Black Monday.”
“Black Monday” refers to Monday, Oct. 19, 1987, when stock markets around the world crashed.
Watch the video above.