Monthly Archives: December 2011

Extreme Predictions 2012

I tend to avoid the year end retrospective/forecast blizzard, although some of the more creative compilations can be fun.

However, some 2012 forecasts crossed my screen, and two were such striking outliers that I thought I’d call them to your attention and seeing if readers have come across other Extreme Predictions for the new year (aside from the Mayan end of the world sort).

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Public Money for Public Purpose: Toward the End of Plutocracy and the Triumph of Democracy – Part VI

By Dan Kervick, a PhD in Philosophy and an active independent scholar specializing in the philosophy of David Hume who also does research in decision theory and analytic metaphysics. Cross posted from New Economics Perspectives.

I will conclude by proposing six social tasks for the rising generation – six challenging tasks whose successful pursuit will help us achieve a more just, equal and democratic society. It is my view that the resulting society will not only be fairer and more decent. It will also be more economically productive, and will better promote human happiness and flourishing by more effectively distributing the goods and services we produce. Most of us will be happier in such a society as well, because the practices of democratic equality do a better job satisfying the human desires for cooperation, solidarity, trust, stability and fellowship that are the foundation of the social life for which human beings are naturally framed.

Extreme laissez faire capitalism of the kind extolled off and on over the past two centuries, and increasingly preached by economists, financiers and conservative thinkers over the past four decades, is a perverse distortion of human nature, foisted upon us by cold and demented thinkers captivated by inhuman notions of efficiency and domination. In the end, it is a system that reduces each human being to an object whose value is nothing beyond what it is worth in the market. We need to restore a social balance, in which private property, entrepreneurialism and commercial activity do not dominate our lives and set all the rules for our existence, but function within a democratic social order framed by a politically coherent and effective commitment to the public good. In a democratic social order there exists an activist public sector controlling a substantial store of social goods, and channeling democratic energies and intelligence into the ambitious perfection of such goods.

The six proposed tasks are not intended to be in any way exhaustive. They all pertain to the economic sphere of life alone. But the realization of a genuinely democratic society will require efforts that transcend the economic sphere. We need to rejuvenate the democratic spirit in America, educate ourselves and our fellow citizens on the unfulfilled potentialities of democratic existence, recapture the salvageable institutions of our threatened but still existing democracy, and further expand the institutions and habits of democratic practice. There is much to be done, but the prospect of doing it is exciting.

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Is the OCC the Most Corrupt US Bank Regulator?

As much as I’m fond of the name “Naked Capitalism,” I am beginning to wonder whether a more accurate description of this blog’s beat might be “Naked Corruption.” Our continuing discussion of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s foreclosure whitewash reviews serves as an object lesson.

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Bill Black: Did OFHEO Fix Fannie and Freddie’s Compensation Systems after discovering their Frauds?

Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

I have been chastised by a friend and former colleague for writing:

“Here is the crazy thing – the SEC, OFHEO, and Department of Justice all failed to demand that Fannie and Freddie end their perverse executive compensation system that made the executives wealthy through fraud and put the entities and the government at risk.”

My friend notes that Fannie, under pressure from OFHEO and with its prior approval, changed its compensation system after the initial accounting fraud.

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Matt Stoller: Why Ron Paul Challenges Liberals

By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

The most perplexing character in Congress, ideologically speaking, is Ron Paul. This is a guy who exists in the Republican Party as a staunch opponent of American empire and big finance. His ideas on the Federal Reserve have taken some hold recently, and he has taken powerful runs at the Presidency on the obscure topic of monetary policy. He doesn’t play by standard political rules, so while old newsletters bearing his name showcase obvious white supremacy, he is also the only prominent politician, let alone Presidential candidate, saying that the drug war has racist origins. You cannot honestly look at this figure without acknowledging both elements, as well as his opposition to war, the Federal government, and the Federal Reserve. And as I’ve drilled into Paul’s ideas, his ideas forced me to acknowledge some deep contradictions in American liberalism (pointed out years ago by Christopher Laesch) and what is a long-standing, disturbing, and unacknowledged affinity liberals have with centralized war financing. So while I have my views of Ron Paul, I believe that the anger he inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview.

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Public Money for Public Purpose: Toward the End of Plutocracy and the Triumph of Democracy – Part V

By Dan Kervick, a PhD in Philosophy and an active independent scholar specializing in the philosophy of David Hume who also does research in decision theory and analytic metaphysics. Cross posted from New Economics Perspectives

Where We Can Go from Here
I have asked the reader to follow me through a lengthy series of reflections and thought experiments on the nature and role of money in modern economies.   Some might ask why this issue is so important.  How can these ruminations on the nature of modern monetary systems help guide our thinking on the task of building a more fair and decent society of democratic equals?   How can they help us create a society in which democratic solidarity trumps self-regarding and avaricious greed, and in which broad and shared prosperity replaces the concentrated economic privilege and supremacy of the few?
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“Summer” Rerun: Why Big Capital Markets Players Are Unmanageable

This post first appeared on July 8, 2009

John Kay comes perilously close to nailing a key issue in his current Financial Times comment, “Our banks are beyond the control of mere mortal” in that he very clearly articulates the problem very well but then draws the wrong conclusion:

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Bill Black: What if the SEC investigated Banks the way it is investigating Mutual Funds?

Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday (12/27/11) entitled “SEC Ups Its Game to Identify Rogue Firms.”“Rogue” is an interesting word with a range of definitions. When it is used as an adjective its meaning is: “a playfully mischievous person; scamp.” The trivialization of the most destructive elite frauds is one of the most common forms of what criminologists call “neutralization” of the moral content of wrong doing. Neutralization increases crime.The actual story makes it clear that the criminals that the SEC was identifying were not “rogues.” They were the CEOs of seemingly legitimate firms. The SEC is identifying “accounting control frauds” – the frauds that cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. The SEC is not identifying a few rotten apples, but roughly 100 hedge funds likely to have engaged in accounting fraud.

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Why Is The Term “Financial Repression” Being Sold?

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  You can follow him on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller.

Over the past few months, the concept of “Financial Repression” has come into the lexicon and is increasingly used to describe a possible set of government strategies that constrains the financial sector. It has far more political significance than its users would have you believe.

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