Author Archives: William Black

Dear Professors Uribe-Teran and Vega-Garcia…

More than fifty economists signed onto an open letter, written by professors Ha-Joon Chang of the University of Cambridge and James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas at Austin, ahead of this year’s presidential elections in Ecuador. The letter noted:

Over the past ten years, Ecuador has achieved major economic and social advances. We are concerned that many of these important gains in poverty reduction, wage growth, reduced inequality, and greater social inclusion could be eroded by a return to of the policies of austerity and neoliberalism that prevailed in Ecuador from the 1980s to the early 2000s. A return to such policies threatens to put Ecuador back on a path that leads not only to a more unequal society, but to more political instability as well. It is important to recall that from 1996 to 2006, Ecuador went through eight presidents.

The authors and signatories emphasized that “our goal is not to tell Ecuadorians whom to vote for, or to interfere in Ecuador’s political processes,” but instead to counter misinformation in mass media and “correct the record.”

Carlos Uribe-Teran and Pablo Vega-Garcia, both professors of economics at the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito, responded in kind with a critique of the open letter. In their concluding remarks, the authors generously offered up an opportunity to address their analysis, as well as to re-publish any exchange on their blog. We hope they will post this response there.

Continue reading

Jamie Dimon: You Make Us Embarrassed to be Americans

By William K. Black
July 24, 2017     Kansas City, MO

Jamie Dimon talked about his personal pain recently using the exact phrase that many of us have used to explain his personal anguish that “It’s almost an embarrassment to be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid sh—t we have to deal with in this country.”  The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch” described Dimon’s fervor.

“J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s outspoken CEO on Friday broke into an impassioned, expletive-tinged rant.”

The WSJ, in the introduction of an online video interview of Paul Gigot, its editorial page editor, termed it a “remarkable diatribe.”

Continue reading

The CFPB Arbitration Rule is Pro (Honest) Businesses

By William K. Black
July 11, 2017     Bloomington, MN

Politico has just published a column with a title and analytics that drive white-collar criminologists nuts:  “In a major setback for businesses, CFPB opens door to consumer class actions.”  Logically, the title should have read: “In an important step forward for consumers, investors, and honest bankers and lenders, CFPB begins to restore the rule of law to banking.”

The CFPB is the acronym for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The problem that led to CFPB to issue its new rule has six parts.  First, it is often profitable for lenders to abuse and defraud borrowers.  Second, lenders are able to do this because financial understanding is highly asymmetric.  Third, even if the borrower eventually spots the fraud or abuse it is rare that the typical borrower could profitably prove the fraud and recover enough funds in a lawsuit to (net of legal expenses) recover effectively and could never recover enough to deter future misconduct.  Fourth, the only potential legal remedy for the typical victim to recover and deter is the class action suit.

Continue reading

Wall Street: It’s “Icky and Un-American” to ‘Short’ Frauds

By William K. Black
June 27, 2017     Bloomington, MN

The president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) launched a coordinated attack on “shorts” that mirrored his rival’s (Nasdaq) attack.  The NYSE assault, however, used bizarre rhetoric.

“It feels kind of icky and un-American, betting against a company,” NYSE Group President Tom Farley told lawmakers in Washington Tuesday.

The heads of the NYSE and Nasdaq have appropriated the word “transparency” to support the effort to reduce the shorts’ effectiveness.  When the NYSE purports to champion “transparency” – the key to reducing fraud by the CEOs of the companies whose stocks they exchange – it is time for investors to grab their wallets and hold them tight.  The stock exchanges are very far from being champions of transparency when the question is what the CEOs of the listing companies should be required to disclose.  Sure enough, it turns out that the stock exchanges’ proposed anti-short “reform” is actually a means to try to reduce the reliability of the public disclosures made by the CEOs of firms on those stock exchanges.  A sophisticated stock fraudster wants the public to believe the firm is “transparent” because of its disclosures, but it is those very disclosures (when false) that turn that ‘transparency’ into an illusion designed to deceive the investor.  When shorts improve the reliability of the disclosures that the CEOs of firms listed on the stock exchanges make, they protect investors from fraud.  That makes honest “shorts” highly “American.”

Continue reading

Those to Blame for the Grenfell Fire Victims Include Tony Blair

By William K. Black
June 26, 2017     Bloomington, MN

There are many people culpable for the mass loss of life in the Grenfell fire in London.  At this time, we know enough about the fire and its causes to be able to discuss these matters with sufficient confidence to draw preliminary conclusions.  As always, we should also keep in mind that we do not have all the facts so some of our conclusions must be tentative.

Continue reading

BWU Makes Its Latest Lemon Award to the UK

By Bank Whistleblowers United
June 25, 2017

Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU) makes its non-coveted Lemon award to the United Kingdom (UK) for actions harming whistleblowers and the world.  BWU’s three principals are highly experienced financial experts with combined practical and academic experience of over 120 years.  We are each unemployable in finance because we warned internally at are places of work and then externally about grave misconduct by the most senior financial and regulatory leaders that would (and did) produce terrible losses.

Continue reading

Barclays and Its Executives Are Charged With Conspiracy to Commit Fraud

NEP’s Bill Black appears on The Real News Network and says don’t expect much – sadly, the British Serious ‘Farce’ Office that brought about the charges may not have the wits to carry out the prosecution. You can view with transcript here.

People of Integrity Won’t Work for President Trump

By William K. Black
June 6, 2017     Bloomington, MN

Rupert Murdoch controls the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.  Even before he acquired the WSJ its editorial board was known for its members’ ultra-right wing fervor.  The acquisition intensified that fervor.  The editorial board’s fervor has infected the WSJ’s news pages.  That is the context essential to understanding the significance of its June 6, 2017 editorial eviscerating President Donald Trump.  They entitled their editorial “The Buck Stops Everywhere Else.”  Here is the most damning paragraph.   .

If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an Administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff. People of talent and integrity won’t work for a boss who undermines them in public without thinking about the consequences. And whatever happened to the buck stops here?

In addition to the obvious slam, consider several aspects of the content, tone, and timing of the editorial.  They published it on the anniversary of D-Day, a day of courage and personal responsibility.  Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander of the invasion and future president of the United States, took a large gamble on the weather clearing enough to allow the invasion to occur.  The editorial, appropriately, given tight word count limits, did not explain what so many adult Americans recall – the last sentence of Eisenhower’s statement to the public in the event the invasion failed.  He personally drafted the statement.

Continue reading

Dodd-Frank Was Designed to Fail – and Trump Will Make it Worse

By William K. Black
April 17, 2017     Bloomington, MN

William Cohan’s April 14, 2017 column in the New York Times discusses Daniel Tarullo’s swan song talk on bank regulation.  Here are the key passages from that column for the first half of my discussion.

Much to the relief of Wall Street executives, who feared and hated him in equal measure, Daniel K. Tarullo left his powerful perch on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors last week, but not before delivering one last lecture on how big banks should be regulated in his absence.

His swan song was pretty surprising, all things considered. It also went largely unnoticed, much like Mr. Tarullo himself during his eight years at the Federal Reserve. Many people have never heard of him, even though his decisions affected their lives in ways big and small.

Once described as the “Wizard of Oz,” for the power he wielded behind the scenes, Mr. Tarullo was appointed to the Federal Reserve by President Barack Obama in January 2009. At the Fed, Mr. Tarullo took over the important responsibility of regulating the big Wall Street banks, a job that, understandably, had been the purview of the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The oversight moved to Washington from New York in the wake of the financial crisis.

“It was obvious that a lot in the U.S. regulatory system had not worked particularly well before the crisis,” Mr. Tarullo said in a 2015 interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Cohan was writing about a different subject, one I discuss briefly in the second half of this article, so he did not discuss the insanity described in these four paragraphs.  Here is the short version of that insanity.

Continue reading

Ecuadorians Reject Neoliberalism in Presidential Race

NEP’s Bill Black appears on Rising Up With Sonali talking about Ecuadoreans and their choice of continuity by choosing a left-leaning government over a neo-liberal agenda in recent Presidential elections.