DEFINITION of Plunge Protection Team - PPT

The "Plunge Protection Team" (PPT) is a colloquial name given to the Working Group on Financial Markets. The PPT was originally created to provide financial and economic recommendations in the wake of turbulent market times. Members of the team are the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

BREAKING DOWN Plunge Protection Team - PPT

The name PPT was coined by The Washington Post in 1997. Although the team had a viable purpose when initially created, conspiracy theorists suspected that the team was created to shore up, or even manipulate, the markets. Some suspected that the team could executing trades on several exchanges and manipulate the markets when they were heading downward. The team was believed to collaborate only with big banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to report only to the President, and to keep no records of trades. 

The Creation of the Plunge Protection Team

In 1989, the then President, Ronald Reagan, created the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets after two stressful events, the stock market crash in 1987 and the near-crash in 1989. The group acted as an advisory group on the markets for the president and regulators. However, others suspected the group to be capable of more nefarious activity and possibly capable of rigging the stock market in turbulent times. This theory was further strengthened when Robert Heller, a former governor of the Federal Reserve, gave a speech confirming suspicions surrounding the working group.

The Plunge Protection Team at Work?

On Monday February 5, 2018, the Dow Jones experienced a drop that was twice as large as its biggest point decline in history. However, arbitrary and aggressive buying cut the decline in half in one day. On the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, stocks opened lower, and each time aggressive buying buoyed the markets. Heller suggested that the Federal Reserve purchased stock index futures contracts to stop a market collapse. He also believes that because the Fed already rigs the bond market through securities purchases, the stock market is easy to control.

Similar activity was noted during the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 when telephone calls between then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Wall Street actors were recorded on days when the stock market was tanking and a downward spiral required reversal.

Since the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, many countries overtly rig their stock markets including Japan and China. This type of activity can be effective in the short term, but if equities markets are artificially inflated, the bubble will eventually burst.