The so-called “JOBS Act” (with an emphasis on “act”) will, if financial fraud investigator William Black is right, set the stage for the mother of all financial crisis.
Legislation like this, and its warm support from “both sides of the aisle,” is evidence that America rapidly descending into a criminogenic banana republic.
This is a must read from Bill Black, a man who helped bring justice to the criminals behind the S&L scandals of the 80’s. Here he sheds insight into all the ways that this bill qualifies as insanity.
The sixth form of insanity is a counterfactual. The unique aspect about this crisis is that it is the first one in modern U.S. history in which the CEOs directing the control frauds that caused the crisis have done so with complete impunity from the criminal laws and near impunity from civil suits and enforcement actions. The worst, most destructive fraudulent CEOs have been allowed to become and remain wealthy through their frauds even though several of them caused greater losses than the entire S&L debacle. The worst fraudulent CEOs who led the prior epidemics of accounting control fraud that drove the S&L debacle and the Enron-era crisis were prosecuted. Not a single elite CEO from Wall Street or the largest fraudulent lenders has even been charged with fraud arising from such loans even though they, collectively, made over two million fraudulent loans in 2006. Had the Bush and Obama administrations prosecuted and denounced these elite frauds it would have been politically impossible for an act as criminogenic and cynical as the JOBS Act to be promoted by the Obama administration and adopted by large Congressional minorities. We are seeing with the JOBS Act the sick face of crony capitalism.
The seventh form of insanity is that there is no greater killer of jobs than elite financial fraud. Such fraud epidemics can hyper-inflate bubbles (as they did in the U.S. and several European nations) and cause severe financial crises and recessions. The resulting Great Recession has cost over 10 million Americans their existing or future jobs in this crisis. It has cost over another 15 million people their existing or future jobs in Europe. The JOBS Act is so fraud friendly that it will harm capital formation and produce additional job losses. It may appear to be an oxymoron designed by regular morons, but that underestimates the abilities of the lobbyists that drafted this bill. They are not morons. They are doing faithful, clever service to their fraudulent clients. That makes them more dangerous.
The Dallas Fed used to object vociferously to all financial regulation because it claimed that markets were “self-correcting” absent regulation. It now warns that market “incentives often turn perverse, and self-interest can turn malevolent. That’s what happened in the years before the financial crisis.” Only effective regulatory “cops on the beat” can prevent frauds from creating a perverse “Gresham’s dynamic” (when frauds prosper, market forces become perverse and bad ethics drives good ethics out of the marketplace). Effective securities regulation has led to U.S. equities trading at a significant premium compared to other nations, which aids U.S. equity issuers. The JOBS Act threatens the continuation of that premium. Even the Dallas Fed’s most senior economist and President – and the Dallas Fed has been the leading opponent of financial regulation – now agrees that effective regulation is essential to strong financial markets. The Obama administration and Congress still worship at the temple of the faith-based economics that has caused our recurrent, intensifying financial crises. When the temple’s high priests (the Dallas Fed’s leadership) become apostate the politicians should shed their dogma.
The tenth form of insanity is that the JOBS Act’s primary theme is dramatically reducing transparency in securities law. If there is any nearly universal principle that writers about the ongoing global crisis emphasized that we needed to learn it was the exceptional virtue of transparency. Greater transparency makes private market discipline possible, it greatly enhances regulatory effectiveness, it discourages fraud, and it aids investors in making decisions. The JOBS Act repeatedly embraces opaqueness. We have known for millennia that this increases fraud.
And a must see/read is Bill Black talking with Bill Moyers about the ongoing financial fraud investigations into the causality of our current economic crisis.