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William Black

William Black

William Kurt Black (born September 6, 1951) is an American lawyer, academic, author, and a former bank regulator. Black's expertise is in white-collar crime, public finance, regulation, and other topics in law and economics. He developed the concept of "control fraud", in which a business or national executive uses the entity he or she controls as a "weapon" to commit fraud.

Articles by William Black

Lawrence O’Donnell Aims at Buttigieg, But Hits New Democrats

December 16, 2019

William K. BlackDecember 16, 2019     Bloomington, MN
On December 5, 2019, Lawrence O’Donnell made an impassioned attack on Pete Buttigieg on his “The Last Word” program on MSNBC.  Buttigieg’s statements criticizing the Democratic Party as historically soft on deficits enraged O’Donnell.  The context was Buttigieg’s effort to signal to New Hampshire voters that he was the most conservative Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination.  Nothing signals ‘responsible’ so well to ‘New Democrats’ and the media as a candidate screaming ‘deficits’ in a crowded meeting room in a small New Hampshire town.
O’Donnell correctly pointed out that Buttigieg’s claims about Democrats and deficits are ‘Republican lies.’  The truth is that New Democrats have been the only group in America

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The Kurds, The Most Frequently Betrayed Group, Experience Trump’s Betrayal

October 9, 2019

William K. BlackOctober 9, 2019     Kansas City, MO
The most betrayed people in the world are likely the Kurds.  They have the misfortune to live in a particularly violent region dispersed among five nation states – Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Armenia.  They are a large ethnic group (the fourth largest in their region).  They are overwhelmingly Sunni.  Kurds have tried to be a nation, and the West betrayed them.  Kurds have tried to develop ‘home rule’ within the nation states they inhabit, and everyone betrayed them.  The majority population of each of the nation states they inhabit tends to despise Kurds as non-Arabs or fake Turks.  Turkey pretends they do not exist and calls them “mountain Turks.”
The Kurds are generally proficient fighters, and that includes many of their young

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Eric Holder is the Official Missing from Discussions of the Bidens’ Ukrainian Efforts

October 8, 2019

By William K. BlackOctober 7, 2019     Kansas City, MO
Michelle Goldberg published an excellent column on September 30, 2019 “Trump’s Claims About Biden Aren’t ‘Unsupported.’  They’re Lies.”  It accurately describes Trump’s lies and his unlawful and unethical acts of trying to use the power of our government to induce Ukrainian and Chinese officials to smear his political opponents.  The House should cite those Trump lies as part of the basis for impeaching him.
Rule No. 1:  No Freebies
I am not a politician or political tactician.  A campaign for the presidency (nomination or ‘general’) is above my pay grade.  Nevertheless, I know Rule No. 1 – Never give your political opponents freebies to use against you.  That was my rule during the savings and loan debacle when we blew the

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The Terrible Cost of Politically Induced Hate of Minorities

September 24, 2019

By William K. BlackSeptember 23, 2019      Kansas City, MO
Muslims and Jews in America and Israel share some common experiences.  In Israel and the territories Israel occupies, they are the targets of murderous hate from each other.  They have competing, horrid stories of mistreatment by other ethnic and religious communities and each other that go back over a thousand years.
In the United States, the relationship between Muslims and Jews is vastly better, but mixed.  The American hate killers of Jews and Muslims are overwhelmingly right-wing supremacists who hate Jews, Muslims, people of color, and the ‘left.’  So far, the nightmare scenario of waves of revenge pogroms by American Jews and Muslims has not occurred.  We all need to work to prevent that nightmare from ever occurring.

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Trumps Asks the Right Question, Provides the Wrong Answer

September 23, 2019

By William K. BlackSeptember 23, 2019     Kansas City, MO
Since the Trump administration began, I have been making a series of predictions that any white-collar criminologist would find obvious.  I discuss three of those points in this article.  First, Trump is leading the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history.  Second, over time, only the sleaziest, most cowardly, and least competent mid and senior level officials would remain in power.  Third, Trump exemplifies the “Dark Triad” – the toxic mix of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism.  People beset by the Dark Triad personality characteristics are serial liars.  Each of the three predictions has proven true, but any competent, honest white-collar criminologist would have made the same predictions, so I take no

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Democrats Should Refuse to Continue to Support Stupidity and Cowardice

September 16, 2019

William K. BlackSeptember 15, 2019      Kansas City, MO
A craven group of Democrats is furious with Beto O’Rourke for calling for the mandatory sale of assault rifles to the United States.  Reuters’ headline says it all:  “O’Rourke’s ‘hell yes’ vow to take away rifles worries U.S. lawmakers pushing for gun limits.”  Seriously?  Democratic lawmakers (who have adopted no meaningful federal law in response to tens of thousands of gun deaths and maiming) are upset because a prominent Democrat proposed a law to get military-style assault rifles out of civilian life.  Granted, the Republicans have patented their right to be the party of stupid, but Democrats should not compete by becoming the party of less stupid, but equally cowardly.
Some issues are hard.  Assault rifles held by civilians

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Rigged System Apologists and Deniers Fear Senators Warren and Sanders

September 3, 2019

William K. Black
August 26, 2019     Kansas City, MO
Greg Weiner has written an article aimed at those he hates – progressive Democrats.  He entitled it “The Shallow Cynicism of ‘Everything is Rigged.’” Weiner wrote, in the midst of the most corrupt administration in U.S. history, not to attack President Trump, but instead to attack Senators Warren and Sanders.  Their sin?  They oppose corruption.  Worse, they view corruption as immoral, they ‘walk the walk’ by refusing to take contributions from corporations, and they are proving remarkably skilled at explaining to the public how the corrupt rig specific systems.  Democrats are reacting by giving strong support to Warren and Sanders.  Weiner argues that some corruption is good and that we need far more of it.
Weiner identifies

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Tom Friedman Just Noticed that the UK “Has Gone Mad” (Part 2)

April 11, 2019

By William K. Black
April 11, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Part 7b of the MMT Series
Part 7a is available here.
Blair, Brexit, and Friedman Show the Need for MMT Insights
Part One: The MMT Critique of Orthodox Microfoundations
Orthodox ‘modern macro’ is based on ‘microfoundations’ that implicitly assume that firms profit-maximize, that there are no negative externalities, that there is no market power, and that there is no control fraud or predation. In sum, they assume out of existence reality and particularly the parts of reality that produce the “endemic” global financial crises that Friedman admits his favored model produce. (See Parts 2A and 2B of this MMT Series for a much more detailed discussion of microfoundations.)
Friedman, of course, loved both Blair and Brown. In the same

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Tom Friedman Just Noticed that the UK “Has Gone Mad” (Part 1)

April 11, 2019

By William K. Black
April 11, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Part 7a of the MMT Series
Tom Friedman’s April 2, 2019 column concluded “The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad.” To which, the only possible response is – ‘you just noticed?’ The UK went ‘mad’ 22 years ago when Parliament elected the odious Tony Blair Prime Minister. I think many Tory policies were mad long before that date, but the Labour Party opposed them. The entire UK did not go ‘mad’ until Blair created “New Labour” and adopted Tory policies and became PM in 1997. Blair explicitly modeled the name and the adoption of neoliberal economic and military policies on Bill Clinton and the “New Democrats.” The UK became ‘mad’ when both of its major parties adopted the neoliberal economic and military policies that Friedman celebrates and

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MMT Scholars’ Predictive and Policy Successes – Part A

April 1, 2019

Number 2A in the MMT Series
By William K. Black
March 31, 2019     Bloomington, MN
The second article in this series deals with Modern Monetary Theory’s (MMT) predictive and policy successes.  The article has three, separately published, parts.  Part 2A deals explains why predictive ability and policy success are so critical – and notes that MMT’s critics have been conspicuously unable to provide a record of predictive failure by MMT scholars.
Part 2B deals with MMT successes in microeconomics.  The MMT work on microeconomics constitutes a powerful refutation of the ‘microfoundations’ of ‘modern macroeconomics.’  The key characteristics that the MMT theorists have demonstrated dramatically superior predictive ability, particularly in the most important microfoundation

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Wolfers Blames MMT for Orthodox Economists’ Ignorance of MMT

March 19, 2019

By William K. Black
March 14, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Number 6 in a Series of Articles on MMT
Justin Wolfers is an economist who is disgracing the university I love, the University of Michigan.  I had the great fortune to be born in Detroit and receive the first seven years of my higher education as an instate student at the University of Michigan.  I was able to graduate with virtually no debt.  Wolfers is also a native of Australia, which means he is familiar with kangaroos.  That familiarity is ironic because Wolfers is devoting his time these days to serving as the chief apologist for a kangaroo court of orthodox economists that convened to declare Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) anathema.
Kangaroo courts are sham legal proceedings which are set-up in order to give the impression of

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The Day Orthodox Economists Lost Their Minds and Integrity

March 15, 2019

William K. Black
March 14, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Fifth Article in a Series on MMT
Something extraordinary happened yesterday.  Orthodox economists, frustrated by their inability to intimidate progressive elected officials, have launched a coordinated assault on MMT in hopes of making it politically dangerous for elected officials to embrace MMT.  Yesterday brought three remarkable revelations about orthodox economists’ willingness to engage in naked intellectual dishonesty in their desperation to find something to discredit MMT.
The orthodox economic attack on MMT should be a ‘slam dunk’ – if orthodox economists were correct about MMT.  There are two obvious ways to deliver the ‘slam dunk.’  First, orthodox economists preach that a theory’s predictive ability is the test of its

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Four “Tells” That Show Krugman Knows He Cannot Win an Honest Debate

March 15, 2019

William K. Black
March 13, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Fourth article in the Series on MMT
Honest debaters do not create strawmen arguments about opposing theories and then claim victory by attacking their own strawmen.
When Krugman and a bevy of the “Very Serious People” (VSP) Krugman used to ridicule created and then attacked strawman MMT positions (e.g., using Roche’s rant), they were unintentionally revealing their knowledge that they did not believe they could dispute successfully MMT scholars’ real positions.
Honest orthodox economists and journalist do not spread “myths” they know to be “obvious falsehood[s]” in order to deny MMT insights the orthodox economists and journalist know to be “obviously true.” The second “tell” that the VSPs know they cannot win an honest debate is

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Three Natural Experiments Documenting Krugman’s Bias Against MMT

March 14, 2019

William K. Black
March 13, 2019      Bloomington, MN
Third article in a series on MMT[1]
I urge readers to review Scott Fullwiler’s brief paper on the theoretical and predictive successes of MMT scholars on a topic of enormous theoretical and practical importance.  You do not need economics training to understand it.  Fullwiler reports the results of two “natural experiments.”  In this context, this means an unplanned experiment.  The twin experiments were:
What would happen if orthodox scholars tested the predictive strength of MMT?
How would Paul Krugman react to an orthodox scholar’s demonstration of the predictive accuracy of key MMT insights – if Krugman did not know that the orthodox scholar’s work was verifying key MMT predictions?
Fullwiler’s paper answers both questions.  The

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MMT Takes Center Stage – and Orthodox Economists Freak

March 11, 2019

William K. Black
March 11, 2019     Bloomington, MN
First Article in a Series
The massive, coordinated assault on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) scholars by the most elite forces of orthodoxy represents a watershed moment in economics, but we must not lose sight that the real attack is actually on progressives, particularly the newly elected progressive members of Congress plus Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.  Even that statement is incomplete, for it is the combination of the rise of these progressive elected officials, the 2020 presidential election (and nomination battle), and the exceptional embrace of progressive policies by the general public and Democratic Party candidates for the presidential nomination that prompted the coordinated and personalized assault of

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Why Did Trump Choose to be Such an Unpopular President?

February 27, 2019

William K. Black
February 25, 2019     Ames, Iowa
Donald Trump promised to deliver a middle-class tax cut of epic proportions.
“The largest tax reductions are for the middle class, who have been forgotten,” Trump said in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 22, 2016.
If Trump had fulfilled that campaign promise, it would have made him spectacularly popular and vastly increased his support beyond his base.  He, not the ‘Republican Party,’ controlled the House and the Senate.  Many Democrats would have supported a serious cut in middle-class taxes.  Better yet, from Trump’s perspective, many Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and ‘Chuck’ Schumer would have bitterly opposed the Trump Tax Triumph on the economically illiterate basis that budget surpluses are next to godliness.
Trump could have

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Modern Monetary Theory is On the March

February 19, 2019

By William K. Black
February 18, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) continues to advance rapidly.  We are past the first phase of reaction (first they ignore you), deeply into the second phase (then they attack you), and expanding the ranks of the third phase (then you win).  We are very early in the third phase, winning with increasing numbers of people, but still a minority view.
One of the proofs of MMT’s advances is a nearly respectable treatment by the Wall Street Journal as the feature of a news article.  The other major proof is the pathetic efforts of MMT critics quoted in the article to attack MMT.  The article, implicitly, admits that MMT scholars have repeatedly proved correct in their predictions that the existing and projected U.S. fiscal budget

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AOC# and MMT Spook the AEI

January 22, 2019

William K. Black
January 17, 2019     Bloomington, MN
AOC# drives Republicans berserk.  Booing her, and only her, at the ceremony admitting the members of Congress, raging at her for dancing – yes dancing – in a college video, and attacking her for having a nickname (“Sandy”) in high school demonstrate the degree of derangement and the pathetic ammunition they have found in their failing efforts to discredit her.  MMT has become an indirect beneficiary of this derangement.  AOC# has expressed support for MMT – so the right is now eager to reach the famous second stage of opposition to good ideas (‘first they ignore them, then they attack them’).  It is far better for the right to attack our good ideas, than ignore them.  As with the right’s attacks on AOC#, the nature of their attacks

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Trump’s Version of ‘Let Them Eat Cake’

January 15, 2019

By William K. Black
January 14, 2019     Bloomington, MN
Queen Marie-Antoinette of France was libeled by the claim that when she was told that her starving peasants could no longer find bread to eat, she responded “then let them eat cake.”  (If you want to get precise she supposedly said let them eat ‘brioche.”)  There is no evidence she said any such thing.
Trump, however, really said the modern equivalent.  His remarks, despite being made in response to a question about his empathy for government workers losing their pay due to the government shutdown, revealed how bereft of human understanding our autocrat-in-chief is.
“Mr. President, do you relate to the pain of federal workers who can’t pay their bills?” a reporter asked.
“I can relate,” Trump said. “And I’m sure that the people

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Trump CFPB Plans Obscene Change to Payday Lender Rule

January 15, 2019

William K. Black
January 14, 2019     Bloomington, Mn
Kate Berry, the American Banker reporter that covers consumer financial protection, has written another important article about the continuing horror story of Trump’s increasingly successful efforts to pervert the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) into an agency dedicated to harming consumers and protecting our Nation’s most predatory lenders.  Unfortunately, her January 14, 2019 article is behind a paywall.
The Predatory ‘Sweet Spot’
The context is one of the CFPB’s most important and useful anti-predatory lending rules by payday lenders.  Payday lenders often charge working class Americans interest rates well above 100 percent.  (In Missouri, a hotbed of predation, they can charge more than 500 percent.)  The ‘sweet

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Countering Chinese Accounting Control Fraud and Predation Against U.S. Investors

December 17, 2018

William K. Black
December 18, 2018     Bloomington, MN
On December 13, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an interesting op ed by Jesse M. Fried, a famous law professor in multiple areas of corporate law, and Matthew Schoenfeld, who works at a hedge fund that is the leading funder of civil lawsuits, primarily fraud and tort suits.  The title is “Will China Cheat American Investors?  The answer, of course, is yes – it will continue to cheat American (and non-American) investors.  Fried also has a strong background in economics, which is relevant to his op ed and my blog article.
The op ed is interesting in part because it was published just after a documentary on Chinese stock fraud (“The China Hustle”) had its general video release.  The China Hustle explores the pervasive

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Trump Models His War on Bank Regulators on Bill Clinton and W’s Disastrous Wars

December 14, 2018

William K. Black
December 13, 2018     Bloomington, MN
The Wall Street Journal published an article on December 12, 2018 that should warn us of coming disaster:  “Banks Get Kinder, Gentler Treatment Under Trump.”  The last time a regulatory head lamented that regulators were not “kinder and gentler” promptly ushered in the Enron-era fraud epidemic.  President Bush made Harvey Pitt his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair in August 2001 and, in one of his early major addresses, he spoke on October 22, 2001 to a group of accounting leaders.
Pitt, as a private counsel, represented all the top tier audit firms, and they had successfully pushed Bush to appoint him to run the SEC.  The second sentence of Pitt’s speech bemoaned the fact that the SEC had not been “a kinder and

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Douthat’s Mendacious Meritocracy Myth

December 10, 2018

William K. Black
December 8, 2018      Bloomington, MN
The funeral services for President George HW Bush triggered Ross Douthat’s nostalgia for the “aristocratic virtues of the old WASP establishment, and a disappointment with the meritocracy that has risen in its place.”  This column ignores his nostalgia and alleged virtues and discusses briefly his bizarre assumption that a “meritocracy” runs America.  Given the 2008 Great Financial Crisis (GFC) and President Trump, I thought that the meritocracy fantasy was dead.  We are far closer to anti-meritocracy (a kakistocracy).   
Douthat provides a combined dissolution/creation myth in a single sentence that constructed four falsehoods.
But then the WASPs themselves decided to dissolve their own aristocracy, and transform their

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Bank Whistleblowers United Told DOJ to use 4506-T as Kryptonite v Banksters

August 6, 2018

Steven Krystofiak Warned the Fed 12 Years Ago
By William K. Black
August 6, 2018     Bloomington, MN
Steven Krystofiak formed the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending, a professional association dedicated to fighting mortgage fraud and predation.  On August 1, 2006.  He tried to save our Nation by issuing one of the most prescient warnings about the epidemic of mortgage fraud and predation and the crisis it would so cause.
The context was Congress’ effort to empower and convince the Federal Reserve to take action against what the mortgage lending industry called, behind closed doors, “liar’s” loans.  A liar’s loan is a loan in which the lender does not verify (at least) the borrower’s actual income.  The industry knew that the failure to verify inherently led to

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How Democratic Party Mendacity about Deficits and Banksters Lifted Trump

August 3, 2018

By William K. Black
August 2, 2018     Bloomington, MN
Peter Suderman, the managing editor at (hard right) has published an op ed in the New York Times entitled “How Republican Hypocrisy Lifts Social Democrats.”  His subtitle is “By its astoundingly cynical approach to deficits and debt, the G.O.P. has opened the door to an expansive left.”  What is actually astounding is that Suderman never mentions, much less discusses; the situations in which a Nation with a sovereign currency should run deficits.
Stephanie Kelton and I have been trying hard to keep Democrats from, again, rushing into the trap of denouncing Republicans for running federal deficits.  Yes, Republicans are hypocrites about debt and deficits.  That does not mean that Democrats should repeat Clinton and

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Mankiw Whiffs on “Learning the Right Lessons from the Financial Crisis”

August 1, 2018

By William K. Black
July 31, 2018     Bloomington, MN
I am writing a major article on myths about the causes of the financial crisis, so I read with special interest N. Gregory Mankiw’s column “Learning the Right Lessons From the Financial Crisis.”  (HT: DCJ.)  The context of Mankiw’s article, as he appropriately discloses, is to do a favor for a friend by plugging the friend’s new book in Mankiw’s column in the New York Times.  I have no criticism of that purpose and applaud him for alerting readers to it.  The problem is substance, both the book’s and his column.
Mankiw is the leading author of economic textbooks in the world, so his views and his ideology are enormously influential.  The first sentence of his book review asks the right question:  “What caused the financial crisis

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Trump is the World’s Most “Expensive Lobbyist” for Google’s “Huge Antitrust” Problem

July 24, 2018

By William K. Black
July 22, 2018     Bloomington, MN
Trump’s language problems do not end with his double negatives and his endless contradictions of what he has just said or tweeted about Putin’s assault on our democracy.  Trump lies about everything, all the time.  His lies, however, frequently reveal the greater truth – he lives to betray America, his responsibilities as President, and his base.  One classic example is the illegal abuse of monopoly power used against Americans and people globally.  Trump has managed to embrace, contemporaneously, polar views on monopoly power – and both views are wrong.  That takes some doing.  One would think that taking opposite views would help you be right half the time.
Under United States law, the intentional abuse of monopoly power is both

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The Three Impossible Things Trump’s Base Must Believe before Breakfast

July 20, 2018

By William K. Black
July 19, 2018     Bloomington, MN
The Republican Party, for over 70 years, did not simply oppose the Soviet Union; it demonized Democrats as ‘soft’ on Russia.  This history makes the Republican Party’s increasing embrace of Putin’s Russia particularly bizarre.
Forty percent of Republican’s now consider Russia “friendly” or an “ally” of the United States.  That percentage is nearly twice as large as in 2014 despite a large number of Russian attacks on the U.S. and the West (and Russians) since 2014.  Seventy-nine percent of Republicans had a positive response to Trump and Putin’s infamous (to most Americans) Helsinki press conference.
Vox reported the results of a recent (highly regarded) poll on public opinion about Russia’s attempt to interfere in our 2016

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Executive Coaching Achieves Miracle Success, and Self-Parody, at Nortel

July 11, 2018

By William K. BlackJuly 10, 2018     Bloomington, MN
Economists generally focus on increasing productivity as the driver of development.  Among the most troubling economic developments in the West in the last decade is the weak gains in productivity, particularly in a time of rapid technological advances.  Neoclassical economics pictures firms as engaged in a fierce, endless battle for survival where failure is certain for firms that are even slightly less efficient that their rivals.  This struggle is supposed to produce relentless, rapid advances in productivity.  Something has gone very wrong with the neoclassical narrative of competition, productivity, and growth.
Weak productivity and efficiency is supposed to remedy itself.  The neoclassical (and Austrian) economics claim is

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Kill the Hastert Rule: A Pedophile’s Indefensible Rule Harms America

June 22, 2018

By William K. Black
June 20, 2018     Kansas City, MO
The House Speaker is the answer to the trick question:  “Who is the second most powerful elected official in the United States.”  The importance of the Speaker is obvious to anyone with even a modestly sophisticated understanding of U.S. politics and government.
One of the reasons for this astonishing level of sycophancy of Republican House candidates that run for office by presenting themselves as moderate conservatives is the ‘Hastert rule.’  They run as moderates, but they vote consistently in favor of legislation that creates the most radically right policies in modern American history.  If you have never heard of the Hastert rule or do not know what it is, blame the Democrats (and the media).  The fact that the Hastert rule is

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