By William K. Black
Washington, DC: January 4, 2015
George Akerlof and Paul Romer’s famous 1993 article “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit” introduced what criminologists call “accounting control fraud” to the economics literature. The people who control the firm (typically the CEOs) use its seeming legitimacy as a “weapon” to loot shareholders, creditors, and, if the resultant losses are large enough, the U.S. Treasury. Their article discussed several examples of such fraud epidemics, including the savings and loan debacle. Criminologists, the S&L regulators, and over 1,000 successful felony prosecutions of the S&L looters confirmed Akerlof & Romer’s insights.