By William K. Black
Greetings form Guayaquil, Ecuador where I’m teaching a mini-course at ESPOL. The course introduces students to the great economic debates of theory that shaped our dominant fiscal, monetary, and anti-regulatory policies in the decades before the financial crisis. Memory can be a tricky and misleading guide, so I went back to what the key decision makers and theorists were saying in the years before the crisis. My focus is on Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan, but I also discuss extensively John Williamson, who coined the phrase “the Washington Consensus.” (My readers know that I attribute many of the most damaging anti-regulatory policies to the Clinton-Gore administration and its evisceration of effective regulation through its “Reinventing Government” program.) I wanted readers to see what was being said by the Fed’s leadership (which would soon transition from Greenspan to Bernanke) as the financial world was exploding into an orgy of “accounting control fraud” (the most destructive in history) that was hyper-inflating the largest financial bubble in history, and about to cause a global financial crisis that produced the Great Recession and (if Bernanke is to be believed) would have produced another Great Depression but for the largest financial bailout in history.
By Fadhel Kaboub
(cross posted from freepress.org)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the so-called “War on Poverty” that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared when the official poverty rate was at 19%. Five decades later, the poverty rate stands at 15% with 46.5 million people living below the official poverty line, which is about $23,000 for a family of four (2012 Census Data). More than 20 million people earn less than half the poverty line, in other words, they live in extreme poverty in the richest country in the history of the world. The statistics are even more depressing when we consider that the child poverty rate (under age 18) is an alarming 21.8%. Even worse, for children under the age of 5, some states register poverty rates of up to 36%.
By Brian Andersen
By now, everyone has heard the expression “financial innovation” to refer to changes that have taken place in our financial markets. Like all innovation, the goal of financial innovation is to solve problems. To bring our intelligence to bear on the problems that we face. Sometimes those innovations fail completely. At other times they achieve a narrowly defined success while causing new problems to emerge in their wake.
One of the financial innovations that have worked out comparatively well are Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs have a lot in common with ordinary stocks. They are listed on a stock exchange and you can buy and sell them just like any stock. Like stocks, ETFs represent fractional ownership in a corporation (the issuer). What distinguishes ETFs from ordinary stocks is the trading strategy of the issuer.