Links for March 2016

The Urgent Need to Save Orthodox Economists from their Crippling Myths by William Black

Our autopsies revealed a number of patterns that proved critical to our analysis, predictions, and policy prescriptions. For the sake of brevity I will not define here terms I have explained in hundreds of blogs, articles, and slides. As I noted, the blogger has heard me present and define the terms. First, we came to understand that the S&Ls were “control frauds.” Second, we found that “accounting” was the “weapon of choice” in finance – we were dealing with “accounting control frauds.” Third, we realized that accounting control fraud had become epidemic. Fourth, we realized that the control frauds were so numerous and concentrated (by asset type, commercial real estate loans (CRE) and geography) and growing so quickly that they were hyper-inflating regional real estate bubbles in the Southwest. Fifth, we identified the four “ingredients” of the fraud “recipe” for a lender. Sixth, we recognized that the CEOs running control frauds ran them for their personal benefit, by looting the S&L. Seventh, we recognized that firms following the fraud recipe were mathematically guaranteed to report record (albeit fictional) profits. Eighth, we realized the truth of the industry saying: “a rolling loan gathers no loss.” Ninth, we identified the recurrent scams by which S&L control frauds, individually and collectively, transmuted massive losses into fictional gains. Tenth, we realized that the CEOs running accounting control frauds were routinely able to suborn supposed “controls” by using the ability to hire, fire, and expand the engagement (in the case of outside auditors and counsel) to generate a “Gresham’s” dynamic (Akerlof 1970). Eleventh, we realized that the accounting control frauds had a great “tell” – they had to gut their underwriting and internal controls to follow the first two ingredients of the fraud recipe. Twelfth, we saw that the fraud recipe created an Achilles’ “heel” – the need for extreme growth, so we adopted a rule limiting growth.

Playmate figures graphed!
The Phenomenon of Man reviewed by Sir Peter Medawar
Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality by John Kessel