Bill Black: Band of Bigots – Dr. Sarrazin, Herr Henkel, and the Bank of America

By William C. Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One

On February 6, 2010 I wrote an open letter to Dr. Walter E. Massey, who was then Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank of America. Dr. Massey is also President, emeritus, of Morehouse College. The context was that B of A has long retained Herr Henkel to create their team of senior business advisors for its operations in Germany. Herr Henkel is a prominent German businessman who ran Germany’s top business association (loosely equivalent to combining our Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable). Dr. Thilo Sarrazin’s verbal assault on Arabs, Turks, and Muslims (and bizarre gratuitous claims about Jews) prompted my letter. Henkel issued a manifesto endorsing Sarrazin’s claims. Henkel chose as his title for his manifesto a phrase that emphasized that he agreed with Sarrazin’s attacks on Arabs, Turks, and Muslims and his bizarre statements about Jews without the slightest reservation (“without” any “if” or “but”).

Henkel, independently, proceeded to blame the global financial crisis on loans to African-Americans and bemoaned the end of “red-lining” – the deliberate discrimination by lenders based on race. Sarrazin had dismissed Arabs and Turks as capable only of working as “fruit and vegetable vendors.” I wrote my open letter to Dr. Massey to remind him that B of A began as the Bank of Italy. The Bank of Italy was proud and eager to have Italian Americans who worked as fruit and vegetable vendors as its customers. I called on B of A to fire Henkel and review the team of advisors he had selected. I never received a response from any B of A representative and it appears that B of A continues to employ Herr Henkel and his team as its senior advisors in Germany.

Sarrazin is a major player in Germany. He is a member of the German central bank (and in the German context that is a far more exalted institution than the U.S. Federal Reserve). Moreover Sarrazin is a Social Democrat, the major German party on the Left. The German central bank chastised Sarrazin for his prior rant and constrained some of his functions. Sarrazin, however, has now followed up with a book – and public comments about its thesis – that renew his attacks on Arabs, Turks, and Muslims. He also made new, equally gratuitous and bizarre claims about Jews. (He states that all Jews share certain genes. All humans share certain genes. Actually, all humans and all potatoes share some genes. And this proves what? That each of us, including Sarazzin, is a Kartoffel Kopf?)

The German government appears to be getting ready to remove Sarazzin from the central bank. That is a big deal. Germans take pride and comfort in their central bank’s independence. It is very difficult under their system to remove a member of the central bank. The difficulty is compounded because the party in power is the rival party to the Social Democrats. Removing Sarazzin will be deeply embarrassing to the Social Democrats. But the greatest difficulty is that many Germans agree with Sarrazin.

Germany’s senior leaders are willing to take extraordinary, painful steps to end the disgrace that Sarazzin has brought upon the central bank and the nation. B of A, by contrast, can fire Henkel for cause, save money, and receive far better business guidance on lending from non-bigots. Only a handful of Americans share Henkel’s nostalgia for the return of red-lining. So, what is B of A’s excuse? Does Henkel’s bigotry represent the values of B of A’s senior leadership in Germany and the United States?

Americans and Germans share a great history with terrible dark aspects. We know our histories. We know how disastrously bigotry ends if it is not stopped. We know that bigotry is built on lies and that scientific racism is an oxymoron propagated by regular morons.

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  1. laosuwan

    Sarrazin’s attacks on Arabs, Turks, and Muslims

    I like the guy already. Check your history; who was on the Nazi Axis side during WWII. Yes, that’s right, the Arabs and Muslims. Bosnian muslim SS divisions, the mufti of jeruseulm, its all in the history books and this guy sarrazin is being honest about it. That is not biggoted; it is self defense and truth. americans always hope for A while rewarding B.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, so by that logic, Bank of America should also write off all of Germany, Italy, Japan, most of France (the Vichy part), Bulgaria (it sided with the Nazis), and Switzerland (they were the Nazi’s bankers after all).

      And have you written them all off too?

      This all looks like specious logic as a cover for bigotry. You forget that the Arabs sided with the Brits in WWI, and their support was essential to victory. The Brits, however had promised them Palestine, and instead reneged on that promise via agreeing to create a Jewish homeland via the Balfour declaration in 1922.

      Widen the frame, and the Arab support of Germany had a lot if not everything to do with being cheated by an ally. But you use it to support your prejudices.

      1. koshem Bos

        The argument about the Brits promising the Palestinians a land is rather weak and narrow. First, the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917 and not 1922. Second, the Brits turned their back on the Jews pretty fast as well. Personally, I wouldn’t blame or stain the Palestinians for a minor political move in the 1930s. Furthermore, during WWII one faction of the Jewish resistance to the Brits, the Stern group, continued to fight the Brits.

        The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians stem, primarily, due to two peoples sharing a tiny piece of land that is very hard to divide. The Brits, despite their ugly history vs both ethnic groups, have nothing to do with it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’ll admit I truncated the history, but the notion that the Brits backed off for their support of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East is questionable. Britain proceeded with the Palestine Mandate in 1922, which included sending a army to Gaza. Oh, and the date? September 11, 1922, which is the date when the League of Nations accepted the British Memorandum.

          You think this isn’t significant? The date may not be well known in the American and Europe, but it is in the Arab world. And oddly, it appeared in the print edition of the Economist in 2002 (a buddy sent a pdf scan of the page around that time) but seem unable to find it on the site (and reference to that date is oddly absent from the Wikipedia account).

          1. Ishmael

            Yves — Agree with everything you said. It was the British betrayal after WW 1 that has caused most of the problems in the Middle East. Also add the overthrow of a legitimate democratically elected government in Iran by BP, British Gov and US gov. There has also been the support for various thugs as dictators including Saddam when it suited our needs.

    2. koshem Bos

      I object vehemently to laosuwan’s comment. Every ethnic group has people of immense talents and, sadly, most such groups have dark chapters in their history. European s have murdered more than a hundred million people in the 20th century alone. Americans have largely annihilated Native Americans. Despite the terrible violence perpetrated in the Muslim world today, there not close to the slaughters in Europe and America (North, Central and South).

    3. wunsacon

      It seems some people think that abandoning redlining was some kind of slippery slope to zero down loans, no doc loans, interest-only loans, and appraisal fraud. No, it isn’t. Every one of those is an easily identified decision. (And collectively a mistake.)

      I distinguish between bad practices like redlining (writing off whole areas) and good practices (like requiring down payments, proof of income, legal residency, etc.).

      – Redlining was/is racism.
      – Eliminating redlining does not cause bubbles.
      – Giving buyers en masse too much leverage/credit causes bubbles.

      Some of the “it’s a slippery slope” folks lump “eliminating redlining” with the many mistakes that were made. They use the financial crisis as “evidence” that government should not promote social causes because it leads to disaster.

      Yes, we had a disaster. But, it was a foreseeable consequence of many stupid policies. Roll back the stupid policies. Retain the good ones.

    4. Parvaneh Ferhad

      Check your history is a good one. There is no personalised history, there’s only one set of facts. Here are some:

      Fact: Turkey – or the Ottoman Empire – was a refuge for Jews during many centuries while they were prosecuted in Europe.
      Fact: Turkey protected the Jews of Turkish nationality against Nazi Germany.

      Fact: Turkey was neutral during the second world war and declared war to Germany and Japan in 1945.

      Fact: The fact that one person – the Great Mufti of Al-Quds was supporting the Nazis may not stem from his being anti-semitc but come from the fact that Palestine was practically invaded by Jewish immigrants.
      Check out the figures, they are impressive. It’s kind of worse a migration situation than Sarazin is complaining about in Germany.

      Greece, Ukraine and the Baltics had many Nazi collaborators too. Nazis did have sympathisers everywhere, even in the US. Just ask IBM, Coca Cola and a few others about their business with Nazi Germany.

  2. renting_hell

    Sarrazin was fired on Sept. 2, though the formal process continues – the Bundesbank board has applied for Bundespräsident Wulff to remove Sarrazin, and Wulff has made very clear he will do it as quickly as legally possible.

    And many Germans do agree with Sarrazin, according to polls I’ve read – something like 30% in the SPD, for example, and slightly higher in the CDU. But in this case, the 70% of the SPD that most definitely disagree with Sarrazin will be responsible for him losing his party membership too.

    And as is always the case with the racist brigade, Sarrazin continues to claim he is being punished for speaking the simple truth. Well, actually, at the moment, he seems to become a bit disoriented – after all, being the first Bundesbank member to have been fired provides him a historical legacy he probably has just begun to recognize. Which makes his demands to have the Bundespräsident meet him, or to call what is happening to him a ‘political show trial,’ or his threats to go to court stink of a certain desperation. Sarrazin, as is generally the case with racists, wanted all the benefits of free speech, without recognizing that everyone else has those rights too – including telling the world why he was fired.

    It is also worth noting that back in 2009, Alex Weber, the Bundesbankpräsident, tried his best to block Sarrazin, and then essentially demoted him. The German political party aspect of Sarrazin’s position at the Bundesbank should be kept in the foreground – many of Sarrazin’s opponents’ sincere disgust at Sarrazin’s speech and writing was possible to dismiss because it came from people that would have opposed him for his party membership anyways. This also played a role in how slowly he was removed, at least by American standards (by German standards, this was very fast, and unprecedented – the Bundesbank has roughly the same position and moral authority in modern Germany as the Supreme Court does in the U.S.). The CDU/FDP could not simply call for his dismissal without looking like they were involved in politics against the Bundesbank.

    The incredibly smug tone of Merkel’s announcement when commenting on Sarrazin’s departure just made obvious how much satisfaction there was that the politicians finally won a round against the Bundesbank – in the past, any German politician who attempted to tell the Bundesbank what to do was crushed by the Bundesbank – and its near universal popular support. Except, in this case, the Bundesbank agreed with the politicians, making it simple – Weber still despises Sarrazin, and is even now actively involved in having Wulff fire him.

    However, a note on the term ‘Left’ – the major German party on the ‘Left’ in German terms is Die Linke (conveniently translated as ‘The Left’). The SPD, like the CDU/CSU (Christian Democrats/Christian Socialists – both of whom in parctical terms are almost always to the left of the American Democratic Party), is a ‘Volkspartei’ – that is, completely and utterly mainstream, representing the center of German politics, not the right or left in American terms. Social democrats haven’t been on the ‘Left’ in German/European terms since at least the end of WWII – they are very much the center. Of course, they are socialists – but then, so are the Christian Socialists – who, while not on the ‘left,’ actually are socialists – not to mention populists and big supporters of things like universal health care.

  3. illness

    The bigot is the assisitant professor. Sarazin just wants the same policies the us had for ages, regarding immegration and social welfare.

    This whole debate was startend because of the book. Most people comment on the book, without reading it, especially those pseudo left wing liberals.

    This is not about war or genes, it’s about never ending welfare benefits, immigration without checking education, etc.

    So bigot ass prof, check your facts, get some help by people actually knowing what they are talking about, and Yves, if you really want to talk about war, how about looking at your own?

  4. purple

    Arab mathematicians kept the candle of knowledge lit during Europe’s Dark Ages. Without them, much of Classical knowledge would have been lost. Oh, and there is the whole Tigris and Euphrates thing, and Egypt, etc etc.

    Sarrizin is just a economics idiot with no sense of history past the 18th century.

  5. purple

    Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Civilization

    “To us, it seems that West-European civilization is civilization, but this is a narrow view. Most of the cultural content of our civilization comes to us from the Eastern Mediterranean, from Greeks and Jews. As for power; Western Europe was dominant from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome – say, roughly, during the six centuries from 200 B.C. to 400 A.D. After that time (until the Renaissance), no state in Western Europe could compare in power with China, Japan, or the Caliphate.”


    Unfortunately, the Western ruling class still can’t get its head away from the notion that its institutions and history has inherent supremacy. This portends tremendous earthquakes in geopolitics in our lifetime.

  6. michael

    Wow, what can I say.
    Feels to me like lot of people are happy to have the bad guys so clearly identified. Why do I have to think of “So things get real simple now. Well thanks, I’m getting all emotional – I might just give you a big wet kiss!”

    I have read Henkel’s book “Die Abwracker”. While it is clear that Henkel lacks detailed view of US matters (where he lived for some years decades ago), the book is generally well written and I like the humbleness with which he -with benefit of hindsight- lists his misjudgments and deceptions he had fallen for. That book is also the first time the general audience gets strong hints on the disastrous role of German Landesbanken in the CDO farce (I had read about it before in a scathing interview on The Institutional Risk Analyst.)
    What Henkel urges as return to “red-lining” would result in pretty much the same, in number of mortgages approved, as if Bill Black would completely purge mortgage application fraud from originators, appraisers, and lenders…

    Sarrazin is a different caliber to me as he seems unable to admit any mistake or suboptimal act at all. There was an interview in Der Spiegel a few months ago, in which it came down to Sarrazin being the central figure in pushing the conversion of 1 East-German Mark into 1 D-Mark in the run-up to reunification, rolling over then Bundesbank President Pöhl. Even today he wouldn’t allow the slightest doubt that that decision (or any other of his’) might have not been the wisest choice.

    But whatever these two men said or wrote, to my best knowledge, gives NO justification to now crucify them on the altar of political correctness.

    1. KFritz

      Asking a crank who espouses scabrous ideas to step aside (w/ I assume full pension,etc)fr/ a position of grave responsibility is NOT crucifying him/her on altar of political correctness. To identify it as such IS an ad hominem rant.

      1. michael

        Oh, so these are only *calm* calls for his resignation?
        Looks more like approaches to destroy the personal integrity of these men, which IS crucifiction as you are very well aware.

        And you have mastered the tools of propaganda very well, accusing me of something you are keen to fire off (“ad hominem attack”.)

        1. renting_hell

          Actually, the calls for his resignation have been quite calm, mainly because of the complex party political structure mixed with the role of the Bundesbank. However, the Bundesbankpräsident has been doing everything in his power to get rid of Sarrazin since he was foisted on the Bundesbank – and no one has ever accused Alex Weber of being a simpering liberal – though when Weber basically demoted Sarrazin, he was attacked for it in the Bild Zeitung.

          Decent people have known what Sarrazin was for quite a while – but their opposition wasn’t enough to stop him before he publicly placed his special knowledge of racial matters into unavoidable and repeated public view. At that point, he was ‘crucified’ – that’s right, for example the same man that tried his best to not have Sarrazin have anything to do with the Bundesbank is still working on having him kicked off the Bundesbank board. Because Weber, from the start, knew what Sarrazin was, and as Weber does not have a party membership to complicate the discussion, was able from the beginning to try to get Sarrazin the public recognition he seemingly so desperately desired as a racist – though possibly not the extra distinction of getting fired for being too disgusting to associate with in public. But if you want to honestly state your beliefs in full public view, then don’t object when people equally publicly respond to them.

        2. KFritz

          ‘Crucify’ = ad hominem. Evokes images of torture, Christ, millenial events –related to dismissal for cause.

        3. Parvaneh Ferhad

          Nonsense. If he had made the same remarks about Jews, he would have been toast, fired and sunk within five minutes of him making these remarks.Neither would his book have been published.

        4. Justin Boland

          I always thought “crucifixion” was when you put nails through someone’s flesh to attach them to a large piece of wood and leave them there to die? Am I missing something?

    2. german fishkopp

      dear michael m,

      there is a thing (in germany as well as in the U.S.) i just don’t get and as you are promoting the same i am taking the chance and pray, would you please answer:

      Who, precisely is “crucifying” Mr. Sarrazin?

      Who is “silencing” him (after his book has been pre-printed – in part – in BILD and SPIEGEL, many interviews in TV and print following)?

      Could it just be that there is a slight misunderstanding of “freedom of thought”,in interpreting this to mean that my freedom of expression would be suppressed if i had to cope with massive contradiction? Comparision to Ms. Palin at your discretion.

      To prevent the (now) obvious answer “he lost his job at the Bundesbank – see how mean and censor-minded those libs/socialists are”: sorry, no. He did it again and on purpose (see Mr. Black’s references), they hardly had a choice. As for his party the SPD i hope they will have to keep this a**hole.

  7. Hubert

    Breathing deeply before writing this:
    Sarrazin is nearly impossible to defend when you look at the quotes William Black used – even if you put them in context.
    But support for Sarrazin within Germany comes not from these obscure quotes which only provide the line of attack against him.
    Sarrazin comes from the (political) swamp of Berlin where he had a deep look into the city-states finances. As far as I can tell, he did a decent job.
    Berlin is a mess and Sarrazin mostly tells Germans why. With some senctences he goes overboard and yes, I think he wanted to get fired, like your Afghanistan general, but the one thing many Germans like about him: He is outspoken and politically incorrect. He is finished as a politician within the established parties but he may not care about it any longer.
    All state media goes against him for weeks now but despite the propaganda machine humming he gets support. A few days ago the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung finally discovered Freedom of Speech for him and the comment section showed mostly support for him – if not for those quotes but for his willingless to touch some taboos. …..
    And the Bundesbank thing? Irrelevant, it is finished anyway.
    FD: I have not read his book and for now do not plan to. But months ago he gave a long interview, also scandalized, which I found very refreshing compared to all the b.s. Germans get from other established politicians.

    1. KFritz

      So Black is incorrect to say that support for Sarrazin derives fr/ his reactionary ideas? It’s really because he’s uncovered financial shenanigans?

      1. Hubert

        No. Support stems from the fact that a known politician has the courage to speak out about immigration problems and the fact that Germany attracts the “wrong” immigrants. Sarrazin was pleading for “intelligent” Jews vs. “uneducated” Turks from Anatolia. Another problem is emigration of qualified people (doctors etc.). Now his “genetics” may very well be flawed and it does not sound to appetizing but I am willing to tolerate that. Compared to the proven stupidity of economist theories it looks as a minor defect to me. I can read it without shouting about the Third or Fourth Reich.
        I like William Black and I think there are bigger issues which need his intellect, honesty and drive.

    2. renting_hell

      ‘But support for Sarrazin within Germany comes not from these obscure quotes which only provide the line of attack against him.’
      First, the repeated Sarrazin quotes about a special Jewish gene are not obscure quotes – especially when he said a couple of days afterwards that it was just a mistake to talk about Jews, and he should have talked about Icelanders instead. Most people in Germany know that Sarrazin’s emphasis on a ‘Jewish gene’ was not an accident, but central to the philosophical framework which underlies so much of Sarrazin’s writing.

      It is true that the Bundesbank is a relic from another age – but then, its ECB successor and its chairman have already described Sarrazin’s comments as, depending on language ‘appalling’ or ‘abstoßend’ (the German term is considerably harsher than ‘appalling,’ I might add – more like ‘revolting’).

      The point about Germany having an honest discussion about immigration is certainly respectable. But to give an example from another debate, the admittance of Turkey to the EU, and how to judge those participating in it. When I read that Green politicians have problems with Turkey’s current prison policies, how Kurds are treated, how people who mention the Armenian genocide are treated, or any number of concrete policy based differences and difficulties, it is obvious that the Greens are applying a set of standards to EU membership that Turkey does not currently meet – and if Turkey can not meet those standards in the future, then Turkey does not belong in the EU. When I read the CSU objecting to the fact that Turkey is not Christian/European (not part of the ‘Abendland’ covers the idea in a term which doesn’t really translate well into English), I may personally object to the CSU’s positions and beliefs, but I can certainly respect them as part of a political debate, and recognize that they will never vote to support Turkey’s entry into the EU. When the NPD talks about how Turkey should not be in the EU, it is because the racist and not so soi-distant nazi scum of the NPD are racists and not so soi-distant nazi scum. There is no reason to discuss, in any policy debate, what the NPD believes, because the NPD is a pack of racists desperately looking for any way to re-inject their hatred into society in any way they can – and with their fellow rechtradikal ‘Kameraden’ have been attempting to do this since May 8, 1945.

      Sarrazin has purposely and squarely placed himself into the broad immigration debate where he feels comfortable misrepresenting research to claim that intelligence is 50-80% inherited, that Germany faces an inevitable decline in intelligence due to ‘them’ having children, and of course, talking about that extra special Jewish gene. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in Germany has any doubt what Sarrazin is at this point – the only question is to what extent his thoroughly racist Gedankengut (another hard to translate term – ‘body of thought’ works) is only looking to cover itself in a policy debate.

      Sarrazin is simply a racist, and to the extent that other people support him at this point, it is because they have no problems with racists. And yes, like any other society, a number of Germans are racists. Less than in the past, but it isn’t as if they magically disappeared at the end of WWII.

      1. Kevin de Bruxelles

        Thanks for your clear-headed and non-hysterical analyses of this situation.

        I am very interested in evolutionary psychology as well as the general subject of culture its interaction with human intelligence. What was the context of Sarrazin’s Jewish gene statements? I noticed a few weeks ago many newspaper articles that claimed Hitler was Jewish based on genetic evidence, in other words that there such thing as a Jewish genetic marker. I tend to doubt whether this is in fact true but in any case there is much debate, especially among Jews themselves, as to whether Jews are a race, ethnic group, or simply just a religion (I would go with the latter).

        In terms of human intelligence I though there was consensus that about half of human intelligence is genetic and the other half determined by culture (or more broadly environment.) The idea is that each child born has a base potential IQ and depending on his upbringing his actual IQ will range above or below this theoretical base. This means that no matter how hard you work with someone who has a base IQ of 90, you may get them up to say 110, but would never get them to 140. Conversely, if a kid had a theoretical base of 130, short of electroshock or very extreme neglect, you would never get them under say 110 no matter how intellectually dysfunctional their cultural environment is.

        Generally in the social sciences (as I understand it) it is considered offensive to state that an entire race has a lower IQ potential than another. But it is certainly not controversial (again as I understand it) to state that one cultural environment is more conducive to intellectual achievement than another.

        Jonathan Haidt has an interesting article about the relationship between cultural evolution and genetic evolution and thinks it is possible for groups of people to “evolve” a higher (or lower) intelligence level in something of a time frame of 750 years.

        From what I read of Sarrazin he seems to be saying that Muslims are (supposedly) less intelligent because of the culture of Islam, not their ethnicity. This is why I am interested in his comments on Jews. As David Brooks in the NYT several months ago let us know, Jews have to be the highest achieving people on earth as well as having the highest IQ potential as a group. But does Sarrazin say that Jews are smarter because of genetics or to superior cultural practises that place a high value on intellectual achievement?

        Something happened in the mid 13th century that sent Islamic culture into decline. While no one denies that the cultural decline is real, the reasons are still debated. Was it the Mongul invasions? Or the result of the Christian crusades? Or just an inward-turning conservation revolution that has still not been overturned? Whatever the reason Western Europe ended up being the great beneficiary of the Islamic intellectual Golden Age. I suppose this is fair since according to Henri Pirenne, it was the Islamic domination of the Mediterranean Sea that causedthe destruction of the remnants of the Roman Empire (the Barbarian tribes actually tried to continue to rule as Romans after the fall of Rome) and led to the European Dark Ages.

        There is no doubt that as a civilization group, Western civilization has for several centuries been dominating the world’s other cultures. Although it is hard from our point of view to tell, it may very well be that Western civilization is entering a period of decline. What will be the impact of large groups of Muslim living within a secularized, feminist Western culture? Will this contact with the West lead Islam to break its 800 of decline and restart another Golden Age? Or will Islam manage to dominate Western civilization and in doing help quicken the pace of Western decline (if we are in deed in such a phase)?

        While trashing a whole group of people as dunces is usually offensive (see below), it would be even more offensive to shame people away from ever discussing whether certain cultural practises could lead to lower IQ potential. For example what is the impact of the virtual slavery that most Islamic women are kept in? It is conducive to higher IQ potential? What about the rising anti-intellectualism seen in American culture? Many already see the US as increasingly a country of dunces, but is it wrong to discuss the reasons why this may be occurring?

        1. liberal

          “…in other words that there such thing as a Jewish genetic marker.”

          Well, there is a marker on the Y chromosome that European Jews have, that other Europeans don’t have. Other people in the Middle East (including IIRC the Palestinians, ironically enough—IIRC) do have it.

          “In terms of human intelligence I though there was consensus that about half of human intelligence is genetic and the other half determined by culture (or more broadly environment.)”

          Absolutely, completely false. IQ is definitely not purely additive between genes and environment; there’s clearly large nonadditive interaction effects, as with many complex traits. See the model of Dickens and Flynn for an example.

          1. Kevin de Bruxelles

            The Flynn effect happens over time. If we assume the genome stays roughly the same, the increases in IQ can be credited to improvements in the environmental situation. The Flynn effect is mostly seen in the bottom end of the scale. So instead of (these are really rough numbers) the environment taking say 5 points off potential IQ, over time, with improvements in the living conditions of the poorest people, their children perhaps are scoring 5 points above their potential. You would expect the Flynn effect to be temporary and that is exactly with is happening in many advanced countries, where scores have peaked and are even starting to drop.

            I don’t see why then the Flynn effect cannot be accounted for entirely within the environmental variable.

          2. liberal

            The point I’m making isn’t about the Flynn effect, but rather that a purely additive statistical model of how genes and environment determine IQ is wrong.

        2. mdblog

          You are asking for reasons for the decline of Islamic civilisation in the mid 13th century. One hypothesis, which sounds quite convincing to me is, that at this point in time, the formerly competing Islamic empire had united into one big one. With missing competition, scientific progress was no more needed, stopped and the civilisation went into decline.

          There is a french book called ‘Le Secret de l’Occident’ from David Cosandey (Don’t know, whether there is an English translation), which pushes this concept quite convincingly and applies it among other on the rise and fall of the Indian and Chinese empires.

          Nice thing about that, he does not require any genetic or racial assumption to explain history.

          Somewhat ugly thing – with the soviet block as the competing force for the capitalist system gone, he essentially predicts a decline of western civilisation – with things like financial engineering, an art with minimum to negative value for society, as scientific progress, he even may be right…

      2. Hubert

        Sarrazins former comments (and I do not think he changed it in this book) were not anti-jewish; they were pro-jewish in terms of intelligence. I do not understand genetics enough to vent an opinion about it but from my personal experience and reading about history I would concur that Jews are above-average in terms of intelligence.
        I personally find Turks relatively friendly people and on a general level prefer them to Germans. The problem is that German social system attracts the poorest and most uneducated people from Anatolia. I am not a believer in “Multikulti” long-term. Not a problem for me though as I do not live in Berlin and I will probably be dead before nasty things come out of this.
        Turkey & EU – All political parties are lying out of all parts of their mouths. I would prefer the EU as a trade zone and Turkey “in”. But the TPTB seem to want a political union. This is a very dangerous project which I reject. And with the different culture & demographics of Europe and Turkey it is a hopeless project. Now I could be hoping for a deeper POlitical Union with Turkey included to get the Blow-up quicker but this would be very cynical indeed. The EU is destined to be a nursing home going forward. I want it to endure its ongoing economic and cultural decline in peace. Live is still good in Europe for many reasons. God may spare us troubles coming out of pure stupidity.

    3. german fishkopp

      Hello Hubert,

      sorry, i just can’t stand your claim of merit for Mr. Sarrazin:

      1. He was involved in the disastrous “unification treaty” in 1989/90, see:
      futhering his “merits” with work for the Treuhandanstalt.

      2. While being active as finance senator for Berlin he was central in enacting the solution for the BGB scandal that saddled Berlin and german taxpayers with the costs for decades while paying “investors” 100 cents on the euro. Take hints for living in poverty (his famed cooking recipes!) from such one if you think it appropriate, i won’t.

      3. His overall performance is just a joke, if you are apt to laugh at such a ridiculous play: a guy who has never in his life worked out of state/party controlled sinecures, accuses those devilish poor mooslims not to be *willing* to compete for work in the glorious frrree market.

  8. PityTheBankers

    I love how racist scum always decry the blow-back as “political correctness”. Anybody who resorts to whining about “free speech” is a racist scumbag who wants the ability to spew their bile without facing the consequences. You are free to be a racist pig; society is free to reject you.

    1. michael

      Absolutely! So you may spew your bile, but you are not free to reject it *for me* or anybody else – that’s everybody’s own decision. Happy profiling to you.

  9. Hans Huett

    Bigotry forms just the upper layer of the public debate on Sarrazin´s book. Underneath you may find sort of a revenant in German history. Don´t look too closely at the discourse. Yet get an idea on the historic constellation. Then you may reconsider the years 1879 ff, when the socalled “Berliner Antisemitismus-Streit” began. Sarrazin is not a Zombie of Heinrich von Treitschke´s bigot antisemitic pamphlet. Sarrazin is obviously unconsciously re-enacting a greater frame of German politics: a weakened federal federal chancellery, a decomposing system of political parties, the dissolution of political liberalism.

    What has taken place on the left end is going to be completed on the right side by a new political formation between the old-fashioned NPD and the Christian Democrats.

    The historic constellation of 1879 is striking: A great recession lays behind, global economy on the brink of protectionism, a possible strategic shift of German policies within Europe, etc.

    So the big picture is not that there is a problem (of badly enacted integration policies) looking for solution. The picture becomes toxic because there is a so-called solution waiting behind the bushes to take possession of a problem.

    Zombies may lure behind that.

  10. Gregor/ Germany

    First: Thilo Sarazzin is a disgrace for a member of any central bank.

    His book is mainly about immigration. The discussion is pretty much like in the US. People from poorer parts of the world coming to “your country”, living from social security, driving up crime, performing badly at school bla bla bla.

    This is a melange of real and perceived problems. We see the same thing all over the world, especially in difficult times. There are a myriad of explanations, and a myriad of prejudice. They are very hard to tell apart.

    What makes Sarrazin’s book unbearable is his claim that Muslim immigrants are less intelligent than regular Germans by genetic selection. He says intelligence is 50 to 80 per cent inherited. He quotes research that makes this claim. And he draws a parallel why the children of immigrants must be poor performers in school. Basicly he says Germany attracted the wrong immigrants: Not engineers but workers for low level jobs. Now we have low level people here who refuse to integrate themselves into the German society.

    Now, even if you buy that argument, other research shows that intelligence/ ability is just ONE factor that defines our fate. What you DO is more more important than what you GOT in the beginning.

    Even if you think that Sarrazin is “just quoting research” and “nails the social problems with many immigrants” – as a member of the Bundesbank he should know that given Germany’s history putting any emphasis on genetic superiority or genetic stupidity is a road to disaster.

    It is OK to talk about social problems. But it is not OK to hint that anybody is good or bad by design. There is simply no proof to that.

    Everybody has the right to be judged by her/ his actions not by religion, sex or ethnic roots.

  11. Oliver

    The underlying irony is that the etymology of the name Sarrazin suggests he is himself of Muslim origin. The Saracen people inhabited Syria during Roman and medieval times. Muslims living in Europe were named Sarrazin, Sarasin, etc. in reference to those tribes.

  12. F. Beard

    As usual, the innocent are blamed for the sins of the fractional reserve bankers.

    Solution: Bailout out the debtors (and give an equal amount to the savers) with new legal tender fiat and stop this nonsense of a depression.

    Debt forgiveness (bailout in this case) is not only Biblical but is the surest and most direct way to fix private balance sheets and the banks for that matter.

    Things are getting nasty for no good reason. Money is only electronic bookkeeping entries. Will we risk GD II and WWIII over those?

  13. german

    first of all most germans actually do agree with dr. sarrazin which is evident in the wide support from comments he receives in every paper, from the left to the right.
    90% of the emails that the SPD received relating to his case were supportive of him, these stats are from the SPD itself.
    I was born to foreign parents in Germany myself but nonetheless tend to agree with dr. sarrazin on most issues, the part about genetics is a political minefield which is why it should have been left out.
    debating this any further doesn’t make sense as the ‘racist’ accusation won’t be far away.

    1. Hubert

      I guess you had to take a deep breath too before writing this.
      Now you are a “racist scum always decry the blow-back as “political correctness”. Anybody who resorts to whining about “free speech” is a racist scumbag who wants the ability to spew their bile without facing the consequences. You are free to be a racist pig; society is free to reject you.”

      1. rental_hell

        I will simply note that anyone that believes there is more than one human race is both wrong (by any definition which can be considered scientifically supported). and already accepting much of the framework which racists are desperate to construct.

        This has nothing to do with a debate about how Germany should deal with immigration and integration. Or the fact that it is possible to classify people in various ways without using race.

        And that is where Sarazzin goes wrong – for example, Elsbeth Stern wrote in Die Zeit how he was misrepresenting her research, in a way that at this point would be accurate to summarize as intentional – the Zeit article is only the latest point where she has told the media and the public that Sarrazin is simply incorrect. He, in turn, continues to ignore the gaping hole in his ‘scientific’ analysis, while continuing to talk about special genes.

        And there are definitely problems in Germany, which have been obvious to me for more than a decade and a half of the 2 decades I have lived here – when the second generation of Turks, born in Germany, are doing considerably better than the third generation of Turks? Germans? (already the first problem – no one in the U.S. could even imagine two generations of people being born within the U.S. and still not considered Americans) by many statistical methods. This is an obvious problem on many levels – which Sarrazin neatly and very conveniently reduces to the idea that some people classified using the concept of race are simply genetically inferior.

        That sort of belief makes one a racist, and continuing to repeat such assertions, even when factually incorrect, makes one a racist who doesn’t actually care about facts.

        The immigration/integration debate in Germany is full of mines – recognizing that Sarrazin is not honestly participating in the debate at this point on any terms apart, charitably, from selling his book would be a first step in helping the debate forward.

        The fact is, the man should have been kicked out a long time ago, but instead, was somewhat protected within a fairly ineffective party political system, in part due to the likely extremely cynical calculation that having a man like Sarrazin around would help the SPD against CDU opponents like Koch, a man who is at least barely able to keep himself within the boundaries of acceptable discussion. Unlike Sarrazin.

        And for those interested in free speech – the very basis of the American ideal of free speech is to allow ideas to be openly exposed, discussed, and then rejected or accepted – by letting people hear all the voices involved, and making up its own mind. Yes, many Germans feel that when a Bundesbank member writes that some groups are genetically inferior, they can repeat the same thing as that position must now be acceptable. It isn’t – which is why Sarrazin is ‘suffering’ (I’m very sure that his pension is secure, and that his book sales will be very profitable) the consequences of his speech. It wasn’t his views on immigration/integration that led to his removal – it was what he based those ideas on. A basis that has only become unavoidably clear as he continued to speak freely. Which is exactly how the right to free speech is supposed to work.

        1. liberal

          already the first problem – no one in the U.S. could even imagine two generations of people being born within the U.S. and still not considered Americans

          Well, those racist scum who want to undo the 14th (?) Amendment guarantee of jus soli seem to be able to.

          I’m not sure what the sitch in Germany is now, but a couple of decades ago I had thought I’d heard that (a) generations of immigrants born in Germany were still not citizens, and (b) “Germans” living abroad whose only connection to Germany was “blood” could immigrate via a law of return.

          As an American, found it amazing, and despicable.

        2. ozajh

          no one in the U.S. could even imagine two generations of people being born within the U.S. and still not considered Americans

          I suggest many Black/Hispanic/Amerindian folk can imagine that only too clearly…

  14. Dan Duncan

    Can we please have a link to this Henkel’s rant?

    In the hopes of getting something more than hearsay, I looked for Henkel’s actual words on the matter…but was unsuccessful.

    The only thing I did find was from New Deal 2.0, which seems to be where you got the scoop of Henkel as well…since you wrote on this Henkel matter in the Huffington Post and in the HP you linked to the New Deal 2.0 by referencing James Galbreath’s response to Henkel.

    For your convenience:


    2. ]

    As for the New Deal Post…

    All it does is refer to “do- goodism” and to the American politicians who “wanted to make sure every citizen would have a home of her/his own”. Henkel said this was misguided. Something, incidentally, Naked Capitalism has also stated…repeatedly. [Perhaps an open letter congratulating yourself on your open letter to Naked Cap, decrying its racist tendencies is in order?]

    Incidentally, in the New Deal Post, race isn’t even mentioned. Galbreath simply rails on Henkel’s “interpretations of the motives of someone like George W. Bush”…

    So again, where exactly did you actually read Henkel’s racist rant?

    My hunch is, you are not fluent in German, you didn’t hire a translator and I don’t think you have an English (or translated version) of his words. [BTW: Is this too much to ask? You are, after all, a law professor and you are writing in the Huffington Post and Naked Capitalism calling this guy a “bigot”.]

    In fact, I don’t think you’ve read a word directly from Henkel…I think you are exaggerating the racist claims…which, in turn, allows you to congratulate yourself on your racial sensitivities by telling us about your Open Letter.]

    Of course, I could be wrong.

    So…if you could act like a legitimate college law professor and give us a freaking link to Henkel’s racist rant, then I would stand corrected, and I too, will congratulate you on your advanced racial sensitivities and I will share your call to have BofA remove this man from his position.

  15. Skippy


    The Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory (P-FIT) of intelligence: Converging neuroimaging evidence.


    The hole theory propping up the IQ metric is being rewritten as we speak. Those that wish to cement their words using it, should take care.

    Skippy…Linguistic minds make good vessels but, that will only get you so far.

    PS. England had a funny TV reality show a bit back. Where bigots or people claiming narrow genetic backgrounds had their ass handed to them upon testing….LOL. Testing for all I say.

  16. i on the ball patriot

    Yo! Hate fest ….

    The scam ’rule of law’ — is your dna in real time …


    Bill Black is either drinking the kool aid or selling the kool aid.

    This post is another deflective side show that serves to inflame the intentional global divisiveness that is incrementally — and now more rapidly as each day passes — thrusting global society into a two tier structure of ruler and ruled.

    Don’t fall for it. Focus your ire on the very few wealthy global ruling elite who own and control the real red lining tools — the tools that favor them and their bulging pocket books. Through ownership and control of the global central banks the very few wealthy global ruling elite, the super rich, own and control; nation state governments, their militaries, global corporations, Mr. Global Propaganda, and the scam ‘rule of law’.

    It is Mr. Global propaganda that constantly serves up this deflective side show of over promoted, low priority, constructs; racism, ethnic superiority, religious superiority, dna gene superiority, etc.

    These deflective constructs not only mask the machinations of the global super wealthy and their puppets, they also serve to keep the masses from breaking new ground and making some new realizations.

    One such novel realization is the that the scam ‘rule of law’ in reality functions as a human organisms dna — external to its body and in real time. Just as our genetic dna contributes to controlling our behavior, so too now does the scam ‘rule of law’ control that behavior in real time by allowing and preventing behaviors. And, just as we are a product of our genetics and environment/culture, so also does Mr. Global Propaganda now more rapidly each day shape and control the environment and culture.

    See the synergy here; the intelligence of the masses, the intelligence of the human organism, their dna that controls their behavior, their viewpoints, is ever more rapidly controlled by Mr. Global Propaganda that creates the conditions that allows the scam ‘rule of law’, the organisms external dna controlle and shaper, to further alter and control the organisms viewpoint and behavior, e.g., we are propagandized into being fearful which makes us agreeable to allowing laws that ’protect us’ and also makes us agreeable to creating weapons, ostensibly for defense, but that will ultimately be used against us.

    Said another way; Mr., Global Propaganda and the scam ‘rule of law’ shape and form our culture (our dna), and we, as citizens do not make or form our own culture as we once did, it is shaped and formed by the global wealthy ruling elite for us so as to exploit and decimate us and benefit them.

    Rather than focus on hate and the intentionally created divisiveness laid out by Bill Black in this post, reject it, and get on to exposing the extreme differences in the wealth of the super rich created by corruption and take those bastards down. Control the shaping of your own dna through regaining control of the dna shaping rule of law, the media, and your governments. Errr … like make your own culture!

    It won’t happen if we sit around arguing about the relative value of over promoted differences in low priority and intentionally created divisive constructs; racism, ethnic superiority, religious superiority, dna gene superiority, etc.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        What a sweet compliment!

        Yves, please give Lee Anne my email so we can chat off site.


  17. michael m

    There is considerable misunderstanding of the research on which these claims like ‘fifty percent of intelligence comes from genes and fifty percent from culture, and so on. The research referred to, is about what proportion of differences in intelligence, within a particular group that is studied, come from differences in genes within the group and differences in environments within the group. Results from one group that is studied do NOT generalize to results for another group. In recent work in America, it has become clear that for persons in the highest SES groups, probably around 80-90 percent of differences in intelligence come from differences in genes. But for persons in lower SES groups (say, the bottom half of SES), only about 20 or so percent of differences in intelligence arise from differences in genes. For persons in the lowest SES groups, probably nearly all differences in intelligence arise from environmental differences. The measure being discussed, called Heritability, is no more a measure of some ‘eternal’ characterstic of people in general, than other demographic measures.
    Unfortunately, from years of teaching these things, I have found that only a small proportion of people understand what these figures are actually about, even after being taught, and they just convert them to interpretations they want to make. This includes the mass media, which with very few exceptions, have writers who don’t understand what these figures are about. Their complexity, and highly restricted nature, but promising general names (like “heritability”) make them open for people to misuse them to believe what they like: like a lot of things in economics and finance, as I have noticed.

    1. liberal

      There is considerable misunderstanding of the research on which these claims like ‘fifty percent of intelligence comes from genes and fifty percent from culture, and so on.

      The first misunderstanding (which your comment seems to imply you subscribe to yourself) is that a purely additive model (genes (additive-plus) environment ==> IQ) is plausible.

    2. i on the ball patriot

      Regarding the % contribution of environment vs dna in the forming of intelligence …

      Consider; the environment/culture is a result of the human organisms ability to externalize its cerebral and motor functions and to place those cerebral and motor functions external to the organism over time as useful to survival supplemental entities. It is through the compounding over time that these externalizations grow in power and sophistication, i.e.; cave writing, speech, language, writing on papyrus, printing of books, radio, television, computers, flash memory, electronic circuits, the rule of law, etc., are all ever improving externalizations of human cerebral abilities. Similarly; shovels, the wheel, wagons, back hoes, bulldozers, boats, cars, airplanes, space ships, etc., are all ever improving externalizations of human motor abilities. And of course the cerebral and motor abilities are expressed jointly in many of these externalizations in an ever more complex form as time moves on.

      The externalizations ARE becoming the new life force — the onotron …

      What is important about these ever growing externalizations that form our environment over time is that they have a shaping power unto themselves. They all, in the aggregate, shape and form the behaviors and intelligence (perceptions) of each succeeding generation of human organisms, and in effect and in reality, function as the dna of humanity external to the individual organisms. Some of these externalizations are more dynamic and powerful than others — like the central banks, the scam ‘rule of law’, and Mr. Global Propaganda, all mentioned above — and so they contribute more shaping power than others and therefore represent more of the externalized dna in real time.

      The percentage of environment then, that contributes to the human dna in the forming of the intelligence of each human generation, is dynamic, and that percentage is always increasing as the externalizations grow in the aggregate and complexity.

      What this represents is the rapid morphing of humanity into its next stage — its next form — the onotron. Like the pupa that suddenly becomes the butterfly we are very close to that stage of exponential change. The externalizations in the aggregate are becoming humanities new life force form. What we do now in the present will determine the ease of the transition and the future health and ability of the onotron to survive.

      Forward looking past generations of caring humans planted mighty oaks and other valuable trees for the nurturing of future generations. We do the same today when we strive for the fairness and balance that will ensure the future health of the onotron. We do that when we reject the intentional divisiveness set out to divide us.

      Note; All externalizations (all creations of humans), are deceptions, as they are all created solely for the organism to get needs met, and they can all be interchangeably called ‘tools of dominance’. If they are successful externalizations they are successful and survive solely because they give the human organism an advantage over other species and other human organisms in getting needs met.

      Being born a human cannibal is a bitch, rising above it is even more so.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  18. scraping_by

    There are two usual approaches when someone in a position of power/influence/authority/wealth/responsibility shows up with spiders behind his eyes.

    First, the notion that it’s purely domestic, won’t affect the job at all. When Henry Ford went off into anti-Semitic la la land, he just published a magazine and made a fool of himself. If it only took a lawsuit to shut him up, it wasn’t that important.

    On the other hand, there’s talking about using the resources of the position to do real harm. When Joe Coors used company money to hire private investigators to run a buy-and-bust campaign in Golden, he was imposing his ulta-paternal view of his workers on the city at large. Totalitarian company towns aren’t unknown, but they’re not legal and they’re not a place to live, either.

    Somewhere in the middle is the notion of “known to the police.” While it’s not an absolute (we have a Manchurian Candidate in the White House) it’s usually true that a bad smell means a bad actor. Unless someone can prove the Herr Doctor is using fighting words to incite unstable losers, or that he runs his government job according to his private social creed, he’s just bent and probably needs a keeper. With no hesitation to kick him out the door if talk moves into deeds.

  19. jkr

    funny reading these self-righteous comments from a bunch of middle to upper class people, living in self-segregated communities, 2 or 3 generations deep into white flight, probably send you kids to private schools. and you have the nerve to condemn a german citizen for not wanting germany to be repopulated with muslims from the third world. pathetic stuff, sad.

    1. rental_hell

      Well, I live in Germany, my kids do not go to a private school – and ‘repopulated?’

      What a fascinating expression. And most Germans know a racist when they hear them – and Sarrazin is a racist, which is why, especially after talking about that special Jewish gene, he just doesn’t have that many supporters, apart from the sort of people you would always expect to talk about Jewish genetics. But it is certainly true that Sarrazin has provided the sort of faux respectability that many people like to hide behind when discussing things that generally get repeated among a certain self-selected group of people.

  20. Progressive Ed

    A very odd post for a macroecon website. However, in the spirit of the future of the USA: Viva La Raza, Gringo.

  21. Rosh

    I reject the Stalinist policing of thoughts that occurs in the West. Even stating a neutral/positive empirical fact that “Jews are smarter on average than others” is unacceptable to say. Sarrazin main claims about Muslims in Germany are undeniable. He claims that Muslims (specifically Turks) underperform in school, have a higher incidence of criminality, and are unwilling or unable to integrate. This pattern is observed in other European countries with Muslim immigrants. Considering these facts, he says that Germany should shut down Muslim immigration and redouble efforts to assimilate those already in the country. This sounds pretty smart to me. Sarrazin also makes distinctions between immigrants. Bosnians have done much better than their co-religionists. The Vietnamese have done the best in Germany, so have the Russians (mostly ethnic Germans and Jews). It is clear from Sarrazin that Germany doesn’t have a problem with immigrants in general; rather, it has a problem with Turks.

    I’m heartened by the support Sarrazin is getting from Germans. Eventhough they live under a tyranny of political correctness, Germans are a serious people, and they’re unwilling to happily commit suicide.

    1. rental_hell

      ‘Even stating a neutral/positive empirical fact that “Jews are smarter on average than others” is unacceptable to say.’
      Hilarious – here is another empirical fact – in Germany, groups of people were exterminated to improve society, and the extermination was based on the idea of special genes providing a basis for the concept of race.

      ‘I’m heartened by the support Sarrazin is getting from Germans. Eventhough they live under a tyranny of political correctness, Germans are a serious people, and they’re unwilling to happily commit suicide.’
      See above – and it seems like some people are still hoping that the old days will return, because the ‘tyranny of political correctness’ has been holding them back. Not really – which is why so many people come out of the woodwork when discussing any attempt to discuss immigration/integration, as they feel that they can finally spew their simplistic racism and make a contribution to solving the problem – finally.

      1. Rosh

        So your rebuttal is to evoke Nazism and dismiss those concerned with the lack of integration among Muslims as racists. The left is intellectually bankrupt on this issue. They refuse to make substantive arguments because have nothing to say.

        1. prior_approval

          Actually, I invoke the NPD, the Reps, and their ‘Kameraden’ who think that race is the determining feature of this discussion. I don’t need to go far to see what they think – it fits well on those silly little stickers they still put on lampposts and buildings. And as for the ‘left’ being intellectually bankrupt – it isn’t the ‘left’ that opposes the sort of people that feel the Sarrazin allows them a chance to finally sound like a NPD supporter. I always loved their cute ‘Wir räumen auf’ slogan from a few years ago – what a lovely group of of non-intellectually bankrupt people. Though checking that slogan (I remember it from the Deckert NPD days) I just saw that they have actually updated the slogan, with a white sheep kicking out a black one – lovely people in the NPD, just lovely.

          Just a couple of years ago in the quite conservative and quite Catholic German town where I live, the NPD actually put up a candidate (who didn’t even live here). People were shocked – hundreds signed petitions published prominently in the Gemeindeblatt (none of them were embarassed to be publicly opposing the sort of people Germany has already had far too much experience of), and thousands turned out to vote, just to make sure that the sort of people that the NPD attract understood what a tiny minority they represent. In the end, the NPD was able to have 33 people vote for them. The people who opposed the NPD weren’t the ‘left’ – they were the huge majority of decent citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany. Unless you think that southern Baden-Württemberg is the sort of place that represents the typical left politics you find so bankrupt.

          Immigration and integration in Germany need to be discussed, honestly and openly – the same way that racists need to be told, honestly and openly, that they are wrong, and do not represent the majority of Germans. But given even the smallest opening, the sort of people that are always waiting for a chance to loudly proclaim their abhorrent views, saying that everyone believes them, will take advantage of even such a clearly wrong thinker as Sarrazin, with his demonstrably false understanding of even the sources which he supposedly bases his writing on.

          And as the NPD demonstrates, a small minority (but an oh so ‘oppressed’ minority) of Germans still think that the way to a better Germany is to kick out all the black … sheep. How cute.

  22. Scott

    Where was Mr. Henkel’s concern when B of A’s stock price was $55.00 a share at it’s height? I guess he did not have a problem with African American’s being able to obtain a mortagage from B of A at that time. But now that the cards have turned, Mr. Henkel seems to want to shift the blame. How about balming B of A for allowing such bad loans to be approved and processed. But why should he do that when we have a government(US) that will be glad to use taxpayer’s money to bail their sorry, greedy asses out of jamb.

  23. Keating Willcox

    1. Some folks can be predicted to pay back their mortgages more successfully than others.

    2. There ought to be a way to have some of your real estate loan portfolio be on more risky mortgages, for more money, as in all loans.

    3. The crime in the housing crisis is that mortgage originators made extremely risky loans. The further crime is that reasonable investors were swindled by being sold housing debt at far more risk than they were told, creating a bubble generated largely by fraud.

    4. Impoverished India, by requiring a large down payment missed almost all the housing problems,thanks to the iron willed Dr. Ruddy who unlike the idiots in the US, did not give in.

    5. Intelligence and race have little to do with it. We know well how to calculate someones credit risk, and can do it well without any reference to race or background.

    6. The true morons are the folks who are running the printing presses too much, kicking all these problems down the road for the next generation.

    7 Muslims in particular, as modern immigrants, do badly. In general, they refuse to assimilate. In the US 80% approve of Sharia, a system of legal and political as well as religious government that is abhorrent to others, a system we neither admire, nor practice. It is clear that in many English and European cities, the criminal and terror element of Islam is substantial, and worsening, so I completely understand that a country has a right to insist certain behaviors from its new immigrants or they must leave. The police are overwhelmed. A certain block of Muslim voters can squelch any reasonable control. There are parts of Sweden where the regular police don’t go. In Detroit, there are places where Christian missionaries are removed from public places. I don’t see where I am required to admire conduct which is so outrageous.

    8. Comments that refer to ancient history are useless, and encourage racial stereotypes.

    9.Modern societies show that major changes in industrial and economic success can happen very quickly. Regardless of China’s shaky future, thanks and h/t to Jim Chanos, a brilliant investor, both China and India will be the masters of eduction and engineering in short order, and for the world economy, they will have the whip hand. Tell me a company that is making money in high tech in China or Thailand that wants to return to the US for batter workers.

    1. Skippy

      1. 30 years is an absurd amount of time in the job market, from 10 years ago to the foreseeable future.

      4. see number 1. plus default rate is traditionally / historically higher w/ the bonus of becoming born into or indentured. Its bloody India…LOL.

      5. Jeez the banks and lenders sure dropped the ball on that one…eh…why?

      6. See owners, not lackeys.

      7. Studies please, not ithunkitistan proclamation’s.

      8. Keep them in the dark save Faux New/MSM mind altering ray beams.

      9.Yes! Yes! Yes! Our lord and savour (the wise BB investor) will rise up and save the day…cue Cecil Blount DeMille effects…sniff I miss the good old days on Fox with the investor boys all shouting to the sky….WE ARE GREAT MEN!.

      PS. If you bump into Laura Ingraham, could you tell her to lay of the tranny makeup/look and pass it on to the rest of the gals at fox…it scares the crap out of my kids…I have to lie and tell them its a tribal thing.

  24. Hugh

    The key is to start asking here and in other fora why Bank of America condones racism. So I will start: Why does Bank of America back racists? The answer is because Henkel and Sarrazin both direct attention and blame away from the real villains in the slow motion collapse we are experiencing and on to convenient victims, the usual suspects, the at hand scapegoats, them, the other. If we want to know how low corporate America, and Germany too for that matter, will go to deflect responsibility for their actions away from themselves, we can see in this that they have no line they will not cross, no depth they will not plumb.

    1. Parvaneh Ferhad

      Why does BofA support racists? Because big business is racist to the core.
      Just look at the CEO guys or board members. They overwhelmingly consist of white, male and christian types, with some exceptions thrown in to keep up appearances.

  25. sherparick

    Some very sad posts on this thread. Obviously, a long time has past since 1945 and some very bad ideas have been coming back into fashion the last 15 years, ideas that have gotten lots of people killed at one time or another.

    One problems with the subject of “intelligence” is that some very evil institutions (think tanks) were created to over the last generation to propagate “research” to show that 1. “Intelligence” is primarily the result of inheritance; and 2. That the inheritance falls along “racial” lines; and 3. that the most intelligent race is the “whIte” (or perhaps now Asian is consider “equal” in some accounts, and therefore the rich white founders of these institutions and the white upper middle class researchers have there position in society not due to luck or getting away with crime, but due to their “intelligence.” What a wonderful coincidence! Of course the problem arises that the terms “intelligence” and “race” are pretty much without objective definition, but instead are themselves defined by culture. (Michael above might be a pretty smart fellow in high finance New York, but I expect he be as dumb as a rock if dropped bare assed into New Guenea. He would have learn a new language as an adult, learn how to farm, etc. He would not feel or be smart for awhile, if ever.) For more on this particular debate, I refer you to the essays of the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould (God, how I miss him.) and this paper by Dr. Nesbitt:

    How this is relevant to an economics blog? Well, the character who is spouting this crap, in an era where most middle class working class people in Germany and the U.S. have been enduring declining real wages and benefits for a generation, is a Central Banker, and being abetted by someone working for one of the biggest of the To Big To Fail banks in the U.S. The are both essentially saying to these angry and resentful little people is don’t blame us, the elite who have been making the decisions on Finance and the economy the last 30 years. No, you Germans need to blame the Turks, the Muslims, and the Arab immigrants, the people who of course living near the bottom of your society (although, always a nice touch for a German, he seems to bring the Jews into the conversation as someone to blame). It is always those “others” that cause all the problems. Likewise in the U.S. despite the fact that the CRA and Fannie and Freddie were around both for 25 years before there was a bubble, it was giving mtg loans to Black and Brown folks that caused all the problem (gee, I didn’t know there was that many in Phoenix, AR, Las Vegas, NE, and Ft. Meyers, FL, to name three of the biggest bubble towns. When I see pictures of these folks, large numbers appear to have bleached themselves white, because they sure look pale). It is an evil, racist, meme that is being propagated, both to shield the guilty and to make the most vulnerable in society suffer as a result. This is why I call it evil and wicked, two not very politically correct terms, and why Bank of America should fire Henkel.

  26. kensey

    Sarazin speaks a couple of truths:

    1) The German immigration system is broken as it does not attract skilled workers:

    It has for the last decades nearly exclusively brought in low skilled workers from poor areas of Europe (esp. rural Turkey) whose situation is desperate enough to go through the German bureaucracy but who show very little will for integration.

    Meanwhile today, bringing skilled workers into Germany for companies who need them is an uphill bureaucratic battle which neither the employer nor the employee want to go through.

    Additionally, many foreigners who study at German universities (often at no cost because there are no fees, and often perfectly integrated) are then barred from continuing to work in Germany.

    This is one factor causing the absurdity that Germany currently faces a shortage of skilled workers (primarily engineers) in spite of an 8% unemployement rate.

    2) The German population dynamics are negative for producing skilled workers:

    There has been a steady decline of birthrates in educated middle class households. Whatever the reason may be (Turbo Individualism, Third wave Feminism, Economic pessimism …) this directly leads to having less and less well educated people in the next generation. Genetic inheritance of intelligence may play a small part in that but more important is that the lower working class families with immigrant background who now make up an ever increasing percentage of births show very little effort to further the education of their children.

    Sarazin has made several mistakes in how he represented these problems. Some of his remarks are borderline racist. Maybe he is a racist. However that may be, I am thankful that someone has finally overcome the politically correct stream of thought and brought these problems into the light of dicussion. Godwin’s law is a central part of modern day’s Germany’s political culture so people usually completely avoid subjects that bear too much paths of attack. He has ruined his career. I hope something will come out of it.

  27. Unseld

    Re: Sarrazin

    Dear blogger of “Naked Capitalism”

    Would you please revert to your usual careful scrutiny of original sources instead of falling for tabloid headlines? How about actually reading Sarrazins book or following the broad ongoing discussion in Europe before judging / condemning? For an informative view of the debate see for example:,1518,715836,00

    Even by only using Google translator it might induce a change of mind. Not Sarrazin – however debatable in his choice of words – is seen as the main problem but the facts he describes: 1) a failed integration of large groups of Muslim immigrants, even in the third generation, resulting in massive educational deficits, high unemployment, continuous claims on social welfare, a high criminal rate, an intensifying tendency to revert to “the good old life”, imposing Scharia law and the hate of Western Civilisation in their own closed circles and living quartes. 2) a climate of “political correctness” in which every critical analysis of (muslim) religion / culture with regard to this development is silenced by denouncing the critic as “racist”, “facist”, “sick”, etc. Now to me, as an individual firmly rooted in the tradition of enlightment and critical reason, both developments undermine the very core of civilisation.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You could read similar criticisms against Catholics in the US in the 1800s. Remember, they had parochial schools, which were seen as a highly visible refusal to assimilate. The newcomers often lived in slums (often high crime areas, indeed, there were Catholic gangs), they were seen as an internal enemy by some, as opposed to republican values.

      Just sayin’


  28. Ivan

    1800s was then, its now 2010. Catholics appear to be the new standins for Jews, as the Jews tire of the Holocaust being used by Muslims intent on harming them.

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