Author Archives: Devin Smith

Over-Arching Perspective

By J.D. ALT

I’m attracted to “big picture” vistas that put the day’s momentary developments into what at least feels like a meaningful perspective. It helps me to imagine things are more manageable than they otherwise seem to be. In reading my daily news (currently The Washington Post), I’m always on the lookout for at least two articles that fit together somehow to create a glimpse of this over-arching view. Today (Friday, 6 May) I got what feels like a pretty good peek.

First is an article about the EPA’s twenty-five year struggle to define and implement rules and regulations about lead in America’s water supply. Basically, the efforts have focused on requiring municipalities to test their water for lead on a regular basis―and then implement some kind of remediation if the lead-levels test too high. The problem lies in the complex relationship between the testing and the remediation: Testing must occur at the tap, not at the supply, because lead contamination occurs in the old, lead pipe-connections which the water, pure as it may be when it starts out, must pass through to get to the tap. The corrosiveness of the water, which is controlled by many factors and chemicals, determines how much lead is picked up along its journey through the lead-infested pipes. If the tap water tests too high, municipalities must implement a complex calculation of how to reduce the water’s corrosiveness.

Continue reading

Bill Black on The Vinny Eastwood Show

NEP/BWU’s Bill Black appears on the Vinny Eastwood show out of New Zealand. Topics of discussion are Financial Fraud, and the Panama Papers.

Talking Appraisal Fraud with Bill Black

BWU/NEP’s Bill Black appears on Phil Crawford’s Voice of Appraisal. Bill discusses past problems with appraisal fraud and the AMC model. He also explains how he would like to work with appraisers in the future!! The introduction starts at about the 11 minute mark with interview starting around the 15 minute mark.

BWU/NEP’s Bill Black on WAMC

Bill appears on In Conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock. You can listen here.

Clinton Vs. Sanders on Big Banks

[Revised 4/18/16. Added Part 2 and link to Part 2]

Bill Black, adviser to Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton supporter Paul Hodes appear on The Real News and discuss whether the Dodd-Frank legislation is effective at preventing systemic risk from Wall Street monopolies. You can view the videos below or on The Real News‘ site with a transcript. Part 2 on Real News.


Continue reading

Banking Expert Who Exposed Savings & Loan Corruption Joins Sanders Campaign

By Reno Berkeley
Crossposted from Inquisitor.com

An expert in banking corruption and finance has joined the Bernie Sanders campaign. William K. Black, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-KC, is Bernie Sanders’ new economic advisor. Black was one of the central figures in exposing and prosecuting corruption in the savings and loan crisis from the late 1980s and mid-1990s. His addition to the Sanders campaign brings important knowledge in laws pertaining to finance and banking.

The savings and loan banking crisis resulted from a multitude of causes, one of which were two laws that helped deregulate them. The Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. That law allowed credit unions and savings and loans to offer checking deposits, and to charge any loan interest rate they chose.
Read the rest here.

Why the Panama Papers Scandal Isn’t Such a Scandal After All

Crossposted from vice.com

By John Dyer

When news of the Panama Papers broke earlier this week, it was a bombshell. But it later emerged that German prosecutors had reportedly launched an investigation into the Mossack Fonseca law firm at the center of the controversy a year ago. (The investigation is ongoing.) American officials have also for years been trying to track money shifted around the world through shell companies that the firm specializes in establishing.

Though governments around the world have long decried tax havens and have aggressively pursued big banks in Switzerland and other countries, they have not pursued high-profile lawsuits against Mossack Fonseca or its clients despite knowledge of its business dealings.

Continue reading

Panama: Cheating “Epidemic” Crowds Out Honest Business, Implicates Banks

Cross-posted from ineteconomics.org

The Panama Papers are not simply a story of public corruption as depicted in news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, says former financial regulator William K. Black. They’re a reminder that such corruption destroys the possibility for honest businesses to succeed.

“Markets become completely perverse when cheaters prosper,” explains Black, a leading expert on corruption and finance and frequent speaker at Institute events. When cheating brings a competitive advantage, the victims are not only middle class taxpayers who have to shoulder a heavier burden, and the wider public that suffers from schools not being built and roads not being repaired. A less obvious victim is the honest business person.

“Those who want to do business honestly simply can’t compete against people who don’t pay taxes,” says Black. A company may start out with strong values and principles, but if all of its competitors are cheating, that business will either just fail, or else will “grit their teeth and go for it.” Thus, still more cheaters, and fewer straight shooters.

Read rest of the post here.

AEI Pushes Government Propaganda Telling Women to Marry Schlubs

By William K. Black
April 5, 2016     Bloomington, MN

I wrote a two-part column on the joint report by AEI and Brookings on poverty reduction.  Part two of my column focused on the policy that report pushed most prominently – a government program of propaganda urging pregnant women to marry.  My first article, however, criticized Eduardo Porter’s February 2, 2016 column in the New York Times for ballyhooing the supposed wondrous nature of Brookings and AEI working together.  Porter portrayed them as “leading thinkers on opposite sides of the ideological divide.”  I pointed out that a majority of the group had hard-right views and that the group had an exceptionally weak member pushing a single idea – marriage propaganda.  I also pointed out that Brookings had, for decades, played the same very junior partner role of giving AEI cover for “joint” proposals with Brookings to cripple financial regulation.

Continue reading

Is there a solution to Brazil’s crises?

By Felipe Rezende

This is the first of a series of posts on the Brazilian crises.

There are two major crises Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff is facing: one is a political crisis and the other is Brazil’s sharpest recession in 25 years.

Brazil’s Political Crisis

The political crisis has two main pillars: a) a vast corruption scandal (with evidence of a kickback scheme funneling billions of dollars from state-run firms and, more recently, in a massive data leak over possible tax evasion, Brazil politicians linked to offshore companies in Panama leaks); and b) impeachment proceedings to move forward against President Dilma Rousseff.

The Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) announced in 2015 that it had rejected the accounts of Rousseff’s administration for the year 2014. In a unanimous vote, the federal accounts court, known as the TCU, ruled Dilma Rousseff’s government manipulated its accounts in 2014 to “disguise fiscal deficits” as she campaigned for re-election. The allegation is that Ms. Rousseff manipulated Brazil’s account books to hide a growing fiscal deficit.

Continue reading