Category Archives: William K. Black

The BBC’s Inept but Revealing Attempt at a Game Theoretic View of Greek Crisis

By William K. Black
Quito: June 25, 2015

The BBC came up with a good “hook” for a story on the troika’s assault on the Greek economy and people. “Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, spent his academic career … studying game theory.” Professor Marcus Miller, a UK economist (U. Warwick) wrote an article for the BBC premised on how Varoufakis would apply game theory to Greece’s negotiations with the troika (the IMF, ECB, and the European Commission). Miller is a colleague of the great Robert Skidelsky and has co-authored with him an article explaining the economic illiteracy and self-destructive nature of the troika’s (and UK’s) infliction of austerity in response to the Great Recession.

The BBC, however, is such a great fan of austerity that one rarely reads why the vast majority of economists think that using austerity to respond to a Great Recession is akin to the quackery of bleeding a patient to make him healthier. Miller’s article in the BBC about game theory has the wrong title (recall that the author often does not get to choose the title), the wrong game, the wrong concept, and the wrong payoffs. The title of the article is: “Can game theory explain the Greek debt crisis?” The article does address that issue. It is limited to the issue of the new Greek government’s negotiations with the troika concerning a crisis that they inherited.

Continue reading

A Harvard Don is Enraged that Pope Francis is “Opposed to the World Economic Order”

By William K. Black
Quito: June 21, 2015

A New York Times article entitled “Championing Environment, Francis Takes Aim at Global Capitalism” quotes a conventional Harvard economist, Robert N. Stavins. Stavins is enraged by Pope Francis’ position on the environment because the Pope is “opposed to the world economic order.” The rage, unintentionally, reveals why conventional economics is the most dangerous ideology pretending to be a “science.”

Stavins’ attacks on the Pope quickly became personal and dismissive. This is odd, for Pope Francis’ positions on the environment are the same as Stavins’ most important positions. Stavins’ natural response to the Pope’s views on the environment – had Stavin not been an economist – would have been along the lines of “Pope Francis is right, and we urgently need to make his vision a reality.”

Stavins’ fundamental position is that there is an urgent need for a “radical restructuring” of the markets to prevent them from causing a global catastrophe. That is Pope Francis’ fundamental position. But Stavins ends up mocking and trying to discredit the Pope.

Continue reading

The IMF “Defense” of it Actions against the Greeks is an Unintended Confession

By William K. Black
Quito: June 15, 2015

The IMF, the heedless horseman of the troika that announced it would stop negotiating with the Greeks and go home, has attempted to justify its position through Olivier Blanchard, its “Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department.” Blanchard entitled his defense “Greece: A Credible Deal Will Require Difficult Decisions By All Sides.” That is a “serious person” title, but it is also economically illiterate – and no one knows that better than Blanchard. After all, it is the IMF’s deeply neo-liberal economists whose research has confirmed that the IMF’s austerity policies are self-destructive responses to the Great Recession and that fiscal stimulus programs are even more effective than economists had predicted.

Continue reading

RIP TPP?

By William K. Black
Quito: June 13, 2015

My answer to the question I pose in my title is “no.” The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is far from dead and can only be defeated by heroic efforts by a broad coalition of Americans dedicated to the interests of our Nation and its people and willing to pay the price to oppose the triumph of corporate interests. The focus of this column, however, is on the New York Times’ coverage of Friday’s vote on a key component of President Obama and the Republican leadership’s efforts to make the TPP law. That focus requires some tangential discussion of the substantive arguments for and against TPP but I will minimize that discussion because I have explained previously in greater detail why I oppose the TPP and urge Americans to make our efforts to defeat it one of our highest priorities.

Continue reading

Roger Cohen Laments his Inadequate Schadenfreude because the Greeks Don’t Suffer Enough

By William K. Black
Quito: June 11, 2015

Schadenfreude” is a German word that describes taking a “malicious, gloating pleasure in the suffering of other people.” It is a form of sadism. Roger Cohen has written an extraordinary column describing how much he hates the Greek people. Change the name “Greek” to almost any other group and it is certain that the New York Times would refuse to print such a mass of ethnic slurs. The Greeks are fair game, however, for even the crudest slurs in the NYT.

But what causes Cohen’s June 8, 2015 column attacking the Greek people to reach a new level in hate speech is this paragraph.

Continue reading

Geithner’s Ghost Writer and the Parable of the River of Risk

By William K. Black
Quito: June 9, 2015

Michael Grunwald has written a column attacking Senator Bernie Sanders. It is entitled “Don’t break up the megabanks.” As Grunwald appropriately discloses, he is Timothy Geithner’s ghost writer and a fervent co-religionist of Geithner’s gospel of adoration of and devoted service to the world’s most fraudulent bankers.

Grunwald gives the reader fair warning that he has no financial expertise and is prepared to say anything to try to defend the banksters and Geithner when he makes his first argument the claim that it is “un-American” to break up banks that pose a global systemic risk. To the contrary, few things could be more American if you are even remotely familiar with American views of megabanks from the founding of our Republic.

Continue reading

The Murdoch Effect and the Continuing Bankster Crime Wave

By William K. Black
Quito: May 30, 2015

One of common characteristics of the two epicenters of the elite banking fraud epidemics – the City of London and Wall Street – is Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers’ repeated efforts to create a criminogenic environment in both financial centers by cheerleading the regulatory race to the bottom. Murdoch’s papers also act as apologists for the resultant epidemic of elite banksters’ crimes.

One of the bit players that the Wall Street Journal has deployed as part of this apologia is particularly interesting for white-collar criminologists. The setting, as always on the WSJ’s editorial pages, is that the writers are overwhelmingly the most extreme right wing ideologues. The only criminological theory that the right wing loves is “broken windows.” The WSJ presented an op ed by Heather Mac Donald of the hard-right Manhattan Institute. The title gives a good feel of the extreme claim she is making: “The New Nationwide Crime Wave: The consequences of the ‘Ferguson effect’ are already appearing.”

Continue reading

Sorkin on the Street’s Surge of Suicides: Ignoring the Obvious

By William K. Black
Quito: June 2, 2015

Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote two related columns only two weeks apart, but ignored his first column in writing his second. The May 15, 2015 report by the University of Notre Dame on the results of its survey of financial sector participants in the U.S. and the UK was the subject of Sorkin’s May 18, 2015 column entitled “Many on Wall Street Say It Remains Untamed.” “Untamed” is a word with a positive connotation that Sorkin chose as his euphemism in his self-appointed role as apologist-in-chief for the banksters. Here is the report’s summary.

Continue reading

SEALs, CEOs, Milton Friedman, and Fraudulent Incentives

By William K. Black
Quito: May 31, 2015

I saw an intriguing squib in the Wall Street Journal about an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “How the Navy SEALS Train for Leadership Excellence.”  The article offers an, unintentionally, useful insight into the pathologies of elite business schools, their “leadership” faculty, and our elite C-suites.

The most interesting comment in the article is by Brandon Webb, a former senior SEAL sniper trainer.

Continue reading

Peggy Noonan Joins George Will in Being Enraged at Rape – Victims

By William K. Black
Quito: May 26, 2015

Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal attacks and mocks a victim of a sexual assault and four of her classmates at Columbia University who supported her in an op ed in the school paper. Here are the facts as Noonan presents them.

Continue reading