Author Archives: William Black

Cochrane Proposes “Restoring the Rule of Law” by Letting CEOs Defraud with Impunity

By William K. Black
May 16, 2016     Bloomington, MN

John Cochrane is a theoclassical economist.  I struggle to explain to readers how radical theoclassical economics has become.  The more their anti-regulatory policies prove disastrous the more extreme their policies become.  Cochrane wrote a column recently in the Wall Street Journal that exemplifies this pattern.  We are just emerging from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  The three “de’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization) caused the three most destructive epidemics of financial control fraud in history.  Much of this was driven by the perverse financial incentives that CEOs crafted to rig the system and produce an intensely criminogenic environment.

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Mankiw’s Mythical Ten Commandments of Theoclassical Economics

By William K. Black
May 16, 2016     Bloomington, MN

This is the second column in a series on the N. Gregory Mankiw’s myths and dogmas that he spreads in his economic textbooks.  The first column exposed the two (contradictory) meta-myths that begin his preface.  This column de-mythologizes Mankiw’s unprincipled “principles” of economics – the ten commandments of theoclassical economics’ priestly caste.  Some of these principles, correctly hedged, could be unobjectionable, but in each case Mankiw dogmatically insists on pushing them to such extremes that they become Mankiw myths.

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The Unprincipled and Mythical Mankiw Principles of Economics

By William K. Black
May 15, 2016     Bloomington, MN

In this first installment I discuss the unacknowledged contradiction that lies at the core of the two meta-myths in the preface to N. Gregory Mankiw’s textbooks.  Mankiw is among the leading providers of introductory economics textbooks.  In his preface to these volumes he preaches his first meta-myth in his first substantive sentence about economics.

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Stop Calling Deals That Help CEOs Pillage with Impunity “Free Trade”

By William K. Black
May 14, 2016     Bloomington, MN

This is the second column in my series on the “Mankiw’s myths and Mankiw morality.”  In the first column I showed that N. Gregory Mankiw’s own unprincipled principles of economics predicted that the financial system would be rigged by and for the financial CEOs.  In his New York Times column Mankiw purported to be writing to dispel myths, but actually did the opposite, asserting that the financial system could not be rigged.  I explained in the first column how Mankiw famously decreed that it would be “irrational” (rather than ethical) for a CEO not to “loot” a firm that he controlled.  I term this view that being ethical is irrational for a CEO “Mankiw morality.”  Under Mankiw morality, financial CEOs would have the incentive and the ability to rig the system and would do so repeatedly.

My second column responds to some of Mankiw’s myths about the “trade deals.”  I again apply Mankiw morality and theory to refute Mankiw’s myths about “trade deals” being good for America.  Mankiw morality predicts that CEOs, whenever they can personally get away with it, will rig the system to create a “sure thing” allowing the CEO to become wealthy through fraud and other abuses.  The CEOs see regulators and prosecutors as the paramount risks to their ability to get away with rigging the system.  They look for every opportunity to discredit and render ineffective regulation, to make it difficult to prosecute elite white-collar criminals, and to ensure that agency heads and attorney generals will be appointed who are unwilling to effectively regulate and prosecute corporate elites.

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Mankiw Morality in a Mash Up with Mankiw Myths

By William K. Black
May 8, 2016     Kansas City, MO

N. Gregory Mankiw writes leading textbooks in economics that present neoliberal economic nostrums as economic “principles.” Mankiw wrote a column in the New York Times entitled “The Economy Is Rigged, and Other Presidential Campaign Myths.” The title reflects the central nature of his attack on Bernie Sanders explaining how the economy is rigged in favor of elite bank fraudsters.  This first column in a series responds to Mankiw’s myths about the rigged financial system.  The next column deals with Mankiw’s myths about the trade deals.

Mankiw misfires immediately because he does not even attempt to refute Bernie’s explanations of how finance is rigged.  Instead, Mankiw conflates income inequality and the rigging of finance.

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Web Site Devoted to Helping Customers Cheat Cheated its Customers

By William K. Black
May 4, 2016     Bloomington, MN

To the shock of no one, with the possible exception of men who would use such a site, it is alleged that the website devoted to helping their customers cheat their loved ones cheated their customers.  (Yes, another example of the myriad forms and layers of “spontaneous order” that von Hayek does not want you, or any economist, to think about.)  This was reported in Corporate Counsel.  Plaintiffs are trying to bring a class action fraud lawsuit against the firm Ashley Madison (“Life is short.  Have an affair”).  The firm’s client list was made public by a hacker who expressed distress at the firm’s business plan of encouraging affairs.

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Free Markets Mean Zero Economic Profit – or a 99% Profit Markup

By William K. Black
May 3, 2016     Bloomington, MN

Open up a conventional economics text and you will be taught that high among the glories of “free markets” is the “fact” that they lead to firms earning “zero economic profits.”  Economic profits are not the same as accounting profits.  An economic profit occurs when a firm receives greater profits than the minimum required to be able to raise capital in their industry.  A firm that receives a profit greater than that minimum requirement is receiving monopoly “rents” due to its market power.  Conventional economists used to believe that was a bad thing, but many conventional economists from the right are now openly hostile to antitrust concerns.

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Bloomberg Tells Michigan Grads They Must Defeat Bernie’s Plan to Jail Wall Street Felons

By  William K. Black
May 2, 2016      Bloomington, MN

Michael Bloomberg has just published, in Bloomberg, what he describes as “an adaptation of an address to the University of Michigan’s class of 2016.”  Having graduated twice from Michigan, as did our eldest, I was intrigued.  Bloomberg’s title was “Here’s Your Degree.  Now Go Defeat Demagogues.”  What Bloomberg means is that he is frightened that so many young people supported the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and support Bernie Sanders.  I’ve written before about Bloomberg, a Wall Street billionaire, and the myths he tries to spread about Bernie.  Wall Street elites fear Bernie.  They know he won’t take their money, he will end the systemically dangerous banks, and he will imprison their leading felons.  Bloomberg’s hate for, and fear of, Bernie is perfectly rational.  Why he thinks that Michigan students will take his advice and learn to love Wall Street’s felons is a lot less clear.

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The German Right is Stunned that Plowing Wickedness Has Reaped Iniquity

By William K. Black
May 1, 2016     Bloomington, MN

Republican Party leaders are shocked that their three decades of pursuing the racist “Southern strategy,” California Governor Pete Wilson’s desperate attacks on Latinos, myriad assaults on women’s rights, and repeatedly sponsoring gay bashing propositions designed to energize the (bigoted) base have created a base that champions Donald Trump’s serial hatred.  Key leaders of the hard right in Germany are shocked by the same dynamic.  The prophet Hosea has two verses that warned of this dynamic millennia ago.

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Obama’s Great Lie: What’s Good for Wall Street Felons is Good for America

By William K. Black
April 30, 2016     Bloomington, MN

To no one’s surprise, President Obama lobs periodic attacks on Bernie Sanders’ plans to restore the rule of law to Wall Street elites.  Obama launched his latest attack, fittingly, through Wall Street’s sycophant-in-chief, Andrew Ross Sorkin.  Sorkin’s column expresses his shock at how Obama repeatedly extended their interview for hours beyond its scheduled length.  No one else is shocked that Obama, trying to make the case that bailing out the Wall Street felons was an act of supreme genius, would find Sorkin’s relentless sycophancy towards those felons and their political cronies so endearing.  This is the first segment of my response.  It focuses on the Obama administration’s great lie – the only policy “tools that work” in response to a financial crisis are getting “in bed with the banks” and making even wealthier through federal bailouts the bankers who grew wealthy by leading the fraud epidemics that caused the crisis.

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