Author Archives: William Black

Krugman’s Failure to Speak Truth to Power about Austerity

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN      November 22, 2016

In the first column in this series I explained how Hillary Clinton, during the closing 40 days of her campaign, showcased repeatedly her promise to assault the working class with continuous austerity.  I explained that her threat represented economic malpractice – and was insane politics.  I showed that the assault on the working class via austerity was such a core belief of the New Democrats that their candidate highlighted that assault even as the polls showed massive, intense rejection of her candidacy by the white working class.  I also noted that in this second series in the column I would discuss the failure of her campaign team, and her de facto surrogate, Paul Krugman to speak truth to power about the dual idiocy of her campaign promise to wage continuous war on the working class through austerity forever.

Continue reading

Hillary’s Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN     November 22, 2016

I’ve come back recently from Kilkenny, Ireland where I participated in the seventh annual Kilkenomics – a festival of economics and comedy.  The festival is noted for people from a broad range of economic perspectives presenting their economic views in plain, blunt English.  Kilkenomics VII began two days after the U.S. election, so we added some sessions on President-elect Trump’s fiscal policy views.  Trump had no obvious supporters among this diverse group of economists, so the audience was surprised to hear many economists from multiple nations take the view that his stated fiscal policies could be desirable for the U.S. – and the global economy, particularly the EU.  We all expressed the caution that no one could know whether Trump would seek to implement the fiscal policies on which he campaigned.  Most of us, however, said that if he wished to implement those policies House Speaker Paul Ryan would not be able to block him.  I opined that congressional Republicans would rediscover their love of pork and logrolling if Trump implemented his promised fiscal policies.

Continue reading

Bloomberg Notices Paul Romer’s Indictment of Macroeconomics

By William K. Black
November 21, 2016     Bloomington, MN

Bloomberg has written an article about the origins of Paul Romer’s increasingly famous critique of modern macroeconomics.

His intention actually had been to write a paper that would celebrate advances in the understanding of what drives economic growth. But when he sat down to write it in the months before taking over as the World Bank’s chief economist, Romer quickly found his heart wasn’t in it. The world economy wasn’t growing much anyway; and the math that many colleagues were using to model it seemed unrealistic. He watched a documentary about the Church of Scientology, and was struck by how groupthink can operate.

So, Romer said in an interview at the Bank’s Washington headquarters, “I just thought, OK, I’m going to say what I think. I don’t know if I’m the right person, but no one else is going to say it. So I said it.”

The upshot was “The Trouble With Macroeconomics,” a scathing critique that landed among Romer’s peers like a grenade.

A bit of background makes the first paragraph more understandable.  Romer’s specialty is developmental economics.

Continue reading

The Liberals Didn’t Listen: The Immense Cost of Ignoring Tom Frank’s Warnings

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

I am writing this article late on election night in my office at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, about a mile from the home in which Tom Frank grew up just over the state line in Kansas.  Beginning with his famous book, What’s the Matter with Kansas, first published in 2004, Tom Frank has been warning the Democratic Party of the increasing cost it was paying by abandoning and even attacking the working class, particularly the white working class.  Some political scientists tried to savage his work, pointing to Bill Clinton’s electoral success and arguing that the disaffected members of the working class were also less likely to vote.  Frank returned to the theme just in time for this election with a new book – Listen, Liberal – that documents in damning, lively narrative the New Democrats’ war on the New Deal, their disdain for organized labor, and their antipathy for what they viewed as retrograde white working class attitudes.

Continue reading

Theoclassical Economists’ Dogmatic Hate for Only One Form of Unfair Competition

By William K. Black
November 2, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The uber-right wing economist Tyler Cowen, has written a column entitled “TPP Is Exciting. Let’s Make the Case for It.”  Cowen’s column is remarkable for his inability to even get himself excited about TPP, much less his readers.  He begins with what should be an important warning – there will be a major effort by President Obama and the largest corporations to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the lame duck session after the election.

Cowen’s effort to excite his readers to support TPP is so weak that I will comment on only a few points.  First, he says that Americans should be overjoyed that TPP would produce 18,000 tax cuts – for corporations!

Continue reading

Wall Street’s Apologist-in-Chief Mansplains Regulation to Senator Warren

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

When last I wrote of Roger Lowenstein he was complaining that the Wall Street felons were being criticized – not jailed – criticized.  Lowenstein is Wall Street’s self-appointed apologist-in-chief.  Naturally, he despises Senator Warren, the most effective elected official in exposing Wall Street’s elite frauds.  The New York Times granted him an op ed in which he sought to mansplain financial regulation to Senator Warren.

Lowenstein does not like women that he considers too loud, gratuitously complaining that Senator Warren is “high-decibel” supporter of regulation.  Coming from someone who has spent his journalistic career shilling for Wall Street, this sexist trope is painfully embarrassing.  Wall Street is infamous for raging males who believe that screaming at subordinates who can’t fight back proves their virility.

Continue reading

Debt Derangement Syndrome: Saving Our Grandkids from Wall Street

By William K. Black
October 24, 2016     Quito, Ecuador

Pete Peterson is back, and his message and rhetoric are always the same.  The federal budget deficit is a disaster and – any day now – will produce massive inflation.  Peterson has written his 20,000th version of this fantasy in the NYT with Paul Volcker.  The first rhetorical game that Peterson plays is to assert that it is bad for a sovereign nation to run budgetary deficits because they are not “sound and sustainable.”  Except that the U.S. has run deficits for most of its existence without ever suffering hyper-inflation.  For a nation like the U.S. with a sovereign currency, a federal budgetary deficit is not unsound and it is not unsustainable.  Federal budget deficits can, depending on the circumstances, be the very definition of “sound” fiscal policy – a policy that is often essential for “sustainable” recovery and growth of the economy.

Continue reading

Hillary: The “Good News” is That China is “Forcing Down Wages”

By William K. Black
October 23, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The general media has been treating the WikiLeaks disclosures of the Clinton campaign documents, particularly the transcripts of her lucrative talks with Goldman Sachs as much ado about nothing.  I have not found any article about the disclosures, however, that reported on the extraordinary statements she made in her talk with Goldman Sachs on June 4, 2013.

Hillary told the Vampire Squid that the “good news” was that China was removing workers’ (meager) legal protections so that their employers could “forc[e] down wages” in order to increase corporate profits.  She used China’s (pathetically weak) legal protections for workers as her exemplar of China’s “structural economic problems.”

Continue reading

Plutocrats Brag: We Win Because You Fail to Vote

By William K. Black
October 20, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The New Democrats and their Republican counterparts’ economic policies have created a rigged system of crony capitalism.  Crony capitalism produces devastating epidemics of elite fraud that have shrunk the overall economic “pie” and distributed the “pie” overwhelmingly in favor of corrupt corporate elites like Donald Trump and their political cronies like the Clintons.  Wall Street has been open about being ecstatic about the rise of what Citigroup infamously labelled and celebrated — a “plutonomy.”

In a plutonomy there … are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take.  There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

Continue reading

Prosecutors for the Petrocrats Try to Imprison the Media

By William K. Black
October 18, 2016     Kansas City, MO

What happens in the petrocracy formerly known as the State of North Dakota to the tiny minority of reporters who actually expose the misconduct of the petrocrats?  Fracking has perverted many organs of the government in North Dakota into petro-cronies.  They act to protect their petrocrat patrons from criticism from this minority of reporters.  A county North Dakota prosecutor decided to use what is becoming the petrocrats’ favorite strategy to censor Amy Goodman by imprisoning her.

In North Dakota, the petrocrats hired a force of goons with attack dogs to intimidate and attack Native American protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Amy Goodman, an award-winning journalist most famous for Democracy Now, was the only journalist to cover the attack on the protesters.  The petrocrats were enraged when her video of the private goons and their dogs’ attacks on the protesters attained wide publicity.

Continue reading