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Matt Stoller: Fed Transcripts – Why Was Congress in the Dark During the Crafting of Dodd-Frank?

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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. Cross posted from New Deal 2.0

Records of the Fed’s meetings at the height of the housing bubble provide more evidence that our central bankers need to be held accountable.

The latest release of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee transcripts is a doozy. Binyamin Appelbaum read through the transcripts and wrote a great article on what he found. The people on the FOMC straight up did not understand the economy, and that becomes very obvious when you parse their nonchalance through the pivotal year of 2006. That’s true as far as it goes, but there’s a political angle here as well.

My question is, why don’t we have the transcript for 2007? Or 2008? Or beyond that? Why didn’t Congress have the evidence that Bernanke was an incompetent central banker when he was up for reconfirmation in late 2009? Why didn’t Congress know any of what was revealed yesterday while it was tasked with rewriting the rules governing our entire financial architecture?!? It might have been useful to know that the Fed was staffed by an inept, embarrassing group of fools fiddling over inflation while Rome was being set ablaze.
I wrote a piece on this back in May of 2011:
There’s an easy way, however, for the Federal Reserve to lose its aura of undemocratic secrecy. It could release transcripts of its Federal Open Market Committee meetings within one year — or be compelled to do so with a congressional subpoena.

These committee meetings are the real guts of U.S. economic policymaking. You can already get a summary of each meeting within three weeks. But the actual transcripts — the debates among Fed policymakers at those meetings — are released with a minimum lag time of five years.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had pledged last year to look into this issue. But he has not acted.

So, we still do not know what top Fed officials were debating from 2006 through 2010 as the housing bubble ballooned and the banking system collapsed. Were Fed officials privately worrying about the housing market? Were they aware of leverage in the system? Did they understand the dangers of credit default swaps?

The democratically elected Congress should have known these things before attempting to fix the financial system. Several congressional postmortems on the crisis should have had access to these records. And as Congress debates Rep. Mike Pence’s bill to change the Fed’s mandate, it should have access to this information.

Why doesn’t Congress issue a subpoena to get the information about FOMC meetings from 2007-2010, so that we know what the Fed is thinking? They do not deserve the presumption of competence anymore. Darryl Issa promised this during the transition to GOP congressional rule in 2010 but he has not followed through. Perhaps he should.

Many people did get what was happening — 2006 was the year that the big banks began cutting warehouse lines of credit to mortgage originators, which would eventually topple the whole housing ponzi scheme. Dean Baker had been trying to sound the alarm about a housing bubble as early as 2003. Yves Smith started her site Naked Capitalism in 2006 and Josh Rosner began noticing what was going on that year; moreover, the dangers of leverage had been recognized as far back as the early 1990s by such economic luminaries as Jane D’Arista.
It’s not just that the people on the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee — the real rulers of America — are insultingly out of touch with reality. It’s also that the public does not even get to see what they are doing and that Congress doesn’t really want to know. This, more than anything else, is animating figures like Ron Paul, who accuses the Federal Reserve of foisting an unwanted monetary system on the American public.
The reality of our times is that the people in charge of powerful institutions are driven by nothing so much as a desire to be the maintainers of consensus. That is what the FOMC participants were. And if we don’t fix this state of affairs and hold powerful people accountable for being incompetent and wrong at least some of the time, America is done for.

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93 comments

  1. F. Beard

    What does it say about a system when even very intelligent, skilled personal cannot make it work properly?

    But hey, let’s keep trying. Surely there is a loop-hole in that “Thou shalt not steal” thingy. We’ve only looked for 317+ years.

    And meanwhile an ethical money form that “shares” wealth and power, common stock, is ignored by liberals and Progressives. Oh, the irony …

    1. Foreclosureblues

      when are ppl going to realize that they know exactly what they are doing and they are doing it very well…

      ppl continue to assume that the goal of the fed is to accomodate the rest of us in terms of policies that would benefit us…LOL

      think ppl they are very good at what they are doing…

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        And they had better be. Don’t their very lives depend upon it?

        This is very hard ball indeed.

        1. Skippy

          Why does everyone (almost) negate the bank owners from liability? Is / are not the owner[s the ultimate recourse go too, w/ co oweners gifted indemnity in respect of each co-owner against liability caused by any failure thingy?

          Beard would know, thems the next issuers of common stock, trust aplenty in… am I in a de facto relationship – law.

          Skippy… freedom for legacy bond holders or die!

          1. SH

            What does it say about a system when even very intelligent, skilled personal cannot make it work properly?

            Intelligent people should stop trying to develop and enforce systems.

          2. Skippy

            @SH,

            “If I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket I can either spend it or save it or loan it to someone else. If I don’t spend it or hold it and decide to loan it than I should get something in return. The only reason I would not spend it is because I want it later and that is the time preference of money. It’s not usury. I should not be obligated to give it to you if I don’t want it. If I was obligated to do that, that would definitely be usury.”

            *I* should ***get**** “”"something”"” in return.* – SH

            Material disclosure about living in a jail house should be forth with comming, are ye bull or bitch?

            “Intelligent people should stop trying to develop and enforce systems.” – SH

            Define Intelligent[?], as far as I know we still working on that one, data?

            Skippy… a candy bar for your pillow tonight, chum.

          3. F. Beard

            The only reason I would not spend it is because I want it later and that is the time preference of money. It’s not usury. SH?

            It is the time preference of YOUR money not ALL monies. Mises’ “time preference” implies a money monopoly which is why, I suppose, most of the Austrians are in favor of a gold standard.

            FB… That idolatry thingy except everyone must be compelled to worship the Golden Calf so the usurers can profit. The poor Austrians, making gold the measure of everything. Beautiful women? Understandable. But a shiny metal? For shame.

            But hey, let’s have true liberty in private money creation and see who wants to rent your money supply when they can create their own.

          4. SH

            And the point is?

            To answer your question, intelligent is the same thing F. Beard meant when he opened this thread.

      2. Jim3981

        “ppl continue to assume that the goal of the fed is to accomodate the rest of us in terms of policies that would benefit us…LOL”

        Exactly, and many of the people we see on TV are professional liars.

      3. different clue

        I agree with this view. There was no incompetence at the Greenspanke Fed. They did all this on purpose knowing exactly what result they wanted to achieve. Their mission is to deepen, broaden, and entrench the Kleptonomy into a perfect battlespace for the Kleptocracy to wage its terminal lootathon against the rest of us.

        Why does Matt Stoller ascribe good-faith incompetence to clearly bad-faith competent people?

        1. knowbuddhau

          Word! Why does their “incompetence” always benefit the same class?

          Can anyone tell me: When’s the last time this alleged incompetence so massively benefitted ordinary Americans? If they’re really all that incompetent, why is it so perfectly biased toward their class interests?

          Is this what we’re supposed to believe?
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          ‘Oops, we faked the data in the process of building debt-based monstrosities designed to our specifications and to our benefit. Again.

          ‘And doggone it, power is now more concentrated in our unelected, unaccountable hands. Whodathunkit?

          ‘Our self-aggrandizement at your expense isn’t deliberate, America: we’re just incredibly lucky f^ck-ups. So pity us, don’t pitchfork us.’
          ~~~~~~~~~

          The US gov’t isn’t Keynesian or Austrian or any other flavor of econ; it’s Perkinsian, through and through. IOW: faking data in order to build creatively destructive debt-based monstrosities, to the near-perfect benefit of the perps, is the wink-wink nudge-nudge policy, not incompetence.

  2. Middle Seaman

    Pulling the wool over the individual and collective eyes of the American people is in the last 30 years as American as apple pie. Bernanke doesn’t work for us, he works for the banks. In his real job description it is made clear that Congress should be kept in the dark as much as possible.

    What the Hell, the president works for the banks too.

  3. jake chase

    The truth about the Fed has been in the public domain at least since the 1980s. Anyone who doubts this should read Wm Greider’s Secrets of the Temple. The Fed exists to enable the biggest banks and the banks operate to enrich their top executives. The largest corporations have been systematically looted by executive theft since 1980. Meanwhile, the much balleyhooed ‘prosperity’ was financed by credit card and mortgage debt. Anybody who does not understand this has simply not paid attention. The only possible answer is politics. Unfortuately, no politician in either major party is the slightest bit interested in changing anything. All of them simply talk nonsense and deposit checks. Until enough people wise up don’t expect anything to change.

    1. F. Beard

      Meanwhile, the much balleyhooed ‘prosperity’ was financed by credit card and mortgage debt. jake chase

      The prosperity was real. Those McMansions were built and the population was kept usefully employed. The problem is that the prosperity was funded via usury and counterfeit money – so-called “credit”.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        F. Beard, the prosperity was not *real*. The McMansions were part of the global Potemkin Village.

        1. F. Beard

          Baloney. Those McMansions have at least four walls and roof, not a single false front.

          You make the mistake of most, confusing money with reality. C. H. Douglas made the same point – Why should prosperity stop just because the money does? It shouldn’t.

          We are literally slaves to money because we refuse to implement it ethically.

          1. jake chase

            FB, the houses and video games and college classes may have been real (although I remain doubtful about most of the college classes), but for the individuals piling up debt the prosperity has proved temporary and indeed reversible.

            The working class (and the middle class)were suckered by credit as a substitute for wage growth. All the profit from globalization has gone to rentier elements and scammers and looters. The Fed is part of the problem but it is not the only problem. Those expecting help from the stock market do not understand the continuous dilution from executive giveaways, the looting through end runs around tax and corporate law.

            The economic purpose of banks is to channel savings into productive investment, to encourage thrift and self reliance, to promote productive entrepreneurial activity among those with intelligence and energy but lacking capital. Does this sound like any bank you know? Of course not. The big bank executives do much better gambling on derivatives and soverign debt and letting the Fed pick up the tab when they lose. Today’s banks don’t even need deposits. The deposits are a nuisance;the checks are a nuisance. Banks can deposit any kind of drek with the Fed and get all the reserves they need. It’s absurd.

            Separate commercial from investment banks. Leave the investment banks to sink or swim. Cut the commercial banks down to size (way down of size), limit their activity to commercial lending and regulate them strictly, circa 1960. I know that is a tall order politically, but it makes more sense than flailing against usury and counterfeiting every time someone mentions money or the Fed.

            Either we will relearn to properly regulate capitalism through law or we will prove Marx right and succumb to authoritarian rule, either left or right, and that is nothing to which we should look forward.

          2. F. Beard

            Cut the commercial banks down to size (way down of size), limit their activity to commercial lending and regulate them strictly, circa 1960. jake chase

            Ah, so only business shall have access to the counterfeit money?

            Here’s a counter suggestion:

            Abolish ALL government support for the banks (lender of last resort, government deposit insurance, legal tender laws for private debts, etc) and let the government provide a risk-free fiat storage and transaction service.

            As for banking, let’s recognize it for what it is: an inherently risky and unstable business suitable only for gamblers.

            Let’s either learn to practice genuine (ethical) capitalism or learn to speak Chinese since they have adopted our current fascist banking model and are younger and more enthusiastic practitioners of it.

          3. different clue

            Are those McMansions made of solid oak and brick and so forth? Or are they made of shitrock and fallaparticle board and so forth? How much real value and worth do they contain? A tarpaper shack with a plastic-sheeting roof also has four walls and a roof.

            How valuable will those McMansions in the outer suburbs and far exurbs be when gas reaches $10.00 per gallon? They will just be so much stranded landfill walking.

        1. tom allen

          And as Marx also said (and as I often feel reading this blog):

          “Why a four year old child could understand this.
          Run out and get me a four year old child,
          I can’t make head or tail out of it.”

          :-P

          1. skippy

            Re: builders warranty

            The one-year warranty: New construction & remodels
            The standard “one year expressed limited warranty” also known as the “Fit and Finish warranty” is an industry standard and a California law [CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE 900], and is considered an implied warranty. Even though the state has adopted a standard of the warranty, a written warranty is always better. With a one-year written or implied warranty you are required to file a complaint within the one-year period [CALIFORNIA BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 7091-c].

            Four-year warranty: All contractors / all jobs
            A licensed contractor is required to give a warranty on items installed under his /her license to be free from defective installation including, but not limited to the local codes and manufacturer’s installation requirements for up to four years after the completion of a job. The claim may be made on any defect, either known or unknown, and discovered within the four-year period [CALIFORNIA BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 7091-a].
            A licensed contractor can be held liable for repairs and damages caused by the defective installation. A licensed contractor who fails to meet the minimum installation requirements can be sued in a court of law and a complaint can be filed with the California State License Board.

            Ten-year warranty: Structural defects
            A licensed contractor and/or the engineer on record is required to provide a warranty on certain engineered components that they are to be free form engineering defects, miscalculation or omissions. Such defects could be site stability, the integrity of the foundation, site retaining walls, roof framing, etc… These defects may be considered Latent defects. Latent defects are defects which lay dormant and are undiscoverable without certain expertise or disaster. Such latent defects may include foundation settling, excessive sagging of beams or other framing which may be undersized, unusual site movement, etc…

            ————–

            California example of course, although its pretty much the same nation wide.

            When the majority of people buy to sell in 2 / 4 or 6 years, well, the incentive is too only insure less than x% fail rates, with in that period. That said I’m not insinuating collapse or critical failure, but, fit and finish is the first case and localized structural issues can become troublesome.

            If a bank was sold every few years… would you keep your money in it? Sure the owners make a cut, but, eventually the music stops. Then what?

            Skippy… floating slab or pier, how many apprentices to journeyman, assembly line construction ( 4 or more houses at a time ), production push to make end of Q numbers, et al. Personally I would never by a track or spec home. Better to find a 20+ year old house that has shown its colors, settled in, referb – remodel to taste or pony up for a custom builder with a long track record.

            PS. old saying, don’t by a car made on Monday or Friday.

      2. Susan the other

        Useful employment is the solution to everything. Without it, no “monetary system” and no form of money has any meaning at all. The economy was already dying in the 80s; the housing industry was used to create jobs but then failed because it was circular: building houses provided jobs and buying them paid the wages. But you can only build so many houses in a desperate attempt to keep a dying economy afloat. All the other jobs were shuffled off to China. Private equity “restructured” failing corporations by improving “productivity.” Remember the crash of 87 and everyone talking about the “jobless recovery” like oh well that’s just the way it is. That is just the way it is when you refuse to admit that the mirage of capitalism or communism or whatever the ideology is doesn’t work. Does anyone know what happened to all the practical people?

    2. Jack M.Hoff

      Jake, thanks for your well thought out statement. But I’d have to disagree that politics is the answer. After all we’ve had the best politicians that money can buy in this country for a long long while. What have they accomplished besides getting enriched personally? In fact that is the root of our problems, that they are for sale, each and everyfuckingone of them. Common whores, excuse me, common multimillionaire whores. How can a system like that repair itself? Tear the SOB down, March the pols and moneychangers into the ocean, and start from scratch is the only way.

      1. Lafayette

        How can a system like that repair itself?

        Easy, but just asking this question demonstrates a common ignorance of the American public in the matter.

        These Congressional “whores”, as you call them, were put in place how and by whom? Look at the electoral process to get your answers.

        We, the sheeple, some of the dumbest in the land, believed the bullshit having been spoon-fed over the past 30 years – that “Free Markets are best left unfettered”. We elected incompetents to high-office, because they had a charming-wife and 2.3 smiley children.

        Are those the main criteria for elective office in this Great Democracy of ours? Yep, that’s what the grassroots obviously thinks, or the dimwits would not be there roaming the halls of Capitol Hill.

        We, the sheeple are so obviously manipulated by the Boob-tube as to be obvious. The Koch Bros. invested heavily in the T-Party (T for Troglodyte) movement based upon only one promise: Stonewall all Obama spending legislation and wait for the hurt to manifest itself in November, 2012. All this to take control not only of Congress but the White House – and to do so in a totally democratic fashion, by means of we, the sheeple, voters.

        Imagine the great harm done after 2010 by such immoral indifference to the plight of many foreclosed and unemployed fellow Americans.

        DUMB IS AS DUMB DOES

        Until this nation understands the great harm the Rabid Right are capable of doing to this nation, for the sake of a select minority (just the 20-percenters), then there cannot be any fundamental change.

        Change brought about how? By a raging wild-fire of progressive values at the heart of a program of national reform. Where’s that?

        In the making, I hope. Till then, here’s my contribution to building a platform for a Progressive Agenda of National Reform.

    3. Frank Speaking

      as long as you are reading Greider don’t leave out “One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism” or “Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy”

      so much for the notion that knowledge is power…there have been many authors writing many words for many years warning, detailing and predicting and yet here we are…

        1. different clue

          Have you read serious books? Well then, there’s one American who reads serious books. Has anyone else here read serious books? I bet several people here have read serious books.

          Actually, I suspect that several million Americans read serious books. They (we) need to find eachother and become an effective strike-force for whatever it is we want to become an effective strike-force for. I suspect the OWS crowds are a start for people looking for serious knowledge they know they don’t have. I think it was knowledge-deprivation-maintainance which motivated Mayor Bloombastard to seek the destruction of the 5,000 scary books. Lambert Strether once posted here a catalog list of each of the 5,000 scary books. Perhaps he could do so again? More to the point, perhaps OWS people could make dead-tree copies of the 5,000 scary books catalog and hand out thousands and then millions of them to OWS-reachable sympathisers?

          1. citizendave

            A progressive book list or bibliography would be useful. Perhaps a wiki? Maybe a crowd-sourced prioritization of the resulting list? (But how would you prevent the 1% crowd from running Atlas Shrugged up the flagpole? It would need an editor or a committee to throw out the ringers.)

          2. different clue

            You couldn’t prevent the 1%ers’s eager little footstool-wannabes from putting their Atlas Shrugged into a randomly crowdsourced list.

            But the OWS mothership library of 5,000 scary books probably didn’t have Atlas Shrugged in it. If THAT list were broadcast far and wide and some little turdling defecated Atlas Shrugged onto the end of it, the difference would stand out. So the OWS Zucotti Park library catalog should be made farflungly and widefully known.

            And then too, special purpose sub-crowds can crowdsource their special purpose booklists. The Piratarians can have their Ayny Randy booklist if they want to.

            People would also have to discuss amongst themselves just what they want to know about and why they want to know about it. And people could try convincing eachother why this or that subject should be known about. And start crafting their proposed info-source-lists from their.

            For myself, I would think some books on non-bogus non-lie-based biophysical economics by people like Frederick Soddy, Charles Walters Jr., Herman Daly, Howard Odum, etc. etc. would be helpful. And ALso, books about various aspects of personal and community subsistence and survivalism, so that groups and crowds can think about how to create neighborhood and then regional fortresses of economic lifeboat survivalism. And then start doing something about it. And also websites and blogs about these things before the internet starts going dark in stages and then dark for good.

          3. different clue

            And you know . . . the Whole Earth Catalog people were not enough to be a crowd, but they did very good work naming and reviewing some very good books for learning things and stuff. A lot of those books remain very true and useful even today.

    4. nonclassical

      “meanwhile prosperity was fueled by reverse mortgage and credit card debt”:

      DESIGNED to place Americans in DEBT=treadmill status….some of us didn’t fall
      for this-some of us KNEW 10 years ago where this was leading, and paid off all our debt..which was all this some of us KNEW to do…

      ..when Bushit credit card lobbyists re-wrote bankruptcy laws we should have all known what was coming..should have known from Enron…or Bain Capitol, which didn’t exist in vacuum-”private equity” vultures being little different than
      S & L scandals, totally revealed by Bartlett and Steele=”The Demise of The Middle-Class in America”…same Bartlett and Steele who wrote “Good Money After Bad”=expose’ of Bushit-Paulson bailouts…Bartlett and Steele having won
      Pulitzer twice…

  4. Blunt

    “What does it say about a system when even very intelligent, skilled personal cannot make it work properly?”

    Mr. Beard, I think you go wrong when you presume to believe that the system isn’t working exactly as it was designed and re-booted during the 70s and 80s.

    I think it’s working exactly the way it was meant to work. The idea is to re-impoverish the vast majority of Americans and bring back the world that existed before Thorstein Veblen ever even thought of the phrase “conspicuous consumption.” (and he wasn’t thinking of tuberculosis either.)

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Blunt, you may subscribe to the theory of Dr. John Coleman, expressed in a public address of the early 1990′s, that the Post-Industrial Zero Growth paper of the Club of Rome featured the plan to be implemented by “James Earl Carter: that the middle class [of America] had to be destroyed”–the productive People as well as the U.S. agricultural and manufacturing base. He says this began with the destruction of the U.S. steel industry, U.S. shipbuilding, and the laying off of 50,000 steelworkers.

      He claims that Carter enforced the “policy of ‘free trade’ (“Free Trade is piracy” since the time of the British East India Company and its Opium Wars, claims Coleman). Further, Coleman claims that the signers to NAFTA and GATT are “traitors.” These would include Bill Clinton and his handmaiden, Newt Gingrich. Coleman claims that the destruction of SELF-RELIANT AMERICANS, embodied in the successful middle class, our manufacturing, and our agriculture were ruined so as to FORCE “free trade” in the form of Chinese goods down the throats of poorer Americans systematically, in order to profit the global despots behind the policies enforced by Carter, Clinton, and Bush.

      http://www.youtube.com — “Dr. John Coleman: the Club of Rome, Chatham House And the Committee of 300″ – uploaded in 2011. Whatever else Dr. Coleman claims may be rubbish, but the above makes perfect sense.

      It remains: Are the Agents of our government enthralled to a foreign power?

      1. Susan the other

        Lenova, that really takes me back. We went to see “Dr. Coleman” in the late 80s. It was 10 bucks a ticket; held in a small hotel conference room, maybe 100 people max. As soon as we (my husband and I) sat down, two seedy looking con artists sat down behind us and began hyping a big deal they were putting together. They tried to draw us into their conversation. Clearly, we looked like total rubes. Then Coleman spoke. I found him to be incomprehensible. I had read his book “None Dare Call It Conspiracy” which I also found to be more or less incomprehensible. During the break I wandered back to the book table and scanned thru Coleman’s many pamphlets. And I happened to notice Coleman himself sitting at one end. He was really bizarre up close. He looked like he had either been in a fire or had had some really bad plastic surgery. One of the pamphlets he was pushing was an almost-hilarious updated Protocols of Zion. We decided Coleman was a nut case and we didn’t stay for the second half. But you are right, some of the things he said seem to have happened. Altho he wasn’t a fortune teller because he had no pre-knowledge that the world would suffer an intractable monetary crisis.

    2. psychohistorian

      That reset you talk about in the 70-80′s was set up in the 50′s when the American motto was changed from E Pluribus Unum to In God We Trust and Corporations were given the rights of “We the people….”

      And it goes back further to private ownership and inheritance…..the two big nuts that should be cracked in this coming social realignment, IMO.

  5. LeonovaBalletRusse

    But isn’t Darryl Issa from “the Goldman Sack”? (partner w/ “J.P. Morgue”). Isn’t Issa the fox in the hen house?

    Question, Mr. Stoller: If Bernanke was a deep expert in the cause of The Great Depression, and The Great Depression (tip of iceberg) happened on his watch, then why should we not think that he was complicit in the creation of The Great Recession? (Bush: *We create our own reality*). It looks awfully like a conspiracy (shudder), from Greenspan through Bernanke, with Geithner from NY Fed to Treasury). Are we not dealing with a Den of Thieves, in actuality?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      pls correct ERROR (or Freudian slip) above: Bernanke is connecting link between The Great Depression and The Great Recession in his time.

      Question: Does Ben Bernanke share DNA with Bernard Baruch?

      1. pedex

        If you were running the US national private banking cartel ponzi scheme what would your number one job be? Protect the ponzi scheme at all costs. Selling the lies is all part of the game.

  6. Hugh

    Oh my, Congress was misled! Congress’ surprise has got to be about as sincere as Inspector Renault’s that there was gambling going on at Rick’s cafe. To keep up the allusions, Congress was doing a Sergeant Schultz. It saw notzing because it was determined to see notzing.

    But for the rest of us, there was plenty of information by the beginning of 2009 to know how to address the financial meltdown, and oh yes, fire Bernanke.

    It just seems terribly disingenuous now to say if we, i.e. Congress, had only known. We did know. Congress, Bernanke, and Obama knew. The difference is their priority was in protecting the criminals because the banksters belonged to the same elite class they did.

    In December I remarked here that I had updated a “Christmas” list of reforms to reset and restructure our economic and political systems. This is something I have been doing since December 2008, that is a couple of months post-meltdown. But I mean how much did we need to know to do the basics?

    1) Re-enact Glass-Steagall
    2) Force the banks to show with mark to market accounting that they were not bankrupt
    3) Prosecute fraud
    4) Ban most derivatives
    5) Offer new long term fixed interest rate mortgages at cramdown valuations
    6) Break up the TBTF

    As Foreclosureblues says above, our elites knew exactly what they were doing. Bernanke’s reconfirmation, I mean why else would Obama push for it, and the travesty of Dodd-Frank happened because that is what they wanted to happen. It happened as it did because that is the way they orchestrated it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is one of those rare times when I disagree with you (not on the latter part but on your assumptions).

      I think Bernanke is completely sincere. Your assumption is that the folks at the Fed are cynical. In fact, monetary economists are SO BAD at reality that they are the perfect people to be coopted by the banks.

      And his sincerity (and ignorance, which is not quite the same as stupidity but looks virtually identical at 30 paces) makes him an even more perfect defender of bank interests than if he understood anything of genuine import.

      1. Hugh

        It is an interesting point. I have come to assume bad faith on the part of our elites. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say our elites as represented by Bernanke, Congress, and Obama have no excuse not to know what they are doing. They are after all our elites. They are supposed to know. Their wealth, positions, and privilege are justified again supposedly upon their knowing what is happening and what is best.

        If you assume good faith, you can say they are sincere but mistaken. If you assume bad faith, then it is willful ignorance. How to tell between the two? They are supposed to know, often have the best resources to know, and are richly compensated for knowing, yet they deeply and persistently do not know, and their not knowing benefits massively and consistently them and theirs. To me, that looks like willful ignorance and bad faith.

        This is one of the ideas that I have been struggling with and trying to enunciate more clearly. Our elites are acting in bad faith which means they know they are acting in bad faith. But at the same time they believe the fictions which they have created to enable, promote, and defend their looting. Nobody does evil for evil’s sake, and our kleptocratic elites are no exception. They have simply defined their good as the general good and acted accordingly. Reality can not subvert their views because their views are not grounded in reality but rather provide the frame through which reality is to be viewed.

        For me, that Bernanke et al have these self-serving and self-aggrandizing rationales, and even believe in them, in no way mitigates their culpability. They have the information and even the duty, as elites, not to believe them but they do so anyway because it serves their and their class’ interest.

        1. Foreclosureblues

          all the exposure and ‘demands’ for common sense solutions continue completely unheard and ineffective…

          why?

          because it ain’t broken from their viewpoint…

          it is working very well and IS accomplishing their control priorities…

          deplenish the resources and willingness of the masses to render them serfs…

        2. SteveDallas

          There is recently solid proof that our leaders ARE CONSCIOUSLY CONSPIRING against the American people. Simply do this… get in your car and tune to NPR… and listen to Obama’s recent campaign statements, repeated over and over and over.

          His rhetoric clearly indicates that he is fully aware, from a NC perspective, of what’s going on. Like his past campaign, he again is saying exactly what even an NC reader would want to hear. However, this time we know Obama rhetoric is pure, 100% deception. There is no way he intends to be directed by 1% of his own campaign rhetoric. We know that he is lying. We know this as fact, and we can prove it. Would anyone here at NC disagree? Who would argue that Obama’s recent campaign statements are even slightly consistent with even a tiny fraction of his actions over the past three years?

          If the bottom 50% of Americans had the slightest clue of what’s going on they would be demanding Obama’s impeachment for obvious blatant lying, conspiring against the large majority, and treason.

        3. different clue

          Well, as J. R. “Bob” Dobbs is supposed to have said, “If you can pull the wool over your own eyes first, then you can pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes.”

        4. knowbuddhau

          YS: In fact, monetary economists are SO BAD at reality that they are the perfect people to be coopted by the banks.

          This is where economics meets psychology. How do monetary economists become “SO BAD” at reality?

          Could it be that entire departments of economics are serving as prep scools for economic hit men? For example, Univeristy of Chicago’s infamous economics department spawned the even more notorious Chicago Boys. Astute readers of this blog must surely be aware of the decades of CIA efforts to co-opt professors, reporters, and so on.

          Even if the thousands of Latin American students trained by UC in weapons-grade voodoo econ were themselves sincere, somebody at USAID, the Ford Foundation, the State Department, and UC Dept. of Econ knew exactly WTF they were really doing: preparing to attack Chile first, then the rest.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          NAOMI KLEIN: You know, the most left-wing place on the planet at the moment is, interestingly enough, the first place where Chicago School ideology made that leap from the textbook into the real world, and that’s Latin America. And that happened for a very specific reason, as you know. This — in the 1950s, there was great concern at the State Department about the fact that Latin America, then as now, as it seems to do, was moving to the left. There was concern about what they called the “pink economists,” the rise of developmentalism, import substitution, and, of course, socialism. And, of course, this was a concern because it greatly affected American and European interests, because the crux of the argument of import substitution was that countries like Chile and Argentina, Guatemala, should stop exporting their raw natural resources to the north and then importing expensive processed goods to the south, that it didn’t make economic sense, that they should use the same tools of protectionism, of state supports, that built the economies of Europe and North America. That was that crazy radical idea, and it was unacceptable.

          So, this plan was cooked up — it was between the head of USAID’s Chile office and the head of the University of Chicago’s Economics Department — to try to change the debate in Latin America, starting in Chile, because that’s where developmentalism had gained its deepest roots. And the idea was to bring a group of Chilean students to the University of Chicago to study under a group of economists who were considered so extreme that they were on the margins of the discussion in the United States, which, of course, at the time, in the 1950s, was fully in the grips of Keynesianism. But the idea was that there would be — this would be a battle to the — a counterbalance to the emergence of left-wing ideas in Latin America, that they would go home and counterbalance the pink economists.

          And so, the Chicago Boys were born. And it was considered a success, and the Ford Foundation got in on the funding. And hundreds and hundreds of Latin American students, on full scholarships, came to the University of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s to study here to try to engage in what Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile’s foreign minister after the dictatorship finally ended, described as a project of deliberate ideological transfer, taking these extreme-right ideas, that were seen as marginal even in the United States, and transplanting them to Latin America. That was his phrase — that is his phrase.

          Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

          http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/6/naomi_klein

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          I take from this that there are, right now, similar projects of “direct ideologocial transplant,” aka PSYOP, in play right here in the good ol USA.

          Furthermore, I also think I.F. Stone had it right: our presumption should be that all governemnts lie. Bernanke, the man, may be sincere in his beliefs; what matters is his actions as a public servant. His actions betray plunder as policy, IMO.

          So the most important question to my mind is: What is the covert econ policy of the US gov’t? What are the real goals and the real purposes behind alleged mistakes?

          We don’t know. Likewise, we don’t know the “secret” laws that allow POTUS to murder any one of us on his say-so alone. So much for even the pretense of being in charge of our gov’t.

          Whether or not Obama is now a sincere or cynical despot seems beside the point. Despotism is as despotism does.

          Were individual Bush Admin people sincere in their beliefs in Iraqi WMD? Maybe, but someone sure as hell knew the difference.

          Likewise, the proof of massive econ hit jobs, masquerading as prudent policies based on sincere beliefs, is evident in the plunder.

          1. knowbuddhau

            Doncha just love it when the very next site you go to provides the perfect case in point?

            “Russ Baker, Borders Books, San Francisco, 2010, on digging deep and making a difference.”

            In this video, Russ Baker briefly describes how CIA, Big Tobacco, and so on met together as a so-called “psychological strategy board” to formulate exploitative policies. We’ve known this goes on for decades, yet such knowledge is absent from most sincere debate. WTF is up with that?

            My feeling is, it’s the cohort effect. What’s the age of the majority of people occupying positions of punditry? This cohort learned of an America that doesn’t really exist. It’s only in the last few decades that we’ve even begun to see the tip of the covert iceberg.

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            What the American elite demanded, wrote Frederic F Clairmont in The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism, “was not allies but unctuous client states. What Bretton Woods bequeathed to the world was a lethal totalitarian blueprint for the carve-up of world markets.” The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank were established in effect as arms of the US Treasury and would design and police the new order. The US military and its clients would guard the doors of these “international” institutions, and an “invisible government” of media would secure the myths, said Edward Bernays.

            Bernays, described as the father of the media age, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. “Propaganda,” he wrote, “got to be a bad word because of the Germans . . . so what I did was to try and find other words [such as] Public Relations.” Bernays used Freud’s theories about control of the subconscious to promote a “mass culture” designed to promote fear of official enemies and servility to consumerism. It was Bernays who, on behalf of the tobacco industry, campaigned for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation, calling cigarettes “torches of freedom”; and it was his notion of disinformation that was deployed in overthrowing governments, such as Guatemala’s democracy in 1954.

            Above all, the goal was to distract and deter the social democratic impulses of working people. Big business was elevated from its public reputation as a kind of mafia to that of a patriotic force. “Free enterprise” became a divinity. “By the early 1950s,” wrote Noam Chomsky, “20 million people a week were watching business-sponsored films. The entertainment industry was enlisted to the cause, portraying unions as the enemy, the outsider disrupting the ‘harmony’ of the ‘American way of life’ . . . Every aspect of social life was targeted and permeated schools and universities, churches, even recreational programmes. By 1954, business propaganda in public schools reached half the amount spent on textbooks.”
            http://www.newstatesman.com/north-america/2009/07/pilger-obama-america-world

            Get that? It’s not just the monetary economists who are bad at reality. Much of what “we all know” about American reality is weapons-grade bullshit.

            Since these are largely economic and psychological operations, it’s hugely important for economists and psychologists to pull our collective heads out. Can we learn fast enough to counteract these decades of attacks? Or will it take a new cohort of commentators to work it into prevailing narratives?

            I don’t think we have the luxury of time on our side. Like many others, it looks to me like the USG is in all-out imperial power grab mode. We may not have this much freedom next month, let alone next generation.

          2. bhikshuni

            from following below: “Russ Baker briefly describes how CIA, Big Tobacco, and so on met together as a so-called “psychological strategy board” to formulate exploitative policies. We’ve known this goes on for decades, yet such knowledge is absent from most sincere debate. WTF is up with that? ”

            Perhaps it’s taken as given reality, as in Harvard Business School “seminar in smoozh contracts.” As in, it’s the late 80s and early 90s, and Drucker’s cult of worshippers, the Kennedy School, and USAID all share the quadrangle around Cambridge Harvard Club. What is there to mention especial about routine life, after all? Train in ‘getting invited to lunch’ seminar.

      2. Foreclosureblues

        none of these folk’s are ‘in the dark’ unless they are supposed to be…

        nothing transpires or is enacted unless it has pasted muster with the powers unseen…

        to prosecute Bank CEOs would be kool but it would be like the Mi Ly prosecution…

        or to prosecute our young marines for not fighting the right way…

        I have concluded that the ONLY way to ever defeat the Extraction Machine is to discontinue compliance with it…

        I believe that if enough folks simply discontinued paying into it, all at once, it would vaporize very quickly…

        in like a month and a half…

      3. Lafayette

        YS: In fact, monetary economists are SO BAD at reality that they are the perfect people to be coopted by the banks.

        Spot on.

        Bernanke showed his economic true-colours in a lecture he made in 2005. This lecture is in pdf format, available here.

        From the text of that lecture, on page two, this highly informative quotation, From “Money, Credit and Banking Lecture”, (2005), page 2, paragraph 3:

        To review the state of knowledge about the Depression, it is convenient to make the textbook distinction between factors affecting aggregate demand and those affecting aggregate supply. I argue in section 1 that the factors that depressed aggregate demand around the world in the 1930s are now well understood, at least in broad terms. In particular, the evidence that monetary shocks played a major role in the Great Contraction, and that these shocks were transmitted around the world primarily through the workings of the gold standard, is quite compelling.

        Admittedly, the Great Depression was deflationary and the Great Expansion (in equity asset pricing) inflationary – which are opposite sides of the same coin.

        So, is Bernanke to be excused from this apparent … uh, “oversight” on his part? I think not. It is entirely possible that the Fed was overlooking the asset-price bubble because it was simply not on their radar-chart of economic variables worth watching.

        Which is startling, to say the least. It means that, given that Housing is a key component of the American economy, the Fed was asleep at the wheel.

        Of course, there had to be some reason why a Republican PotUS would nominate him to run the Fed. I venture that the above shows us why. But why would a Dem PotUS extend that mandate?

        Zat iz ze kweschun.

      4. Susan the other

        I agree about Bernanke being totally sincere. And I go further: I do not think he is stupid or hapless except that he did not foresee this crisis taking on a life of its own. The military term “being overtaken by events” makes sense. Whenever I get paranoid and think we are all going to be turned into canned food, I remind myself that there was never a chance that the US could remain “fortress America” as LBJ called it. It was as if LBJ and his advisors thought we could jump in and stir it up in Vietnam and we would turn Asia in our direction. Not. So now salvage is the name of the game. That this mess was choreographed is a little beyond belief, but it is being controlled and directed. I am yet to understand why unemployment is ignored. It would be a much more successful strategy to keep people employed. But all Bernanke can do on that score is beg congress to create jobs.

      5. jake chase

        If Bernanke is completely sincere he is the dumbest Princeton graduate of the past one hundred years. He would even be the dumbest Dartmouth graduate had he gone to Dartmouth, and believe me that is saying something.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Hugh, many have said: re-enact Glass-Steagall, but they might as well have been talking to the moon. They WILL not do this, not this Congress, because to do so would close the casino profiting the House that plays with the People’s 401Ks, pensions, money market funds, demand deposits, etc.

      The refusal to re-enact Glass-Steagall (and its removal) should, ipso facto, be evidence of INTENT to loot the People and the Treasury, and to defraud through HFT digital currency skimming and the compound derivatives *insurance* rackets.

      1. Lafayette

        There are key elements of the Glass-Steagal Act in Dodd-Frank.The BigQuestion is, “Will they work?”

        Towards understanding how, see this good piece from the Roosevelt Institute titled “Making the Dodd-Frank Act Restrictions On Proprietary Trading and Conflicts of Interest Work” – here.

        Is it not therefore a question of “enforcement”? I never tire of arguing for “Effective Regulation” – particularly after the Lead-head Years when such regulatory oversight was neutered so thoroughly by that administration. (What can you do when a PotUS instructs his AG not to prosecute? Or, as discussed above, when a Fed is asleep at the wheel of credit-market oversight?

        Which, I maintain, paved the way for the both the SubPrime Mess and its consequence – the Great Recession of 2008/9 of which we are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    3. Because

      Steagall was irrevelant and outdated. Even if it had never been ended, we still have the crisis.

      The only way to stop the crisis was attempted a intervention of some kind of variety we had. Considering the real GDP potential of the US dropped after the blowoff Clinton era boom, it would have further stagnated the economy into multiple recessions.

      The FED is basically left with 3 choices:
      1.Make a strong attempt to monetize the losses
      2.Let the government handle everything
      3.Push deflation

      I would argue all 3 of these have support from the economic divide. I think they have to a extent, done all 3 at various points.

      1. different clue

        If Glass-Steagall was so outdated and irrelevant, why did the Government-Financialist Complex conspire so hard to repeal it? It was clearly still a relevant obstruction to the Financialists.

    4. nonclassical

      good list-add end “Citizen’s United” and ALL campaign contributions to the people’s (?????) government…

    5. Foreclosureblues

      sorry hugh for what im about to say…

      1) Re-enact Glass-Steagall…

      “after all the $ we spent to repeal it lol”

      2) Force the banks to show with mark to market
      accounting that they were not bankrupt

      “we don’t need no stinking balance sheets lol, except to report profits…all we need is cash flow….source is irrelavent…a bailout dollar, or even better, a stolen dollar that never has to be repaid…

      3) Prosecute fraud…”we DO prosecute fraud all the
      time, we spend billions to prosecute anyone trying to
      do fraud against us…”

      4) Ban most derivatives…”lol, and who has enough $
      to out lobby the owners of the world’s largest
      lottery game??…lol’

      5) Offer new long term fixed interest rate
      m mortgages at cramdown valuations…
      “we can do that fo sho cept that valuation thang…”

      6) Break up the TBTF…”LOLOL!!…Why do YOU think they call us the TBTF??…”

    6. Ms G

      I’m inclined to agree with the “knowing” blindness theory. To posit otherwise, would be to credit statements by the likes of Fuld and Blankfein that the RE collapse was an unpredictable “act of god”/”tsunami” or to forgive the omission of common sense assumption that RE may decrease in value in the high-priced “genius” models that were being used by the banks to pump the MBS machines.

      As well, to believe that the likes of Bernanke, Greenspan, and yes, Rudin, Clinton, Summers, etc., were suffering from an innocent “blind spot” built into their world-views, one would have to ignore the meticulously researched historical record of tall, bright red and flapping flags that were popping up on many radars for at least 10 years (longer if we include the history of MBS failures in the late 1980s and early 1990s).

  7. Anonymous Comment

    After the June 2006 meeting I sobbed for weeks. It was apparent to those who were really ‘getting it’ that that meeting marked the beginning of the end. The crisis was baked in the cake right then. Without action in the right direction at that particular meeting… the crisis was just gonna be. Laissez-faire to the max.

    So sad.

    1. ohmyheck

      Sorry, but I can’t just let that comment pass. May I ask, are you saying that you were in attendance at the FOMC meeting in 2006? Or were you privvy to the full documentation soon afterward? If so, were there others with whom which you discussed it, from your point of view? Others who believed as you did? I just find this all fascinating, in a historical sense, and would love to know more, all judgment aside and objectively speaking. Thanks.

  8. Because

    The FEDs mistake was not seeing the crunch. They just thought the price boom would end, we would have a garden variety recession as housing “corrected” its over excess. Real rices would fall solidly for 10-15 years while the economy surged along with something else replacing it as a economic driver. Meeting a equalibrim.

    This kind of swagger is not miscommon. Even Greenspan himself said in 2003-04 he wished all the capital was going somewhere else rather than RE. But it would eventually end up all ok.

    1. Ms G

      Q.E.D.
      . . . and if we can assume that for every revealed conflict of interest (as in Congressperson’s v. Mortgage Finance Co’s) there are many more still undiscovered . . . it gets harder to buy the “blind spot” theory of inaction.

  9. René

    “To pursue the impossible is madness: and it is impossible for bad men not to act in character.”

    - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 5:17

  10. Conscience of a Conservative

    I would disagree. We don’t need to hold the Fed more accountable. We need to hold them less accountable. I’d start with limiting their mandate to monetary policy and move their regulatory role over to other regulatory bodies such as the FDIC, CFTC, the new consumer protection bureau, etc

    1. Lafayette

      From a document published by the FRB titled “Purposes & Functions”, Section 5 covers “Supervision and Regulation” and latter of the two is further broken down as follows:
      Regulatory Functions
      Acquisitions and Mergers
      Other Changes in Bank Control
      Formation and Activities of Financial Holding Companies
      Capital Adequacy Standards
      Financial Disclousres by State Member Banks
      Securities Credit

      There is no mention of regulatory oversight of market activities (such as clearly illicit practices that spawned the subprime mess). Which perhaps should have come under the Truth In Lending Act (of 1968), under which no one involved has yet been prosecuted.

      In fact, try looking up “FRB Charter” and (abracadabra) nothing comes up except FRB “chartered banks”.

      A “Fed Charter”, per se, simply does not exist. What exists is the Federal Reserve Act, described by the FRB here.

      And the only stated “policy objective” of the Federal Reserve Act is:

      The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.

      Under that objective, I’d note the Fed with a “D-”.

  11. Woodrow Wilson

    “America is done for” -

    Just figuring this out now?

    There are over 500 CONgress Members, Democrats and Republicans alike, that we know that have sold “us” out. We also know over the years, particularly the past ten years, the Legislation they voted on, but probably didn’t craft themsleves, reflect this. It’s just going to be a slow and painful ride for a lot of Americans.

    If you’re middle to upper-middle class, and have young children, how can you honestly tell them everything will be ok? Of course, if you have no moral compass, don’t mind screwing over other people, then by all means, teach your kids to do that, they should fit in nicely in this completely corrupt plutocracy.

  12. unknown

    Creative Destruction today (economics 101?) or is it Nation destruction

    Private equity firms/creative d destruction

    Step one… Find any company that has more assets than debt.

    Step two…Buy company/borrow too max on assets of company.

    Step three…Sell failing company as it cannot support new debt.

    Step four….Failing to find a sucker to sell failing company, file bankruptcy and take the money (profits) you received from indebting company assets.

    Step five….Instance profits and tax free as the profits are capital gains.

    The only downside to this system which has been put in place over the past 30 plus years.

    Destruction of a company that was creating a real product, unemployment, and loss of revenue for nation’s infrastructure.

    The only thing dummier the parasites we call politicians have done is the debt based currency enacted through the creation of the private banking system called the Federal Reserve, created in 1913.

    http://www.amazon.com/Other-peoples-money-how-bankers/dp/1578987385/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326549996&sr=1-3

    1. F. Beard

      Step two…Buy company/borrow too max on assets of company. unknown

      Correction:

      Step two…Buy company/borrow some brand new money (“credit”) from a bank backed by the assets of the company you are buying.

      As usual, the counterfeiting cartel is the root of the problem.

  13. Bill G

    It seems the FOMC is not concerned about the impact of LIRP or QE on Americans that save and are prudent and at least rate that interest below that of the quasi-criminal bankers and insurers. Are the banks that powerful or is the FOMC in need of a change in membership beyond (instead of)the banker class.

  14. Jill

    You don’t cover your tracks if you don’t know what you’re doing is illegal.

    It is possible that they know what they’re doing is illegal while at the same time have the idea that they are “the elect” in their hearts. Being a member of the elect enable one to justify anything, up to murder and torture. There is good evidence of that belief system being in play for elites. I recommend a startling book called, “The Family” by Jeff Sharlet. It is not a conspiracy, he has the papers to back up everything he’s saying. Family members appear to be running things, at least in part, in this nation.

    http://jeffsharlet.com

    Whatever their beliefs are it is their actions we must take on.

  15. Conscience of a Conservative

    Frankly I don’t see a huge difference between Bernanke & Greenspan, except that Bernanke is operating post-bubble. Someone will have to tell me how their policies differ. Both seem to be engaging in inflating asset prices, and keeping interest rates too low for too long.

  16. Gil Gamesh

    …..then America is done for.” Well, somebody play Taps. Congress doesn’t give a rat’s ass about governing, representing the people, upholding the Constitution. The mofos, almost to a man and woman, are there to get wealthy. Socio-economic mobility around here sucks (it’s virtually all down, brothers and sisters. And if you are honest, you will die poor, guaranteed.) Being elected to Congress is one of the few upward escalators in this rotten country.

  17. different clue

    We are all surrounded by a carefully-shaped Financialist
    kleptonomy designed to extract our time, work, and wealth in one form or another (or in symbolically-modeled money-form) and suck it up the social class ladder.

    There is still also some sort of real chembio-physiconomy
    where people make or do things and get paid in money which they then spend on other things made or done by other people who get paid in money for those other things made or done by those other people. Money in these transactions is used as a “medium of exchange”, and the same worn ratty tatty Federal Reserve Notes and/or U.S. Mint coins can be used over and over and over again. And there are, dare I say, white hat capitalists and bussiness-folk as well as workers and servitors in that real chembio-physiconomy. That silicon valley millionaire who bought the locked up shell and blueprints and patents/etc. for Yuba Shopsmith and brought it back to productive life is one such. Even if he extracted his initial money from the rest of us in the kleptonomy, he has returned some of that money as real value into the biophysiconomy . . . having a company make Shopsmiths again.

    So . . . how can we learn more about the workings of the eco-biophysiconomy and do more of our making and doing and getting and spending in that economy? And less of it in the kleptonomy? Is there such a thing as any “laws of economics” that explain how the biophysiconomy works? That was what Frederick Soddy was trying to work out. That is what the “ecological economists” and Howard Odum and Herman Daly are trying to work out in our own day. If their mission is not a fool’s errand, and such “laws” really exist to be understood, then how do we learn them and understand them and take the Laws of Economics into our own hands?

    1. different clue

      (Of course there is also and has long been a bio-physikleptonomy operating as well. If mountaintop removal strip mining isn’t kleptonomics, what is it?

      So the “real kleptonomy” will also have to be reduced and then exterminated if we are to hope to survive.)

  18. MarkS

    Matt Stoller’s article implies that publishing FED OMC transcripts will make a difference. I say balderdash! We already know that the FED supported predatory assimilation of commercial banking assets into investment banking, exponential expansion of derivative contracts without supervision or regulation, the exponential expansion of private debt, the demolition of almost all bank reserve requirements, and the biggest pay-off in history to actors in arguably the biggest financial fraud since the John Law’s Mississippi Company. The FED has abrogated its fiduciary responsibility to the American people, while heroically defending its miscreant stockholder banks. Don’t expect a change until there are torches and pitchforks in the street.

    1. different clue

      What would be a functional equivalent of pitchforks and torches for present day people, both non-violent and non-illegal and also effective against the carefully chosen targets?

      We do actually want to get results, right? As against just getting attention?

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