June 07, 2017

The Cover-Up of Failure, the Grinding of the Poor

I got very upset with this Ben Bernanke interview, where he joins the rest of the policymaking architecture of the post-crisis era in making excuses for utterly failing homeowners. It's the same pabulum - stopping foreclosures is hard work (somehow the Obama team managed a multi trillion-dollar bailout with complex special purpose vehicles and emergency lending facilities, but loan modifications were too tough) and helping homeowners is unpopular (elite policymakers constantly congratulate one another for doing what's right instead of what's popular, but only when it comes to homeowners does the popular will become a stone wall).

This covering for failure has by now become familiar. But when combined with how homeowners on the edge continue to be treated every day. In the first of a three-part series, the Chicago Tribune reviewed over a million property assessments, finding that the Cook County assessor systematically inflated prices on low-income housing and deflated prices for the wealthy's homes.

Rather than using computer modeling, the assessments, which determine property tax amounts, are done partially by hand, without adhering to professional standards. There are no statistics on the "hand checks" that change what a Chicago homeowner owes in property taxes, but somehow they always seem to favor the rich and disadvantage the poor. And this is a Democratic county assessor, a machine candidate who raises millions from just the kind of people he's giving breaks to left and right.

This stunning corruption, combined with the relative indifference to the suffering of foreclosure victims, paints a disturbing picture of establishment malevolence. They not only don't care about the plight of the rank and file, they feel unencumbered to actually steal from them. And yes, Bernanke's excuse-making sets the table for this type of greed engineering. The culture of impunity and the failure of accountability represent a large reason why we have the government we have today.


At The Intercept, Google's new ad blocker blocks ads that aren't Google's. This is how a monopoly stays a monopoly. (Read the story at The Intercept)

At The Fiscal Times, Trump's plan to privatize air traffic control would entrench the big airlines at the expense of competitors and passengers. (Read the story at The Fiscal Times)

At The Intercept, financial titans in the Clinton orbit team up to boost one of their own in a Democratic primary in Texas. (Read the story at The Intercept)

At The Nation, House Republicans will pass a bill to overhaul Dodd-Frank tomorrow with no chance of becoming law, because they're still messaging instead of governing. (Read the story at The Nation)


I was on The Dig with Daniel Denvir, a podcast from Jacobin magazine. We talked about financialization, regulation, and more. Listen here.

Also, not an appearance, but an update to a prior appearance. I testified in April in the California Assembly about AB315, a bill to increase transparency on pharmacy benefit managers. That bill passed the Assembly last week. Cool!


The end of Brownback-a-nomics in Kansas, which is good news for Kansans.

Medicaid open to all in Nevada?

Trump watch: Potemkin Saudi Arabia deals. Potemkin charities for kids.

The China BIT (bilateral investment treaty), pushed by Obama, is "on the agenda" for Trump. This is a terrible deal for U.S. workers.

Executive at Mylan double-birds critics of jacking up EpiPen prices on asthmatic children.

This practice of giving millions to non-profit groups in Justice Department settlements was a stand-in for real accountability, so I'm not that sorry to see it go.

Trump wants a clean debt ceiling. I'm sure we'll get that within two weeks like everything else.

Another insurer exit from exchanges. Trump uncertainty driving this, but Democratic design allows it.

FleetCor is another exercise in thievery most people know nothing about.

Part-time legislator loses full-time job with company that didn't like something he voted for.

On the one hand, potential Fed pick Marvin Goodfriend is depressingly conventional in his biases. On the other, he could be more dovish than the current crew.

Sarah Jaffe in my New York Times!


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