Category Archives: William K. Black

Reality Virus Infects Kansas Legislators, Brownback Immune

By William K. Black
March 28, 2017      Bloomington, MN

The good news is that the Kansas legislature, the land of the lunatics, experienced an outbreak of the reality virus (first diagnosed and named by Steve Keen among neoclassical economists).  The bad news is that the Kansas’ Crazy-in-Chief, Governor Sam Brownback, has proven immune to the virus.

Brownback decided to put Art Laffer in charge of Kansas’ taxation policy.  Even neoclassical economists roll their eyes when it comes to Laffer’s claims that dramatic tax decreases lead to significantly increased net tax revenues.  Laffer’s batting average on this claim is .000 and his “proof” of his claim is a graph (the “Laffer curve”) that he drew that contradicts reality.  Brownback knew that Laffer was batting .000 on his claims and that Laffer never drops his claims when reality (repeatedly) falsifies his graph.  To no one’s surprise, Brownback’s tax cuts produced a fiscal disaster for Kansas.

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Why did Preet Bharara Refuse to Drain the Wall Street Swamp?

William K. Black
(A co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United)
March 20, 2017

The New York Times’ editorial board published an editorial on March 12, 2017, praising Preet Bharara as the “Prosecutor Who Knew How to Drain a Swamp.”  I agree with the title.  At all times when he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (which includes Wall Street) Bharara knew how to drain the swamp.  Further, he had the authority, the jurisdiction, the resources, and the testimony from whistleblowers like Richard Bowen (a co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU)) to drain the Wall Street swamp.  Bowen personally contacted Bharara beginning in 2005. Continue reading

February Job Growth Barely Made Dent in Record Low Labor Force Participation

NEP’s Bill Black appeared on The Real News Network discussing newest government data still show trends of low wage job creation, racial disparities in employment, and workers continuing to leave the labor force. Video is below. You can view with transcript here.

Trump’s 2005 Tax Forms: ‘Like Going to Dinner And Being Served Pictures of Food’

NEP’s Bill Black appears on The Real News Network along with economist James Henry hypothesizing that here are fraudulent and criminal activities lurking within Trump’s unreleased Tax forms. The video is below. You can view with transcript here.

The 2016 Nobel Prizes in Economics Go to those Who Pushed Criminogenic Policies

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

How has the Swedish Central Bank’s committee that awards prizes in Economics in honor of Nobel responded to the field’s abject failures regarding the recent financial crisis and the Great Recession?  A lesser group would display humility, acknowledge its failures, and promise a fundamental rethink of the field.  Neoclassical economists, however, are made of sterner stuff.  The committee’s response is to praise the discipline for its theoretical advances and proposed policies related to finance, regulation, and corporate governance.  Eugene Fama, Jean Tirole, Oliver Hart, and Bengt Holmström exemplify this pattern.  This series of articles discusses the joint award in 2016 to Hart and Holmström.  In this introduction to the series, I outline the major errors that I will address in this series.

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Why Was Tom Perez Willing to be the New Democrats’ DNC Stalking Horse?

By William K. Black
February 22, 2017     Bloomington, MN

Hillary Clinton did not lose the presidential race because she is stupid.  The New Democrats have dominated the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates for decades.  This means that they are extremely good at internal Democratic Party politics.  The New Democrats faced a major challenge after Hillary’s loss to the worst presidential candidate in our Nation’s history.  The loss discredited the New Democrats’ leaders, policies, institutions, and funders.  It proved the accuracy of Tom Frank’s efforts to warn the Party about the price it would pay for abandoning the Party’s traditional working class base.

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Kenneth Arrow’s (Ignored) Impossibility Theorem

By William K. Black
February 22, 2017     Bloomington, MN

Kenneth Arrow, one of the giants of economics, has died at the age of 95.  He became a Nobel Laureate in 1972.  As a young lawyer in 1977, I saw him in action as an expert witness on the subject of risk.  The context was setting the rates for shipping oil through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPs).  Arrow testified about the risks of oil prices falling.  The FERC administrative law judge thought such a scenario was ridiculous.  Within four years, oil prices fell sharply.  Arrow’s experience was a common one for economists dealing with lawyers – the ALJ ignored him.

The New York Times obituary for Arrow is revealing about how the conventional wisdom distorts economic theory in a predictably skewed fashion.  It begins by discussing Arrow’s “impossibility theorem,” which states that where there are more than two choices it is impossible to construct perfect majority choice systems.

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Jean Tirole’s Proposal to Appoint Felons to Monitor CEOs

By William K. Black
February 18, 2017     Roma, Italia (5th in my series on Jean Tirole)

When in Rome, trot out a venerable Latin quotation from Juvenal: “Who will guard the guards?”  I have “buried the lead” in this series of article about Jean Tirole by relegating my discussion of his proposal for fixing the problem of the criminal CEO – appoint a criminal “monitor” – to the fifth article in this series.  His proposal is in his 2001 article titled “Corporate Governance.”

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Steve Mnuchin, Who Played Key Role in Foreclosure Crisis, Confirmed As Treasury Secretary

NEP’s William Black appears on The Real News Network discussing that a Mnuchin-owned bank made hundreds of billions of dollars of fraudulent mortgage loans that caused a financial catastrophe. You can view with transcript here.

Jean Tirole’s Core Contradiction of Corporate Governance

By William K. Black
February 14, 2017     Bloomington, MN (4th in a series on Jean Tirole)

In my second article in this series I began to discuss Tirole’s 2001 article (“Corporate Governance”), which contains this remarkable admission about orthodox economists’ ‘group faith’ (no thinking involved) that results in the “implicit assumption” that some unexplained force “perfectly” protects employees, creditors, and the public from predation by firms.

The economists’ implicit assumption is that employees, suppliers, customers, and other natural stakeholders are protected by very powerful contracts or laws that force controlling investors to perfectly internalize their welfare whereas the contractual protection of investors when the natural stakeholders have control is rather ineffective, and so investors must receive the control rights. The details of the argument have not yet been worked out [p. 4].

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