Tag Archives: Cochrane

John Cochrane Loves the Rule of Law (Some Exceptions Apply)

By William K. Black
December 22, 2017     Bloomington, MN

As Brad DeLong aptly puts it, John Cochrane was once an economist.  Cochrane is now a right wing ideologue surrounded by similar ideologues at Hoover.  He is pushing his new chapter in a Hoover book entitled American Exceptionalism in a New Era.  His chapter’s title is “Law and the Regulatory State.”  I will be writing several articles responding to Cochrane’s chapter, but this first piece concentrates on one key belief that Cochrane said he held that we all agree with.  My point is that Cochrane is not living up to his claimed beliefs, which he summarized in his introduction.

To be a conservative—or, as in my case, an empirical, Pax-Americana, rule-of-law, constitutionalist, conservative libertarian—is pretty much by definition to believe that America is “exceptional”—and that it is perpetually in danger of losing that precious characteristic. Exceptionalism is not natural or inborn but must be understood, cherished, maintained, and renewed each generation—and its garden is always perilously unattended.

This first column shows that under Cochrane’s own reasoning the “danger” to the “precious” “rule of law” has never been greater in the last 50 years.  Instead of “cherish[ing]” and “maintain[ing]” the “garden,” Cochrane has chosen to leave it “perilously unattended” because of his fanatic partisanship.  Trump is ripping up and sowing salt in Cochrane’s “precious” “garden” and Cochrane stirs himself primarily to attack Trump’s critics.  Brad’s description requires amendment.  Cochrane was once an economist and once a self-described “rule-of-law constitutionalist, conservative libertarian.”  Now, he is an unexceptionable apologist for Trump’s authoritarianism, venality, and corruption.  Whatever remains of Cochrane is what you get when you burn a substance and retain only its most noxious waste gases. Continue reading

Cochrane Proposes “Restoring the Rule of Law” by Letting CEOs Defraud with Impunity

By William K. Black
May 16, 2016     Bloomington, MN

John Cochrane is a theoclassical economist.  I struggle to explain to readers how radical theoclassical economics has become.  The more their anti-regulatory policies prove disastrous the more extreme their policies become.  Cochrane wrote a column recently in the Wall Street Journal that exemplifies this pattern.  We are just emerging from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  The three “de’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization) caused the three most destructive epidemics of financial control fraud in history.  Much of this was driven by the perverse financial incentives that CEOs crafted to rig the system and produce an intensely criminogenic environment.

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Cochrane Demands that the Public Unilaterally Disarm while the Banksters Loot

By William K. Black
San Francisco, CA: November 19, 2014

(I’m participating in the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology. I presented Wednesday on a panel honoring the 75th anniversary of Edwin Sutherland’s announcement of the concept of white-collar crime.)


John Cochrane has written an article with an initial sentence that should spark broad agreement: “confiscating wealth is ultimately about political power.” The banksters who led the frauds that caused the financial crisis “confiscate[ed]” immense wealth from the public and “their” firms’ customers, creditors, and shareholders. They did so with nearly complete impunity, which is “ultimately about political power,” indeed it defines the extraordinary nature of their power. The banksters’ confiscation of wealth has caused a dramatic increase in inequality, which has exacerbated the banksters’ domination of the levers of power. In a prior article, Cochrane stated that the financial crisis was driven by runs on financial institutions and that the runs were typically driven by elite accounting fraud.

“Not for nothing have most runs been sparked by an accounting scandal or fraud.”

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