The Faux “Civility” of “Broken Windows”

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 21, 2014

On December 18, 2014, William Bratton and George Kelling published an op ed in the Wall Street Journal decrying “The Assault on ‘Broken Windows’ Policing.” I’ll be writing a broader response to their piece noting their failure to implement “broken windows” enforcement against the elite white-collar criminals who have made Wall Street one of the world’s most destructive criminal “hot spots.” In this column I point out the implications of their attempt to label criticisms of a NYPD policy they developed and favor as an “assault.” They chose the word to be inflammatory and to try to label their critics as inherently illegitimate and pro-crime.

Here, in light of the tragedy of the murder of two NYPD officers and the reactions to that murder I want to point out what Bratton and Kelling asserted explained broken windows policing was effective. “[T]housands of police interventions on the street … restored order and civility across the five boroughs.” Except, of course, for Wall Street, where crime has skyrocketed and rudeness and disorder are defining elements of the corrupt culture. But that’s my next piece.

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Absentee Governance by the “Captains of Solvency”

By John Nicolarsen

Recent events surrounding the bill passed for the funding of the United States Government for most of 2015, especially viewed in light of the bailouts throughout the financial crisis, prompt this piece, a brief reminder of the prescience with which the contributions of Thorstein Veblen stand up to vividly contouring the “credit system” of his day and, I argue, of our times presently. In addition to Veblen we benefit in seeing the past and future rescue measures from the work of János Kornai, in re-affirming and slightly filling out the “social process” of the extents taken as a result of the “soft budget constraint” syndrome. [1]

For Veblen, the “effectual control of the economic situation, in business, industry, and civic life, rests on the control of credit.” [2] The extension and control of the “fabric of credit” in determining production and output and “what the market will bear” is undertaken by a “conscientious withdrawal of efficiency, as dictated by the law of balanced return,”[3] and “Balanced Return involves Balanced Unemployment.” [4]

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Holder and Obama Never Miss an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity v the Banksters

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 18, 2014

Holiday greetings! Today’s semi-sermon considers verses from tracts many consider sacred.

John 3:20 (KJV) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Talmud: Here I will simply summarize the Miracle of the Lights. When the temple was restored to Jewish control its sanctified olive oil for the lamps had been profaned. Only one portion, enough to last one night was still pure. That portion, however, miraculously continued to light the temple for over a week until new sanctified oil could arrive.

The common theme, of course, is the blessings that light brings in making it much easier for good to prevail over evil. In the financial world we use a related concept – transparency. In finance, we implicitly assume that transparency also involves providing light. (Anyone who has walked into a glass door on a very dark night knows that transparency without light is no great protection.) John 3:20 is also about accountability – the desire of the evil to use darkness to avoid having their evil “deeds” “reproved.” A related verse, from our semi-sacred secular texts, was doubtless influenced by these religious themes – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous phrase was that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

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The Technology Solution to the Democracy Crisis

By Joe Firestone

The spectacular intrusion of special interests into the passage of the $1.1 trillion government spending bill on December 13, 2014 was breathtaking as bankers and lobbyists whipped the vote by calling Congressional representatives directly to demand a host of special interest provisions, including the following:

  • Repealing the Dodd-Frank prohibition on locating derivatives trading activities in the same bank subsidiary company as their depositories containing checking, savings, and other accounts insured by the FDIC.
  • Raising individual campaign contribution limits by roughly 10 times the present limit.
  • Allowing businesses to default by as much as 1/3 of their private pension obligations.
  • Preventing the EPA from introducing new climate protections. 

So it is now abundantly clear that what we have is government by minority rule in which special interests reign supreme. Clearly, this cannot continue. It is for this reason that we are sharing the post below describing the only solution to the democracy crisis of which we are aware that can be implemented in the near future. It is long and we do not expect many readers to get through it in one sitting, or even at all. But if it piques your interest, you can re-locate it here at a more opportune time. 

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Obama Imports and Immunizes Banksters Who Donate to the Democratic Party

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 17, 2014

President Obama and then Secretary of State Clinton decided that America has a critical shortage of banksters and decided to import some from Ecuador. The banksters showed their gratitude by showing the Democratic Party with “donations.” Sometimes a small story reveals the core truth of large public policy issues far better than the big overall story can. The New York Times has just published an article entitled “Ecuador Family Wins Favors After Donations to Democrats.” The short-version is that Obama has decided to give what amounts to asylum to a family from Ecuador after it made large campaign donations to Democrats.

“It was one of several favorable decisions the Obama administration made in recent years involving the Isaías family, which the government of Ecuador accuses of buying protection from Washington and living comfortably in Miami off the profits of a looted bank in Ecuador.

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What’s Wrong with Heterodox Economics Journals?

By L. Randall Wray

I just came across a very interesting bit of research, A Guide to Paradigmatic Self-Marginalization: Lessons for Post-Keynesian Economists by Leonhard Dobusch and Jakob Kapeller; you can find it here.

I realize this is not going to be of interest to many of our readers, as it is a sort of “inside the halls of academia” analysis. What the authors do is to look at the strategies of editors running the top orthodox and the top heterodox journals in economics. Actually it might be a bit unfair to label these strategies, as the authors do not mean to imply that editorial policy knowingly pursues the strategies. Instead, the article looks at the ex post results.

In a nutshell, what they find is that the articles published in orthodox journals do not cite the research published in heterodox journals. NO SURPRISE THERE! But they also find some startling self-defeating practices pursued by heterodox journals.

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UK Determined to Win the Race to the Bottom and Remain the Global Financial Cesspool

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 16, 2014

On June 20, 2012 the UK Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon of Ashley Park gave a speech to the British Bankers Association – the group the U.S. government (i.e., the FDIC) found to have helped organize the world’s largest price rigging cartel and fraud in the form of rigging Libor. The financial crisis occurred under the “new” neo-liberal Labour when its championing of the three “de’s” – financial deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization – combined with modern executive and professional compensation and the effective elimination of “joint and several liability” to make the City of London the most criminogenic environment in the world for financial “control frauds.” Naturally, the Tories have decided that the answer to this disaster is to double-down on Labour’s embrace of the three “de’s.” Indeed, the first words in Lord Sassoon’s prepared speech were “Thank you Philip [Hampton].”

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The Lawless Society

By Joe Firestone

The release of the Senate’s torture report reminds us of the central fact of American society, today. Any semblance of equal justice under the law is now gone from what our leaders claim is the world’s leading democracy.

Instead, of a constitutional democracy living under the law. We have a gangster government that fails to enforce the law, but instead prosecutes whistle blowers who make public, violations of it. Here is an off the top of the head list of our continuing and systematic failures to create justice.

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Can Anyone Transplant a Spine into Obama to Kill Citi’s Bailout Bill?

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 12, 2014

President Obama is a terrible negotiator and if Senator Warren and Representative Pelosi are unable to save him from himself he will effectively end his presidency as even an episodic force for good.  Yes, the Republican legislators will have more power in Congress next month.  Obama’s justification for supporting the odious omnibus budget bill is avoiding that danger.  No, the fact that the Republican will take control of both houses in January does not mean that Obama would be forced into approving an even worse budget bill next year.

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The Second Circuit Makes Sophisticated Insider Trading the Perfect Crime

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 10, 2014

We know that insider trading is an activity in which cheaters prosper. We know that Wall Street and the City of London are dominated by a fraudulent culture and we know that firm culture is set by the officers that control the firm. We know that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has allowed that to occur by refusing to prosecute any of the thousands of senior bank officers who became wealthy by leading the three most destructive financial fraud epidemics (appraisals, “liar’s” loans, and fraudulent sales of these fraudulently originated mortgages to the secondary market) in history. No one is surprised that Wall Street’s elites have also engaged in widespread efforts to rig the stock markets so that they can shoot fish in the barrel through insider trading. Unlike the three fraud epidemics, one DOJ office, the Southern District of New York, has brought a series of criminal prosecutions against these officers.

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