The Republican Party, for over 70 years, did not simply oppose the Soviet Union; it demonized Democrats as ‘soft’ on Russia. This history makes the Republican Party’s increasing embrace of Putin’s Russia particularly bizarre.
Forty percent of Republican’s now consider Russia “friendly” or an “ally” of the United States. That percentage is nearly twice as large as in 2014 despite a large number of Russian attacks on the U.S. and the West (and Russians) since 2014. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans had a positive response to Trump and Putin’s infamous (to most Americans) Helsinki press conference.
President Trump’s belief that the European Union’s trade policies are more unfair towards the United States than just about any other trading partner is woefully misinformed and the result of his reliance “nutcase” trade advisor Peter Navarro, says NEP’s Bill Black. You can view with transcript here.
Economists generally focus on increasing productivity as the driver of development. Among the most troubling economic developments in the West in the last decade is the weak gains in productivity, particularly in a time of rapid technological advances. Neoclassical economics pictures firms as engaged in a fierce, endless battle for survival where failure is certain for firms that are even slightly less efficient that their rivals. This struggle is supposed to produce relentless, rapid advances in productivity. Something has gone very wrong with the neoclassical narrative of competition, productivity, and growth.
Weak productivity and efficiency is supposed to remedy itself. The neoclassical (and Austrian) economics claim is that it creates a profit opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter who either will run a more productive firm or serve as consultant to explain to existing firms’ CEOs the secret of improving efficiency. This series of articles focuses on one of these supposed examples of Austrian “spontaneous order” – executive coaching.
Even though Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley failed the so-called ‘stress test,’ to determine whether these banks can weather a financial crisis, the Fed allowed them to pay billions in dividends and stock buybacks to investors. Former financial regulator and NEP’s own Bill Black explains the consequences. You can view with transcript here.
A major Supreme Court ruling, Ohio vs American Express, was completely ignored by most media outlets, even though it will have potentially devastating repercussions for consumers in the so-called ‘platform economy’: Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, Facebook, etc. NEP’s Bill Black explains the consequences. You can view with transcript here.
There is a common misconception that the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is safe and secure and will protect those who trade in it from fraud. However, NEP’s Bill Black explains, Bitcoin is just as susceptible to fraud as any other type of transaction and complacency makes the likelihood of fraud only greater. You can view with transcript here.
The House Speaker is the answer to the trick question: “Who is the second most powerful elected official in the United States.” The importance of the Speaker is obvious to anyone with even a modestly sophisticated understanding of U.S. politics and government.
One of the reasons for this astonishing level of sycophancy of Republican House candidates that run for office by presenting themselves as moderate conservatives is the ‘Hastert rule.’ They run as moderates, but they vote consistently in favor of legislation that creates the most radically right policies in modern American history. If you have never heard of the Hastert rule or do not know what it is, blame the Democrats (and the media). The fact that the Hastert rule is not infamous with the public proves (again) the ineptness of Democrats as politicians (and the failure of most of the media as journalists). The rule bears the name of then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who decreed and implemented the rule. If you do not know that Hastert is infamous, and why he is infamous, blame the Democrats (and the media).
One of the prime myths that white-collar criminologists have to refute repeatedly is that blockchain makes fraud impossible. Blockchain, in some settings, is a costly means of making some frauds much more difficult. Blockchain is useless against the most important frauds. The primitive worship of blockchain as a supposed garlic capable of warding off evil breeds complacency, and complacency produces increased fraud and greatly extends the life of fraud.
The difference between making fraud impossible and (in a few specialized settings) ‘much more difficult’ brings to mind the critical difference explained in The Princess Bride between ‘dead’ and ‘mostly dead.’ Blockchain is useless in stopping, for example, any or the three epidemics of ‘control fraud’ that drove the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. Lenders’ executives extorted appraisers to inflate appraised values of homes, creating a Gresham’s dynamic in which bad ethics tends to drive good ethics out of the markets and professions. The second fraud epidemic in loan origination was ‘liar’s’ loans, which were designed to aid lenders and their agents to inflate the incomes of borrowers. Note that both of these primary fraudulent loan origination schemes involve lenders deliberately seeking to provide false (inflated) data designed to inflate the market value of homes. The third fraud epidemic that drove the U.S. financial crisis was the fraudulent sale of these mortgages to the secondary market through false “reps and warranties” about loan underwriting – principally the fraudulently inflated appraisal values and borrowers’ incomes.
Like everything else, money has evolved. It began in a primitive form and morphed into something more sophisticated, more successful. Then, probing and testing for an even better form, it morphed again. A simplified history of money’s evolution can be outlined in five stages:
STAGE 1: Money is a tangible thing of value—e.g. a gold coin.
At some point in the pre-history of humankind, the “invention” of money solved a time-gap problem in cooperative trade: I’ll give you my baby goat in exchange for your flint-knife—but you have not yet made the knife, so the exchange is stymied. To solve the impasse, you give me a token of gold to temporarily stand in place of the flint-knife, so you can take my baby goat. The gold token is a promise that the knife will be delivered, and that promise is secured by the fact that the gold itself is deemed equally valuable as the knife. In the meantime, I may find someone else with a flint-knife already made who will exchange it for the gold, thus completing the trade. The invention of this place-holder transformed the cooperative trade interactions of human society.