The Wall Street Journal’s Incredible Claim that Banks Can’t “Game” Asset Values

By William K. Black

The Wall Street Journal has published a disingenuous editorial that claims that it is we should not worry about anti-regulatory leaders who produce a self-fulfilling prophecy of regulatory failure because they are chosen on the basis of their ideological opposition to effective regulation.  The WSJ’s position is that George Stigler supposedly proved that “regulatory capture” is “inevitab[le]” and that any need for financial regulation and supervision can be supplied by “simple laws that can’t be gamed” such as a 15% capital requirement.

“Once one understands the inevitability of regulatory capture, the logical policy response is to enact simple laws that can’t be gamed by the biggest firms and their captive bureaucrats. This means repealing most of Dodd-Frank and the so-called Basel rules and replacing them with a simple requirement for more bank capital—an equity-to-asset ratio of perhaps 15%. It means bringing back bankruptcy for giant firms instead of resolution at the discretion of political appointees. And it means considering economist Charles Calomiris’s plan to automatically convert a portion of a bank’s debt into equity if the bank’s market value falls below a healthy level.”

No person did more to try to make financial regulation ineffective than did George Stigler, though Peter Wallison, Alan Greenspan, and Charles Calomiris were all in the running for that title.  No media organ tries so hard to destroy effective financial regulation as the WSJ.  Calomiris also ran his bank into the ground and was denounced by his brother as incompetent, so the suggestion that we take advice from him is a fine example of unintentional self-parody.

Continue reading

Equality, MMT, Real Fiscal Responsibility, and Re-inventing Democracy

Inequality and MMT

For some time now, MMT has been receiving criticism from self-identified progressives charging that MMT economists and advocates aren’t concerned about one of the most pressing problems in modern democracies and especially in the US, namely, increasing and often extreme inequality. MMT supporters have responded by citing much previous work on inequality, a lot of it done at the Levy Institute, by pointing out their great concern over the problem, and their work in advocating for a Federal Job Guarantee that would do more than perhaps any other single piece of legislation to ameliorate both poverty and inequality.

Continue reading

Germany Demands Greater Austerity Because Three Recessions in Six Years are not Enough

By William K. Black

Things are going badly in the eurozone – as they have for six years due to Germany’s demand that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to austerity as the response to the Great Recession.  Austerity caused a gratuitous second Great Recession throughout the eurozone and threw nations with one-third of the eurozone’s total population into Great Depression levels of unemployment.  Austerity has now forced Italy into a third recession in six years and produced overall stagnation in the eurozone.  Germany, whose budget surplus has produced economic stagnation, has found a solution to the latest crisis caused by self-destructive austerity – greater austerity.  Better yet, as a Reuters column relates, Germany’s leaders are enraged that anyone would dare to question why it makes sense to reduce further already inadequate demand through austerity.

Continue reading

NEP’s Bill Black appears on Bill Moyers Show

Bill Black appeared on Moyers & Company on October 3, 2014. The topic of discussion was a topic near and dear to Bill: Too Big to Jail?

EU Austerity as Frat House Hazing

By William K. Black

The European Union (EU) is stagnating because of austerity.  Austerity in response to the Great Recession has already, gratuitously, forced the eurozone into recession and roughly one-third of its population live in nations with Great Depression levels of unemployment.  Austerity has now thrown Italy into its third recession in six years and may well do so in France.  One might think that even the troika would respond to this track record of failure and anguish by deciding to stop smashing the eurozone’s economy with the hammer of austerity.

Continue reading

NEP’s Pavlina Tcherneva appears on NPR

Pavlina appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition with Scott Horsley this morning, Oct 3. Topic of discussion was economic disconnect. You can listen here.

The New York Times Admits that “Many Economists” Criticize EU Austerity

By William K. Black

Under the principle that one should bestow a special welcome on the tentative steps that the prodigal daughter takes to return to economic reality I write to praise Liz Alerman’s column entitled “France Produces a “No Austerity’ Budget, Defying E.U. Rules.”  The column contains a sentence that represents a breakthrough in the New York Times’ horrific (non) coverage of Eurozone austerity, its abject failure, its self-destructive nature, and its victims.

“But many economists believe that crimping spending during a downturn has impeded economic growth, which in turn has made it harder for those countries to reduce their deficits and debts.”

Continue reading

Effective Climate Action is a Building Project

By Michael Hoexter

hoexter1

To address the dependence of our societies on fossil fuels will be an enormous undertaking, despite the recent re-appearance of often well-meaning analyses and reports emphasizing how comparatively easy and inexpensive it will be.  The physical dimensions of this still mostly-future undertaking are often downplayed or misunderstood.  Taken together, effective climate action will be made up of a series of interacting, at points interwoven, simultaneous, sometimes very large, building projects to achieve the outcomes we desire and require.  As the outcome, the stabilization of the global climate, is a unitary outcome, these building projects can also be understood for some purposes as a single immense building project. As in all building or manufacturing projects, many costs will be incurred upfront for some immediate benefits in terms of employment and the sales of materials but many more of the benefits will be enjoyed years and decades down the road.  Furthermore. those additional benefits associated with climate change will be very great and enjoyed still further down the road with an indeterminate but large monetary valuation.

Continue reading

The New York Times’ Thinks the EU Can “Afford” Mass Unemployment but Not “More Government Spending”

By William K. Black

Regular readers understand the three dynamics that drive economists crazy about the New York Times’ coverage of the troika’s infliction of austerity on the Eurozone.  The troika consists of the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Commission (EC).

  1. NYT reporters treat austerity as a response to the eurozone’s Great Recession as obviously the only possible response – they rarely discuss alternative policies or views
  2. The NYT refuses to inform its readers that economists overwhelmingly consider this malpractice and that it has caused catastrophic and gratuitous harm
  3. All of this is particularly bizarre given the NYT’s economist, the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who writes regularly in the paper to explain why austerity is a disastrous response to the Great Recession.  The NYT eurozone writers routinely ignore Krugman (and anyone else who makes the same point).

The massive, wholly avoidable harm caused by “bleeding the patient” to make him well (austerity in response to a recession) for the people of the eurozone is stark, but typically minimized or wholly ignored by the NYT reporters.  Roughly one-third of the population of the eurozone lives in nations with Great Depression levels of unemployment.

Continue reading

Rising Tides Lift All Yachts: Why the 1% Grabs all the Gains From Growth

By L. Randall Wray

You’ve probably seen references to the work of my colleague (and former student), Pavlina Tcherneva in recent days. If not, take a gander at this:

wray

The NYT article includes links to her published article in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, the first issue edited by me and my Levy Institute colleague Jan Kregel. Pavlina also presented her results at the just finished International Post Keynesian Conference at UMKC. We’ll soon have a website up with many of the powerpoints and papers. The next conference will be held in 2016. Mark your calendars.

Continue reading