Monday, August 27, 2012

Even if the Entity Fails, Executives Walk Away Rich. From Banks? Or From the Entire USA? How about WE Walk Away Instead, With OUR Nation Still Wealthy?

commentary by Roger Erickson

"Even if the entity fails, you walk away rich." That's the last line of Bill Black's famous recipe for Control Fraud, learned while prosecuting the guys who bought & owned the Keating-5. Bill was the featured guest during the third hour of the Coast to Coast AM banking fraud special on Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here's the whole recipe again, because we need to repeat this as many times as it takes for the US electorate to recognize how they're being robbed.

Black's recipe for robbing a bank is simple:

1) If you're a bank, grow like crazy by making really crappy loans

2) Make lots of really crappy loans at a premium interest rate.

3) Employing extreme leverage (a whole lot of debt compared to equity)

4) Set aside next to nothing for loss reserves for the inevitable deluge of losses that are going to be coming.

“If you do those 4 things you are mathematically guaranteed, in the near term, to report record profits. And with modern executive compensation, that means that the controlling officers will be made wealthy... Even if the entity fails, you walk away rich.”

Even paranormal researchers are now hearing Bill's message! So, that's progress. :)

ps: That definition certainly ought to define Geithner and most members of Congress. Maybe we're closer than we imagine?

Or are we further?

We once had the Keating-5 just in the US Senate. Now we have the Geither-535? Or is that number even bigger, and now distributed across gov agencies from the Fed to the DoJ? Not to mention the Presidency of Harvard U and U-Chicago, the preferred sites for either opposing or collaborating fraud camps.

Do today's Control Frauds care if even the entire USA fails? Will they still walk away personally wealthy? To where? And with what form of wealth guarantees?

How about WE walk away from them instead, with OUR nation still wealthy?

Bill Black, wherever you are, we need a simple slogan and plan to mobilize citizens in opposition to Control Frauds and Innocent Frauds alike.  Here's a suggested version.

George Washington's simple recipe for saving a nation from its banks:

1) If you're a citizen, grow your country like crazy by improving the quality and tempo of distributed decision-making!

2) Improve economic tempo by the simple act of de-centralizing decision-making, so we can explore more of our options, and select innovations, faster.

3) Eschew extreme leverage - and invest in generating many small failures, not too few large ones. Decentralize decision-making by distributing resources well enough to explore distributed options. Scalable success will emerge by default, as everything that doesn't work is quickly & cheaply exposed.

4) Don't bet the farm. Instead, invest in resilient systems capable of meeting all the unpredictable challenges, conceivable or inconceivable, that are inevitably coming. Continuously prioritize decentralized decisions by distributing feedback well enough to align all actions with net benefit.

“If WE do those 4 things WE are mathematically guaranteed, in the LONG term, to ACHIEVE record SUCCESS. And with modern AUTOMATIC STABILIZERS, that means that the NATIONS CITIZENS will ACHIEVE SUCCESS... Even if a few frauds fail, our nation will continue generating success.”


Matt Franko said...


Any public company can be operated in this way.... not just banks...


Tom Hickey said...

Yeah, it's called private equity and LBO.

Adam2 said...

What about local and state governments?

James said...

Well, you should remove the apostrophe from "it's."

I won't insult your intelligence by explaining why, but it is one of the most commmon errors these days.

And please don't whine about how this is only a post, and good people don't correct typos on posts. They do, and should, when the language is being ruined.

Matt Franko said...


Yes those too, but just right in a "vanilla" public company remember how they went in and back dated stock option awards and just robbed the balances right out of the corporate treasuries.... in broad daylight!

And the do nothing fiduciaries at the investment funds just sat there and "took it like a man"....


Clonal said...


You are wrong on Tom's use of "it's" - The It's vs. Its page

I am sure that Tom meant "it is" and not the possessive "its"

Jose Guilherme said...

The banks will usually be saved from bankruptcy by the public purse - under the pretext of systemic risk etc.

Not so with "normal", non-financial public companies who are generally allowed to go under except in cases such as GM - and even so with harsher conditions attached to the rescue than is the case with banks.

Perhaps MMT should take one step further and conclude that, on second thoughts, bank lending is not constrained by either reserves or capital.

Tom Hickey said...

Jose, as Bill Black points out, local banks and credit unions, and regional banks were not the problem. (Here in Iowa City local and regional banks, and credit unions predominate. There was no run up in housing prices and no ensuing bust.) The problem was with TBTFs that took advantage of moral hazard, as well as the relative certainty that they could get away with running control frauds because "everyone was doing it." According to Bill the proper course was to follow the law. Lacking that, a repeat on a larger scale is assured, as the bankstas test the boundaries, just like teenagers do.

Roger Erickson said...

Matt Franko said: "Any public company can be operated in this way.... not just banks..."

Yet isn't the USA just one big corporation, with all citizens as stockholders? Even if they don't act like owners?

USA, Inc. is simply granted a few monopoly powers, that could/should/would be adequate for policing all subsidiary corporations ... if citizens actually did act like owners of their nation. :(