Stanford Exposes Rodgin Cohen’s Myth of the Myth of Regulatory Capture

By William K. Black
Quito: March 19, 2015

Sometimes the fates conspire to bring together two stories that when considered together bring that lightbulb moment.  The first story, dated March 18, 2015, is from the Wall Street Journal.  It overwhelmingly conveys the opinion of Rodgin Cohen, the super-lawyer to the super-fraudulent bank CEOs.  He was a leader of the financial regulation wrecking crew that produced the criminogenic environments that drove our recurrent, intensifying financial crises.  As I will explain in a future column, Cohen basically has one speech, which he has repeated with minor variants for decades.  The latest Cohen variant claims that:

“[T]he regulatory environment today is the most tension-filled, confrontational and skeptical of any time in my professional career.

Cohen says the strained relations between government regulators and bank officials stems from ‘the myth of regulatory capture.’

‘The consequences of such as approach are likely to be less effective examinations, not more,’ he said. ‘Unless we deal with the canard of regulatory capture, we will inevitably be placing pressure on examiners to disprove this charge.’”

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What Does it Take to Get Fired at the SEC?

By William K. Black
Quito: Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2015

“Yves Smith” has a distressingly wonderful column in her blog, NakedCapitalism, on the SEC’s Andrew Bowden.  The SEC Chair, Mary Jo White, needs to read it and walk to Bowden’s office and tell him she needs his resignation letter on her desk by noon or she will terminate his employment.  When the SEC appointed Bowden as its lead examiner it put out a press release that purported that his unit was hiring folks from the industry like Bowden, which was going to make it a competent, kick-ass regulator.

“The SEC’s National Exam Program conducts inspections and examinations of SEC-registered investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, self-regulatory organizations, clearing agencies, and transfer agents. OCIE has adopted a risk-focused examination program, hired industry experts, leveraged technology to increase efficiency, and launched a training program focused on quality and consistency. These initiatives have enabled OCIE to more effectively fulfill its mission to promote compliance with U.S. securities laws, prevent fraud, monitor risk, and inform SEC policy.”

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The Millennials’ Money (part 3)

By J.D. Alt

Commentary on part 2, again, was extremely helpful and much appreciated. Especially useful were suggestions from readers who “didn’t recognize” my description of the Boomers ideological obsession. This got me to substantially rethink the framing, and I hope that is now fixed. What I realized—and looking back on my own experience, it seems obvious in retrospect—was that what the Boomers were focused on had little to do with the idea of “competition” and much to do with rebelling against (and distrusting) institutional power—especially the institutional power of the federal government. It became natural for them to want to starve that government to keep it from interfering with the individualism the Boomers championed. As I said in my comment to the post, “Do your own thing” seems to have morphed seamlessly into the “trickle-down” economics of federal austerity.

Draft of the next section is as follows:

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The Value of the Right Ratio Is Zero

The public debt-to-GDP ratio is, perhaps, the most important measure used in discussions of the relative fiscal sustainability of nations. Nations with high levels of debt-to-GDP are viewed as having more serious fiscal problems than nations with lower levels. Nations having increasing ratios over time are viewed as becoming less fiscally sustainable, while those with decreasing ratios are viewed as more fiscally sustainable.

But is the public debt-to-GDP ratio really a valid measure of fiscal sustainability, or is it a measure that incorporates a neoliberal theoretical bias in its fundamental assumptions? In the United States the total value of public debt subject to the limit at any point is the total principal value of all the outstanding debt instruments sold by the Treasury Department. The GDP is the aggregate value of the production of goods and services in the United States within a particular period of time, adjusted for price changes.

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Maya MacGuineas: The Profound Fiscal Irresponsibility of Resistance to Facts

Just as every Spring we can count on the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF) to do a supportive press release when the CBO issues one of its budget outlook 10 year projection reports, we can also count on being treated to public statements by Maya MacGuineas joining in the Peterson Army choir, warning about the coming debt crisis, and singing about the glories of deficit and debt reduction. And this while completely ignoring the real and sad consequences of deficit and debt reduction policies throughout the world since the crash of 2008, as well as previous applications to Latin American, Asian, and the nations of the disintegrated soviet empire, most notably Russia itself. Let’s look at Maya MacGuineas latest effort; her testimony to the Senate Budget Committee.

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State of Thieves

By Deirdre N.  McCloskey
University of Illinois at Chicago

Nearly as published, Wall Street Journal, Saturday, Feb 28, 2015

The theme of Sarah Chayes’s “Thieves of State” is that corruption can’t be ignored as a source of international instability.  The injustice of it enrages people.  Corruption thus becomes “an important driver of conflict worldwide,” as Ms. Chayes puts it.  “Abusive government corruption prompts extreme responses and thus represents a mortal threat to security.”  Ms. Chayes, who in her seven years in Afghanistan worked as a reporter for National Public Radio, as an NGO administrator and as an advisor to Gen.  Stanley McChrystal, witnessed programs against corruption initiated by the NGOs, NATO, and the U.S.  Army fail and fail again, co-opted by the Karzai brothers and worse.  She tells the story of what happened in Afghanistan brilliantly, and compares her experience there with the current corruption in Egypt, Russia and the dismal rest.  In all of these places, the officials extract money from the system, the citizens cheat the system, and the business interests co-opt the system.  It’s an old story, from the corrupt judges the prophet Amos blasted to the love-besotted governor in squeaky-clean Oregon.

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Podcast: A conversation with Mike Norman

Earlier today, I appeared on Mike Norman’s podcast for a long conversation about how I became interested in MMT, my recent blog series on Bruce Bartlett’s testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, and a discussion of how the history of the platinum coin’s rise to public consciousness. The conversation was a lot of fun, since Mike and I both tend not to mince words. The podcast is posted on his site and is also below.

The Peterson Foundation Sings the Same Old Song

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF) always does a press release when the CBO issues one of its budget outlook 10 year projection reports. The PGPF did another in January quoting its President and COO, Michael A. Peterson. Let’s go through that press release and see how many troublesome or false statements we can find. Here’s a breakdown of the press release quotation from Michael Peterson.

Today’s CBO report reminds us once again that our nation has significant fiscal challenges that have yet to be solved.

It certainly does, but I doubt that Peterson and I would agree on what those challenges are. He thinks they have to do with bringing the national debt under control. I think they have to do with creating full employment with a federal job guarantee program, price stability, a robust economy, a great public and free educational system through graduate school, stopping and reversing climate change, providing everybody in, nobody out, no co-pays and no deductibles health care for all, a first class infrastructure, and a greatly expanded social safety net including a doubling of SS benefits.

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Robin Hood in Reverse

Senator Sanders’ presentation before hearings focusing on deficit and debt. He calls for a full employment budget.

What If Holder and Obama Listened to DOJ’s Cartel Prosecutors?

By William K. Black
Quito: March 11, 2015

This is how Belinda A Barnett, Senior Counsel to the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Enforcement, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice began her speech entitled “Criminalization of Cartel Conduct” on April 3, 2009.  This was, of course, early in President Obama’s first term.

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