Tag Archive: William K. Black

Mar 09 2013

The Sequester: Lies, Damned Lies, and Libel Against Critics on the Left

Lately there have been some rumors about me that I feel need to addressed. Because I have more class than some people spreading nonsense about me and others, I am not going to name names or link to them, but some of you will know what I am talking about. First off, in the comments of my last diary it was rightly brought up that the President did issue a veto threats against anyone who wants to get rid of any part of the sequester.

This veto threat applied to anyone in both parties which also included the plan from Republicans that wanted to give federal agencies more leeway in how the sequester was implemented so as to spare the defense cuts instead of equal foreign and domestic cuts across the board. It’s not surprising that no one else put anything forward with that veto threat.

Obama Threatens Veto on Bid to Avoid Automatic Cuts as Supercommittee Fails

President Obama said today he will veto any efforts to get rid of the automatic spending cuts that will be triggered by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction.

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” the president said this evening. “The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

Only those that enable the real life terror federal employees and their families will soon feel deny that this is a debacle created by the Executive and the Legislative working together for austerity. The direct quotes up above can only be ignored by those with an agenda and not one for working people. Get real.  

Feb 27 2013

The Sequester: Bipartisan Craponomics at Its Worst

Yes, because no one listened to those that warned(including myself) this would happen in 2010 with the Bush tax cut sellout leading to the debt ceiling debacle in 2011 to now, it looks like the sequester created by this White House and Congress is going to happen. Back then, there was leverage with the Bush tax cuts expiring for using the High Value Platinum Coin, invoking the 14th amendment, or legislating the debt ceiling away entirely. None of this was considered even as a temporary measure to avoid this epic failure fixing to hit our shores.

It’s insulting to the public that none of this was even tried, because this sequester will be painful and more painful in the future. The political damage as we create more miniature crisis will be even costlier than what is projected as more bills have to be passed every few months which always get worse the more they are revisited, all needlessly created all in the name what I call deficit terrorism. Through each bipartisan crisis more austerity is brought out in these miniature Shock Doctrine scenarios especially on the debt ceiling. This austerity will eventually terrorize the public because a failure to govern or understand our economy.

Sure, it will take awhile to be phased in and each federal agency will implement its cuts differently, on its own timeline, but by April 4th, 2013 some real pain is likely to be felt by the public.

Jan 02 2013

It’s Not 11th Dimensional Chess. The President Wants Working People to Clean Up His Mess

Once we realize there is no fiscal cliff and the whole premise is a myth, you think about why it was created. It was created so we can mop up after the 1% which owns all three branches of government including the President. Obama didn’t add a raise in the debt ceiling to the Obama Bush tax cut deal he made in 2010 which created this political mess we are in right now.

Yet the poor and middle class are supposed to “stop whining and complaining” and just mop it up as if it’s one of the menial 60% of low wage jobs created that were part of this “recovery” where 93% of the income it went to the top 1%? I don’t think that’s fair. He needs to ask his Wall St buddies in his Treasury Department to share sacrifice. We have sacrificed enough in the name of the fantasy evil deficits from the land of Mordor causing fantasy default. Think about this when Nancy Pelosi was lying to you about this sellout ultimately helping the middle class last night.

From blatant robbery to money laundering, here are the biggest scandals of 2012 banking history.

#9. Middle-Class Wealth declines by 35 percent

On July 18, 2012, the U.S. Bureau of the Census made it official: The middle-class is getting poorer. The median family — that family exactly at the mid-point of the wealth ladder  — saw its net worth collapse. (Net worth is all assets minus all liabilities.) In 2005, the median family’s wealth was valued at $102,844 (in inflation adjusted dollars.)  By 2010, the latest Census figures showed a drop of 35 percent to $66,740.

And we’re supposed to celebrate this?  

Jul 28 2012

Our Treasury Secretary Was Chosen to Represent Bankers. Not You.

Cross posted at our new beta site Voices on the Square and in orange.

That’s right, and it was clear to everyone who opposed the pick of Tim Geithner from the start.  In his testimony yesterday on the NY Fed’s knowledge of the LIBOR scandal, Tim Geithner once again stated the falsity that the NY Fed was not a regulator (like he has before showing he’s either a liar or completely incompetent), when in fact he was one of the most important regulators, unknown to him, supposedly.

This was during the proceedings looking into the 100 cents on the dollar backdoor bailout of Goldman Sachs through AIG facilitated while he was President of the NY Fed.

COUNT 2: He wasn’t even a regulator! In Geithner’s own words during confirmation hearings in March: “First of all, I’ve never been a regulator…I’m not a regulator.” According to the New York fed bank’s Web site, that was your job!!

Quoting from the Fed’s website: “As part of our core mission, we supervise and regulate financial institutions in the Second District.” That district of course is the epicenter for bailed out banks and billion dollar bonuses.

It is not just the responsibility of Fed Board governors like Tim Geithner said in his testimony yesterday while trying to inflate the case for his so called “intervention” that wasn’t on LIBOR. This lack of knowledge and corruption bothers me and it also bothers me that so many don’t care, because there is an election. I feel like we are all being lulled to sleep every night by MSNBC and the partisan cable news 2012 election war syndrome.

Shortly after the President was elected, there were many naive Democrats who claimed Giethner was “a brilliant pick” merely because the President picked him which is always the criterion, sadly. I saw it as the beginning of the end of any chance of a functioning financial system that we were promised during the 2008 election by this President.  That’s why I got involved in 2008, and that’s why a lot of us are unmotivated to say the least.

You see, to be making excuses for Tim Geithner even now while not even understanding the responsibilities of the NY Fed is outright embarrassing and immoral for all the damage it causes.  

May 29 2012

Fed Bank Examiners Go Native

Not only did they go native, they were hand picked by the same bank CEO’s that sit on the Federal Reserve board of directors. This is great article of how that works from Prof William K. Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who explains some more of the reasons the TBTF banks need to be broken into smaller pieces.

Embedded Examiners always married the Natives, but now their Bosses Do Hook Ups

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess have written an extraordinarily important column for the New York Times about embedded examiners at JPMorgan.

Embedded examiners’ are federal regulators whose normal work station is a desk at the bank.  We only embed examiners for systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) – banks so large that they pose a systemic risk to global economy.

Embedded examiners do not work.  They get too close to the bank officers and employees.  In the regulatory ranks we called this “marrying the natives.”  Nothing works with SDIs – they are too big to manage, too big to fail, and too big to regulate.  A conventional bank examination, scaled up to size to fit an SDI the size of JPMorgan would have 500 examiners and take 18 months to “complete.”  (Obviously, when it takes that long to complete an examination it is impossible to “complete” an examination in any meaningful sense – by the time you’ve spent 18 months examining an SDI it can be a radically different bank.)  One cannot conduct an effective conventional bank examination of even a medium-sized bank on a “real time” basis because of the amount of new information pouring in every minute.  Conventional examinations examine a bank’s records and operations “as of” some date (typically the last quarter-end for which reports have been filed).  Embedding examiners is an effort at achieving an “early warning” system.  It has one virtue – it indicates that some senior regulator(s) recognized that they cannot rely on the bank’s own reports to determine whether it is steering toward trouble.

In fairness, twenty-five years ago the proponents of embedding recognize the severity of the “marrying the natives” problem.  They simply viewed embedding as the least bad manner of attempting the impossible – effectively regulating SDIs.  Here is the key passage of the NYT column.

   Roughly 40 examiners from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and 70 staff members from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are embedded in the nation’s largest bank. They are typically assigned to the departments undertaking the greatest risks, like the structured products trading desk. Even as the chief investment office swelled in size and made increasingly large bets, regulators did not put any examiners in the unit’s offices in London or New York, according to current and former regulators who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

   Senior JPMorgan executives assured the bank’s watchdogs after the financial crisis that the chief investment office, with hundreds of billions in investments, was not taking risks that would be a cause for concern, people briefed on the matter said. Just weeks before the trading losses became public, bank officials also dismissed the worry of a senior New York Fed examiner about the mounting size of the bets, according to current Fed officials.

The authors of the article frame the issue as whether Jamie Dimon’s role as Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York poses a conflict of interest and could have led to the regulatory failure to place any examiners in the chief investment office (CIO).  The CIO appears to be the largest de facto hedge fund in the world.  (Note: “hedge fund” is a deliberately misleading term.  Entities called hedge funds typically speculate rather than hedge.  When I call the CIO a “hedge fund” I mean that it largely speculates and disingenuously calls its bets “hedges.”) [..]

SDIs are not simply dangerous, they are also inefficient.  Shrinking the SDIs to the point where they no longer posed a systemic risk would also increase their efficiency, make them small enough to regulate, and help recover our democracy.

SDIs that function as banks pose intolerable risks to the global economy.  SDIs that function as (thinly disguised) hedge funds should be far beyond the pale.  Conservative and libertarian philosophy rightly condemn providing enormous federal subsidies to a private entity whose senior officers claim any wins and socialize any severe losses.

May 21 2012

Austerity Is Economic Suicide

The economic crisis in Europe and the austerity response to it which has spread from Greece to other countries in Europe has dominated the news now for weeks. This past weekend the leaders of the G-8 met at Camp David where it was the main topic for discussion. While President Obama’s statement that encourages stimulus and growth as solutions to the EU problem, he did not discount austerity as one of the driving policies that has extended the downturn and caused social upheaval in Greece and now Spain. The reporting in the traditional mainstream media has been particularly lacking ion balanced analysis and, in some cases, some pretty sloppy and biased reporting.

William K. Black, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, former litigation director for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and a white-collar criminologist, takes reporters at the New York Times task for their profound ignorance on covering Europe’s financial, social, and political crises. He explains why they are so wrong:

Economists have known for roughly 75 years that adopting austerity in response to recession or depression will make the economic crisis grow and last far longer.  Austerity is to economics as bleeding was to medicine. [..]

The NYT article focuses on Alexis Tsipras, the Greek political leader whose party rose to prominence by promising to reject the loan-for-austerity program that the disgraced former Greek government agreed to at Berlin’s diktat. The article’s theme is that Tsipras is endangering all of Europe by demanding an end to austerity being imposed on Greece.  The reporters write, as if it were undisputed fact, that Tsipras has started “a high-stakes game of chicken with Europe’s leaders.”  But that reverses the facts.

The game that Berlin designed required the Greek to agree (1) to drive their economy off a cliff into a deepening Great Depression through increased austerity, (2) to force an enormous reduction in working class wages, (3) to sell Greek islands to private parties, and (4) to give up other aspects of sovereignty so that hostile, foreign, and private entities such as the IMF and the ECB could monitor its governmental actions.  The Greeks are now refusing to commit economic, political, and social suicide.  The Germans are demanding that they drive off the cliff because “a deal is a deal.”

If Greece were to drive off the cliff by adopting greater austerity it would likely destroy the EU.  Austerity would force Greece into a deepening depression, eventually lead to a default on Greek sovereign debt, and tear Greece apart.  Austerity has already generated a substantial neo-Nazi party in Greece.  Few Americans recall the Greek civil war between the right and the left that began in World War II and continued for several years after the war or the post-war coup.  Greeks recall the civil war and the coup and fear their resumption.  Proponents of the Berlin Consensus already have blood on their hands because of the suicides engendered by mass unemployment, small business failures, and hopelessness.  If the Berlin Consensus sparks a civil war or coup it could be fatal to the EU.

The EU crisis was also the topic of a heady discussion on this Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes. Prof. Black was joined on the “Uppers” panel by Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist for the Obama Labor Department, Karl Smith, assistant professor of economics and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and MSNBC policy analyst Ezra Klein.

Eurozone in fragile balance

Mr Hayes’ assessment of the political situation in Greece was challenged by a commenter at his blog. Carol P Christ wrote with regards to the political and social responses to the crisis:

Since you are a member of the Progressive Left, you might reconsider calling Syriza the ‘far” Left in comparison to ‘far’ right Golden Dawn. There is no comparison between the 2. Syriza is a coaliton of parties to the left of centrist PASOk and to the “right” of KKE the Communist Party. You might be voting for them if you were in Greece, but you surely would NOT be voting for Golden Dawn. There is NO “comparison” between the 2. Continuing to compare the 2 parties makes it seem that all Greeks are irrational. There is nothing irrational about voting for Syriza. [..]

The “austerity” programs of the EU and banking systems have already destroyed our economy. To blame immigrants as Golden Dawn does is illogical. To ask voters to reject the terms of the second austerity package which is leading to massive unemployment and daily failures of small businesses is by no means irrational.

The Green Party is also against the austerity packages. And we are not “irrational” either.

The dualistic thinking of the west (ironically a legacy of Plato) leads to the demonization of the “other” as irrational. Unfortunately Greece has been portrayed as the “irrational” other within Europe for some time now.

Greece does need to change, but punishing the poor and middle classes is not a “rational” policy. [..]

Let me add that the European union and the Euro should not be confused. The Euro has only been in existence for 11 years. England with one of the largest economies in Europe is not a member of the Euro, nor is Sweden. They are still part of Europe and the European Union.

In Greece the Euro led to a massive rise in prices (a cup of coffee from $1 to $3-5, etc.) without a concomitant rise in wages. For example a tour bus driver makes E700 a month and a radiologist E1400, wages that are near poverty level in the US. depending on family size. Yet the cost of living is as high or higher than in the US, thanks to the price rises that the Euro brought. Gasoline is over $10 a gallon. Sales tax is 23%.

The European Union is a good thing, but the Euro was driven more by market forces and the desire to sell goods freely in Europe, than by a concern for world peace, the environmental protection, or any of the other good things the European Union is working on.

The Euro has not been a good thing for Greece, in my opinion.

(I have taken the liberty of posting most of Ms. Christ’s comments because I think they go straight to the heart of the misrepresentation that is taking place in the traditional news media.)

In another article at the New Economic Perspective, Prof. Black reports that the former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Jean-Claude Trichet, thinks that by giving European politicians the power to declare a sovereign state bankrupt and take over its fiscal policy it would salvage the euro. To quote Prof. Black, “austerians have decided that since democracy is the problem, imperialism is the answer.”

Nor are fixing the problems of the euro a solution for the austerians:

Trichet, however, says that answer is impossible:  “For the European Union, a fully fledged United States of Europe where nation states cede a large chunk of fiscal authority to the federal government appears politically unpalatable, Trichet said.”  Democracy remains the stumbling block, but Trichet has an answer to that problem – crush democracy.  He proposes that the EU:

   “[T]ake a country into receivership when its political leaders or its parliament cannot implement sound budgetary policies approved by the EU. The action would have democratic accountability if it were approved by the European Council of EU heads of states and the elected European Parliament, he said.”

Of course, the “sound budgetary policies” he means are the suicidal, and failed policies of trying to balance the budget during a Great Recession.  He does not understand even now that a nation in a severe recession cannot simply decide to run a budget surplus.  It can try to do so, by cutting spending or raising taxes, but those policies are likely to reduce already sharply inadequate public and private sector demand, which increases unemployment, increases demand for public services, and reduces government revenue – all factors likely to increase the budget deficit.  I am sure that the Greeks will consider the loss of their sovereignty at the hands of hostile foreign powers who openly sneer at the Greek people to represent the epitome of “democratic accountability.”

And what was the reaction of Berlin to Trichet’s policy to force suicidal austerity on the Greeks and bleed their economy while removing their sovereignty and right to democratic rule?  You know the answer.

As Prof Black so aptly noted that that austerity is “a policy where you’re handed a gun and told to shoot yourself. Eventually people say, ‘Now exactly why should I do that?’. [..]

Whether Greece is the good or the bad, the policy is stupid.”

The United States is not Greece. It has its own sovereign currency and a bond market which it controls. We do not need to follow the EU and shoot ourselves with austerity.