It is Impossible to Compete with Unintentional Self-Parody: Trump and Opioids

By William K. Black
October 22, 2017      Kansas City, MO

This is the first in a series of columns I will write that are prompted by the joint 60 Minutes and Washington Post investigations of the role of Congress and the White House in making it far harder to sanction effectively companies selling massive numbers of opioids that they know will go largely to those addicted to opioids.  I will use the case study to illustrate many important points that criminologists know about elite white-collar crime and how to limit it and sanction perpetrators.

In this column, I introduce one of the most important concepts in white-collar crime – “seeming legitimacy.”  The most elite predators use the seemingly legitimate entities in the business, government, and non-profit sectors that they run as “weapons” of predation and “shields” against sanctions.  The criminology term for this is “control fraud.”  The same logic applies to non-criminal predation.  I will show in later columns in this series that Representative Marino (R, PA), the worst of the political shills for the opioid Predator Class, repeatedly spread the falsehood that the worst of the opioid predators could not be predators because they structured their firm as if it were “legitimate.”  As a former state and local prosecutor, Marino knows that CEOs running the largest frauds pose as seemingly legitimate firms because it optimizes control fraud.

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Solving the Political Problem

By J.D. ALT

There was recently a breakthrough of sorts in media coverage for MMT. The Huffington Post published a piece covering the “People’s Convergence Conference” in Washington, D.C. on September 8-9. The conference brought together leaders and activists from all corners of the progressive political spectrum—including the “Draft Bernie for a People’s Party” movement. The conference apparently succeeded in creating the roots of a coordinated alliance between the leading progressive parties—including the Green Party, the Progressive Independent Party, and the Justice Party—which agreed, among other things, to the possibility of holding progressive primaries that would then field a single progressive candidate in the general elections. Most notable, however, the Huffington piece concluded with the header:  Progressive Economics: “How do we pay for it?”

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Money and Banking Post 21: The Interest Rate

By Eric Tymoigne

In Post 20, a lot is said about the role that the rate of return on financial instruments—the interest rate—plays on the pricing on securities, but little was said about what determines that rate of return. Two competing theoretical frameworks explain what influences the interest rate, one of them emphasizes the role of real factors and the other emphasizes monetary factors.

Real Theory of Interest Rate: Natural Interest Rate and Expected Inflation

Gross Substitution and Indifference Condition: Determinant of the Nominal Interest Rate

The real exchange framework (Post 12) emphasizes the role played by real variables in the decision-making process of any rational economic unit. People are not fooled by mere improvement in monetary income because they only care about improvement in purchasing power given that only consumption provides utility. Monetary instruments have no other purpose than to smooth market transactions, and preoccupation about the liquidity of balance sheets and monetary outcomes are irrelevant. Capitalism is equivalent to a barter economy that uses monetary instruments.

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Senator Warren: Equifax Profits from Data Hack While Consumers Pay the Price

NEP’S Bill Black appears on The Real News Network and says he’s skeptical that either Equifax or its former CEO Richard Smith will be held accountable for the breach that affected an estimated 145.5 million people. You can view here with transcript.

The Great Italian Experiment (part 2)

By J.D. ALT

As I said, Italy, is now experimenting with paying for public services with tax credits. Presumably, this is happening because Italy doesn’t possess enough Euros to pay its citizens to provide all the goods and services needed to maintain and run the public sector of its social economy. And Italy can’t “create” the additional Euros it needs because that prerogative is the exclusive right of the EU Central Bank which Italy, even as a sovereign member of the EU, has no control over. But, as the news article explains, Italy still needs to have the grass mowed and the weeds pulled in its public gardens. So it has decided (out of desperation, the article implies) to pay the gardeners with tax-credits. The gardeners are willing to do the work in exchange for the government’s tax-credits, because it means the Euros they earn (in other ways) can then be used to purchase goods and services rather than for paying their taxes. So, in practical terms, it is “just like” getting paid in Euros.

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Cheap Sexism and Intellectual Dishonesty about Marriage

By William K. Black
October 2, 2017     Kansas City, MO

This is the second column in my series about win-win strategies to strengthen the family and countering the conservative culture warriors who use the family as a means to oppose win-win solutions that bring people together.  Mark Regnerus is one of the most notorious of these hard right culture warriors.  He is the disgraced pseudo-scholar who right-wing groups funded to try to gin up evidence that same sex marriage harmed children.  His efforts collapsed in an embarrassing spectacle that made clear that his dogmas rule his work.

Regnerus is back in the Wall Street Journal flogging his new book in an op ed entitled “Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage.”  He introduces his thesis with the claim that because unmarried heterosexual women are willing to have sex, tens of millions of men are no longer willing to marry.  If unmarried heterosexual women wish to improve their chances of getting married, they need to be virgins – and convince their sisters to remain virgins until marriage (at an average age of around 28 for college-educated women).

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The Poorest Tax Payers to Pay the Most Under Trump Plan

NEP’s Bill Black appears on The Real News Network and says that both Republicans and Democrats are financially illiterate when they speak about the deficit, and Trump’s economic experts are ‘completely disconnected from the real world.’ You can view here with a transcript.

The Job Guarantee Should Unite Anyone Interested in Strengthening Families

By William K. Black
Kansas City, MO     September 25, 2017

The University of Missouri – Kansas City recently hosted the first conference on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and a closely associated idea, a federally-backed job guarantee for everyone willing and able to work.  On September 25, 2017, the New York Times published an article exemplifying one of the applications of the job guarantee that would provide a win-win that should unite anyone interested in strengthening the family.  The title is “How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?”  Claire Cain Miller authored the column, and her key takeaway are in these two passages.

Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.

Americans across the income spectrum still highly value marriage, sociologists have found. But while it used to be a marker of adulthood, now it is something more wait to do until the other pieces of adulthood are in place — especially financial stability. For people with less education and lower earnings, that might never happen.

These facts establish an obvious policy that could unite the public.  The combination of MMT full employment policies and the job guarantee is the best way to strengthen family financial stability.  The United States, which has a sovereign currency, can do that.  The European Union nations that lack a sovereign currency will frequently be unable to do so.  Jobs, not simply income, are essential to many humans’ happiness and sense of self-worth.  Unemployed American men, for example, do less housework than do employed American men.  Businesses are deeply reluctant to hire the unemployed, particularly if they have been unemployed for any significant time.  The cliché of males responding to unemployment through depression has considerable truth.

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Hy Minsky, Low Finance: Modern Money, Civil Rights, and Consumer Debt

By Raúl Carrillo

I delivered the remarks published below at the First International Conference on MMT on September 22nd, 2017. The panel, entitled “Modern Money, Courts, and Civil Rights — Against Legal Predation”, explored the interplay between the cycle of crisis, austerity, and privatization, and the concomitant loss of rights for the public. I was joined by two esteemed law professors: Angela P. Harris, formerly of UC Davis School of Law, and Martha McCluskey, of the University at Buffalo School of Law. The panel was moderated by Danny Sufranski, MMN Harvard Chapter President.

These remarks were delivered solely in my capacity as a director of the Modern Money Network and do not reflect the views of any past or present employers.

Good morning, everyone. My name is Raúl Carrillo and I’m a director of the Modern Money Network (MMN), a student-driven interdisciplinary organization promoting public understanding of money, law, finance, and the economy (obviously embracing MMT as a foundation). By day, I’m an attorney specifically focused on consumer financial protection or as one notorious predator, Capital One, would say, “What’s in your wallet?” Perhaps a better way to put it, is that, in the Minskian sense, I help people manage their “survival constraints.”

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Jared Bernstein Shows the Costs of Not Understanding Sovereign Currencies

William K. Black
September 26, 2017      Kansas City, MO

UMKC has just hosted a well-attended conference on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and job guarantee (JG) programs in which the federal government would provide the funds for employer of last resort programs.  In conjunction, MMT and JG allow full employment to become the norm.  MMT is based on reality, it explains how the monetary system in a nation with a sovereign currency actually functions.  Most monetary theory taught in conventional economic classes is a fiction arising from carryovers from the era of the gold standard in which nations lacked a sovereign currency.

Jared Bernstein has just published an op ed in the New York Times entitled “Do Republicans Really Care About the Deficit.”  Republican elites, of course, have not really cared about federal budget deficits for decades.  That is a good thing that Democrats should embrace in a bipartisan spirit.  Bernstein, of course, is correct that the Republicans are hypocrites about federal budget deficits, pretending to care about them when the Democrats hold power and displaying their lack of any real care when Republicans hold power and the context is tax cuts for the wealthy.

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