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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Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Attempt to Make Tim Geithner a Hero

By William K. Black
February 12, 2017       Bloomington, MN

I am watching the film Too Big to Fail based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same name.  It led me to check out the price of the used book, which has fallen to $1.02, which is low enough that I am willing to buy a copy of the book, particularly since not a penny will go to Andrew Ross Sorkin.  The financial analytics displayed in the movie and the book are so poor and dishonest that I need to have a copy by my keyboard as an inspiration to keep trying to cut through the calculated dishonesty about Wall Street pumped out nearly every day in the pages of the New York Times.

The movie starts with the imminent failure of Lehman.  It is an astonishingly sympathetic portrait of Wall Street, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and Ben Bernanke.  The movie invents a scene in which the Treasury leadership explains “in English” the causes of the crisis to the Treasury PR person.  There is not a word about the three fraud epidemics that hyper-inflated the bubble, drove the crisis, and produced the Great Recession.  As one expects of a Sorkin tale, it is all about personalities and “great men.” (Women are rare and powerless, even FDIC Chair Sheila Bair.)  The movie and book have a patina of financial jargon that Sorkin thinks constitutes analytics, and a nearly total failure to probe the Wall Street BS about the crisis.

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Jean Tirole Proves Why Heterodox Economists are Essential to Save the Field

By William K. Black
February 12, 2017     Bloomington, MN (Part 3 in my Tirole series)

I discussed Jean Tirole’s 2001 article (“Corporate Governance”) and this remarkable admission about orthodox economists in my second article in this series.

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…. [The] details of the argument have not yet been worked out.”  [p. 4]

I explained that this was a particularly pernicious example of “group think” that furthered the dominant ideology of orthodox economists (laissez faire) and served their self-interest in getting hired, published, honored, and advanced.  I explained that it was anti-scientific and failed Tirole’s test of what it took to be a scientist.  I noted that Tirole’s admissions also demonstrate the dishonest nature of his and his disciples’ attacks on heterodox economists and promised to discuss that point in this subsequent article.

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Jean Tirole Fails the Tirole Test of What Makes an Economist a Scientist

By William K. Black
February 11, 2017     Bloomington, MN (Part 2 in my Tirole series)

In his letter to the French education minister denouncing French heterodox economists as a “motley crew” of academic failures, Jean Tirole, the 2014 Nobel Laureate in Economics, stated his test for the standard for an economist to be a scientist.

Secondly, like the other great scientific disciplines, modern economic science relies on the continuous questioning of its hypotheses, testing its models against the facts, and abandoning theories that fail the test of reality.

Tirole and his Toulouse school of orthodox economists fail the Tirole test.  Their models, policies, and theories, typically “fail the test of reality” – yet they do not abandon the falsified theories.  Further, they ignore reality-based scholarly work.  Worse, as Tirole admits, the Toulouse school’s failures are typical of orthodox economists.  Tirole shows that the foundational errors fall into three categories, and the nature of those errors supports three other underlying errors.  Tirole’s admissions also demonstrate the dishonest nature of his and his disciples’ attacks on heterodox economists, as I will explain later in this series of articles.

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The “Motley Crew” of Heterodox Economists Freaking Out France’s Theoclassical Economists

William K. Black
Dublin, Ireland     April 4, 2017

I presented a talk today at the Trinity Economic Forum in Dublin.  The Forum is a wonderful annual event run by the students that brings together thoughtful and forceful economic speakers from diverse viewpoints.  Steve Keen also gave a talk at the Forum and I thank him for bringing the subject of this column to my attention.  France is the home of some of the most theoclassical economists in the world.

Orthodox French economists, a bastion of laissez faire, are enraged that theoclassical economics is in increasing disrepute and heterodox economists are leading powerful challenges to the doyen of French economic orthodoxy, Jean Tirole.  Tirole received the Nobel Prize in economics in 2014 for his work on “regulating” oligopolies.  Tirole denounced all heterodox economists as a “motley crew” and claimed that they had failed to meet “internationally recognized norms of evaluation” for science.  Triole stated that it would be a “catastrophe” if heterodox economists taught French students.

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MMT And Debunking AMI: Postive Money

Steve Grumbine talks with NEP’s L. Randall Wray for Real Progressives LIVE. Topics include MMT and Debunking AMI: Positive Money and other important and relevant economic issues that affect the progressive agenda.