Ponzi scheme

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pages: 598 words: 169,194

Bernie Madoff, the Wizard of Lies: Inside the Infamous $65 Billion Swindle by Diana B. Henriques

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, financial deregulation, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, mail merge, merger arbitrage, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Small Order Execution System, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, transaction costs, traveling salesman

.; Madoff victims; and specific agencies, funds, and individuals arbitrage and, 38–41, 52 arrest of, 12–16, 19–22, 209, 211, 216–17, 222 assets of, frozen and sold, 230, 238, 245, 305, 316–18 audits of, 149–50, 254–55 automation and, 42–49, 103 Avellino & Bienes and, 50–56, 77–78, 102 bail and, 18–20, 224–27, 237–39, 252 bankruptcy problems exposed by arrest of, 327 Bayou scandal and, 147–49 Bear Stearns and, 186–87 beginning of fraud by, xxiii, 29–30, 41, 81, 85–86, 90–94, 113, 225, 251–52, 271, 274, 298, 333–35 brokerage firm founded by, and OTC market, 24–27, 34–36 cash crisis of 1962 and borrowing by, 24–30, 225, 335 cash crisis of 1987 and, xxiii, 84–87, 90–91, 335–36 cash crisis of 1992 and, 94–95 cash crisis of 2005–6 and near exposure of, 146–62 cash crisis of 2005–6 and recovery by, 166–67, 173–76 cash crisis of 2008 and lead-up to collapse of, 21, 193–209 cash flows of 1990s, 81, 90–94 cash flows of 2002, 132–33 cash flows of 2007, 182–83 cash withdrawal requests of 2008 and, 1, 183, 187–88, 190–93, 197, 200–209, 256 cash withdrawals of 1994–2003, 132–36 charities and, 3, 88, 110–11, 114, 183, 337 checks written before confession, 6, 18, 314 childhood and education of, xxii–xxiii, 24, 30–35 Cincinnati Stock Exchange and, 68, 76, 86 civil lawsuits by victims of, 299–302 clawback lawsuits and, 257–58, 266–67, 288, 294–95 Cohmad formed by, 70–75, 149 commission payments and, 117, 136, 151 confession of, xxi–xxii, 1–12, 207–9, 282 congressional hearings on, 267–68 death of parents and, 48 death of son Mark and, 323 derivatives and, 174–76 DiPascali and fraud of, 81–82, 207–9, 297–99 DTCC and, 119–20, 150–51, 159, 164, 245, 255, 272, 296 early investors and introducers and, 43, 57–69, 92, 100–102, 110–15, 148 economic weakness in 2007 and, 176–80 employee money managed by, 182 employee salaries and, 178–79 exclusivity and secrecy and, 59–60, 93, 116–17, 134 extramarital affair allegations and, 277, 288–89 Fairfield Greenwich and, 89–91, 104–10, 187–88, 190–93 falsification of records by, xxiii, 41, 99–100, 102–3, 117–20, 122–27, 129, 139–46, 150–51, 153, 158–59, 163–64, 179, 272–73, 296, 309–10 family illnesses and, 135–36 family of, and impact of crime, 278, 281–90 family of, and questions about knowledge of fraud, 281–84, 333, 337 family wealth and, 160–61, 178, 182, 258, 321, 334 father’s brokerage failure and, 31–32, 35–36 feeder fund fees and, 87, 117 feeder funds begun by father-in-law, 36–39, 41, 50 feeder funds begun by nonfamily members, 102, 104–6, 119–21, 123, 130–32 feelings of, for family, 272 feelings of, for victims, xx, xxii, 333 foreign funds and, 65, 74–75, 84, 166–71, 243–44, 335 French town house, 177, 194, 239, 274, 318 guilty plea of, 247–53, 326 hedge funds and, 87–88, 90–91, 104–5, 119, 123, 125–32, 136, 144–46, 171–73 house arrest of, and gifts to family, 229–30, 237–38 humanity of, xxi, 345–48 IRAs and, 126–27 Jewish connections and, 88–89, 111, 114, 212–15 lawsuits arising from, 295–97 lessons of, for investors and regulators, 339–47 Levy estate executor, 63, 148 Lipstick Building office of, 2, 71–72, 81, 90, 103, 112, 120 loans by, to family and staff, 179, 181, 189–90 London office opened by, 48, 68–69, 82 losses of, and final account statements, 256 losses of, and length of fraud, 279 losses of, and number of victims, 211–16 lying by, xxii–xviii Manhattan penthouse of, 18, 80–81, 274, 280–81, 305, 316 market making and, 40–41, 80, 82–84, 136, 199, 245 Markopolos accusations and, 122–25, 153–59, 162–66 marries Ruth Alpern, 33–35, 47 modern market shaped by, xxiv Montauk beach house, 18, 69, 193, 226, 274, 305, 316 NASDAQ and, 80, 84, 86–87, 107–8 options trading not reported, 142 Palm Beach home and, 18, 109, 114, 183–84, 226, 274, 305 pension funds and, 127–32 Philoctetes speech of 2007, 179–80 Picower and, 63–65, 132–36, 161–62, 333 Picower settlement and, 330–31 Ponzi scheme of, and legitimate firm, 136, 152–53, 160, 251 Ponzi scheme of, described to federal prosecutors, 225–27 Ponzi scheme of, enabled by Wall Street, xxiv Ponzi scheme of, seductiveness of, 339–40 Ponzi scheme of, size of, xxiii, 117, 180, 247, 260 prison interviews of, xvii–xx, xxii, 333–38, 344–345 reason for not fleeing, xxiii–xxiv, 339 relationship with brother, Peter, 48–50, 292–95 relationship with wife, Ruth, 288, 337–38 relationship with sons, xx, 285, 333, 338 returns of, 25, 38, 50–51, 53–54, 56, 67, 76, 80, 93–94, 112–13, 296 Roslyn house of, 47, 69–71, 167 SEC failures exposed by arrest of, 227–30, 272 SEC inquiries of 1992–2005, 152–56, 162 SEC inspector Kotz interviews, 270–72 SEC investigation of 1992 and, 94–104, 335 SEC investigation of 2003 and, 139–40, 145–46 SEC investigation of 2005 and, 139–46 SEC investigation of late 2005–6 and, 153–60, 162–66 SEC investigations of, revealed in 2009, 302–3 SEC shutdown of Avellino & Bienes and, 102 sentencing of, 273, 275–80, 332–33 SIPC liquidation and, 219–22, 235–37, 260–61 small investors and, 171–73 sole responsibility claim of, 225, 252 Sorkin as lawyer for, and conflict issue, 242–43 split-strike conversion strategy and, 74–76, 84–85, 94, 106, 112 suspicions of, 113, 117–29, 131–32, 134–35, 138, 141–44, 150–51, 176–77, 185, 188–89, 203–4, 231, 318, 333 synthetic trades by, and taxes, 85 third market and, 82, 108 trading strength affirmed, 118 travels to France, 179, 194 trust and credibility of, 28, 41–42, 48, 61, 63, 66–68, 82, 86–87, 89–90, 93, 112, 138, 175–76, 214–15, 343, 347 victim compensation and, 338 wealth and lifestyle of, xx, 69–70, 80–82, 136–38, 177–79 yacht and slip of, 177, 179, 239, 305, 318 Madoff, Deborah (former daughter-in-law), 284 Madoff, Marion (sister-in-law), 47 Madoff, Mark (son), 43, 47, 69, 82–83, 136, 152, 178, 230, 276, 288 accusations vs., 281–91 father’s arrest and, 4–13, 19, 230, 324 lawsuits vs., 285–7, 294, 321, 324 loans to, 161, 189–90, 198 suicide of, 321–23, 345 wife changes last name, 285, 321 Madoff, Peter (brother) Cincinnati Stock Exchange and, 68 Cohmad and, 72 death of son and, 5, 135, 161 DiPascali and, 81 early life of, 31, 47 Engler and, 66 family redemption checks and, 335 gifts and loans to, 179, 181–82 hedge funds and, 178 lawsuits vs., 50, 292–95 London office and, 48, 69 Madoff confesses to, 5–8 Madoff’s arrest and, 14–15, 17, 22, 226, 230 Mark’s suicide and, 323 Palm Beach home of, 184 role of, in firm, 3, 47–50, 82, 86, 136, 152, 181 Madoff, Ralph (father), 30–31, 33, 35–36, 48 Madoff, Roger (nephew) illness and death of, 3, 5, 135, 161, 285 Madoff, Rose (grandmother), 30 Madoff, Ruth Alpern (wife), 186, 276, 335 accusations vs., 281–84, 286–91 assets forfeited by, 230, 237–38, 274–75, 280–81, 288, 316–18 charities and, 3, 183 children and, 43, 47 criminal charges not filed vs., 274 early life of, 33–34 early work for firm, 26 family illnesses and, 135–36 feelings of, for victims, 252, 278 firm Christmas party and, 11–12, 182 friendships and, 67, 114, 148 lawsuits vs., 288, 294, 338 Madoff’s arrest and, 13, 15–17, 19–20, 226, 229–30, 237, 275 Madoff’s confession and, 6–9, 18 mails jewelry to family, 230, 238 Manhattan penthouse and, 81 marries Madoff, 33–35 son Mark’s suicide and, 323 stands by husband after arrest, 332, 337–38 year before arrest and, 3–4, 179, 184, 193–94 Madoff, Shana (niece), 17, 47, 73, 135–36, 179, 237, 294, 302, 323 Madoff, Solomon David (grandfather), 30 Madoff, Sondra (sister), 30, 47 Madoff, Stephanie (daughter-in-law), 189, 285, 322–23 Madoff, Sylvia Muntner (mother), 30–31, 48 Madoff family foundation, 135–36, 340 Madoff Securities International, Ltd.

It was in this setting, he says, that his Ponzi scheme began. As long as most of his clients left their balances intact, “rolling over” their reported profits and making few if any withdrawals, he could pay out the occasional disbursement from the flood of new money coming in. It is the classic genesis of a Ponzi scheme on Wall Street. A money manager falls short of cash to cover some expense or placate some customer or deliver on some promise, and he steals a little money from client accounts. The rationale is always that he will be able to pay off his theft before it is detected. Perhaps this occasionally happens—those are the Ponzi schemes we never learn about. More typically, the sum of stolen money grows much faster than the honest profits do, and the Ponzi scheme rolls on towards certain destruction.

He later recalled that, in his first telephone conversation with Cheung, he questioned her inadequate knowledge of derivatives and dismissed some of her earlier successful accounting fraud cases. He said later that she seemed “offended” by this. In fact, his questions were totally irrelevant: No knowledge of derivatives is required to investigate a Ponzi scheme. If it’s truly a Ponzi scheme, there are no derivatives; there’s just a liar with a bank account. In fact, Cheung’s previous experience might have been more relevant, since accounting fraud investigations sometimes involve verifying whether the assets shown on the balance sheet actually exist, the precise question a Ponzi scheme investigation must answer. If Cheung had known more about Ponzi schemes, she would have known how to deal with Markopolos’s arrogant and misguided questions. But she didn’t. And if Markopolos had known more about dealing with people, he never would have asked those offensive questions in the first place.


pages: 431 words: 132,416

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos

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backtesting, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, correlation coefficient, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, family office, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index card, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, too big to fail, transaction costs

An older woman who had been using the returns to care for her retarded brother had lost everything; she didn’t know where the two of them would live. A CPA on Long Island had lost both his and his wife’s retirement funds as well as their children’s college funds. “I just got those redemptions and kept investing more. After a while I never took anything out,” he said, casually defining the horror of a Ponzi scheme. There was nothing Ocrant could do but listen and sympathize. So while I talked about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme in the abstract, Mike Ocrant knew what a real Ponzi scheme smelled like, and he knew the human damage it did. To Ocrant, this just didn’t smell like a Ponzi scheme. He didn’t know exactly what it was, possibly front-running, but he just couldn’t believe the evidence. When he returned to New York he began his education, spending several hours on the phone with Frank, learning the language of options, and like any good reporter, trying to punch holes in our theory.

The very first thing the SEC employees who received my submission should have done is gone directly to the SEC database on their computers to see if the red flags I raised were comparable to information learned about other Ponzi schemes. Unfortunately, that would have been impossible because there is no existing SEC database like that. The SEC should build a strong online knowledge center for its staff. In this case when staffers keyed in “Ponzi” they would have been able to find diagnoses of past Ponzi schemes and several checklists teaching them what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to most efficiently solve such cases. A Ponzi scheme is actually one of the easiest fraud schemes to detect because there is no underlying investment product and no trading, while the assets are being diverted to pay offinvestors. Yet this case was assigned to SEC staffers who had absolutely no experience and little knowledge of Ponzi schemes, and they really had no place within the SEC to go to learn about them.

In 2003, Reed Slatkin, cofounder of Internet service provider EarthLink, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of approximately $250 million. In 2008, a Minnesota businessman named Tom Petters was accused by the government of swindling investors out of as much as $3.5 billion. Neil and his co-workers at Benchmark Plus had determined earlier that Petters was likely to be a fraud. There were several reasons I believed almost right from the beginning that Madoff’s operation was a Ponzi scheme rather than front-running or even something more creative. We found out quickly that Madoff was continually on the prowl for new money—although obviously we had no idea of the full extent of that this early in our investigation—and by definition a Ponzi scheme requires a continuous flow of new money to pay old investors.


pages: 393 words: 115,263

Planet Ponzi by Mitch Feierstein

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, diversification, Donald Trump, energy security, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, high net worth, High speed trading, illegal immigration, income inequality, interest rate swap, invention of agriculture, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pensions crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, value at risk, yield curve

His was a useless, wasted, destructive life, but he gave his name to history. A Ponzi scheme is any financial adventure in which depositors can only be paid out by using the money of new investors. As long as the scheme is expanding, everything looks fine. The financial mathematics are bad and getting worse all the time, but you can’t tell how bad a Ponzi scheme is by how you experience the ride. It’s not the ride that matters, it’s the way it ends. Now, you’d be right to think that Ponzi’s investors were dumb. If you think you’d be smarter than them‌—‌relax, you would be. But just as investors have become shrewder over time, so Ponzi schemes have become a little smarter too. The most outrageous recent example of a Ponzi scheme was the one operated by Bernie Madoff, under the guise of a hedge fund.

Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. ‘I am not a champion of lost causes, but of causes not yet won.’ Norman Thomas, 1930 I wish my mum were still alive to enjoy and support Planet Ponzi. This book is for her; she’d have loved it. A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity. US Securities and Exchange Commission If the maintenance of public credit, then, be truly so important, the next enquiry which suggests itself is, by what means it is to be effected?

Naturally, I’m aware that my claim sounds implausible, but I hope it doesn’t strike readers as entirely implausible. After all, just a few years ago in 2008–9, part of the Ponzi scheme was laid bare for all to see in the shape of the subprime mortgage bust and the consequent banking crisis. That crisis was already the largest Ponzi scheme in history, so the track record is there. As for what’s happening today, this book will attempt a patient accounting of the scheme, its debts, its losses, its strategies of concealment. In particular, we’ll find ourselves, again and again, running across the following ingredients, key to any Ponzi scheme: exponentially increasing liabilities‌—‌or, in plain English, rapidly mounting debt; crappy, nonexistent, or inadequate assets; deceitful or nonexistent accounting; feeble, inert, or toothless regulators; a get-rich-quick culture, for preference salted with a whole array of inappropriate incentives; stupid, ignorant, lazy investors‌—‌the greedier, the better; and an astonishing capacity for self-delusion.


pages: 432 words: 127,985

The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry by William K. Black

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, business climate, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Donald Trump, fear of failure, financial deregulation, friendly fire, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, margin call, market bubble, moral hazard, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, The Market for Lemons, transaction costs

Nevertheless, he gave the industry the ability to grow massively, and he took no action to stop the large number of S&Ls that began to grow rapidly. The results were, predictably, disastrous. THE ADC PONZI SCHEME The proposed net worth rule restricted growth by increasing capital requirements for faster growing S&Ls. Gray proposed to reverse the Bank Board’s prior policy, five-year averaging, which reduced the capital requirement for fast growers. Gray acted because of the tendency of fast growers to become the worst failures. The agency did not understand the acquisition, development, and construction (ADC) Ponzi scheme fully when it drafted the rule. This was ironic because the rule struck the control frauds’ Achilles’ heel and proved the most critical act of reregulation. A Ponzi scheme operates by growing rapidly and using a portion of the new money brought in to pay off the old investors while the fraudster pockets the remainder.

They transact with each other or with “straws” on what appears to be an arm’s-length basis, but is really a fraud that massively overvalues assets in order to create fictitious income and hide real losses. Control frauds grow rapidly (Black 1993d). The worst control frauds are Ponzi schemes, named after Carlo Ponzi, an early American fraud. A Ponzi must bring in new money continuously to pay off old investors, and the fraudster pockets a percentage of the take. The record “income” that the accounting fraud produces makes it possible for the Ponzi scheme to grow. S&Ls made superb control frauds because deposit insurance permitted even insolvent S&Ls to grow. The high-tech bubble of the 1990s allowed similarly massive growth. Control frauds are predators. They spot and attack human and regulatory weaknesses. The CEO moves the company to the best spot for accounting fraud and weak regulation.

Surely, it is in the interest of control frauds to make profitable loans so they can stay in business and continue to loot the corporation? Most people (fortunately) do not think like white-collar criminals. Control frauds operate by different, perverse rules that harm society, but that does not mean they are irrational. A Ponzi scheme invariably collapses, but that does not mean that the fraud fails: the corrupt CEO can make a great deal of money looting the company. The purported profitability of the Ponzi schemes, combined with deposit insurance, meant that S&Ls could grow rapidly for several years before they collapsed. Such CEOs did not have the option of making money honestly, as my discussion about the inability to grow out of your problem illustrated. ADC accounting frauds created fictitious income that allowed CEOs to convert firm assets to personal use through normal and seemingly legitimate corporate mechanisms: raises, bonuses, stock options, and perks.6 The worst real estate developers agreed to pay the highest interest rates because they had much to gain.


Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve

Or, even if curiosity did not motivate them, why did the simple realities of key man risk not spur them—for was it wise to continue having a man of seventy running a portion of this ostensibly very lucrative business no one else in the firm understood? Shedding light on this question are Bernie Madoff’s own contentions that it should have been abundantly obvious to the SEC that he was running a Ponzi scheme. Madoff said, “I was astonished. They never even looked at my stock records.” He also noted that investigators did not check with the Depository Trust Company. “If you’re looking at a Ponzi scheme, it’s the first thing you do,” said Madoff.4 If Madoff believed that the commission, charged with overseeing thousands of firms, should have had no difficulty in ascertaining that a fraud was underway at his company, then surely his two sons, who spent their entire workweeks directing a part of the firm, had to have figured it out.

Almost comically, the House Appropriations Committee substantially scaled back the budget request for fiscal year 2012 and provided only the same amount of money as it had in fiscal year 2011, despite the new challenges presented by Dodd-Frank. Most puzzling of all, however, were some of the reasons cited by the committee for the decision, including that it “remains concerned with the SEC’s track record in dealing with Ponzi schemes.”165 The solution to the commission’s inability to properly identify and prosecute more cases of Ponzi schemes clearly was not to leave it even more bereft of resources than before. The decisions to reduce the resources of the SEC are seemingly politically motivated attempts to limit the agency’s reach. After all, legislators are wrong to cite the size of the federal deficit as a reason to curtail the SEC’s budget so substantially, because the SEC’s collection of fees and fines is greater than its own budget.166 Fraud, Market Manipulation, and Insider Trading 195 The SEC is hardly a perfect organization.

Fraud, Market Manipulation, and Insider Trading Ibid., 83. Darby, “In Ponzi We Trust.” Ibid. Straney, Securities Fraud, 83. Ponzi v. Fessenden, 258 U.S. 254 (1922). Erin Skarda, “William Miller, the Original Schemer,” Time, March 7, 2012, http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,288 04,2104982_2104983_2104992,00.html. “A Century of Ponzi Schemes,” DealBook (blog), New York Times, December 15, 2008, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/a-century-of -ponzi-schemes. Skarda, “William Miller.” Darby, “In Ponzi We Trust.” John Steele Gordon, “Pyramid Schemes Are as American as Apple Pie,” Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2008, http://online.wsj.com/news /articles/SB122948144507313073. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. “The Match King,” Economist, December 19, 2007, http://www.economist .com/node/10278667.


pages: 263 words: 84,410

Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused by Mike Dash

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Ponzi scheme, random walk, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, trade route, tulip mania

The hyacinth trade Krelage, Bloemenspeculatie in Nederland, pp. 142–96, and Krelage, Drie Eeuwen Bloembollenexport, pp. 13, 645–55; Garber, “Tulip-mania,” pp. 553–54; Bulgatz, Ponzi Schemes, pp. 109–14. A $4,000 bottle of Coca-Cola Pendergrast, For God, Country, p. 211. The history of the tulip to the present day Krelage, Drie Eeuwen Bloembollen-export, pp. 15–18. Craze for dahlias Bulgatz, Ponzi Schemes, pp. 108–09. During this episode there was even talk of the propagation of blue dahlias—as much a botanical impossibility as the black tulip. Craze for gladioli Posthumus, “Tulip Mania in Holland,” p. 148. Chinese spider lily mania Malkiel, Random Walk down Wall Street, pp. 82–83. Florida land boom Bulgatz, Ponzi Schemes, pp. 46–75. BIBLIOGRAPHY Unpublished Material Municipal Archives, Haarlem Notarial registers, vols. 120–50 Burial registers, vols. 70–76 Index to Heerenboek Manuscript entitled Aanteekeningen van C.

Many of the short accounts of the subject are based on badly flawed popular studies, most notably Charles Mackay’s entertaining but misleading Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Ware: Wordsworth Editions, 1995), which remains in print today despite having originally appeared in 1841. (Much more reliable, though still dependent on secondary sources, is the fairly extensive modern reanalysis by Joseph Bulgatz, published in Ponzi Schemes, Invaders from Mars and More Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds [New York: Harmony, 1992], which has, however, attracted very little attention.) Apart from contemporary pamphlets, collected by E. H. Krelage in De Pamfletten van den Tulpenwindhandel 1636–1637 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1942), the most valuable Dutch sources are the solicitors’ acts, which still exist for most of the cities caught up in the mania and record not only some of the (comparatively rare) legal agreements for the purchase of tulip bulbs but also the proceedings brought as a result of the collapse of prices in 1637.

Cleanliness Deursen, Plain Lives, pp. 19, 41; Zumthor, Daily Life in Rembrandt’s Holland, pp. 137–39, 169; Brereton, Travels in Holland, p. 68. Population Israel, Dutch Republic, p. 328. Baudartius and the pressure of overpopulation Deursen, Plain Lives, pp. 3–4, 8. Spread of the fashion for gardening in the Netherlands Cotterell, Amsterdam, pp. 88, 131; Brereton, Travels in Holland, p. 38; Mundy, Travels of Peter Mundy, vol. 4, p. 75; Segal, Tulips Portrayed, p. 8; Bulgatz, Ponzi Schemes, p. 86. Dutch savings Temple, Observations, p. 102. The gambling impulse Deursen, Plain Lives, pp. 67–68, 105–06; Schama, Embarrassment of Riches, pp. 306–07, 347; Zumthor, Daily Life in Rembrandt’s Holland, p. 76. Chapter 10. Boom The course of the mania is set out best in E. H. Krelage, Bloemenspeculatie in Nederland: De Tulpomanie van 1636–37 en de Hyacintenhandel 1720–36 (Amsterdam, 1942).


pages: 289 words: 22,394

Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie

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cognitive dissonance, Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, joint-stock company, New Journalism, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publish or perish, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy

The pyramid then splits in two, with the two players in the row of two each becoming hosts eligible to make $4,000. Such a deal! Pyramid schemes rely on the same button-pushing memes that the Ponzi scheme does and add in the powerful force of evangelism. Since infected people have a stake in enrolling new players in the pyramid virus, the illusion of reward doesn’t need to be as great as with the Ponzi scheme. Rather than simply attracting new investors, there is now an army of recruiters intentionally infecting people with the pyramid virus. Although the pyramid virus’s spreading mechanism is different from the Ponzi scheme’s, the two institutions fall apart for the same reason. Dependent on exponential growth, they quickly 198 Designer Viruses (How to Start a Cult) exhaust the supply of players. The initiator of the pyramid needs to enroll only 14 people to make his $4,000; after ten pyramid splittings, new recruits to the row of eight would need to enroll 14,336 new players, for a total investment of $14,336,000, in order for all of them to cash out.

When the newspaper story broke and people stopped investing, Ponzi was found to owe $7 million and have only $4 million in assets. The later investors were out of luck. *An entertaining exploration of Ponzi’s original scheme and several other interesting virus-like phenomena appear in Joseph Bulgatz’s book Ponzi Schemes, Invaders from Mars, & More Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Harmony Books, 1992). 197 virus of the mind The mind virus in the Ponzi scheme, though, had nothing to do with the scheme itself. It was the spreading of the strategy-meme Invest with Ponzi. Bundled with powerful button-pushing window of opportunity and reward memes—a Get rich quick meme—Ponzi’s scheme attracted so much attention that it spread quickly throughout the general public in Massachusetts and neighboring states.

It depends upon the intentions and the skill of their creators—and on the memes those creators are infected with! I would expect to see many profit-motivated viruses, many power-motivated ones, and perhaps a few motivated by someone’s vision of a better future for humanity. Profit Viruses Profit-motivated designer viruses, many of which are completely legal and aboveboard today, have their shady origins in the crooked Ponzi scheme.* Charles Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who opened a business in Boston in 1919 called the Securities Exchange Company. He offered to repay people’s investments in 90 days with 50 percent interest: an investment of $10 would bring $15 in three months. His story was that he bought international postal reply coupons in Europe and, due to currency fluctuations, redeemed them in the United States at a profit.


pages: 478 words: 126,416

Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War

Ponzi schemes break down when the supply of new investors is insufficient to meet the withdrawals of the old. The greatest of all Ponzi schemes in history was that perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, who claimed high returns with low volatility from an investment strategy using derivative securities. In fact, no investment activity took place.25 During the global financial crisis the demand for redemptions increased and incoming funds shrank. Unable to meet withdrawals, Madoff turned himself in to the FBI and was duly sentenced to 140 years in jail. Some of those who invested with Ponzi and Madoff made money. Even if you know, or suspect, a Ponzi scheme, you might hope to get out in time, with a profit. I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone. Ponzi and Madoff went to prison because they lied. But the new economy bubble of 1999–2000 was a – perhaps legal – Ponzi scheme. Early investors made large profits, but it was later investors, attracted by the prospect of similar gains, who provided the funds that made these profits possible.

Warren Buffett famously said of these structures that ‘it is impossible to default on a promise to pay nothing’.24 The Ponzi scheme is closely related to the martingale. This approach to thinking yourself rich is named after Charles Ponzi, who told investors (correctly) in the 1920s that international reply coupons, used by the world’s postal authorities, were mispriced. Profits could be earned by buying in one country and selling in another. Sadly the supply of coupons was insufficient to meet the demand of investors. So Ponzi resorted to fraud. The theft was not complicated – high returns to savers were achieved by paying any withdrawals from the funds subscribed by new investors. The new investors were attracted by the success of those who had been in the scheme from the beginning. Ponzi schemes break down when the supply of new investors is insufficient to meet the withdrawals of the old.

Securities with no intrinsic value were bought and sold repeatedly by people whose motive for buying was knowledge of the profits that had already been made in such stocks and the expectation (fulfilled in many cases) that they would make similar profits by selling these stocks on at higher prices still. Eventually, as in all Ponzi schemes, the supply of fresh buyers ran out, the bubble burst and the share prices of internet stocks collapsed. The boundaries between scam, deception, self-deception and mistake are fuzzy. In the new economy bubble some early-stage investors made money, but most stayed on in the hope of making still more. Even highly intelligent people overestimate their ability to time the correction of market mispricing. Legendary investors such as Julian Robertson and George Soros misjudged the new economy bubble and damaged their reputations. Warren Buffett stayed resolutely on the sidelines, and was derided for his failure to ‘get it’. Isaac Newton famously lost money in the South Sea Bubble, an early Ponzi scheme. As the new economy bubble expanded, I asked myself often, ‘Do people in financial conglomerates selling products really believe these things, or are they cynical in their deception?’


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor

A few critics (primarily advocates of gold-backed currency) have called fractional reserve banking a kind of Ponzi scheme, and there is some truth to the claim.5 As long as the real economy of goods and services within a nation is growing, an expanding money supply seems justifiable, arguably necessary. However, units of currency are essentially claims on labor and natural resources — and as those claims multiply (with the growth of the money supply), and as resources deplete, eventually the remaining resources will be insufficient to satisfy all of the existing monetary claims. Those claims will lose value, perhaps dramatically and suddenly. When this happens, paper and electronic currency systems based on money creation through fractional reserve banking will produce results somewhat similar to those of a collapsing Ponzi scheme: the vast majority of those involved will lose much or all of what they thought they had.

There are plenty of historic examples of currency failures, so this would not be a unique occurrence.18 Some who come to understand that government deficit spending is unsustainable immediately conclude that the sky is falling and doom is imminent. It is disquieting, after all, to realize for the first time that the world economic system is a kind of Ponzi scheme that is only kept going by the confidence of its participants. But as long as deficit spending doesn’t exceed certain bounds, and as long as the economy resumes growth in the not-too-distant future, then the scheme can be sustained for quite some time. In fact, Ponzi schemes theoretically can continue forever — if the number of potential participants is infinite. The absolute size of government debt is not necessarily a critical factor, as long as future growth will be sufficient so that the proportion of debt relative to revenues remains the same.

., shareholders]; and if the loss is more than its owners can profitably sustain, the bank will have to close its doors.21 So, given their exposure via derivatives, bad real estate loans, and MBSs, the banks aren’t making new loans because they can’t take on more risk. The only way to reduce that risk is for government to guarantee the loans. Again, as long as the down-side of this business cycle is short, such a plan could work in principle. But whether it actually will work in the current situation is problematic. As noted above, Ponzi schemes can theoretically go on forever, as long as the number of new investors is infinite. Yet in the real world the number of potential investors is always finite. There are limits. And when those limits are hit, Ponzi schemes can unravel very quickly. All Loaned Up and Nowhere to Go These are the four categories of debt. Over the short term, there is no room for growth of debt in the household or corporate sectors. Within the financial sector, there is little room for growth in productive lending. The shadow banks can still write more derivative contracts, but that doesn’t do anything to help the real economy and just spreads risk throughout the system.


pages: 296 words: 86,610

The Bitcoin Guidebook: How to Obtain, Invest, and Spend the World's First Decentralized Cryptocurrency by Ian Demartino

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3D printing, AltaVista, altcoin, bitcoin, blockchain, buy low sell high, capital controls, cloud computing, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, forensic accounting, global village, GnuPG, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, Jacob Appelbaum, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, Oculus Rift, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, ransomware, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Skype, smart contracts, Steven Levy, the medium is the message, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Zimmermann PGP

With a business such as an online casino, that might be reasonable; in 99 percent of other cases it is not and the company should be avoided. The most important thing to remember is that if it sounds like a scam, it probably is. Be wary of anyone who promises you instant or unrealistic returns on your investment. The basics of Ponzi schemes work in cryptocurrency just as well as in any other business. If older investors are being paid with the capital from new investments, you are dealing with a Ponzi scheme. People will claim all sorts of things to make it seem as if revenue is coming from elsewhere, so you have to do your own research and dig deep into anything at which you are going to throw any money. The offenders listed below hail from all over the Bitcoin spectrum. Many had been considered pillars of the community before they went down.

It is possible for cloud-mining companies to use the blockchain to prove they are actually mining and paying those profits to customers, but some don’t. If the company does not prove it has the hashing power it says it has, don’t go anywhere near it. Without that evidence, it is impossible to know whether what you are investing in is an actual mining operation and not a Ponzi scheme. Cloud-mining companies have been caught paying off older investors with new customers’ purchases, which is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme.2 Some people contend that cloud mining doesn’t make sense. If mining is more profitable than the fees gathered from customers, the reasonable question to ask is, why wouldn’t the companies instead mine with that hardware themselves rather than pass those profits on to customers? Cloud-mining companies often say they use the money as start-up capital, but few, if any, have ever shown evidence to support this claim.

E-gold was mentioned in a 2005 article in the New York Times about online criminals selling stolen credit cards. According to the article, they were using E-gold as their preferred method of payment because of its global reach and anonymous accounts.6 By this time, E-gold had become the second-largest online payment service, second only to the rapidly growing PayPal. It wasn’t just card thieves who were attracted to E-gold. Ponzi schemes were common with E-gold. Jackson worked with authorities and complied with government requests for information on user accounts—as it turned out, E-gold was not very anonymous if Jackson wanted to reveal a user’s identity. But the Secret Service, which was investigating the stolen credit card numbers, decided not to work with Jackson and sought to bring E-gold into the regulated space along with the likes of MoneyGram and Western Union.


pages: 305 words: 69,216

A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent Into Depression by Richard A. Posner

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Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, diversified portfolio, equity premium, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, Home mortgage interest deduction, illegal immigration, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shock, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, statistical model, too big to fail, transaction costs, very high income

The typical Ponzi schemer is a charming con man who dangles promises of instant wealth before suckers. The more moderate the returns promised by the Ponzi schemer, the longer the scheme can survive the loss of capital caused by the schemer's paying his investors their promised returns out of principal that is not earning what has been promised. Some journalists, confusing Ponzi schemes with pyramid schemes, have described the housing and credit bubbles as Ponzi schemes. That is inaccurate. The essence of a Ponzi scheme is deception. The investor thinks that the promised high return on his investment will come from the promoter's putting the investment to work, not that his investment will be used to pay other investors in order to keep the scheme going. There need be no deception in a pyramid scheme, as where a person pays a fee to become a retail seller of a manufacturer's product and is promised a share of the fee of any other retail seller whom he recruits.

But it seems that some of the funds of funds invested in Madoffs Ponzi scheme without performing the kind of "due diligence" that their customers had been led to expect. If the confidence of the investment community in the vigilance of the funds of funds is shaken, this will cause additional requests by customers of hedge funds to withdraw their money. But the aspect of the Madoff scandal that I want to emphasize is the light it sheds on a philosophy of government that contributed to the depression. This fascinating swindle of apparently unprecedented scope had been going on for decades, yet it had not been detected by the Securities and Exchange Commission, even though, beginning eight years ago, a money manager named Harry Markopolos had bombarded the commission with accusations that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. In this common type of fraud, the investor usually is promised a ridiculously high return on his investment—10 percent a month would not be unusual.

The government was doing nothing to prick the bubble and too little to keep leverage within safe bounds. The longer the world economy went without a depression, the worse the collapse would be when it finally, inevitably, came. Warren Buffett is reported to have said that you don't know who's swimming naked until the tide goes out. The receding stock market tide exposed Bernard Madoff, who is said to have confessed to having pulled off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. The scheme would have lasted longer and the losses to investors would have been greater had the stock market crash been postponed. The crash reduced the value of Madoff's hedge fund, but more important (because the fund probably had little in the way of assets), the general economic collapse caused requests for redemptions of investments in hedge funds and other investment funds to soar, and Madoff could not honor his investors' requests for redemption and as a result his scheme collapsed.


pages: 180 words: 61,340

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

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Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, fiat currency, full employment, German hyperinflation, Irish property bubble, Kenneth Rogoff, offshore financial centre, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, South Sea Bubble, tulip mania, women in the workforce

The Irish Property Council has counted twenty-nine suicides by property developers since the crash—in a country where suicide often goes unreported and undercounted. “I said to all the guys, ‘Always take money off the table.’ Not many of them took money off the table,” says Dermont Desmond, an Irish billionaire who made his fortune from software in the early 1990s, and so counts as old money. The Irish nouveau riche may have created a Ponzi scheme, but it was a Ponzi scheme in which they themselves believed. So, too, for that matter, did some large number of ordinary Irish citizens who bought houses for fantastic sums. Ireland’s 87 percent rate of homeownership is the highest in the world. There’s no such thing as a nonrecourse mortgage in Ireland: the guy who pays too much for his house is not allowed simply to hand the keys to the bank and walk away.

The stocks of the three main Irish banks, Anglo Irish, AIB, and Bank of Ireland, had fallen by between a fifth and a half in a single trading session, and a run on Irish bank deposits had started. The Irish government was about to guarantee all the obligations of the six biggest Irish banks. The most plausible explanation for all of this was Morgan Kelly’s narrative: that the Irish economy had become a giant Ponzi scheme, and the country was effectively bankrupt. But it was so starkly at odds with the story peddled by Irish government officials and senior Irish bankers—that the banks merely had a “liquidity” problem and that Anglo Irish was “fundamentally sound”—that the two could not be reconciled. The government had a report newly thrown together by Merrill Lynch, which declared that “all of the Irish banks are profitable and well-capitalized.”

He had read Morgan Kelly’s newspaper articles and even paid Kelly a visit in his University College office. To Ingram’s eyes there appeared to be a vast difference between what the Irish banks were saying and what they were doing. To get at it he ignored what they were saying and went looking for knowledgeable insiders in the commercial property market. He interviewed them, as a journalist might. On March 13, 2008, six months before the Irish real estate Ponzi scheme collapsed, Ingram published a report in which he simply quoted verbatim what market insiders had told him about various banks’ lending to commercial real estate developers. The Irish banks were making far riskier loans in Ireland than they were in Britain, but even in Britain, the report revealed, they were the nuttiest lenders around: in that category, Anglo Irish, Bank of Ireland, and AIB came, in that order, first, second, and third.


pages: 404 words: 124,705

The Village Effect: How Face-To-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter by Susan Pinker

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Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra

I vowed to stay until we had secured mortgage relief,” he told a reporter for the local paper. “That was what initially kept me here.” Working as the victims’ financial sleuth, manager, and problem-solver, Curran (along with two other adult children of Jones’s victims, Ginny Nelles and Joey Davis) discovered that this was one tightly interwoven social group. It was also an aging and fragile one. By July 2010, one year after Earl Jones’s Ponzi scheme was revealed, three of Jones’s elderly victims had died, one had been diagnosed with breast cancer, five had lost their homes, and another eleven were about to lose theirs as the one-year grace period negotiated with their banks expired. Thirty-five others were forced to accept handouts to pay for rent, food, Ensure, and adult diapers from the charities they had not long before supported with their own donations.1 No one wants to spend their golden years financially vulnerable and dependent on others.

And then there were his own expenses, such as mortgages on four condos, including one in Boca Raton and another on a golf course in Mont-Tremblant, a Quebec ski resort. There was also a condo in Maine that he’d bought for his intellectually handicapped daughter, Kimberly. There were private school fees, cars, and cruises, too, all bankrolled by his clients’ nest eggs. He had been running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme built on his own community’s life savings. Coughlan was on holiday with her family in Maine in early July 2009 when she got a call from her bank. Her checks were bouncing. Soon other members of her social set were discovering that their money was mysteriously inaccessible. With a trip to New York planned, forty-two-year-old Ginny Nelles—whose late father had been a close friend of Jones’s—discovered that the money she wanted to withdraw from her account with “Uncle Earl” was out of reach, just when she needed it for a family holiday.

The money was ostensibly invested in her account with Earl to give her an immediate high rate of return; Wendy wanted to share this income with her children and grandchildren. On Jones’s advice and against the diversification mantra of most financial planners, she collapsed all her accounts in other banks in order to consolidate her money with him. I met with Ginny Nelles in November 2009, five months after Earl Jones’s Ponzi scheme had been exposed. Her mother was about to lose her house and had no source of income. Ginny and her brother would likely never recover their inheritances from their father, much less their own savings. And this blow had struck after grave health crises for both Ginny and her brother. Yet little of this psychological wear and tear was evident at first glance. Ginny was poised and articulate, crisply dressed in a white blouse and pearls, her highlighted blond hair neatly tied back.


pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley

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3D printing, call centre, clean water, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

It could be the father of his child’s playmate in the sandbox who runs a hedge fund on his BlackBerry while changing dirty diapers. Or it could even be the kid herself, who has just the look Mrs. 2009 needs for her newest marketing campaign. Even when the Elsewhere class ostensibly go out purely to socialize, they find that they cannot stop themselves from glancing at their text messages, talking work, or making valuable introductions across the table. It all may be a Ponzi scheme, but it certainly is no shell game: In an information and service economy, much of what drives success is, in fact, social skills. This new merger between work and play can even be seen in the names of the giant corporations that now dominate our business world. Whereas in industrial capitalism the monikers of corporate behemoths attempted to connote nationalism, grandeur, and heaviness, in the new info-economy playfulness is paramount.

As long as demand for housing continued apace, then everyone’s housing values increased (or more specifically, those in white neighborhoods—but that’s another story).6 Today housing wealth represents over one third of all net worth for American households, and that figure is much higher for low- and moderate-income families.7 Likewise, construction jobs were created. In 2008, the home-building industry directly employed 7.5 million workers, up from 1.25 million in 1945.8 Welcome to the Ponzi scheme we call the American real estate market. But this all worked because it was a relatively closed system. Who was footing the bill for high wages for American workers? American consumers, that’s who. It was no big problem, since these were the same folks as the workers who were demanding and receiving higher wages—after they clocked out. Wealth, in other words, was shared fairly broadly. Hence the rosy, if overly simplistic, picture of William H.

Even at a national level, this relationship holds. If you live in a home you own—especially if you enjoy the security of owning it outright—you have less need for the government to take care of you with a strong social insurance and pension system.16 Rather, you are actually living in your own private piggybank. What’s more, it is the family home, more than the stock market, that keeps our inequality Ponzi scheme going and that drives government policy and private choices. The median size of new homes has increased to 2,500 square feet today, up by almost 50 percent since 1976. Likewise, the proportion of new homes with four or more bedrooms has doubled and the number with three or more bathrooms has tripled in just the last twenty years. These figures, and the debt burden that drives them, make the home mortgage interest deduction the most sacrosanct federal policy after social security17 As a result, cheap and easy credit has been a major reason why the United States recently dipped into negative savings for the first time since the Great Depression.18And though manufacturing of machinery and other durable goods has pretty much flown the coop (that’s the coop, not the co-op), new homes and renovations are about the only thing left that we actually physically construct ourselves.


pages: 411 words: 80,925

What's Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing the Way We Live by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers

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Airbnb, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bike sharing scheme, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, George Akerlof, global village, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, information retrieval, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, out of africa, Parkinson's law, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Simon Kuznets, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, South of Market, San Francisco, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thorstein Veblen, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, web of trust, women in the workforce, Zipcar

Reconnection Beyond Consumerism On June 29, 2009, Bernard Madoff stood in front of Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court in New York, pleaded guilty to an eleven-count criminal complaint, and was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed. Madoff’s notorious crime was the creation of a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person. But while Madoff’s actions were abhorrent and the punishment was fitting, we have all in some way been a part of and fallen victim to a far greater Ponzi scheme. The last two hundred years of industrialized growth have been a Ponzi scheme. We have depleted our natural resources, spewed poisonous gases into our atmosphere, and created wasteful products that will far outlive our own existence. In essence we have taken without the intent of giving or ever repaying. The results can no longer be swept under the proverbial carpets of “liberal conspiracy” or “consumer denial.”

When the great recession hit in 2008, some pundits and economists heralded the end of consumerism, while some suggested that consumers needed to be prodded to shop again. Either way, they assumed that the traditional model of consumerism, the one in which we buy products, use them, throw them away, and then buy more, would continue, even if at a hobbled rate. While the “spend more, consume more” way out may be a short-term fix, it is neither sustainable nor healthy. While the rampant unregulated financial systems led to investors losing millions in Ponzi schemes, hedge funds, insurance companies, and even savings banks, everyday people pursuing the supposed American dream felt the worst impact. In all corners of the world, millions lost their homes, their jobs, their buying power, and their confidence. But within weeks of the crash, there were signs of a new and increasing consumer awareness, tinged with anger. We have been living in a society that for more than fifty years has encouraged us to live beyond our means, both financial and ecological.

Even those on the isolated peripheries of our society, such as someone in Siberia or on the equator, or someone with a unique hobby such as collecting miniature Polish pipe organs, can find a group to share and connect with based on common interests. Every investigative journalist knows that the key to breaking a news story is that money always leads to the top. Whether it’s Al Capone or Bernard Madoff, taxes or Ponzi schemes, money is linked to power and control. If we apply these principles to Web 2.0, we find a surprising new relationship between money and power. The Internet is inherently democratic and decentralized. One of the first celebrated examples of this autonomous force was in 1991 when a twenty-one-year-old Finnish student posted a simple request on Usenet (a global discussion forum) for help from his mother’s Helsinki apartment.


J.K. Lasser's New Tax Law Simplified: Tax Relief From the HIRE Act, Health Care Reform, and More by Barbara Weltman

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Home mortgage interest deduction, mortgage debt, Ponzi scheme

A timely election applies to the year for which it is made and all later years unless the IRS grants permission to revoke the election. As recent court decisions have demonstrated, the election cannot be made retroactively and no extension can be granted to make a late election. Thus, the election cannot be made on an amended return (which, by definition, is filed after the due date of the return for the year in question). Investment Losses in Ponzi Schemes The Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and other similar financial frauds in 2008 left thousands of investors without their money and with uncertainty about how to handle their losses for tax purposes. Unfortunately for investors, more financial schemes are being uncovered every day. The IRS has created a safe harbor for affected investors under which they can treat losses as a theft loss and claim a deduction. The safe harbor avoids problems of proof of how much income reported in prior years was fictitious or a return of capital.

The portion of the gain from the sale of this small business stock that is excludable from income for regular tax purposes is includible in alternative minimum taxable income. For instance, if the 50 percent exclusion applies, then seven percent of the exclusion becomes a tax preference for the AMT. P1: OTA/XYZ P2: ABC c04 JWBT413/Weltman October 14, 2010 14:52 Printer Name: Yet to Come INVESTMENT LOSSES IN PONZI SCHEMES Mark-to-Market Reporting Those who regularly trade in securities may make a tax election, called markto-market accounting, to treat all securities positions as having been sold at the end of the year for their fair market value, with all gains and losses deemed to be ordinary gains or losses. Thus, those who incur losses would be able to report them all as ordinary losses rather than as capital losses subject to limitations.

See also Married couples Joint tenant, 4, 158 Keogh plan, 138 Kiddie tax: additional Medicare tax, 18 AMT exemption, 117 “child” definition for, 16 income shifting, 126 planning strategies, 17–18 threshold amounts, 16–17 Leased cars, 135–136 Leasehold improvements, 130 Legal expenses, 118 Life expectancy: Joint and Last Survivor Expectancy table, 64–77 Single Life Expectancy table, 78 Life insurance policies: accelerated death benefits, 30 tax-free exchange, 27 Lifetime gift tax exemption amount, 162 Lifetime Learning credit, 37 Limited liability companies (LLCs), 89 Limited liability partnerships (LLPs), 89 Living trust, 81, 158 LLCs. See Limited liability companies (LLCs) LLPs. See Limited liability partnerships (LLPs) Local tax, prepaid, 124 Lodging, travel expenses substantiation, 137 Long-term care insurance: deductible portion of, 26 exclusion for benefits paid from, 30 planning strategies, 27 riders, 27 Losses: in federal disaster areas, 108 in passive activities, 86–89 in Ponzi schemes, 85–86 Loss on sale of residence, 9 Lottery winnings, 155 Luxury cars, 132 P1: OTA/XYZ P2: ABC ind JWBT413/Weltman October 18, 2010 15:26 Printer Name: Yet to Come INDEX Making Work Pay tax credit: eligibility, 93–94 expiring tax laws, 167 MAGI cap, 95 payment method, 94 planning strategies, 96 Schedule M, 94 for self-employed individuals, 149–150 tax savings, 50 Mandatory health coverage.


pages: 295 words: 66,824

A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market by John Allen Paulos

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Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, business climate, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elliott wave, endowment effect, Erdős number, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, four colour theorem, George Gilder, global village, greed is good, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, mental accounting, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, passive investing, Paul Erdős, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, six sigma, Stephen Hawking, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

The tango of exuberance and despair can and does affect estimates of stock’s fundamental value. As the economist Robert Shiller has long argued quite persuasively, however, the fundamentals of a stock don’t change nearly as much or as rapidly as its price. Ponzi and the Irrational Discounting of the Future Before returning to other applications of these financial notions, it may be helpful to take a respite and examine an extreme case of undervaluing the future: pyramids, Ponzi schemes, and chain letters. These differ in their details and colorful storylines. A recent example in California took the form of all-women dinner parties whose new members contributed cash appetizers. Whatever their outward appearance, however, almost all these scams involve collecting money from an initial group of “investors” by promising them quick and extraordinary returns. The returns come from money contributed by a larger group of people.

Alas, the journey from “have-lots” to “have-nots” was all too frequently by way of “have-dots.” Maybe our genes are to blame. (They always seem to get the rap.) Natural selection probably favors organisms that respond to local or near-term events and ignore distant or future ones, which are discounted in somewhat the same way that future money is. Even the ravaging of the environment may be seen as a kind of global Ponzi scheme, the early “investors” doing well, later ones less well, until a catastrophe wipes out all gains. A quite different illustration of our short-sightedness comes courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Imp in the Bottle.” The story tells of a genie in a bottle able and willing to satisfy your every romantic whim and financial desire. You’re offered the opportunity to buy this bottle and its amazing denizen at a price of your choice.

Ebbers, Bernie acquisition appetite of arrogance of author emails offer of help Digex purchase down-home style of forced to sell WCOM stock fraud by pump and dump strategy and purchase of WorldCom stock by economics, human behavior and The Education of a Speculator (Niederhoffer) “efficient frontier” of portfolios (Markowitz) Efficient Market Hypothesis background of impact of accounting scandals on increased efficiency results in decreased predictability investors beliefs impacting moving averages and paradoxes of randomness and rationale for resistance and support levels and versions of Elliott, Ralph Nelson Ellison, Larry employee remuneration vs. CEO remuneration endowment effect Enron accounting practices margin calls on CEO Ken Lay environmental exploitation, as Ponzi scheme equity-risk premium Erdös, Paul Escher, M. C. European stock market euros benefits of standardizing European currencies euro-pound/pound-euro exchange rate expected excess return expected value. see also mean value covariance and formula for obtaining graphing against risk (Markowitz optimal portfolios) insurance company example “maximization of expected value,” mu (m) probability theory and exploitable opportunities, tendency to disappear Fama, Eugene Fibonacci numbers Elliott wave theory and golden ratio and fibre-optic cable fifty-two-week highs “flocking effect,” Internet Fooled by Randomness (Taleb) formulas Black-Scholes options compound interest expected value fractals Frank, Robert fraud. see also accounting scandals applying Benford’s Law to corporate fraud applying Benford’s law to income tax fraud Bernie Ebbers Salomon Smith Barney benefitting illegally from IPOs WCOM fraud wrongdoing of brokers at Merrill Lynch free market economy French, Ken Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (Gould) fund managers. see also stock brokers/analysts fundamental analysis determining fundamental value by discounting process evidence supporting present value and sequence complexity and trading rules and as sober investment strategy stock valuation with unexciting nature of future value P/E ratio as measure of future earnings expectations present value and gambler’s fallacy games gambling and probability game theory guessing games Monopoly Parrondo’s paradox St.


pages: 233 words: 66,446

Bitcoin: The Future of Money? by Dominic Frisby

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3D printing, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, capital controls, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer age, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, friendly fire, game design, Isaac Newton, Julian Assange, litecoin, M-Pesa, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Ted Nelson, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing complete, War on Poverty, web application, WikiLeaks

E-gold was already under FBI investigation in 2005. By 2009, it had been shut down. Its founders faced all sorts of legal calamities – and are still dealing with the fall-out. I’ve no doubt seeing their fate is part of the reason Bitcoin’s founder so prizes his anonymity. Other companies with similar models to E-gold sprang up and failed in the Noughties – eBullion, Standard Reserve, INTGold and even a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that had no gold at all, OS-Gold. James Turk, founder of the gold storage facility Goldmoney, had also patented an e-gold payments system, but Goldmoney abandoned this in 2012 because of the cost of compliance. So, Digicash failed because it had an erratic man in charge and it went bust. E-gold failed because the FBI shut it down. For all their genius, the success of both systems was dependent on the companies that ran them – they had a central point of failure.

At the climax of the panic, it hit $266, only to collapse to $70 a week later. Over the next six months, the range was flat around $100. More organizations started accepting bitcoins. Venture capital began pouring into the sector, despite continuing criminal activity ranging from hacking to money laundering. One notorious organization – the Texas Bitcoin Savings and Trust – was accused of being a Ponzi scheme. In court, its founder Trendon Shavers tried to argue that bitcoins are not real money to sidestep misappropriation-of-funds charges, but the judge ruled that ‘Bitcoin is a currency or form of money.’ In August, Bitcoin was also ruled a unit of account by the German Federal Ministry of Finance. In October, after some three years of trying, the FBI finally managed to shut down the Silk Road and seized some 27,000 bitcoins.

A friend and I once got involved in a pyramid scheme in the late 1990s. You paid £3,000 to get your place on the pyramid. You then, if I remember right, had to find eight people beneath you each paying £3,000 to you, so you made £24,000. They then had to find eight more. Did I make money? Er, no. This scene reminded me of the meetings I went to then, with large wads of cash being passed about. It’s a pyramid scheme, a Ponzi scheme, a scam. Alarm bells are going off. Should I get rid of my coins here and now? Now, like then, there are all sorts at the meeting. In addition to those already mentioned there are several Indians, a load of black guys either African or London-born, a proper Shoreditch twit with ridiculous hair and white leather jacket, people from all over Europe, a load of grungy-looking guys who are either homeless (complete with tracksuits, hoodies, roll ups, cans of lager and rotten teeth) or perennials on the festival circuit, a few couples, some city bods of various shapes and sizes, and goodness knows what else.


pages: 823 words: 220,581

Debunking Economics - Revised, Expanded and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, open economy, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave

.: 348) It would be foolish to deny that we have a similar weakness in modern capitalist society: our tendency to be sucked into Ponzi schemes by a banking sector that profits from rising debt. As I explain in the next chapter, when lending is undertaken for investment or consumption, debt tends not to get out of hand. But when borrowing is undertaken to speculate on asset prices, debt tends to grow more rapidly than income. This growth causes a false boom while it is happening, but results in a collapse once debt growth terminates – as it has done now. Though borrowers can be blamed for having euphoric expectations of unsustainable capital gains, in reality the real blame for Ponzi schemes lies with their financiers – the banks and the finance sector in general – rather than the borrowers. That was blindingly obvious during the Subprime Bubble in the USA, where many firms willfully wrote loans when they knew – or should have known – that borrowers could not repay them.

But inevitably a crisis will result because the borrowing is adding to debt levels without increasing the capacity of the economy to service those debts. Though individuals can operate with a soft budget constraint while the price bubble lasts, the entire economy is stuck with the hard budget constraint that, in the long run, the debt must be serviced from income.12 If we are to prevent this process playing out yet again in the future, then we need to prevent the formation of Ponzi schemes in the first place. Unfortunately, the way that financial assets are currently defined contains the seeds of not one Ponzi scheme but two. Because shares currently have an indefinite lifespan, it is quite possible for someone to assert, as Henry Blodget did about Amazon in 1998, that a given company’s shares will go from $1 to $400 in a matter of a year (Blodget 2010). Faced with those hypothetical gains, ordinarily sane people are liable to succumb to the euphoria that produces them and be willing to borrow to speculate.

Rather than smoothly choosing between work and leisure, in a completely free market system they face the choice of either working or starving. In a market economy attenuated by the welfare state, this choice is less stark, but still present. A three-horse race This point will become clearer in later chapters, when I outline the monetary approach to economics that I take, in which bankers are treated as a separate social class to capitalists. The précis for now is that bankers’ incomes depend on the level of debt, and if a Ponzi scheme develops, then the level of debt can escalate dramatically. This then transfers income from both workers and capitalists to bankers, and to the detriment of society in general since it also normally results in a lower level of real investment. This issue might seem arcane now, but it has serious implications during a financial crisis, such as the one we are currently in. Neoclassical efforts to get out of such a crisis – once they’ve gotten over the shock of one actually happening, and revert to form after behaving like ‘born-again Keynesians’ when the crisis begins – invariably argue that wages have to fall to end the crisis, because high employment clearly indicates that wages are too high.


pages: 274 words: 93,758

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, wage slave

David Kotz, Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, Report of Investigation Case No. OIG-509, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Inspector General (2011), pp. 61–77, accessed May 29, 2015, https://www.sec.gov/news/studies/ 2009/oig-509.pdf. 26. James B. Stewart, “How They Failed to Catch Madoff,” Fortune, May 10, 2011. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://fortune.com/2011/05/10/how-they -failed-to-catch-madoff/. 27. Kotz, Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, p. 249. 28. Ibid., p. 247. 29. Ibid., p. 250. Markopolos gives a graphic account of the conversation from his perspective: No One Would Listen, Kindle location 2585 and following. See also Suh’s testimony on this subject: Kotz, Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, p. 251. 30.

But the deterrence effects of prosecuting whole corporations are far weaker: since penalties against organizations are spread across all their stakeholders; whereas penalties against individuals are targeted to those directly responsible. The Madoff case gives a second, much more detailed glimpse into the workings of the SEC, and as we will see, possibly, into the consequences of budgetary deficiency. It is now common knowledge how the great phisher-for-phools Bernard Madoff duped wealthy in­­vestors into a Ponzi scheme. Every month the investors would receive a statement showing how their Madoff-held assets had grown in value: with remarkable regularity. An investment quant from Whitman, Massachusetts, Harry Markopolos, followed up on this CONCLUSION Akerlof.indb 157 157 6/19/15 10:24 AM and presented his suspicions to the SEC Boston regional office. He claimed that Madoff’s high, and smooth, returns (between 1 and 2 percent per month) defied the laws of finance.22 Madoff said that he accomplished the smoothing by an investment strategy called a “collar.”

He claimed that Madoff’s high, and smooth, returns (between 1 and 2 percent per month) defied the laws of finance.22 Madoff said that he accomplished the smoothing by an investment strategy called a “collar.” He said he bought options to cut off extraordinary losses and balanced this with sales of options that cut off extraordinary gains.23 While such a strategy would have smoothed earnings, Markopolos saw that it would be much too costly for Madoff to make the high returns he credited to his investors. A Ponzi scheme was further suggested, since to practice such a collar, it would be necessary for Madoff to make more options trades than on the entire US market.24 Despite their cogency, Markopolos’s suspicions were met with resistance at the SEC. His first complaints to the SEC office in Boston in 2000 and 2001 quickly died.25 But Markopolos persisted, and the New York regional office, with jurisdiction over Madoff, decided to conduct an investigation in November 2005.


pages: 376 words: 109,092

Paper Promises by Philip Coggan

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, trade route, tulip mania, value at risk, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

While the price was rising, few would want to sell – the point Law had made about the value of French land. However, this was a false analogy. French land was worth something because it produced food and offered shelter. The colonial possessions delivered nothing like enough to pay the dividends promised to those who bought the shares. Law had to pay those from the money raised in new issues – the definition of a Ponzi scheme.5 Law developed his system so that the bank would both collect taxes and assume the national debt. Everything seemed to add up; investors could pay for the shares with gold and silver (good), paper from Law’s bank (also good), or with government bonds (another positive, since it reduced the debt). But the system depended on confidence, which in turn relied on an ever-rising share price. That required the printing of more bank notes, the ability of investors to pay for shares in instalments and the promise of generous dividends on the stock.

Each layer needs more people than before, and the supply of optimists (suckers) is limited. In the Women Empowering Women scheme, each person needed to find eight new investors at every stage. At that rate, the expansion is very rapid, with successive stages requiring 8, 64, 512,4,096, 32,768 and 262,144 investors. Five more stages after that and the scheme would require more investors than there are people on the planet.8 The Ponzi scheme was built on a similar epic scale. With money doubling every three months, investors would have been 16 times better off in a year and 256 times better off in two. Within five years, anyone who had invested a single dollar would have become a millionaire. We know that pyramids must eventually collapse, and the higher the return (or promised return), the faster that collapse will come. (Bernie Madoff’s scheme lasted so long because he offered reliable, rather than outlandishly high, returns.)

And lending standards had to be relaxed if the boom was to be kept going. Had banks kept a lid on the amount they would lend, relative to incomes, the supply of new buyers would have run out. So they increased the income multiple – janitors were given the chance to buy $500,000 houses. This was the heyday of sub-prime mortgages, when people with poor credit records and no proof of income were able to get loans. From the point of view of a Ponzi scheme, this made sense. A scheme always needs a fresh supply of new buyers. So the proportion of homeowners in the US population increased from 63 per cent to 69 per cent, and plenty of people ‘invested’ in property by buying additional homes. Loans were made with no money down. Indeed some loans did not even require borrowers to meet the full interest payment, with the shortfall simply added to the capital sum due.


Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, carried interest, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, financial innovation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, interest rate swap, laissez-faire capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, medical malpractice, moral hazard, mortgage debt, obamacare, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Within the same two-week time frame, a third top-five investment bank, Merrill Lynch, would sink to the bottom alongside Lehman Brothers thanks to a hole blown in its side by years of reckless gambling debts; Merrill would be swallowed up in a shady state-aided backroom shotgun wedding to Bank of America that would never become anything like a major issue in this presidential race. The root cause of all these disasters was the unraveling of a massive Ponzi scheme centered around the American real estate market, a huge bubble of investment fraud that floated the American economy for the better part of a decade. This is a pretty big story, but at the moment I know nothing about it. Take it as a powerful indictment of American journalism that I’m far from alone in this among the campaign press corps charged with covering the 2008 election. None of us understands this stuff.

But we’ll never see our political parties sensibly aligned according to these obvious economic divisions, mainly because it’s so pathetically easy to set big groups of voters off angrily chasing their own tails in response to media-manufactured nonsense, with the Tea Party being a classic example of the phenomenon. If you want to understand why America is such a paradise for high-class thieves, just look at the way a manufactured movement like the Tea Party corrals and neutralizes public anger that otherwise should be sending pitchforks in the direction of downtown Manhattan. There are two reasons why Tea Party voters will probably never get wise to the Ponzi-scheme reality of bubble economics. One has to do with the sales pitch of Tea Party rhetoric, which cleverly exploits Main Street frustrations over genuinely intrusive state and local governments that are constantly in the pockets of small businesses for fees and fines and permits. The other reason is obvious: the bubble economy is hard as hell to understand. To even have a chance at grasping how it works, you need to commit large chunks of time to learning about things like securitization, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc., stuff that’s fiendishly complicated and that if ingested too quickly can feature a truly toxic boredom factor.

It was a shell game—money comes in the front door as payroll taxes and goes right out the back door as deficit spending, with only new payroll taxes over the years keeping the bubble from popping, continuing the illusion that the money had never left. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, way back in 1983, had called this “thievery,” but as the scam played out over the decades it earned a more specific title. “A classic Ponzi scheme” is how one reporter who covered Greenspan put it. Coming up with a scheme like this is the sort of service that endears one to presidents, and by the mid-eighties Greenspan got his chance at the big job. Reagan had grown disenchanted with Volcker. The administration apparently wanted a Fed chief who would “collaborate more intimately with the White House,” as one Fed historian put it, and they got him in Greenspan, whom Reagan put in the top job in 1987.


pages: 225 words: 11,355

Financial Market Meltdown: Everything You Need to Know to Understand and Survive the Global Credit Crisis by Kevin Mellyn

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asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global reserve currency, Home mortgage interest deduction, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, market clearing, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, pattern recognition, pension reform, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, pushing on a string, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Great Moderation, the payments system, too big to fail, value at risk, very high income, War on Poverty, Y2K, yield curve

The only way anyone can continue to have an income after they stop working is to put aside money today that they can use later in life. If the average person needs $40,000 a year to live in retirement and will on average live twenty years, that means that they need $800,000 over that period. Obviously, you and I can’t save that kind of cash. There are only two ways to solve the problem. One is pay-as-you-go ‘‘unfunded’’ government pensions like Social Security. These are classic Ponzi schemes, sort of Bernie Madoff on a much vaster scale. Today’s payroll taxes are not invested; individuals have no accounts and don’t have any legal right to a pension. Instead, people working today are taxed to pay benefits to people who are retired or on disability. As long as people mostly died before becoming eligible or didn’t live long in retirement, this worked fine. But the public doesn’t understand this scheme for what it is.

The banks misunderstood their real risks and had too much faith in financial rocket science, but even if we resent the enormous salaries and perks they gave themselves, there is scant evidence of illegality or even conscious recklessness related to the collapse. The poster child of the meltdown has become Bernie Madoff, just as Charles Ponzi is still remembered from the Roaring Twenties. Madoff ’s and other Ponzi schemes by money managers were discovered when the markets plunged, but his scheme was a classic investment scam that had run for decades under the noses of the regulators and had nothing to do with the bankers and instruments at the center of the meltdown. As Warren Buffett wrote, ‘‘It is only when the tide goes out that you see who has been swimming 175 176 FINANCIAL MARKET MELTDOWN naked.’’ We can confidently expect to see a long string of scams and frauds to wash up on the shore.

We can’t anticipate exactly what the market will do tomorrow, but we can hedge our bets and act on our own risk tolerance. We Conclusion can make our own decisions like grown-ups and take responsibility for the ones that go wrong. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and those who are not skeptical of the claims of financial professionals can end up at the wrong end of a Ponzi scheme or an exploding interest-only mortgage. However, nobody is compelled to do anything. Markets are about choice. Political risk is different, as our founding fathers, who knew a lot of real history, well understood. When the state seizes the ‘‘commanding heights’’ of the economy like the banking system and replaces the millions of choices people make in markets with its own superior wisdom, bad things almost always follow.


pages: 296 words: 76,284

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher

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Airbnb, big-box store, Burning Man, call centre, car-free, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collaborative consumption, Columbine, crack epidemic, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tony Hsieh, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, walkable city, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

The amount of tax revenue their low-density setup generates, he says, doesn’t come close to paying for the cost of maintaining the vast and costly infrastructure systems, so the only way to keep the machine going is to keep adding and growing. “The public yield from the suburban development pattern is ridiculously low,” he says. One of the most popular articles on the Strong Towns Web site is a five-part series Marohn wrote likening American suburban development to a giant Ponzi scheme. Here’s what he means. The way suburban development usually works is that a town lays the pipes, plumbing, and infrastructure for housing development—often getting big loans from the government to do so—and soon after a developer appears and offers to build homes on it. Developers usually fund most of the cost of the infrastructure because they make their money back from the sale of the homes.

Marohn has not been immune from the pain of the housing crisis. His house, which he and his wife had built in 1995 and refinanced a few times, has lost value; it was assessed at $272,000 a few years ago and he thinks it would sell today for $200,000. But he’s more concerned for his brother, Brent, who lives forty-five minutes from Minneapolis in the exurb of Rogers, Minnesota—an area that, as Marohn puts it, “got very caught up in the entire growth Ponzi scheme”—and commutes to an inner-ring suburb. Brent’s house has dropped “tremendously” in value, Marohn says. He worries about his brother’s situation; the more gas prices go up, the fewer people there will be that can afford his house, forcing prices to drop further and further. At that point, Marohn believes, one of two things will happen: either a local economy will spring up in his brother’s town to provide jobs for its people so they don’t have to commute, or his brother’s house is going to continue to lose value until it’s ultimately worth nothing and sold for salvage.

., 204 Las Vegas housing bust in, 72, 73–74 Zappos relocation to, 174–77 Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, 202 Le Corbusier, 119 Lee, Annette, 85–86, 194 Leinberger, Christopher, 38, 64, 81–82, 130, 131, 135, 188 on housing market location, 199 reactions to ideas of, 195 on suburban development, 38 Lennar Corporation, 156 Levitt, William, 37 Levittown, 37, 43, 46, 65 Libertyville, Illinois, 140–41 LifeEdited, 22, 138–39, 159 Lifestyle centers, 127–28, 132 Lind, Diana, 208 Lindsay, Greg, 166 “Little Boxes” (song), 39 Littledigs.com, 138 Live/work spaces, 122 Living alone, rise of, 146 Llewellyn Park, West Orange, New Jersey, 31 Location-efficient mortgages, 101–3, 206 LoDo, Denver, 168 Loneliness of suburbanites, 91–92, 125, 132–33 Long Beach, California, 63 Lopez, Russ, 45–46 Loudoun County, Virginia, 13, 68 Lower East Side, New York City, 29 Lowe’s, 45 Lucy, William, 160–61, 199–200, 210 McGirr, Lisa, 179 McIlwain, John, 209 McLinden, John, 7, 140, 141–42, 200–201 McLives, 139–140 McMahon, Bob, 133 McMansions, 69–71, 136, 205 Malls. See Shopping malls Mangiamele, Paul M., 182 Mansueto, Joe, 173 Marohn, Charles, 53–61 background information, 53–56 on codes and standards, 63 on housing boom/bust, 74 Ponzi scheme, suburban development as, 58–60, 77–78 Strong Towns/Curbside Chat, 56–58 on suburban prosperity myth, 65, 207 Marriage average age of, 146 decline in rate of, 145–46 Mass-produced communities, 37–38, 46, 70 Matthews, Anne, 184 May, William, 154 Media, Pennsylvania, 10–13, 133, 201–2 Meeks, Rachel, 108 Melman, Stephen, 138 MetroWest, Washington, DC, 128 Meyer, Deborah, 128, 145 Millennials birth years of, 19 cities, preference for, 19–20, 157–59 delayed adulthood of, 152–54 driver’s license decline among, 20 in “first ring” suburbs, 202–3 as Generation Rent, 158 home-related needs of, 157–59 impact on housing market, 155–59 living with parents, 152–55 Miller, Nicole, 154, 161 Minimalism, post-Recession mentality, 138–140 Model T, 32, 82 Morristown, New Jersey, 128–29, 203 Mortgages cheap, and housing boom (2000s), 66, 69, 71 deduction, negative aspects of, 74–76 foreclosures and housing bust, 73–74 historical view, 35, 40, 61 interest tax deduction, 35, 61, 74–75 location-efficient mortgages, 101–3, 206 Moses, Robert, 47 Multifamily construction, 6, 16, 18, 198 Multigenerational homes, 156–57 Mumford, Lewis, 27, 33, 46, 48 My Favorite, 144 Narberth, Pennsylvania, 134–35, 171 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 39 National Homeownership Day, 65 National Homeownership Strategy, 66 Neighborhood Market, 18, 172 Neighborhood satisfaction, 91 Nelson, Arthur C., 20, 60, 159, 204 Newgeography.com, 193 Newtown Station, Pennsylvania, 129 New Urbanism, 113–142.


pages: 457 words: 128,838

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

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3D printing, Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, Internet of things, inventory management, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zimmermann PGP

In late June 2013, reports emerged that the FBI had seized 11 bitcoins (then worth $800) from a drug dealer in what was seen as an initial “honeypot sting” on Silk Road. A month later, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Trendon Shavers, a Texan accused of running a bitcoin Ponzi scheme under the moniker pirateat40. That the Feds were now taking bitcoin seriously was an alarming yet exhilarating proposition for bitcoiners, who were divided between those who wanted its lawlessness to continue and those who believed its growth depended on the legitimacy of regulation and enforcement against criminality. While the news of drug busts and Ponzi schemes bred some mainstream suspicion about this unfamiliar, anonymous currency, it also spurred curiosity among some who hadn’t yet cottoned on to bitcoin’s possibilities. What was the fuss about? Inquiries led to discoveries, which led to investments.

Stage Two: Skepticism. You read the paper every day, and enough stories have appeared to convince you that bitcoin is real, that some entrepreneurs, including the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame, expect to make a lot of money from it. But the details don’t add up. You get it by doing math problems? No? By having your computer do math problems? How can that possibly work? At this stage, phrases like Ponzi scheme and tulip mania enter your mind. Stage Three: Curiosity. You’ve kept reading. It becomes clear that many people, even some seemingly sensible people such as Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, people with a track record for being right about this stuff, are genuinely excited by it. But why all the fuss? Okay, it’s digital money, it may work, but what difference is that going to make to regular people?

By the summer of 2012 Kenna was unable to meet payroll and knew he had to shut the exchange down. Kenna had to return all the money his customers had entrusted to Tradehill and shut down the exchange. The only other option was to “turn into a fractional-reserve bank,” he said jokingly, referring to the bank model that allows banks to lend out deposits while holding only a fraction of those funds in reserve. “They call it a Ponzi scheme unless you have a banking license.” He’d sunk everything he had into Tradehill. Now, he was broke, so broke that he couldn’t afford rent. He figured the only way he could find shelter was to turn some place into a communal living space. If he could organize it, he figured, he could finagle the rent. Kenna had always been intrigued by the idea of what’s popularly called a hacker house, with people working together and pooling resources, “but until I got to San Francisco, I didn’t realize you could actually do it.”


pages: 384 words: 118,572

The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time by Maria Konnikova

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attribution theory, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, epigenetics, hindsight bias, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, publish or perish, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, side project, Skype, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, tulip mania, Walter Mischel

Most con artists don’t ever come to trial: they simply aren’t brought to the authorities to begin with. No matter the medium or the guise, cons, at their core, are united by the same basic principles—principles that rest on the manipulation of belief. Cons go unreported—indeed, undetected—because none of us want to admit that our basic beliefs could be wrong. It matters little if we’re dealing with a Ponzi scheme or falsified data, fake quotes or misleading information, fraudulent art or doubtful health claims, a false version of history or a less than honest version of the future. At a fundamental, psychological level, it’s all about confidence—or, rather, the taking advantage of somebody else’s. This book is not a history of the con. Nor is it an exhaustive look at every con there ever was. It is, rather, an exploration of the psychological principles that underlie each and every game, from the most elementary to the most involved, step by step, from the moment the endeavor is conceived to the aftermath of its execution.

And can you ever understand your own mind well enough that you learn to extricate yourself before it’s too late? CHAPTER 1 THE GRIFTER AND THE MARK He does not answer questions, or gives evasive answers; he speaks nonsense, rubs the great toe along the ground, and shivers; his face is discolored; he rubs the roots of his hair with his fingers. —PROFILE OF A LIAR, 900 BCE Whenever people ask me if I’ve ever been conned, I tell them the truth: I have no idea. I’ve never given money to a Ponzi scheme or gotten tripped up on an unwinnable game of three-card monte—that much I know. And there have been some smaller deceptions I’ve certainly fallen for—though whether they qualify as full-fledged cons is a matter of dispute. But here’s the thing about cons: the best of them are never discovered. We don’t ever realize we’ve fallen; we simply write our loss off as a matter of bad luck. Magicians often resist showing the same trick twice.

Marks vary as much as, and perhaps even more than, the grifters who fool them. In a 2011 study of over seven hundred fraud victims, alongside fifteen hundred non-victims, psychologists Karla Pak and Doug Shadel found that different types of people fell for different types of cons; depending on where you look, the profile of the ideal mark shifts considerably. Victims of investment frauds, like Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and business opportunity frauds, like a lucrative investment in a new oil field, were more likely to be well-educated older men who made over $50,000 a year. Lottery frauds, on the other hand—fake tickets and the like—were likely to claim victims who were less educated and earned less money. When it came to prescription drug fraud and identity theft, the typical victim was a single female who made less than $50,000 a year.


Trend Commandments: Trading for Exceptional Returns by Michael W. Covel

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Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, commodity trading advisor, correlation coefficient, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, family office, full employment, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market microstructure, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Nick Leeson, oil shock, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Sharpe ratio, systematic trading, the scientific method, transaction costs, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, Y2K

He has since moved on to ventures far exceeding simple web site design, so it was very random that his book Rework inspired me to write Trend Commandments. His big question made me think: Ignition 7 “Taking a stand always stands out. Who do you want to take a shot at?”4 A valid question. My answer: Wall Street, the government, and media for starters. Let go of them. That is a breath of fresh air in an era of constant depression and recession talk, nonstop predictions, clueless economists, and Federal Reserve Ponzi schemes. Trend Commandments is for those who know deep down that there is a real way to make money in the markets, but just do not know how yet. However, you will be surprised that the secret is hiding in plain sight. There was a great story on author Seth Godin’s web site. He had a college professor who worked as an engineering consultant. There was a 40story office tower in Boston with a serious problem—an unsightly dark smudge was coming through the drywall.

If you are able to apply such an unsound principle, you can keep on averaging down by buying 200 at 44, then 400 at 41, 800 at 38, 1600 at 35, 3200 at 32, 6400 at 29, and so on.1 “Don’t frown, double down!” Not smart strategy. Losses are a part of the game. You want no losses? You want positive returns every month? It does not work that way, that is, not unless you were lucky enough to be invested in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi-scheme—which has resulted in assorted criminal convictions and a few suicides. Losses are not your problem. It’s how you react to them. Ignore losses with no plan, or try to double down on your losses to recoup, and those losses will come back like a Mack truck to run over your account. You can’t win if you are not willing to lose. It’s like breathing in, but not breathing out.2 Slow everything down.

In 2010, Brian Sack, a senior official at the New York Fed, admitted the need to keep stock markets artificially high: “Nevertheless, balance sheet policy can still lower longer-term borrowing costs for many households and businesses, If you close your and it adds to household wealth by keeping asset eyes, the monster prices higher than they otherwise would be.” will not go away. The Fed has essentially admitted to operating 2 a Ponzi scheme. Am I saying to not trade? No. A government-manipulated market is still a market. You lose money and you jump out the window, too bad. It’s your problem. Government should realize at the end of the day it’s investors who bear responsibility for their investments.3 With all of the extracurricular policy-making of the government aimed at rigging the markets to some unknown right level, trend following is the only sanity available.


pages: 225 words: 61,388

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Bretton Woods, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, diversification, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invisible hand, M-Pesa, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

By mid-2004, this group had invested a total of nearly US$23 billion in about 450 micro-finance institutions. But micro-finance is not without its naysayers. This type of lending to the poor is criticized as loan-sharking (charging punitive and exorbitant rates), as fuelling Ponzi schemes (borrowing from one lender to pay off another) and as simply supporting reckless consumption. However, with ever-increasing numbers of micro-lenders, and growing participation in this type of lending, the interest rates charged inevitably become lower and, in this sense, more competitive. As to the Ponzi scheme criticism, the objection merely points to the need for more information concerning borrowers – who’s good and who’s bad (which, by the way, is exactly the information asymmetry that the Grameen model mitigates). And on the issue of consumption versus investment, this applies to any loan, any time, anywhere.

D. 46 Heavily Indebted Poorest Country debt relief programme (HIPC) 53 HIV–AIDS pandemic 4–5, 7, 71–2 Hu Jintao 104, 108 Human Development Report (1994) 52 Hungary 85–6 IMF (International Monetary Fund) aid warning 47 appointment of Irwin Blumenthal 53 debt crisis 18–19 and foreign capital 63 inception 11–13 and Malawi 55–6 and ‘nit-picking’ 108–9 Structural Adjustment Facilities 21 In Search of Prosperity (Rodrik) 34 India 112, 117, 123, 132, 134, 137–8 India–Africa Forum 112, 123 Indonesia 34, 56 Industrial and Commercial Bank (China) 106 inflation 61–5 innovation 139–40 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development see World Bank International Development Association (IDA) 37–8 International Development and Food Assistance Act (US 1975) 16 International Peace Research Institute (Stockholm) 59 International Remittance Network 136 International Trade Organization 11 investment bonds 77–83, 87–96 borrowing costs 84–5 credit ratings 78, 83, 87–8 emerging markets 79–81, 85 portfolio diversification 80–82 Ireland 37, 125 Israel 134 Italy 125 Ivory Coast 109–10 Jamaica 136 Japan 99, 102–3, 112, 125 Johannesburg Stock Exchange 4 John Paul II, Pope 26 joint liability 129 Jubilee Debt Campaign 26 Kagame, President Paul 27–8, 148–9 Kanbur, Ravi 54 Kariba dam 15 Kenya and EBA 118 and exports 62 favourable view of China 109 fragile democracy 72 HIV prevalence rates 3 and long-term debt 87–8 money transfer systems 136 population 124 and rampant corruption 48 stake in the economy 152 trade-oriented commodity-driven economy 146 turbulent elections 2008 33 Keynes, John Maynard 11 Kibaki, Mwai 33 Kiva 130 Kurtzman, Joel 51 Lambsdorff, Graf 51 Landes, David 33–4, 147 least-developed countries (LDC) 123 Lensink, R. 136 Lesotho 118 life expectancy 5 Lin Yifu, Justin 153 Live Aid 26 Lumumba, Patrice 14 Lundin, Lukas 98 M-Pesa (money transfer system) 136 Mahajan, Vijay 132 McLiesh, Caralee 101 McNamara, Robert 16, 17 maize scandal (Malawi) 56 Malawi 55–6, 106, 117, 145 Mali 71–2, 94, 109–10, 116 Maren, Michael 60 Markit (data/index firm) 91 Marshall, George C. 12 Marshall Plan 12–13, 35–8 Mauritania 120 Mauritius 34, 89 Maystadt, Philippe 107 Mengistu Haile Mariam 14, 23 Mexico 18, 82, 84, 117, 132, 144, 151 micro-finance 126–32, 140 middle class 57–8 Millennium Challenge Corporation aid campaign (US) 40, 56 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 45, 96–7 Mkapa, President Benjamin 26 Mobutu Sese Seko, President 14, 22–3, 48, 53, 108 Monterrey Consensus 2002 74 Moody’s Investors Service 83 morality 150 ‘More Aid for the Poorest’ (UK white paper) 16 mosquito net producer (example) 44–5, 114, 122, 130–31 Mozambique 117, 134 Mugabe, Grace 146 Mugabe, Robert 108, 146–7 Mwanawasa, President Levy 53 Mystery of Capital, The (de Soto) 137–8 Na’m, Moisés 107 Namibia 89, 93 ‘negative corruption’ 57; see also corruption Netherlands 63 New York City 151; see also United States New Zealand 121 Nicaragua 151 Nigeria and AGOA duty-free benefits 118 aid from World Bank 107–8 assets looted 48 banking sector 4 beneficiary of FDI 105 and the bond index 92 and corruption 23 cotton revenues 116 favourable view of China 109 humanitarian catastrophe 26 independence 71 and long-term credit ratings 88 Maiduguri money find 137 many tribes 32 natural-gas reserves development 112 rebuilding colonial-era railway 106 remittances 133 ‘No Donor Money, No Loans’ policy 128 North, Douglass 41 Norway 73 ODA (official aid) 25 Odinga, Raila 33 oil 17–18, 48–9, 82, 105–6, 108–9, 120 oil crisis 1979 17–18 Olson, Mancur 41 Olympics 2008 108 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 115 Oxfam 117 Pakistan 34, 124 Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) 95 Paris Club of creditors 108 PEPFAR (AIDS Relief) 7 Peru 151 Peters Projection Map 121 Pew Report 2007 109 Philippines, the 135 PIMCO (bond investment organization) 91 Poland 8–6 Ponzi schemes 130 ‘positive’ corruption 56, 59; see also corruption Private Equity investments 4–5 programme aid 21 Protestantism 31 Przeworski, Adam 43 Raiffeisen, Friedrich 131 Rajan, Raghuram G. 142 Ramalho, Rita 101 Ramesh, Jairam 123 Reagan, Ronald 20, 22 Reichel, R. 46 remittances 133–6 Resource Flows to Africa (UN) 133 Revolutionary United Front (Sierra Leone) 59 Rodrik, Dani 34 Rosenstein-Rodan, Paul 39 Ruiz-Arranz, Marta 136 Russia 84, 87, 112 Rwanda 27, 32, 148 Sachs, Jeffrey 96–7 Sani Abacha, President 48 São Tomé and Principe 106 savings 137–40 Schulze-Delitzsch, Herman 131 Scottish Banks 139–40 Second Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs 114 securitization 96 Sen, Amartya 42 Senegal 109–10 Short, Clare 56 Sierra Leone 59 Singapore 152 Singh, Manmohan 123 small/medium enterprises (SMEs) 125 social capital 58–9 Somalia 60, 118, 133 South Africa abandoning foreign aid 144 and AGOA duty-free benefits 118 and bond issues 89, 92–3 and credit league tables 82 1997 stock market fall 84 not reliant on aid 150 and PAIDF 95 remittances 133 setting an example 78 South Korea 45, 82, 87 Sovereign Wealth Funds 112 Spain 86 Spatafora, N. 133 stabilization programme 20 Standard & Poor’s rating agency 83, 87–8 Standard Bank 106 sterilization 64–5 stock market liquidity 4 Structural Adjustment Facilities 20–21 Subramanian, Arvind 142 subsidies 115–16 Sudan 105–6, 108, 120 sugar production 116–17 Svensson, J. 39, 52 Swaziland 5, 106 Sweden 73 Tanzam Railway 103–4 Tanzania 26, 56, 97, 103–4, 110, 124, 131 taxation 52, 66 Thailand 57 Thatcher, Margaret 20, 67 Togo 94, 116 Tokyo International Conference on African Development 112 Toxopeus, H. 136 trade 17, 19–21, 38–40, 62, 64, 112, 114, 117–24 Transparency International 51, 56, 71 Turkey 93, 112, 117 Uganda aid-fuelled corruption 53 and bonds 65, 97 favourable view of China 109 and HIV–AIDS 71 improved economic growth 101 plunderers and despots 108 population 124 remittances 134 trade-oriented commodity-driven economy 146 UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 102 United Kingdom 108, 120 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 25 United Nations Human Development Report 5 United States and African Growth and Opportunity Act 118 aid history 12–17, 40 bond comparisons 80 diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe 108 Energy Information Administration 103 Food For Peace budget 45 freer trade access for African countries 149 influence compared to China 109–10 and Malawi 56 public’s desire on aid 74 Soft Banks 139 and subsidies 115–16 trading partner status 119 2006 foreign aid 99–100 US Farm Security and Rural Investment Act 2005 115 USSR 14, 19, 24 Venezuela 86 venture capital (VC) 139 Wade, President Abdoulaye 149 Washington Consensus 21–2 Wealth and Poverty of Nations, The (Landes) 33–4, 147 Weber, Max 31 Weder, Beatrice 52 Wen Jibao 104, 114 West African Economic and Monetary Union 88 What makes Democracies endure?


Evidence-Based Technical Analysis: Applying the Scientific Method and Statistical Inference to Trading Signals by David Aronson

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, Black Swan, capital asset pricing model, cognitive dissonance, compound rate of return, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, hindsight bias, index fund, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, p-value, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, retrograde motion, revision control, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sharpe ratio, short selling, statistical model, systematic trading, the scientific method, transfer pricing, unbiased observer, yield curve, Yogi Berra

The moths dive into the flame. Shiller contends that speculative bubbles are naturally occurring Ponzi schemes that emerge spontaneously in financial markets, without requiring the machinations of a fraudulent promoter.82 Such self-organizing phenomena are common in complex systems. There is no need for false stories because there is always some buzz about the stock market anyway. A trend Theories of Nonrandom Price Motion 371 of rising prices acts as a call to action much like the gains of early investors in a Ponzi scheme. The message is then amplified by Wall Street’s salesmen, and they need not tell lies. They simply pitch the upside potential while downplaying the risk side of the story. The parallels between Ponzi schemes and speculative bubbles are so clear in Shiller’s opinion that the burden of proof is on those who deny the similarity.

If the late 1990s was a price bubble, it seems to be ending with many intervening pauses. 370 METHODOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, STATISTICAL FOUNDATIONS Self-Organizing Ponzi Schemes The feedback theory of price bubbles is appealing because of its plausibility and the numerous historical examples that seem to confirm its validity. However, it is hard to prove that a simple feedback mechanism involving heightened investor focus, imitative behavior, and exaggerated investor confidence is truly operational in financial markets. Nevertheless, Yale economist Robert Shiller believes actual cases of pyramid frauds known as Ponzi schemes offer evidence that confirms the feedback theory. The scheme, named after the infamous Charles Ponzi, who invented the idea in the 1920s, involves promising investors a high rate of return from some sort of business venture or investment.

See also Data mining; Data-mining bias computer-intensive methods applied to single rule, 241–243 data mining versus single-rule, 268–271 position bias and market trend components, 23–27 Bacon, Francis, 125–126 Barberis, Shleifer, and Vishny (BSV) hypothesis, 372–374, 376 Baseball statistics, data-mining bias and, 258 Base rate fallacy, 91 Bayes’ theorem, 90, 346 Beads in a box sampling example, 172–186 sampling distribution and, 203 statistical theory elements and, 186–190 Behavioral finance theory, 355–378 foundations of, 356–357 psychological factors, 357–362 scientific hypotheses of, 371–378 self-organizing Ponzi schemes and, 370–371 social factors, 362–369 Behaviorism, 81–82 Beliefs: belief inertia, in behavioral finance theory, 375 contrasted to knowledge, 1–5 erroneous, 33–38 Bell curve, 211–213 517 518 Bellman, Richard, 465 Benchmarks, 22–29 detrending and, 27–28 effect of position bias and market trend on, 23–27 using logs instead of percentages, 28–29 Best-performing rule: data-mining bias and, 263–264, 278–287 defined, 256 Biases, see Subjective technical analysis Bible Codes, data-mining bias and, 258–260 Binary rules, 15–31 inputs, outputs, signals, 16, 17 look-ahead bias, 29–30 subjective technical analysis and, 15–16, 72–78 thresholds and: fixed, 16–19 multiple, 19–21 trading costs, 31 traditional and inverse rules, 21–22 use of benchmarks in evaluation, 22–29 Black, Fischer, 345 Bloom, Norman, 258 Bootstrap sampling, 215, 235–238 applied to back test of single rule, 241–242 confidence intervals and, 248–250 contrasted to Monte Carlo method, 235 data-mining bias solutions and, 320–330 Bostian, David, 409 Bounded rationality, principle of, 42 INDEX Box Theory, 36–37 Bulkowski, T.N., 161 Camerer, C., 466–467 Capital asset pricing model (CAPM), 340–341 Case study, see Rule data mining case study Categorical syllogisms, 112–115 Central Limit Theorem, 211–213 Central tendency measurements, 191 Chaiken, Marc, 409 Chang, Kevin, 151–161 Channel breakout operator (CBO), 397–398, 419–420 Channel-normalization operator (CN), 401–403 Chart analysis, misplaced faith in, 82–86 representativeness heuristic and illusory trends and patterns, 93–101 Clustering illusion, 99–100, 362 Cognitive content, of knowledge and beliefs, 2–5 Cognitive psychology, see Subjective technical analysis Cohen, P.R., 282 Cointegration, 434–436 Commodity and currency hedge risk transfer premium, 379, 380–384 Complex rules, not in case study, 392, 452–461 Computer-based sampling methods, 215, 234–243 human interaction with, 464–465, 471–473 Conditional probability (p-value), 231–233 Index Conditional syllogisms, 115–116 invalid forms, 118–121 valid forms, 117–118 Confidence interval, 243, 245–247 defined, 216 generating with bootstrap method, 248–250 hypothesis test contrasted to, 250–252 sampling distribution and, 247–248 for TT-4-91 rule, 252–253 Configural-thinking problems, 42–45 Confirmation bias, 62–71 behavioral finance theory and, 358 belief survival and, 69 contradictory evidence and, 67–69 perception and motivation and, 62–63 questions and search and, 63–64 subjective methods and, 69–71 vague evidence and, 66–67 value evaluation criteria and, 64–66 Conjunction fallacy, 91–93 Conservatism bias: behavioral finance theory and, 357–358 BVS hypothesis and, 372–374 DHS hypothesis and, 375–376 Consistency, rule of, 111–112 Control illusion, 50 Cooper, Michael, 353, 384 Correlations, illusory, 72–82 asymmetric binary variables and, 78–80 behavioral psychology and, 81–82 binary variables and, 72 519 hidden or missing data and, 80 possible outcomes of binary variables and faulty intuition, 73–78 Cowles, Alfred, 462–463 Cumulative sum price-volume functions, 407–413 Curse of dimensionality, 465 Cutler, D., 349 Daniel, Hirshleifer, and Subrahmanyam (DHS) hypothesis, 375–376 Darvas, Nicholas, 36–37 Data distribution of the population, 206–207 Data distribution of the sample, 206–207 Data mining, see also Data-mining bias; Rule data mining case study confirmation bias and, 64 defined, 171, 255, 256, 264 as multiple comparison procedure, 264–265 soundness of premise of, 309–311 as specification search, 265–267 Data-mining bias, see also Data mining; Rule data mining case study anecdotal examples of, 256–261 causes of, 263–264, 278–287 defined, 255–256 experimental investigations of, 291–320 ATRs and, 309–311 variable merit rules and, 311–320 factors determining magnitude of, 287–291 objective technical analysis and, 267–272 520 Data-mining bias (Continued) solutions for dealing with, 320–330 statistical inference and, 272–278 Data-snooping bias, 390–391, 449 Dawes, R.M., 468–469 Declarative statements, beliefs and knowledge and, 2–5 Deductive logic, 112–121 categorical syllogisms, 112–115 conditional syllogisms, 115–121 Denial of the consequent, 112–121, 170, 219, 221 Descartes, Rene, 126 Detrending, 19, 27–28 in case study, 391–392 proof of value of, 475–476 Diaconis, Percy, 260 Directional modes, 21 Discernible-difference test, cognitive content and, 3–4 Divergence rules, tested in case study, 430–440 Drosnin, Michael, 259, 260 Dysart, Paul, 411, 412–413 Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH), 331, 334–355 assumptions of, 343–345 flaws in, 345–348 consequences of market efficiency, 335–336 efficient markets defined, 334–335 empirical challenges to, 349–355 evidence of, 337–342 false notions of, 337 falsification and, 141–143 information content of hypotheses and, 137–138 nonrandom price motion and, 378–385 paradoxes of, 342–343 INDEX Ehlers, J.F., 399, 400, 452 Einstein, Albert, 108 Elder, John, 83 Elfron, B., 235 Elliott Wave Principle (EWP), 60–61, 69–70, 137 Endowment bias, 375–376 Engle, R.F., 434, 436 Enumeration, deduction by, 122–124 Equity market risk premium, 379 Error-correction model, 434–435 Errors, unbiased and systematic, 272–274 Euler circles, 114–115 Evidence, vague and contradictory, 64–69 Evidence-based technical analysis (EBTA), see also Rule data mining case study academic findings and, 8–9 defined, 1 differs from technical analysis, 6–8 future and, 463–465, 471–473 Expected performance, defined, 255 Extended Middle, Law of, 111 Extreme values and transitions (E rules), tested in case study, 420–430 Falsifiable forecast, 47, 58 Falsificationism, 130–136 information content and, 136–139 scientific responses to, 139–143 Falsification of the consequent, 219–221 Fama, Eugene, 339, 354–355 Feedback, behavioral finance theory and, 366–371 Felsen, J., 464 Index Festinger, L., 63 Finucase, M., 470 Flip-flop(s), 20, 361 Forgas, Joseph, 471 Fosback, Norman, 411, 412–413, 416, 436, 464 Fosback Index, 436 French, Kenneth, 354–355 Frequency distribution, 179–181, 190–191 measuring central tendency, 191 variability (dispersion) measurements, 192–193 Futures markets, 380–384 Galileo Galilei, 106–107 Gambler’s fallacy, 99–100, 362 Gilovich, Thomas, 38, 68, 80, 85 Goldberg, L.R., 467 Gould, Stephen Jay, 58 Granger, C.W.J., 434, 436 Granville, Joseph, 408 Grossman, S.J., 343, 378 Grove, W.M., 468 Hall, J., 3–4 Hansen, Peter, 329 Harlow, C.V., 413 Hastie, R., 468–469 Hayes, T., 21 Head-and-shoulders pattern, objectification example, 151–161 Heiby, W.A., 403, 433 Herd behavior, 362–369 Heuristic bias, 41, 86–87 availability heuristic, 87–88 heuristic defined, 86 representativeness heuristic, 88–93 illusory trends and patterns and, 93–101 521 Hindsight bias, 50–58 Hong and Stein (HS) hypothesis, 376–377 Hsu, P.


pages: 318 words: 87,570

Broken Markets: How High Frequency Trading and Predatory Practices on Wall Street Are Destroying Investor Confidence and Your Portfolio by Sal Arnuk, Joseph Saluzzi

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algorithmic trading, automated trading system, Bernie Madoff, buttonwood tree, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, Gordon Gekko, High speed trading, latency arbitrage, locking in a profit, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, price mechanism, price stability, Sergey Aleynikov, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Small Order Execution System, statistical arbitrage, transaction costs, two-sided market

Insider trading cases, including the recent, high-profile prosecution of Raj Rajaratnam from Galleon Group, certainly protect us from those gaining unfair advantages at the expense of long-term investors. However, the Rajaratnam case—the largest insider trading scandal in our nation’s history—centers around only $53 million in ill-gained profits. Compare that to the SEC’s failure to stop the $68 billion Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, despite being tipped multiple times. Although we praise the SEC for going after Rajaratnam, we can’t help but be disappointed in the agency’s seeming lack of action around HFT and the conflicts of interests in our market structure. HFT firms generate between $8 billion and $21 billion a year in profits. Tradebot, an HFT firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2008 said it had not had a losing day in four years.6 The last few years have shown quarterly earnings from big banks engaged in HFT.

The audience before her was filled with friends and acquaintances, people she had known for years during her decades-long career as a government and private sector regulator, and she was happy to be in front of what was certainly a friendly group. She needed friends. Appointed chairman of the SEC just over a year earlier, Schapiro was trying to reform a government agency reeling from one spectacular failure after another, especially the Madoff and Stanford Ponzi schemes and the SEC’s own role in the 2008 financial crisis. Madoff was an exceptionally deep wound. The SEC’s Inspector General had recently issued a scathing report on the agency’s failure to detect the scam. The report showed that despite many tips and warnings, some of them very detailed, and despite sending several teams of SEC examiners to Madoff’s offices over the years to look for fraud, Madoff swindled clients for 20 years under the SEC’s nose.

A few weeks later in January 2009, an outspoken economics and financial industry blogger writing under the name Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.com appeared. He soon started writing critically about HFT strategies and firms. In April he wrote, “What retail investors fail to acknowledge is that the quants [HFT firms] close out a majority of their ultra-short term positions at the end of each trading day, meaning that the vanilla money is stuck as a hot potato bag holder to what can only be classified as an unprecedented Ponzi scheme.”10 In July, after a former Goldman Sachs programmer was arrested on charges he stole Goldman’s proprietary trading software, Tyler Durden wrote almost daily about the dominance and risks of hyperactive computer-driven trading strategies, drawing more attention to the practice than ever before. The mainstream press noticed, and stories about high-speed, computerized traders started appearing in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

But the more people do this the greater the threat to the continuity of circulation. Releasing money back into circulation to get more social power takes either an act of faith, or requires safe and trustworthy institutions where you can put your personal money at someone else’s disposal to pursue profit-making adventures (which is, of course, what banks traditionally do). Trust in the system becomes crucial. Ponzi schemes of whatever sort undermine that trust. Loss of confidence in the symbols of money (the power of the state to guarantee monetary stability) or in the quality of money (inflation) butts up against the possibility of monetary famine and the freezing up of the means of payment of the sort that occurred in autumn in 2008. At the heart of the credit system there exist a range of technical and legal aspects (many of which can fail or badly distort, simply by virtue of their rules of operation) coupled with subjective expectations and anticipations.

All manner of predatory practices as well as legal (usurious interest rates on credit cards, foreclosures on businesses by the denial of liquidity at key moments, and the like) can be used to pursue tactics of dispossession that advantage the already rich and powerful. The wave of financialisation that occurred after the mid-1970s has been spectacular for its predatory style. Stock promotions and market manipulations; Ponzi schemes and corporate fraud; asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions; the promotion of levels of debt incumbency that reduce whole populations, even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt peonage; dispossession of assets (the raiding of pension funds and their decimation by stock and corporate collapses) – all these features are central to what contemporary capitalism is about. Wholly new mechanisms of accumulation by dispossession have also opened up.

Disruptions of social networks and destruction of social solidarities can be every bit as serious. Loss of social relations is impossible to recompense with a money payment. Finally we need to note the role of crises. A crisis, after all, is nothing less than a massive phase of dispossession of assets (cultural as well as tangible). To be sure, the rich as well as the poor suffer, as the cases of housing foreclosures and losses from investing with Bernie Madoff’s crazy Ponzi scheme show. But this is how wealth and power get redistributed both within and between classes. Devalued capital assets left over from bankruptcies and collapses can be bought up at fire-sale prices by those blessed with liquidity and profitably recycled back into circulation. Surplus capital thus finds a new and fertile terrain for renewed accumulation. Crises may be, for this reason, orchestrated, managed and controlled to rationalise the irrational system that is capitalism.


pages: 353 words: 91,520

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner, Ted Dintersmith

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affirmative action, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bernie Sanders, Clayton Christensen, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, immigration reform, income inequality, index card, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, new economy, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, school choice, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, the scientific method, unpaid internship, Y Combinator

A vitriolic controversy rages in our country about the fiscal sustainability of these funds. We have prominent political figures calling them “Ponzi schemes”22 and other political influencers calling them the financial equivalent of the Rock of Gibraltar.23 Analyzing the financial footing of any of these large pools of money, including realistic estimates of future in-flows and out-flows, is a numbers-driven exercise. Determining under what circumstances a given pool will remain financially solvent shouldn’t be determined by political party affiliation. Yet, as our parties have become more polarized, we see a sharp partisan divide on the issue of financial reality.24 Democrats Give Far Less Priority to Reducing the Budget Deficit While we wouldn’t use the ethically charged term “Ponzi scheme” to describe the financial underpinnings of these pools, it is quite clear that many of these vehicles are ticking financial time bombs.

Mother Jones, January 21, 2014. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/global-warming-janus-snow (accessed December 30, 2014). 21 Clynes, Tom. “The battle over climate science.” Popular Science, June 21, 2012. http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-06/battle-over-climate-change (accessed December 30, 2014). 22 Jacobson, Louis. “Rick Perry says Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.” PolitiFact.com, September 12, 2011. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/12/rick-perry/rick-perry-says-social-security-ponzi-scheme/ (accessed December 30, 2014). 23 Baker, Dean, and David Rosnick. “Basic facts on social security and proposed benefit cuts/privatization.” Center for Economic and Policy Research, March 2005. 24 Krugman, Paul. “Inventing a crisis.” New York Times Op-Ed. December 7, 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?


pages: 444 words: 151,136

Endless Money: The Moral Hazards of Socialism by William Baker, Addison Wiggin

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Andy Kessler, asset allocation, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital asset pricing model, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, naked short selling, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, reserve currency, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, time value of money, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra, young professional

We are told it is hard to guard against it and that there are no software packages that can avert it. Of course, the disinfectant of transparency goes a long way, but common sense is the most effective tool at our disposal to avoid being sucked into such schemes. The centerpiece of operational risk for our time has to be the Bernie Madoff scandal, which broke in December 2008. However, the continual financial market meltdown has revealed other giant Ponzi schemes, such as the failure of the $50 billion Stanford Group in February 2009. Oddly, most mainstream professional money managers had never heard of Madoff, yet he had raised over $50 billion. The public response will likely be a vociferous demand for yet more intensive regulation of the financial industry (a topic examined in detail later in this book), yet Madoff ’s operation was not in fact a hedge fund.

When practiced in its purest form, it involves buying and selling calls, puts, and an underlying equity such that risk of price movement is hedged away. Under these circumstances the market has long offered essentially Treasury bill type returns, because arbitrage has narrowed spreads since at least the 1970s. In contrast to other risky investments, Madoff ’s returns were not off the charts. Just like any good Ponzi scheme they were plausibly in the low double digits, with never a down month and rarely if ever a sub-par result. However, they aroused suspicion in the options community. Madoff ’s competitors, assailed with feedback from the capital-raising specialists that they were incompetent because they could not replicate the effortlessly sellable Madoff track record, were appalled. One in particular, Harry Marcopolos, took it upon himself to pen a 19-page examination of Madoff complete with a recitation of no less than 29 “red flags,” which he presented seemingly on a silver platter to SEC officials titled, The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud.12 Marcopolos is a derivatives expert, having traded portfolios in the billions of dollars in various options strategies for hedge funds and institutional clients.

Beginning in 2009, we will add at least $1.75 trillion of debt, and probably more in entitlements! Presently the government is hooked on debt and does not feel its pinch due to generationally low interest rates. Legislators maintain high spending to maintain voter support from the left. As socialization spreads to the mainstream, spending increasingly helps the lower-middle class, which might vote conservative otherwise. Government can essentially operate a Ponzi scheme, fooling buyers of Treasury bonds into believing that other dupes, be they taxpayers or other bond buyers, will be there to make good on the next coupons as they are presented for payment. We have operated this way for decades, causing layer upon layer of debt to be added, but in the Bush presidency the problem became intractable due to the math of compounding, despite generally having had manageable deficits as a percentage of GDP.


pages: 466 words: 127,728

The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, complexity theory, computer age, credit crunch, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, jitney, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Lao Tzu, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market design, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, reserve currency, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, Stuxnet, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, working-age population, yield curve

Bank sponsors of WMPs address the problems of nonperforming assets and maturity mismatches by issuing new WMPs. The new WMP proceeds are then used to buy the bad assets of the old WMPs at inflated values so the old WMPs can be redeemed at maturity. This is a Ponzi scheme on a colossal scale. Estimates are that there were twenty thousand WMP programs in existence in 2013 versus seven hundred in 2007. One report on WMP sales in the first half of 2012 estimates that almost $2 trillion of new money was raised. The undoing of any Ponzi scheme is inevitable, and the Chinese property and infrastructure bubbles fueled by shadow banking are no exception. A collapse could begin with the failure of a particular rollover scheme or with exposure of corruption associated with a particular project. The exact trigger for the debacle is unimportant because it is certain to happen, and once it commences, the catastrophe will be unstoppable without government controls or bailouts.

CHAPTER 4 CHINA’S NEW FINANCIAL WARLORDS Most countries fail in the reform and adjustment process precisely because the sectors of the economy that have benefitted from . . . distortions are powerful enough to block any attempt to eliminate those distortions. Michael Pettis Peking University December 2012 China’s shadow banking sector has become a potential source of systemic financial risk. . . . To some extent, this is fundamentally a Ponzi scheme. Xiao Gang Chairman, Bank of China October 2012 ■ History’s Burden To contemporary Western eyes, China appears like a monolithic juggernaut poised to dominate East Asia and surpass the West in wealth and output in a matter of years. In fact, China is a fragile construct that could easily descend into chaos, as it has many times before. No one is more aware of this than the Chinese themselves, who understand that China’s future is highly uncertain.

A more likely scenario is that money printing will continue in both nations long after 2 percent inflation is achieved. At that point, the risks are all on the side of much higher inflation as the change in expectations becomes difficult to reverse, especially in the United States. A Chinese collapse. The seventh sign will be financial disintegration in China as the wealth-management-product Ponzi scheme collapses. China’s degree of financial interconnectedness with the rest of the world is lower than that of the major U.S. and European banks, so a collapse in China would be mainly a local affair, in which the Communist Party will use reserves held by its sovereign wealth funds to assuage savers and recapitalize banks. However, the aftermath will include a resumption of Chinese efforts to cap or even devalue the yuan in foreign exchange markets to promote exports, create jobs, and restore wealth lost in the collapse.


pages: 322 words: 77,341

I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay by John Lanchester

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asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, Celtic Tiger, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, George Akerlof, greed is good, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Martin Wolf, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Own Your Own Home, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, reserve currency, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Great Moderation, the payments system, too big to fail, tulip mania, value at risk

Just as President Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission seemed to have been captured by the very interests they were supposed to be regulating, so it was at the SEC. Much of this doctrinaire laissez-faire involved the nonenforcement of the rules which already existed. An activist SEC, for instance, would never have allowed Bernard Madoff to run his Ponzi scheme; the very consistency of his returns—the funny smell alluded to above—would have been enough to draw their close attention to his accounts. In 2005, a professional investor named Harry Markopolos, a mild-mannered Boston accountant, wrote a twenty-one-page letter to the SEC, pointing out the high probability that Madoff’s fund was a Ponzi scheme. The only alternative explanation Markopolos could come up with wasn’t that Madoff was legit; it was that he was doing something called “front running,” using private information gleaned from his stockbroking operation to make profits for his other funds.

., 115–17, 157–58 liabilities, 31–35 in balance sheets, 25–28, 31–34, 37 of banks, 25, 32–35, 37, 41, 204 of individuals, 27–28, 35 leverage and, 35, 41, 60 libel law, 93 life expectancies, 17, 213 liquidity, 212 housing and, 28–29, 90, 96–97 investments and, 60–61 Lloyds TSB, 36, 38–40 loans, lending, 74–76, 108–9 in balance sheets, 27, 30, 34 of banks, 22, 24, 27, 33–36, 41–42, 58–60, 67, 69–70, 74, 83–84, 91–94, 102, 117, 127, 129–30, 143, 146, 165, 187, 216–17, 229 credit and, 209, 216–17 derivatives and, 50–51, 55, 66–75, 80, 121–22 Exxon deal and, 67–68 interest rates and, 59–60, 66, 74, 102, 108, 145, 172–73 paying the bill and, 220–21 predatory, 122, 127–32 risk and, 66–67, 69–72, 74–75, 80, 95, 117, 145, 174 securitization in, 69, 74 see also mortgages London, 53, 84 housing in, 88–90 see also City of London Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM): collapse of, 142, 162, 164–65, 230–31 derivatives and, 54–56, 80 loss aversion, 137 Lovelock, James, 231 Lowenstein, Roger, 161 Macmillan, Harold, 216 Madoff, Bernard, 105, 171, 191–92, 195 Mailer, Norman, 172 Manias, Panics, and Crashes (Kindleberger), 104 manufacturing, 4, 13, 58, 109, 229 and financial vs. industrial interests, 197, 199 Marxist analysis of, 15–16 stocks and, 148–49 market discipline, 183–84 Markopolos, Harry, 192 Markowitz, Harry, 147–49, 158 mark to market, 42, 105–6 Marx, Karl, 15–16 Maryland, housing in, 125–31 Masters, Blythe, 68, 121 mathematics, 5, 231 derivatives and, 47–48, 52–54, 115–17, 166 risk and, 46, 55–56, 74, 133, 136, 146–50, 154, 158, 160–67, 202 of share pricing, 147–48 Meriwether, John, 54 Merrill Lynch, 39, 77, 120, 190, 227 Merton, Robert, 54–55 microeconomics, 137 Minsky, Hyman, 104 Monetary Policy Committee, 178–79 money: assumptions based on primacy of, 202–4 cost of, 102–3 flows of, 7–9, 26 inconceivable amounts of, 8 Money Machine, The (Coggan), 25 Moody’s Investors Service, 62, 70, 114, 119, 208, 210 Morgan, John Pierpont, 20, 64 Morgan Stanley, 40, 64, 227 Morris, Charles, 42 mortgages, 38–40, 83–87, 89–95, 97–102, 110–32 in balance sheets, 27–28 balloon payments on, 100 and buy-to-let properties, 177 conforming, 112, 124 credit ratings and, 123–24, 126 of Cutter family, 126–27 defaults on, 159–60, 163, 165, 229 derivatives and, 38, 57–58, 75–76, 112–22, 132, 157–60, 172, 210–12 discriminatory practices and, 99–101, 127 durations of, 95 endowment, 86–87, 89–90, 146 Iceland’s economic crisis and, 10–11 interest and, 8, 58, 86, 89, 91–92, 95, 100, 102, 108, 110, 112–14, 122, 128, 145–46, 174, 176, 212 “liar,” 126, 132 “no doc,” 132 No Income, No Job or Assets (NINJA), 126 piggyback, 132 predatory lending and, 122, 127–32 regulation and, 99–100, 185 risk and, 145, 158–60, 163–65 sizes of, 92–94 subprime, 38, 75, 83, 100, 113–19, 122–25, 127, 132, 157–59, 165, 202, 210 see also houses, housing, home ownership Nasdaq, 104 nationalization, 24, 39–40, 228–30 New York Times, The, 77, 98, 208 “Night in Tunisia, A,” 45 Nikkei 225, 51–52, 54 9/11 terrorist attacks, 2, 107 Northern Rock, 5, 39, 94, 194, 206 Obama, Barack, 77, 205 regulation and, 188, 190, 223–24 Objectivism, 142–43, 173 oil, 3–4, 107–8, 148–49 “On Default Correlation” (Li), 116 options, 50–52, 151, 174, 184 how they work, 46–47, 50–51 Osaka exchange, 54 Pacioli, Luca, 26 panic of 1893, 64 panic of 1907, 20, 64 Parker, Charlie, 45 Paulos, John Allen, 8 pensions, 76–77, 165, 204 in balance sheets, 27–28, 31 Phillips, Julia, 199 politics, politicians, 5–6, 19–21, 23–25, 81, 118–19, 169–70, 176–78, 217–26, 228–32 AIG bailout and, 76–78 banks and, 25, 33, 43, 182, 186, 195, 202, 207, 211, 217, 228–31 bonds and, 29–30, 61–62, 103, 109, 118, 144, 176–77, 208–9 derivatives and, 57, 183–86 financial industry’s ascent and, 19–20 free-market capitalism and, 14–15, 19, 21, 23–24 housing and, 87–89, 91, 96–101, 177–78 Iceland’s economic crisis and, 9–10, 12, 24, 223 interest rates and, 102–3, 107–8, 172–80, 221 paying the bill and, 219–23 regulation and, 15, 19–21, 24, 169, 180–92, 195, 199, 201, 223–26 risk and, 142–43, 164–66, 174, 184 Ponzi, Charles, 105 Ponzi schemes, 191–92 poor, poverty, 3–4, 13, 21, 82, 179, 196 housing and, 100, 113, 118, 121–23, 126–27, 130–31, 163 pork bellies, 48–49 portfolio insurance, 151–52, 162 “Portfolio Selection” (Markowitz), 147 Posner, Richard A., 120, 174, 182, 193 Powell, Anthony, 62 price, prices, 105–11, 203 and banking-and-credit crisis, 216–18, 220 bonds and, 61, 63, 102–3, 108–10, 144 derivatives and, 38, 46–52, 54, 56, 75, 158–59, 166 of houses, 5, 28–29, 37–38, 61, 71, 86–91, 101, 109–11, 113, 115, 125, 157, 160, 164–66, 173–76, 194, 208 of oil, 3–4, 107–8, 148–49 risk and, 145–50, 158–59, 164–66 of stocks, 102, 105–6, 109–10, 147–51, 158, 174 of toxic assets, 37–38, 42 volatility of, 47–48, 148–50 “Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities, The” (Black and Scholes), 45, 47–48, 147 probabilities, 46, 55, 74, 115, 141, 145, 153–55, 160–63 profits, 20, 28, 104–6, 110, 192, 226–28, 230 banks and, 33, 35, 67, 78, 227–28 and benefits of debt, 59–60 derivatives and, 50, 54, 57, 63, 65, 106, 114, 121–22 Enron and, 105–6 regulation and, 204, 226 risk and, 150, 226 Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act, 131 “Quiet Coup, The” (Johnson), 19–20, 185–86 Ragtime (Doctorow), 64 Rand, Ayn, 142–43, 173 Reagan, Ronald, 14, 19–20, 24, 142, 185 recessions, 42, 89, 94, 142, 171, 175, 219 regulation, deregulation, 15, 19–22, 24, 169, 180–202 banking and, 21, 33, 180–91, 194–96, 199–200, 202, 204–5, 208, 211, 223–27 bond ratings and, 208–9 derivatives and, 68, 70, 73, 153, 183–86, 200–201 framework and regime of, 189–92 market discipline and, 183–84 mortgages and, 99–100, 185 proposals for, 223–26 risk and, 143, 153, 164, 187–88, 191, 195, 202, 204–5, 212, 224, 226 in U.K., 21–22, 105n, 180–82, 194–96, 199–201, 218 in U.S., 181, 184–92, 195, 199–200, 223–24, 227 Reykjavík, 10, 12, 170 risk, risks, 49–58, 66–76, 133–36, 141–67, 211–12, 219 AIG and, 75–76 assessment of, 46, 55–56, 74, 133, 135–36, 141–43, 145–67, 187–88, 191, 202, 205, 212, 216, 226 banks and, 19, 34–37, 41, 133, 135–36, 143, 150–54, 156–57, 160, 165–66, 174, 187–88, 191–95, 202, 204–7, 216, 224, 226, 228, 230 bonds and, 61–63, 103, 118, 144, 154, 208 derivatives and, 46–47, 49–52, 54–55, 57–58, 66–75, 78–80, 114–15, 117–22, 151, 153, 158–60, 163, 166–67, 184–85, 205, 212 desirability of, 144, 146, 150, 206–7 diversification and, 146–48 Greenspan and, 142–43, 164–66, 174, 184 hedging of, 49–50, 52, 58, 115, 205 historical data and, 163, 166 housing and, 88, 94–97, 112–13, 125, 129, 145, 158–60, 163–65 investing and, 5, 68, 70, 88, 103, 144, 146–53, 158, 165, 184, 190 leverage and, 35–36 LTCM and, 55–56 overconcentration of, 72–73 regulation and, 143, 153, 164, 187–88, 191, 195, 202, 204–5, 212, 224, 226 securitization and, 69–70, 163, 165 of stairs, 134–35 VAR and, 151–57, 162–63 risk-adjusted return on capital (RAROC), 150–51 Ritholtz, Barry, 219–20 Robinson, Phillip, 128–31 Rogers, Jim, 221 Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), 34–36, 120, 227 bailout of, 32, 40, 204 Russia, 3, 15–16, 18, 53 bond default of, 55–56, 162, 164–65 Salomon Brothers, 63 Sanford, Charles, 150 Santander, 40 savings, 28, 86, 107, 177, 179, 187 savings and loan crisis, 73, 185, 220 Scholes, Myron, 45, 47–48, 54–55, 147 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 195 credit ratings and, 209–10 regulation and, 153, 186, 189–92 securitization, 20, 22, 200 derivatives and, 69–70, 74, 113–14, 117–19, 122, 212 risk and, 69–70, 125, 163, 165, 212, 224 selling, sales, 34, 42, 104, 174, 203 of bonds, 59, 61–63, 144 derivatives and, 46–50, 52, 56, 65, 67–68, 73–74, 120 of equity, 58–59 of houses, 28–29, 71, 89–90 risk and, 151–52, 165, 224 Shiller, Robert, 106, 145n, 194 Simon, David, 83–84 Singapore exchange, 54 Skilling, Jeffrey, 106 small numbers, law of, 137 Sociét Générale, 51, 77 solvency, insolvency, 28–29 of banks, 36–38, 40–43, 64, 74–75, 120 Spain, 15, 40, 177, 214 contracting economy of, 222–23 housing in, 92, 110 special purpose vehicles (SPVs), 70, 120 stairs, deaths caused by, 134–35 Standard & Poor’s (S&P), 62, 114, 151, 209 statistics, 160–62 Stefánsdóttir, Rakel, 9–10, 12 stock market, stocks, 22, 54–55, 61, 76, 80, 101–11, 115, 226 bubbles and implosions in, 3, 42, 103–9, 142, 175–76 derivatives and, 50–52, 54 investing in, 59, 73, 101–7, 111, 146–52, 158, 175, 192 new-economy, 103 1929 crash of, 152, 199, 213 October 1987 crash of, 142, 151–52, 161–62, 164–65 prices of, 102, 105–6, 109–10, 147–51, 158, 174 structured investment vehicles (SIVs), 120 Summa de Arithmetica (Pacioli), 26 Summers, Lawrence, 43, 74, 188 Taleb, Nassim, 53, 155–56 Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA), 100 technology, 42, 104, 149, 155, 166 terrorism, 2, 12, 18, 107 Tett, Gillian, 121, 193 Thatcher, Margaret, 199, 217, 222 free-market capitalism and, 14, 21, 24 on housing, 87, 91, 98 regulation and, 21, 195–96 torture, end of ban on, 18 tranching, 117–18, 122 Treasury, British, 181–82 Treasury, U.S., 43, 54, 64, 74, 76–78 AIG bailout and, 76, 78 regulation and, 188–90 Treasury bills (T-bills), 29–30, 62, 103, 118, 144, 208 China’s investment in, 109, 176–77 Trichet, Jean-Claude, 92 Trillion Dollar Meltdown, The (Morris), 42 Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), 37, 189 Turner, Adair, 181 Tversky, Amos, 136–38, 141 UBS, 36, 120 uncertainty, 96 fair value theory and, 147–48 risk and, 55–56, 153, 163 United Kingdom, 9, 11–12, 18, 28–29, 61, 122–24, 134, 139, 194–202, 216–18 banking in, 5, 11, 32–36, 38–40, 51–54, 76–77, 89, 94, 120, 146, 180, 194–96, 199, 202, 204–6, 211–12, 217, 227–28 bill of, 220–22, 224 and City of London, 21–22, 32, 195–97, 200, 217–18 credit ratings and, 123–24, 209 derivatives and, 72, 200–201 financial vs. industrial interests in, 196–99 free-market capitalism in, 14–15, 21, 230 GDP of, 32, 214, 220 Goodwin’s pension and, 76–77 housing in, 38, 87–98, 110, 122, 177–78 interest rates in, 102, 177–80 personal debt in, 221–22 prosperity of, 214, 216 regulation in, 21–22, 105n, 180–82, 194–96, 199–201, 218 United Nations, 4 United States, 17–22, 34, 62–71, 120–31, 134n, 165, 199–201 AIG bailout and, 76–78 banks of, 36–37, 39–40, 43, 63–71, 73, 75, 77–78, 84, 116, 120–21, 127, 150, 152, 163, 183, 185, 190, 195, 204, 211–12, 219–20, 225, 227–28 bill of, 219–20 China’s investment in, 109, 176–77 credit and, 109, 123–24, 195, 208–9, 211 free-market capitalism in, 14–15, 230 housing in, 37, 82–86, 95, 97–101, 109–10, 114–15, 122, 125–31, 157–58, 163 interest rates in, 102, 107–8, 173–77 regulation in, 181, 184–92, 195, 199–200, 223–24, 227 urban desolation in, 81–86 value, values, 42, 74–75, 78–80, 103–4, 179, 181, 217–18, 220, 227 bonds and, 61, 103 derivatives and, 38, 48–49, 185, 201 housing and, 28–29, 71, 90, 92–95, 111, 176 investing and, 60–61, 104, 198 LTCM and, 55–56 notional, 38, 48–49, 80 value at risk (VAR), 151–57, 162–63 Vietnam War, 18, 220 Viniar, David, 163 volatility, 20, 158 risk and, 47–48, 148–50, 161 Volcker, Paul, 20 Waldrow, Mary, 127 Wall Street, 22, 53, 64, 129, 188 Washington Post, The, 18 wealth, 4, 10, 19–21, 64, 204, 206 financial industry’s ascent and, 20–21 in free-market capitalism, 15, 19, 230 housing and, 87, 90, 121 Keynes’s predictions on, 214–15 in West, 218–19 Weatherstone, Dennis, 152 Wells Fargo, 84, 127 Wessex Water, 105n West, 14–18, 43, 213, 231 conflict between Communist bloc and, 16–18 free-market capitalism in, 14–15, 17, 21, 23 wealth in, 218–19 wheat, 49n, 52 When Genius Failed (Lowenstein), 161 Williams, John Burr, 147 Wilson, Lashawn, 130–31 Wire, The, 83–84 World Bank, 58, 65, 69 * GDP, which will be mentioned quite a few times in this story, sounds complicated but isn’t: it’s nothing more than the value of all the goods and services produced in an economy.


pages: 280 words: 73,420

Crapshoot Investing: How Tech-Savvy Traders and Clueless Regulators Turned the Stock Market Into a Casino by Jim McTague

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algorithmic trading, automated trading system, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, buttonwood tree, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, financial innovation, Flash crash, High speed trading, housing crisis, index arbitrage, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fragmentation, market fundamentalism, naked short selling, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Renaissance Technologies, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, Small Order Execution System, statistical arbitrage, technology bubble, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, Y2K

The charges by Arnuk and Saluzzi were sensational and potentially explosive. The markets were being manipulated. No one else had noticed what they had noticed. Regulators had been asleep. They hadn’t blown any time-out whistles or thrown any penalty flags for spoofing or momentum ignition or pinging. This was outrageous, because the SEC and FINRA were supposed to be cleaning up their act after missing abuses like Bernie Madoff’s outrageous Ponzi scheme. But after the two traders disseminated the white paper, nothing happened—nothing at all. Investors in December 2008 had other things on their minds. They were consumed by bailouts, failures, bankruptcies, and the incoming Democratic administration of Barack Obama. The white paper was little more than background noise. “Outside of our clients, no one made a stink or even mentioned our findings,” recalled Arnuk.7 The two men may have been disappointed, but they were not quitters.

She was most afraid they might clip the agency’s wings and transfer some of its authority to the Federal Reserve. In the end, the SEC would maintain its turf, but the historic legislation would end up saddling the SEC a to-do list containing more than 80 new chores, including studies and the adoption of new regulations, and a deadline of two years for most of them. Simultaneously, Schapiro struggled to reinvigorate the agency, to make it more aggressive. The SEC had missed uncovering the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme because somnambulant bureaucrats had ignored direct complaints between 1992 and 2008. There had been a pair of half-hearted investigations and some cursory exams of Madoff’s firm but, according to a report by the SEC’s inspector general, “a thorough and competent investigation or examination was never performed.” The episode had been a demoralizing embarrassment. Schapiro was trying to bring back the zeal and spirit that the agency had had at its inception.

The Trouble with Mary—and Gary The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chiefs in charge of the Flash Crash investigation had a litany of strengths but also a cart full of heavy baggage that could affect its progress. Mary Schapiro, the first female to head the SEC, had to live down her imperfect record while at the helm of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the brokerage industry’s self-regulatory agency. Two big scandals had broken on her watch—the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the alleged, $8 billion, R. Allen Stanford investment scam—and she had been faulted for not uncovering them. Gary Gensler, chairman of the CFTC, had opposed the regulation of the credit derivatives market while serving in the U.S, Treasury under Bill Clinton. Inadequate regulation of this market had been a major cause of the credit market meltdown from 2007 to 2008 that put seven million people out of work and required federal bailouts of major Wall Street banks and brokerage houses.


pages: 202 words: 66,742

The Payoff by Jeff Connaughton

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algorithmic trading, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Flash crash, locking in a profit, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, naked short selling, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, two-sided market, young professional

Predictably, Breuer dodged Ted’s questions and instead proffered generalities (“The department has engaged in a robust and comprehensive investigation”), statistics on garden-variety financial fraud cases (“between October 2009 and June 2010, nearly three thousand defendants were sentenced to prison for financial fraud, and more than sixteen hundred of these defendants have received sentences of greater than twelve months”), and details of recent cases that had nothing to do with Wall Street and the financial crisis (“on September 15, 2010, Nevin Shapiro, the former CEO of Capital Investments USA Inc., pleaded guilty in Newark, New Jersey, to fraudulently soliciting funds for a non-existent grocery distribution business”). Sitting behind Ted, I tried hard not to roll my eyes as Breuer touted the successful prosecution of a grocer for a small-time New Jersey Ponzi scheme. He was ducking the main issue and continuing to assure Ted and the rest of the committee that the department was being “thorough” and “robust” in its effort to bust big-time fraudsters. To the department’s credit, the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, Neil MacBride (a former Biden chief counsel), had recently indicted Lee Bentley Farkas, the former CEO of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corporation (TBW).

Farkas was charged with perpetrating a massive fraud scheme that resulted in losses exceeding $1.9 billion and that contributed to the failure not just of TBW, but also of Colonial Bank, one of the fifty largest U.S. banks before its collapse in 2009 (in June 2011, Farkas was sentenced to thirty years in prison and fined $38.5 million). That was the only significant case Breuer could point to. In his testimony, Khuzami was more clear and detailed. He at least separated the cases the SEC had brought into two categories: those related to the financial crisis (like civil actions against Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, State Street, and several other major players) and those unrelated to the crisis (like Ponzi schemes and insider trading). Khuzami stressed that in the last nine months the SEC had brought enforcement actions (and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement penalties) against companies and individuals that: concealed from investors the risks and exposures from subprime mortgage-based securities; concealed business strategies that heightened the risks relating to mortgage-based securities; failed to disclose to investors the involvement of adverse parties in structuring complex mortgage-based securities; concealed that investment funds contained high-risk mortgage-based securities; marketed high-risk mortgage-based securities while secretly divesting themselves of their own holdings.

I’m very worried that this is a prescription for another disaster. Schapiro took it all in. She responded by reiterating her pledge, which she’d made publicly in response to Ted’s letter, that the SEC would conduct a comprehensive review of market-structure issues and HFT. She added that she had many other issues on her plate. And indeed she had. America had just been through the biggest financial disaster in sixty years; Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme had gone undetected by the SEC for years despite repeated warnings from whistleblowers; investors were rattled and worried that the SEC was toothless. Nevertheless, it was obvious to me that she only had one choice if history was to judge her well: she had to do something. Ted must have been thinking the same thing. Near the end of the meeting he told Schapiro, “I don’t believe you’re going to do anything about high-frequency trading.”


pages: 257 words: 64,763

The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street by Robert Scheer

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banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, housing crisis, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, mortgage debt, new economy, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics

Not surprisingly, a Treasury official defended the Fed’s actions in not forcing “haircuts” on the full dollar-for-dollar payoff by AIG to the banks while Geithner was at the New York Fed: “The government could not unilaterally impose haircuts [lower prices] on creditors, and it would not have been appropriate for the government to pressure counterparties to accept haircuts by threatening to retaliate in some way through its regulatory power.” Nonsense, argued Eliot Spitzer, who as New York attorney general was way ahead of the curve in challenging Wall Street arrogance. Writing in Slate on November 23, 2009, Spitzer pointed out: “Pressuring Goldman and the other counterparties to offer concessions would have forced them to absorb the consequences of making suspect deals with an insurance company that was essentially a Ponzi scheme.” The Ponzi scheme brings us back full circle to the Clinton bubble. As the inspector general’s report stated: “In 2000, the [Clinton administration-backed] Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) . . . barred the regulation of credit default swaps and other derivatives.” Why did the financial geniuses of the Clinton administration seek to prevent that obviously needed regulation? Because the Clintonistas believed that the Wall Street guys knew what they were doing and that what was good for them was good for us lesser folk.

That was because of the wonders of securitization of debt to be sold in that unregulated commodities market, which seventeen months later the Commodity Futures Modernization Act signed by Clinton would guarantee to remain unregulated. The press release marked this enormous shift in the marketing of mortgages, quoting Mozilo: “This new strategic agreement between Fannie Mae and Countrywide is an unprecedented milestone in mortgage banking history.” Key to the new era of the housing Ponzi scheme was the reduction of capital required to back up the unsavory mortgages as the Countrywide press release clearly stated: “The strategic agreement contemplates efforts by Fannie Mae and Countrywide to work together to create capital structures that reduce the intensive capital demands of mortgage banking. The Alternative Servicing Compensation mortgage-backed securities (ASC MBS) product developed by Fannie Mae and recently issued by Countrywide is an initial effort to provide this flexibility.”


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Wave and Pay, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Another cause was that the very feature that was meant to ensure that Bitcoins were sound money (just like gold) in the first place—their finite supply—became a source of speculation, and a Bitcoin bubble.35 Arguably, Bitcoins were being mined primarily not in order to be used but rather to be hoarded. This phenomenon prompted some critics to liken the currency to a Ponzi scheme. The comparison seems flawed: unlike entrants to a Ponzi scheme, holders of Bitcoins are not—per se—victims of fraud. But according to Eric Posner, Bitcoin “investors” are likely to suffer the same fate: “Bitcoin will collapse when people realize that it can’t survive as a currency because of its built-in deflationary features, or because of the emergence of bytecoins, or both. A real Ponzi scheme takes fraud; Bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion.”36 Viewed simply as a currency, Bitcoin’s biggest pitfall is likely to be price deflation (and, in extremis, hyperdeflation), not inflation.

Bureau of Economic Analysis, see http://www.bea.gov/scb/pdf/2011/07%20July/0711_brief_indy_tables.pdf. 34 Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, see http://www.fdic.gov/bank/statistical/. 35 Source: World Bank, see http://search.worldbank.org/quickview?name=%3Cem%3EBank%3C%2Fem%3E+capital+to+assets+ratio+%28%25%29&id=FB.BNK.CAPA.ZS&type=Indicators&cube_no=2&qterm=bank+debt+leverage. 36 The latter is a reference to Charles Ponzi, origin (but not originator) of the term “Ponzi scheme.” A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scheme that pays returns to its investors not from earned profits but from the monies paid into the scheme from new investors. Ponzi operated such a scheme, via his Securities Exchange Company based in Boston, which collapsed in 1920. He spent the next fourteen years in and out of prison (Zuckoff 2006). 37 The sophistication increases when nonbank financial institutions use bank debt, open-market debt, and long-term bonds to acquire debts and a “layering” of debt occurs (Minsky 1975: 121). 38 “Thus investment becomes ‘safe’ for the individual investor over short periods.”

Paul Krugman described the system that made the crisis possible as “a world gone Madoff,” in which fraud is rife and bankers’ salaries are based merely on the illusion of profit. According to Krugman, “the vast riches being earned … in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality.”25 In a similar vein, Slavoj Žižek called the Bernard Madoff case “an extreme but therefore pure example of what caused the financial breakdown itself” (Žižek 2009: 36). Madoff’s crime (his wealth management business operated as a Ponzi scheme for many years before its collapse in 2008, costing investors around $18 billion) was merely a manifestation of a form of reasoning that is inscribed into the very system of capitalist relations, namely, that the sphere of circulation must be expanded—using “fraudulent” monetary instruments, if necessary—to keep the machinery running: “the temptation to ‘morph’ legitimate business into a pyramid scheme is part of the very nature of the capitalist circulation process” (Žižek 2009: 36).


pages: 416 words: 118,592

A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton G. Malkiel

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, Bernie Madoff, BRICs, capital asset pricing model, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, feminist movement, financial innovation, fixed income, framing effect, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, market bubble, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, publish or perish, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, zero-coupon bond

ZZZZ Best was accused of acting as a front for organized-crime figures who would buy equipment for the company with “dirty” money and replace their investment with “clean” cash skimmed from the proceeds of ZZZZ Best’s legitimate carpet-cleaning business. The spectacular growth of the company was produced with fictitious contracts, phony credit card charges, and the like. The operation was a giant Ponzi scheme in which money was recycled from one set of investors to pay off another. Minkow was also charged with skimming millions from the company treasury for his own personal use. Minkow and all the investors in ZZZZ Best were in wall-to-wall trouble. The next chapter of the story (after Chapter Eleven) occurred in 1989 when Minkow, then twenty-three, was convicted of fifty-seven counts of fraud, sentenced to twenty-five years in prison, and required to make restitution of $26 million he was accused of stealing from the company.

The updraft encourages more people to buy the stocks, which causes more TV and print coverage, which causes even more people to buy, which creates big profits for early Internet stockholders. The successful investors tell you at cocktail parties how easy it is to get rich, which causes the stocks to rise further, which pulls in larger and larger groups of investors. But the whole mechanism is a kind of Ponzi scheme where more and more credulous investors must be found to buy the stock from the earlier investors. Eventually, one runs out of greater fools. Even highly respected Wall Street firms joined in the hot-air float. The venerable investment firm Goldman Sachs argued in mid-2000 that the cash burned by the dot-com companies was primarily an “investor sentiment” issue and not a “long-term risk” for the sector or “space,” as it was often called.

As the economic historian Charles Kindleberger has stated, “There is nothing so disturbing to one’s well-being and judgment as to see a friend get rich.” And as Robert Shiller, author of the best-selling Irrational Exuberance, has noted, the process feeds on itself in a “positive feedback loop.” The initial price rise encourages more people to buy, which in turn produces greater profits and induces a larger and larger group of participants. The phenomenon is another example of the Ponzi scheme that I described in chapter 4, in connection with the Internet bubble. Eventually one runs out of greater fools. Such herding is not limited to unsophisticated individual investors. Mutual-fund managers have a tendency to follow the same strategies and herd into the same stocks. Indeed, a study by Harrison Hong, Jeffrey Kubik, and Jeremy Stein, three leaders in the field of behavioral finance, determined that mutual-fund managers were more likely to hold similar stocks if other managers in the same city were holding similar portfolios.


pages: 482 words: 122,497

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank

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affirmative action, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, edge city, financial deregulation, full employment, George Gilder, guest worker program, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, P = NP, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Telecommunications Act of 1996, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, War on Poverty

The liberal state has no more claim to legitimacy than the thief who robs you at gunpoint. The system is corruption itself. In its heyday, conservative Washington was saturated with these ideas: The Federal Reserve as a “legal counterfeiter” because it is empowered to adjust the nation’s money supply. The Community Reinvestment Act, which outlaws redlining, as “a blackmail tool.” Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.” The EPA as “the Gestapo of government.” The operations of city governments as “looting.” As for taxation, wrote Grover Norquist, “your average street mugger is an improvement. He knows it’s your wallet. He knows you earned the money. He just wants it for himself and he is straightforward enough to say, ‘Give me your money, I have a knife.’ Muggers understand this transaction.”5 The most improbable corruption theorist on the conservative scene was Michael Scanlon, the aforementioned aide to Tom DeLay.

Maybe it’s only a coincidence that some of the biggest banks ever to fail were under OTS’s watch, but I doubt it.6 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the top cop on Wall Street, was no better. Its overworked staffers, whose pay was comparable to that of other federal employees, were expected to face down some of the most highly paid corporation lawyers in the world—a disparity that led, here as elsewhere, to the revolving door. By the time of the crash, the SEC was so utterly clueless that it completely missed the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time, the investment firm run by Bernard Madoff, despite having received numerous tips on the megafraud. It took years for conservatives to transform the SEC into the laughingstock it became in 2008. Their vandalism began, as we have seen elsewhere, with personnel decisions: Before the 1980s, SEC commissioners were drawn from within the agency; from Reagan’s presidency on, they came from Wall Street.

Our ancestors understood that capitalism requires supervision; when you take it away—or when you defund the supervisors, or make them answer to the supervised, or replace them with a “voluntary compliance” program—suddenly you’ve got diseased factories shipping salmonella-laced peanut butter throughout the country. You’ve got worthless mortgage-backed securities—rated triple-A, backed up by useless appraisals, issued by defunct banks—sickening financial institutions from San Diego to Budapest. You’ve got the world’s greatest Ponzi scheme spreading its gift of bankruptcy throughout the land. Thus did the conservative movement keep its appointment with destiny. Free-market techniques secured for it a world of free markets; criminal techniques gave it a land in which crime was triumphant. And with their eyes fixed firmly on their nineteenth-century utopia, its armies of privatizers, pressure boys, PAC men, political entrepreneurs, and professional victims made the world safe for predation.


pages: 387 words: 112,868

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper

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4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, capital controls, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, life extension, litecoin, lone genius, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Startup school, stealth mode startup, the payments system, transaction costs, tulip mania, WikiLeaks

Just as the Internet took power from big media organizations and put it in the hands of bloggers and dissidents, Bitcoin held out the promise of taking power from banks and governments and giving it to the people using the money. This was all rather high-minded stuff and it attracted plenty of derision—most ordinary folks imagined it falling somewhere on the spectrum between Tamagotchi pet and Ponzi scheme, when they heard about it at all. But Bitcoin had the good fortune of entering the world at a utopian moment, in the wake of a financial crisis that had exposed many of the shortcomings of our existing financial and political system, creating a desire for alternatives. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and WikiLeaks—among others—had divergent goals, but they were united in their desire to take power back from the privileged elite and give it to individuals.

But this argument ignored the fact that the United States government promised to always take dollars for tax bills, which was a real value no matter how much people disliked paying taxes. Practically no one was promising to take Bitcoin for anything. The primary value the coins had at this point was the expectation that they would be worth more in the future, allowing current holders to cash out for more than they paid. To some cynics, that description made Bitcoin sound suspiciously like a less savory sort of financial invention: a Ponzi scheme. FROM THE OUTSIDE, it would have been easy to conclude that Charlie and BitInstant were somehow dodging all these problems. Charlie was shopping for new, larger real estate for his company and eventually settled on a well-appointed suite in an office tower. Charlie had finally managed to move out of his parents’ basement in Brooklyn. He was motivated to do this, in no small part, because he was afraid to tell his parents about his girlfriend, Courtney, who was a waitress at his favorite bar, EVR.

Gox collapse, 309 2014 Bitcoin Pacifica (Lake Tahoe), 346–348 Anoncoin (digital currency), 270–271 Anti-state.org (website), 29 Argentina, 153–161, 182, 240–242, 259, 277–280, 286, 349–353 ASIC (computer chip), 189–190, 259, 329–330 Assange, Julian, 56–57 Athey, Susan, 345 Atlantis, 245 Australia, 44–45, 117, 168, 171 Automated Clearing House (ACH), 133 Avalon (ASIC), 190, 206 Back, Adam, 17–22, 339, 348 Baidu (Chinese search engine), 261–262 bank bailout of 2008, 32, 111 Bank of America, 272 Bates, Richard, 75–77, 115–116 bee-te-bee (Chinese Bitcoin), 255–256 Beijing Summer Olympics (2008), 145 Benchmark Capital, 282, 293, 305 Bernanke, Ben, 266 Bezos, Jeff, 353 Bharara, Preet, 299–300 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 353–355 Bitcoin arrival of Gavin Andresen, 44–47 arrival of Martti Malmi, 29–30 building trust, 24–25, 33, 48, 61–62, 69, 99–100, 279, 315, 339 buying/selling with, 43–44, 82, 119–120, 129–130 changing business model, 236–239 characterization as “cryptocurrency,” 36 comparison to gold, 157–158, 165, 182 comparison to paper money, 219, 286–287 creation and operation of original code, 4–6, 20–24 disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto, x–xiii hacking and scandals, 91–99 increasing price/value, 38, 66–69, 79, 81–85, 89–91, 131, 175, 180, 184, 193–196, 204–206, 210–211, 250–253, 262–264, 267, 271–275, 284–285 legality/government regulation, 196–198, 251 limitations based upon computers, 347 Mt. Gox collapse busts bubble, 308–317 origin and ideology, vii–xv, 5, 113–114 as Ponzi scheme, 220 proof-of-work, 18–19 Bitcoin Foundation candidacy of Bobby Lee, 345 dealing with Bitcoin collapse, 314–315 Gavin Andresen as member, 192 involvement in Senate hearing, 265–267, 270, 300–302 Patrick Murck as member, 176 planning and creation of, 138–142 regulatory problems, 217–219, 233–236 resignation of Charlie Shrem, 302 Bitcoinica, 237 Bitcoin Investment Trust, 314 Bitcoin Meetups.


pages: 310 words: 90,817

Paper Money Collapse: The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown by Detlev S. Schlichter

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bank run, banks create money, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, currency peg, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, inflation targeting, Kenneth Rogoff, Long Term Capital Management, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, open economy, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, price mechanism, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, risk tolerance, savings glut, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Y2K

To own money and own an interest-bearing debt-claim at the same time is still impossible. In depositing money in a bank, ownership of money has been relinquished. Money has been exchanged for a claim against a bank, which—one hopes—is almost as good as money. Inevitably it comes with extra risk, and the interest income it provides can be considered compensation for this risk. It would not be entirely incorrect to compare fractional-reserve banking with a Ponzi scheme. The depositors pool their money holdings in a bank and get paper receipts in return. They know that the banker will issue more receipts as part of his lending business so that ultimately considerably more paper tickets circulate than is money in the bank to pay out every holder of a paper ticket. However, the banker shares some of his profit from this process of money creation with his depositors, which is their incentive to participate in the scheme.

If such a restriction on fractional-reserve banking were not to be enacted, then the state should in any case abandon all measures by which it supports and encourages these banking practices and socializes their risks. The disastrous and misguided idea of state-sponsored “cheap credit” has to be abandoned completely. The state has to exit, once and for all, the sphere of money and banking. Personally, this would be my preferred solution. I do not think that fractional-reserve banking should be outlawed by the state. The practice can correctly be called a Ponzi scheme, but in a free society people should still be allowed to join such schemes. As long as the fallout from this practice is not being socialized through central banking and other support mechanisms by the state, we should trust voluntary cooperation on free markets to properly guide and restrict this activity. But whatever the specific features of the new monetary order are going to be, the allegation that a return to commodity money is impossible because we lack sufficient supply of a suitable commodity is nonsense.

See European Central Bank economic deterioration, pattern of economic equilibrium economist, paper money and economy government fixes for growing shaping elastic money, desire for elastic, inelastic versus electronic money. See also money, paper money Enron equilibrium, economic European Central Bank (ECB) evenly rotating economy F Fannie Mae Federal Reserve establishment of fiat money fiduciary model Fisher, Irving foreign exchange market Foster, William Trufant fractional-reserve banking as Ponzi scheme controls of misconceptions about stability of state and understanding franc France, paper money and Freddie Mac Friedman, Milton functions of money G GDP. See gross domestic product Geldwertstabilisierung und Konjunkterpolitik The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money Germany, paper money and global foreign exchange market global reserve currency global state fiat money standard gold gold standard Nixon and resurrecting Roosevelt and goldsmiths Goldtheorie und Konjunkturtheorie goods production, money production versus government debt, monetization of government, funding Great Depression greenbacks Gresham’s law gross domestic product (GDP) effect of money injections on H Harrison, Henry Hayek, Fredrich August von hyperinflation I IMF.


pages: 261 words: 103,244

Economists and the Powerful by Norbert Haring, Norbert H. Ring, Niall Douglas

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, central bank independence, collective bargaining, commodity trading advisor, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, diversified portfolio, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, inflation targeting, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, new economy, obamacare, open economy, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, Renaissance Technologies, rolodex, Sergey Aleynikov, shareholder value, short selling, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, union organizing, working-age population, World Values Survey

To get loan managers and internal auditors to give loans to people that are not creditworthy, devise an incentive scheme that rewards turnover and punishes prudence. After the first movers start to do this, other bank CEOs are compelled to do likewise, because otherwise they would not be able to meet the new industry standard for profitability and success. If such a dynamic plays out on the mortgage market, house prices will go up, making the aggressive lending strategy even seem reasonable. By the time the Ponzi scheme collapses and takes the companies down with the lending institutions, the control frauds and many of their imitators have cashed out big. If they were careful, they have not done anything for which they could go to jail (Black 2010). This may sound like an ex post description of what was going on in the run-up to the subprime crisis. It is noteworthy, though, that Black developed his theory of control fraud earlier, based on the evidence of the savings and loan crisis of the mid-1990s, which had followed a similar pattern.

The Senate later concluded that the SEC had not devoted sufficient resources to the case and had been overly deferential in dealing with John Mack. SEC management had delayed Mack’s testimony for over a year, until days after the statute of limitations expired, and had fired the whistleblower. No serious and credible investigation of his claims was ever conducted, according to the Senate. It is quite clear that the failure of the SEC to detect the huge Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff, a major contributor 218 ECONOMISTS AND THE POWERFUL to federal candidates, parties and committees, was not an isolated case but part of a pattern (Correia 2009). Conclusion: Strengthen and Protect the Political System from Itself One school of thought concludes from this that it is best to have as small a government as possible and give it as little power as possible. This is the school of thought that inspired the US Constitution as laid down by the founding fathers after suffering decades of overbearing British rule.

Morgan (bank) 54, 59, 70, 87, 105 labor xii, 4–6, 8, 10, 18, 33–4, 137, 139, 141, 143, 146, 153–5, 157–9, 163–5, 167–73, 176, 178–83, 189–94, 197, 200, 203–5 legitimacy 16, 25 Lehman Brothers 17, 90, 94, 96 Leviathan (government) 210 liberty 8, 25, 207 liquidity xi, 66, 103–5, 112 London School of Economics 20, 27, 40, 144 Long-Term Capital Management (LCTM) 66, 92 macroeconomics 14 Madoff, Bernard 217 managerial power approach 119, 120, 124, 126, 132 marginal cost 142–4 marginal product 156–8, 189, 192 marginal rate of substitution 14 marginal utility 5–6, 13, 214 marginalism 1, 4–5 market forces x, 126, 169, 171–2, 180–82 market power xii, 154, 161, 164, 170, 203 Marshall, Alfred 5, 10, 16, 188, 193 Marx, Karl 5, 188, 198 Marxism 5–6, 10, 165 mass production 7, 15, 143, 161 Mazur, Paul 17–18 median voter theory 212, 214 Menger, Carl 5, 12 mercantilism 2–3 Merrill Lynch 90, 112, 133 Methuen Treaty 3 military vii, 3, 19–20, 22, 25, 45, 116, 208, 215 minimum wage 140–41, 154, 158, 183, 188–9, 192–7, 203–4 Mises, Ludwig von 12 monopoly viii, 9, 18, 26, 41, 86–7, 97–9, 142, 145–7, 149–54, 161, 171, 177 monopsony 153–4 Moody’s (ratings agency) 97–9 Morgan Stanley 49, 63, 90, 217 mutual fund 56, 58, 64–6, 68, 97, 134 NASDAQ 55 natural selection 167 negotiating power 160, 179, 205 net present value 159 new welfare economics 14, 19 news 53, 56, 114, 122, 143, 220 Nobel Prize 7, 17, 20, 22–4, 26, 44, 170, 186 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 20, 30, 41, 187, 189, 203 Olson, Mancur 23–4 optimal contracting 109, 119–20, 124, 126–7, 132 ordinalism 1, 11, 17, 21 outrage constraint 119–21, 124, 126–7, 136 outsourcing 165, 177, 184–6 over the counter (OTC) (derivatives) 90 Paretian welfare economics 14 Pareto, Vilfredo 12–13, 21, 157 INDEX pay-for-performance 95, 107–8, 111–12, 115, 119, 121–2, 126, 128, 139 pensions viii, 36, 39, 57, 58, 98, 113, 140, 134 perfect competition (economic) x, xii, 141–2, 145–6, 168, 187, 193 perfectly substitutable (economically) x performance-related pay 109, 111; see also pay-for-performance perverse incentive 113, 133 Pigou, Arthur C. 10, 188, 192–3, 198 Pimco (fund) 96, 215 Ponzi (scheme) 95, 217 poststructuralism 8 power viii–xii, 1–4, 8–9, 18, 25, 27–32, 42, 145, 147, 153–4, 159–61, 164, 166–8, 171, 174, 177–9, 184–7, 193, 198, 203–4 corporate 107–40 economic xii, 1, 32, 45, 46, 54, 208, 219 financial 47–106 informational 207–20 managerial (see managerial power approach) political ix, xii, 32, 86, 208, 210, 219 principal–agent theory 107 prisoner’s dilemma 38 private equity 68, 136 productivity (economic) ix, 10, 32, 34–6, 48, 79–80, 101, 137, 141, 146–7, 156, 171, 173, 176, 178, 180, 186, 189, 192, 194, 196, 201, 204–5 professions, the viii, 1, 25 profit xii, 2, 7, 43, 46, 54–6, 59, 61–2, 65, 68, 76, 82–3, 85, 91, 97, 99– 100, 105, 109–10, 112–13, 118, 127–8, 130, 135, 137, 141–3, 145–50, 153, 155, 157, 159–60, 164, 166, 171, 173, 175, 177–9, 184, 186, 197, 205, 215–16 profitability 49, 53, 60, 74, 84, 95, 97, 100, 132–3, 139, 143, 151, 183, 191, 194 245 profit margin 3, 195 profit maximization 120, 143, 147, 149–51 property rights 22, 215 public relations (PR) 15–16 quadratic weighting (inflation) 33 rating agencies x, 97–100 rational choice movement 1, 21–3, 25, 214 raw materials 2–3, 184 redistribution 10, 12, 19, 39, 161, 186, 210, 213 representative agent 14 reserve requirement 82–4, 103–4 risk management 94 Robbins, Lionel 12–13, 17, 21, 210–11 Robinson, Joan 146, 159–60, 208 Ross, Edward 9–10, 18, 38 Rothschild, Mayer Amschel 72–3, 75 S&P 500 110, 120 Samuelson, Paul 159–60 Sarbanes–Oxley Act 92, 99, 123 Schumpeter, Joseph 19 Second (Workingmen’s) International 5 Second World War 2, 18–19, 30, 79–80 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 52–3, 69, 90, 93–4, 97–8, 115, 123–4, 130, 217 securitization 112 selfishness 7, 38, 40, 108, 167, 170, 211, 213 shareholder franchise 133 shareholders xii, 93, 102, 107–10, 112–15, 120–22, 128, 131, 133–6, 138 SMD assumptions/conditions 7, 14 Smith, Adam 3–4, 42, 155, 163, 188, 198 social norms 38, 108, 117, 120, 135, 138–9, 164 social security 36, 39, 188, 198–9 246 ECONOMISTS AND THE POWERFUL socialism 5–6 , 9–10, 19, 24, 27, 193 Solow, Robert 159 Sonnenschein–Mantel–Debreu theorem: see SMD assumptions/ conditions Soros, George 47, 67, 105 spring loading (stock options) 122 Squam Lake Group 44 Sraffa, Piero 141, 144, 159–60 staggered board (of directors) 126, 134 stagnation 32, 101, 218 stakeholders xii, 107–8, 117, 136–7 Standard & Poor’s (rating agency) 97, 99 Stanford University 10, 18, 93 stock option backdating 122 stock options 43, 67, 92–3, 96, 108–10, 112–13, 120, 122–5, 128, 131–3 structural reforms 188–9 subprime xi, 43, 47, 69–71, 82, 88, 90, 95, 97–8, 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 120, 133, 136, 205, 217 supply and demand 108, 167 sustainability ix, 13 Syracuse University 9 takeover 70, 102, 113, 126, 135 tariffs 3, 16, 84 TARP: see Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) taxation 83, 109, 139, 214 Thatcher, Margaret 40 “too big to fail” 83, 105 transaction costs 7, 74, 168–9 transportation 7, 41, 73, 118, 143, 144–5, 169, 186 treasury secretary xi, 69, 71, 87, 90, 96 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) 70 UBS (bank) 105 unemployment 170, 180–81, 188–9, 197–200, 203–5, 213 university 9, 16–17, 20–21, 27, 41, 101, 117, 142 University of Chicago: see Chicago, University of value added 31, 136 Wall Street xi, 38, 42, 54, 63, 67, 69–70, 88, 92–3, 96, 99, 105, 122–3 Walras, Leon 5–7 Warwick Commission 100–101, 103 Washington Mutual (bank) 95–6 wealth viii, xii, 2, 9, 42, 45, 69, 71–2, 96, 101, 110–11, 120, 135, 207–10 welfare economics 14–15 welfarism 10–11 Wieser, Friedrich von 12–13 worker representatives 137 World Bank 27–8, 31 Worldcom 52, 61, 92, 98, 110, 113, 128, 132 Yale University 10, 13


pages: 346 words: 101,763

Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic by Hugh Sinclair

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Bernie Madoff, colonial exploitation, en.wikipedia.org, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Gini coefficient, high net worth, illegal immigration, inventory management, microcredit, Northern Rock, peer-to-peer lending, pirate software, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, profit motive

Client savings, however obtained, and whether forced or voluntary, could be used to meet such a shortfall, but whether this was legal or not was a valid question. And even if legal, it was no free lunch: the cash may be accessible for use in other areas, but the obligation of the MFI to return these funds to clients did not vanish. In a sense such practices can be likened to Bernie Madoff’s recent Ponzi scheme. For as long as new investors keep pouring money in, there are funds available to return to early investors, and no one need know quite how the underlying portfolio is doing for as long as the dance maintains its momentum. The more recent investors are locked in for some period before they can extract their profits, by which point more investors have been found. This is remarkably similar to a microfinance loan—clients cannot withdraw their savings until they have fully repaid their loans, by which point new clients have provided new savings to be available for such withdrawals.

In a massive exercise of musical chairs, MFIs were encouraged by funds to take yet more money, to lend to yet more “entrepreneurs,” and earn a fat margin in the process. Details, such as having nineteen simultaneous loans, were ignored as long as the music continued to play. The microfinance funds proudly announced their social impact by catapulting people out of poverty in Nicaragua, that war-torn country many had heard of but few could identify on a map, and they naturally earned their fair share of the profits. The musical Ponzi scheme continued unabated until one rather awkward moment that everyone had assumed would never occur: the music stopped. If there was ever a country that demonstrated that the funding bodies had entirely lost all track of reality, it was Nicaragua. Many microfinance funds lost millions of dollars as MFIs defaulted—not their dollars, of course, but those of their own investors, thanks to their failure to consider the simple fact that pyramid schemes require permanent new injections of capital and limited withdrawals.

For the few funds that do strive to honestly tackle the problem of poverty, here are some suggestions to help produce positive results: • Demand a higher management fee—2 percent is not enough to cover genuine due diligence and will inevitably lead to cutting corners. If your investors don’t appreciate the benefit of this, find new investors or close your fund. Pay peanuts, get monkeys. • Assume a priori that every MFI you consider is a jazzed-up Ponzi scheme. Be happy to be proved wrong. • Listen to what your investors actually want. If you can’t actually deliver it, don’t take their money. • Do proper due diligence, on-site, including an auditor; take an IT expert to sniff around in the MFI’s back office; do background checks on managers and look for conflicts of interest within the MFI. Don’t subcontract due diligence to another fund, particularly one that has already invested in the same MFI


pages: 561 words: 87,892

Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity by Stephen D. King

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Admiral Zheng, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital controls, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Naomi Klein, new economy, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, statistical model, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Too many investors in developed markets were happy to chase higher yields on riskier assets, disregarding the associated dangers. As they did so, they allowed banks to raise funds well beyond their deposits through the creation of securitized products. Many of these funds were lent to US households with questionable credit histories in the form of sub-prime mortgages. Some of the funds raised, though, were lent back to the emerging economies. This wasn’t quite a Ponzi scheme (although Ponzi schemes, most obviously Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, nevertheless developed), but it had much the same effect. The combination of rapidly growing emerging economies, 1990s Asian failures and a hunt for yield left investors with the belief that capital gains had to be plucked from the tree without any real regard for risk. Even sensible investors were forced to take part. I recall talking to one particularly cautious bond investor in 2007 who was lamenting his company’s determination to deliver to its investors a particularly high rate of return.

(i), (ii) Permanent Income Hypothesis (i) Persia (i), (ii) Philippines (i), (ii), (iii) Pike, Rob (i) Pingali, Prabhu (i) plague (i), (ii) Plaza accord (i) pogroms (i), (ii) Poland (i) political economy inequalities (i) education (i) the emerging gap (i) emerging nations and income inequality in the developed world (i) food shortages (i) globalization (i) living with inequality (i) new modes of distribution (i) not getting just rewards (i) a three-country model (i) too much domesticity (i) United Kingdom (i) winners and losers (i) market forces (i) return of political economy (i) scarcity (i) state capitalism (i) politics (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Ponzi schemes (i) population ageing anarchy in capital markets (i), (ii) command over limited resources (i) demographic dividends and deficits (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) globalization (i) government debt (i) Japan (i) migration (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) nationalism (i) pensions and healthcare (i) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii) savings (i) trade (i) population demographics China (i), (ii) demographic dividends and deficits (i) demographic dynamics (i), (ii) globalization (i), (ii) infant mortality (i) Japan (i) migration (i) pensions and healthcare (i) political economy and inequalities (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) population of working age (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) porcelain (i) ports (i) Portsmouth FC (i) Portugal (i), (ii), (iii) Potosí (i) poverty globalization (i), (ii), (iii) migration (i) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii) price stability and economic instability (i) scarcity (i) Spain and silver (i) price stability anarchy in capital markets (i), (ii) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) price stability brings economic instability (i) back to the 1970s (i) defining and controlling inflation (i) emerging economies (i), (ii) inflation as an instrument of income and wealth distribution (i) inflation as a result of currency linkages (i) overview (i), (ii) from stability to instability (i), (ii) we are not alone (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii) state capitalism (i), (ii) trade (i), (ii) printing money (i), (ii) privatization (i), (ii) productivity anarchy in capital markets (i) land grabs (i) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii) population demographics (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) price stability (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) rent-seeking behaviour (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Spain and silver (i) state capitalism (i) trade (i) Western progress (i), (ii) profits anarchy in capital markets (i), (ii) price stability (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) scarcity (i), (ii) state capitalism (i) trade (i) property rights population demographics (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii) secrets of Western success (i), (ii) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Prophet Mohammed (i) prostitution (i) protectionism anarchy in capital markets (i), (ii) globalization (i) migration (i) nineteenth century (i) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii) secrets of Western success (i), (ii), (iii) trade (i) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Prussia (i) public sector (i), (ii) purchasing power parity (i), (ii), (iii) Putin, Vladimir (i), (ii), (iii) Qu Hongbin (i) racism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) railways (i), (ii) Rauh, Joshua (i) Rawls, John (i) raw materials (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Reagan, Ronald (i), (ii) real estate (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) recession (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Reformation (i) regulation (i), (ii), (iii) religion (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) remittances (i), (ii) renminbi (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) rent-seeking behaviour (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) reserve currency (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Reserve Fund for Future Generations (i) reserves see foreign-exchange reserves resources population demographics (i), (ii), (iii) price stability and economic instability (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) state capitalism (i) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii), (iii) retirement (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) Ricardo, David (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) rice (i), (ii) risk (i), (ii), (iii) Rockefeller Center (i), (ii), (iii) Rocket steam locomotive (i) Roman Empire (i), (ii), (iii) Romania (i), (ii), (iii) Rover Group (i) Royal Navy (i), (ii) rural populations (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) Russian Revolution (i), (ii) Russia/Russian Federation pogroms (i), (ii) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii) population demographics (i), (ii), (iii) a post-dollar financial order (i), (ii), (iii) price stability and economic instability (i), (ii) Russian default (i), (ii), (iii) scarcity (i), (ii) secrets of Western success (i), (ii), (iii) state capitalism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) trade (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Saddam Hussein (i) Samsung (i) Samuelson, Paul (i), (ii) sanitation (i), (ii) Saudi Arabia (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) savings anarchy in capital markets (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) economic models (i), (ii) political economy and inequalities (i) population demographics (i), (ii), (iii) price stability and economic instability (i), (ii) state capitalism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) trade (i) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii), (iii) Scandinavia (i) scarcity (i) back to the classical economists (i) faith in the market (i) history (i) opportunity for all (i) overview (i) population demographics (i), (ii) price stability and economic instability (i) technology replication and resource scarcity (i) the West’s diminished status (i), (ii) Wimbledon and the Olympics (i) Schröder, Gerhard (i), (ii) Schumer, Charles (i) science (i), (ii), (iii) SCO see Shanghai Co-operation Organization Scotland (i) Seat (i) Second World War (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) securities (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Sen, Amartya (i) Seoul (i) Sevilla, Jaypee (i) Shah, Saef (i) Shanghai (i), (ii) Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) (i), (ii), (iii) Shinawatra, Thaksin (i) Shinkasen (‘Bullet’ train) (i) ships (i), (ii), (iii) Siemens (i) Silicon Valley (i) silk (i), (ii), (iii) Silk Road (i), (ii), (iii) silver (i), (ii) Singapore (i), (ii), (iii) Sinopec (i) SIVs see special investment vehicles Škoda (i) slavery political economy and inequalities (i) population demographics (i), (ii), (iii) scarcity (i), (ii) secrets of Western success (i) Spain (i) Slovakia (i) Slovenia (i) Smetters, Kent (i) Smith, Adam (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) Smoot–Hawley trade tariff (i), (ii) smuggling (i), (ii) soccer clubs (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) social security (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) soft knowledge (i), (ii) software development (i), (ii), (iii) South Korea (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) South Stream (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Soviet communism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) Soviet Union (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Spain (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) special investment vehicles (SIVs) (i), (ii) specialization (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) spending power (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) spice trade (i), (ii), (iii) sports (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) stagflation (i), (ii) Standard Bank (i), (ii) ‘Starbucks effect’ (i), (ii) state (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) state capitalism indulging the US no more (i), (ii), (iii) migration (i) political economy and inequalities (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) protectionism (i) rise of state capitalism (i) dynamics of excess saving (i) excess savings and command over assets (i) food prices (i) heading East (i) overruling the market (i) ownership versus control (i) rise of Russian power politics (i) rise of sovereign wealth funds (i) sleeping giants no more (i) unwilling sellers (i) who owns what?


pages: 265 words: 93,231

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

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Asperger Syndrome, asset-backed security, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, facts on the ground, financial innovation, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, medical residency, moral hazard, mortgage debt, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, value at risk, Vanguard fund

You give them cheap loans. To sift every pool of subprime mortgage loans took him six months, but when he was done he came out of the room and gave Eisman the news. All these subprime lending companies were growing so rapidly, and using such goofy accounting, that they could mask the fact that they had no real earnings, just illusory, accounting-driven, ones. They had the essential feature of a Ponzi scheme: To maintain the fiction that they were profitable enterprises, they needed more and more capital to create more and more subprime loans. "I wasn't actually a hundred percent sure I was right," said Vinny, "but I go to Steve and say, 'This really doesn't look good.' That was all he needed to know. I think what he needed was evidence to downgrade the stock." The report Eisman wrote trashed all of the subprime originators; one by one, he exposed the deceptions of a dozen companies.

"* What shocked Eisman was that none of the people he met in Las Vegas seemed to have wrestled with anything. They were doing what they were doing without thinking very much about it. It was in Las Vegas that Eisman and his associates' attitude toward the U.S. bond market hardened into something like its final shape. As Vinny put it, "That was the moment when we said, 'Holy shit, this isn't just credit. This is a fictitious Ponzi scheme.'" In Vegas the question lingering at the back of their minds ceased to be, Do these bond market people know something we do not? It was replaced by, Do they deserve merely to be fired, or should they be put in jail? Are they delusional, or do they know what they're doing? Danny thought that the vast majority of the people in the industry were blinded by their interests and failed to see the risks they had created.

Eisman was now explaining why the world was going to blow up, but his partners were only half-listening...because the financial world was blowing up. "The minute Steve starts to speak," said Vinny, "the stock starts to fall." As Eisman explained why no one in his right mind would own the very shares he had bought sixteen hours earlier, Danny dashed off text messages to his partners. 9:49. Oh my--Bear at 47 "If [the U.S. financial system] sounds like a circular Ponzi scheme it's because it is." 9:55. Bear is 43 last OMG "The banks in the United States are only beginning to come to grips with their massive loan problems. For instance, I wouldn't own a single bank in the State of Florida because I think they might all be gone." 10:02. Bear 29 last!!!! "The upper classes of this country raped this country. You fucked people. You built a castle to rip people off.


pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond

Borrowers have to pay interest and ultimately repay the amount borrowed. But the interest and the amount borrowed may not be paid back, therefore requiring more borrowing that continues until the borrower collapses under the weight of debt. The only way out is for borrowers to induce new borrowers into larger amounts of debt to allow them to pay off their own debts. The system works, like any Ponzi scheme, as long as everyone believes the debt can be paid back and the market value of assets bought with that debt keeps rising. The economy inexorably gravitates toward debt-fueled consumerism, inflation, and increasing debt. This leads to a constant cycle of credit booms and bust. In the second half of the twentieth century, credit money gradually became the primary form of money, leading to an explosion of debt.

As the inflation adjustment was paid at maturity, the structure conserved cash flows, which were distributed to other investors or to the bank as fees. Issuing these securities robbed shareholders in the infrastructure projects of at least some of the inflation hedge that they purchased. Jim Chanos, whose fund Kynikos Associates bet on Macquarie’s share pricing falling, argued that the model was a giant Ponzi scheme. Edward Chancellor, a journalist, was also critical: “excessive fees, excessive leverage and excessive complexity.”4 Public Squalor, Private Profits Over time, adjacency—close enough—allowed the techniques to be applied to mobile phone antennae, casinos, car parks, parking meters, shopping centers, water utilities, and even emergency services communications networks. The common theme was debt, lots of it.

Regulators suggested that the practice was so widespread as to verge on a “corrupt business model.”16 Some fund managers dispense with pretence and fabricate returns. In 2008, Bernard Madoff confessed to an investment fraud totaling more than $60 billion, involving nearly 5,000 clients. Madoff’s hedge funds, operating from three floors of the Lipstick Building, generated solid returns, trading stocks, and options. In reality, since the mid-1990s, Madoff had operated a Ponzi scheme. Lucky Man Jones charged 20 percent of performance, but no management fee, and paid expenses from his performance fee. Traditional hedge funds charged 1 percent management fee and a performance fee of 20 percent of returns above a benchmark, the watermark. There was also a high watermark. If it makes losses, then the fund must recoup these before performance fees resume. Funds now routinely charge 2 percent and 20 percent with no watermark.


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

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Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

This new debt paper was then peddled to investors, who used it as collateral for “margin” loans to buy yet more stocks and bonds. At each change of hands, fees and underwriting charges added to the total claims on the original shaky mortgages. The result was a frenzied bid-ding up of prices for a bewildering maze of arcane securities that neither buyers nor sellers could accurately value. Giant Ponzi scheme? Not to worry, responded the Wall Street geniuses. By spreading risks among more people, the miracle of “diversity” was actually turning bad loans into good ones. Anyway, banks were buying insurance policies against default, which in turn were transformed into a set of even murkier securities called “credit default swaps” and marketed to hedge funds, pension managers and in some cases back to the banks that were being insured in the first place.

His answer: “Because socialism will always be used to save it.” The cause of the financial markets meltdown is simple: powerful greed fanned by fraud and reckless risk transfers. Wall Street wanted something for nothing. This fairy tale was written by an army of Wall Street lobbyists who tore down regulations and safeguards meant to protect savers and shareholders. The financial black belts who made billions from this Ponzi scheme deserve the brunt of law enforcement. But deregulation meant there was very little law, much less enforcement. Instead, the socialist superman has swept down to New York City from Washington to bail out casino capitalism on Wall Street, which is spewing forth ever more kryptonite. Every time Congress has acted in haste, it has led to a boon-doggle, from the $3 billion synthetic fuels legislation of 1980 to the Iraq War resolution of 2002.


pages: 183 words: 17,571

Broken Markets: A User's Guide to the Post-Finance Economy by Kevin Mellyn

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banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, lump of labour, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, seigniorage, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the payments system, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, Yogi Berra

As in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929, villains had to be found and punished. The collective delusion of the housing bubble and market forces would not suffice as an explanation for such a calamity. However, there was no single person or group of identifiable individuals to put in the dock, as Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling had been after the collapse of Enron. The discovery and prosecution of Bernie Madoff was a poor substitute, since his Ponzi scheme far predated the bubble and had nothing to do with it. No, finance and, more broadly, greed, were to blame. The general public were of course victims, and the political class would avenge them and see that never again would something like the meltdown be allowed to occur. The first order of business, though, was to get back to the world of growth and debt-driven prosperity that after a quarter century everyone took as normal, even as a birthright.

., 139 Finance-driven economy, 1, 72 anti-capitalism, 2 capitalism, 1 chronic debt crisis, 22 corporate America, 20 current movie artificial bank earnings, 7 asset prices, 6 banking implosions, 6 borrowers and investors connection, 10 borrowing demand, 7 catastrophic financial bubble, 10 civilization, 10 corporatism, 9 democratic crony capitalism, 9 Dodd-Frank act, 8 economic growth and social stability, 10 financial repression, 9 Glass-Steagall Act, 8 human ingenuity, 10 interbank funding markets, 6 low interest rates and easy money, 6 market collapse, 10 money market, 6 overexuberence, 6 overinvestment and speculation, 6 pre-crisis conditions, 8 printing money, 7 private capital, 7 167 168 Index Finance-driven economy (continued) profitability, 7 quantitative easing, 8 recovery, 8 regulation, 8 regulatory capital rules, 8 resources and tools, 9 shell-shocked enterprises and households, 8 end of employment, 21–22 financial leverage magic and poison CEO class, 14–15 consumer debt, 15–16 disconnection problem, 11–12 market bargain, 10 real economy, 10 wealth financialization, 13–14 working capital, 11 global financial crisis, 2 Great Moderation, 16–18 Great Panic, 18–19 household sector agony, 19–20 investor class, 22 Marx, Karl asset bubble, 5 cash nexus, 4 dot-com bubble, 5 economic revolution, 3 First World War, 4 free markets, 3 French Revolution, 3 globalization, 3 Great Depression, 5 liberalism, 3 normalcy, 4 overproduction and speculation, 3 Wall Street, 4, 5 revolutionary socialism, 2 sovereign debt, 8, 22 Finance reconstruction, 142 bank bashing, 146 “bankers”, 142 business model, challenges, 145 Citigroup, 145 cyclical businesses, 143 government management, 142 legitimacy bonus culture, 148–150 privileged opportunity, longestablished bank, 146 short-term share-price manipulation, 148 state and legal systems, 147 stock price, 147 mark-to-market price, 144 “producers”, 143 profession, definition, 163 prudence, 145, 161–163 root-and-branch transformation, 145 talent pool, 144 “the race for talent”, 143 trust cash management, 160 Financial Market Meltdown, 159 FSA, 159 hackneyed term, 159 information asymmetry, 159 non-bank financial service provider, 161 oversold/up-sold products, 159 utility Anglo-Saxon-type banking systems, 156 big data tools, 158 bills-of-exchange market, 150 branch and payment services, 157 clearinghouse creation, 158 core banking, 154 economic value transmission, 150 exchange of claims, 151 fee-income growth, 155 fiat money system, 151 financial intermediation, 150 financial transactions, 157 flexible contractor/subcontractor relationship, 158 information technology, 156 “liquidity premium”, 152 multidivisional/M-form organization, 153 non-interest income, 155 old-media companies, 157 Index overhead value analysis, 154 “privileged opportunity”, 152 quill pen–era practice, 158 sheer utility value, 155 silos, product business, 153 transaction accounts, 152 venture capital industry, 142 “War for Talent”, 143 Financial crises, 23 affordable housing, 24 banking “transmission” mechanism, 43 Basel III process, 50–51 basel process, 27–28 consumer banking(see Consumer banking) Dodd-Frank, 49–50 domestic banking system, 38 European Union, 51–53 FDIC, 40 finance-driven economy’s leverage machine, 43 Financial Market Meltdown, 25 GDP, 38 Government Policy and Central Banks, market meltdown(see Regulation process) government policy failure, 45 “government-sponsored” public companies, 24 Great Depression, 44 GSEs, 24 legal missteps, 47–48 New Deal, 43 panic-stricken markets, 40 political missteps, 45–47 Ponzi scheme, 42 postwar financial order, 25–27 printing money, 38 private profits and socialized losses, 40 private-sector demand, 43 public-sector demand, 42 quantitative approach, 25 TARP, 39 too-big-to-fail institutions, 41 Triple A bonds, 41 US Federal Reserve System, 38 Financial liberalization, 89 Financial Market Meltdown, 25, 61, 89, 109, 159 Financial repression, 9, 78, 111 Financial Services Authority (FSA), 60, 159 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 69 Fordism, 68 Free-market capitalism, 89 Free markets, 3 French Revolution, 3 Front-end trading systems, 107 FSA.See Financial Services Authority G GDP, 11 “Giro” payments systems, 151 Global imbalance, 96 Globalization, 3 Global whirlwinds, 93 Asia, finance movement cultural differences, 110–111 Financial Market Meltdown, 109 Interest Equalization Tax, 109 language, law, and business culture, 109 primacy, 109 austerity(see Austerity) British Empire, 30 Chimerica, 97 China and United States cross-Pacific economy, 97 foreign interference and aggression, 98 headline growth rates, 97 repression revolution and series, 97–98 Second World War, 98 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 98 surpluse trade, 97 sustainable development, 98 Chinese ascendancy, 113 clearing and settlement bottleneck, 106–107 Dynastic China, 112 169 Download from Wow!


pages: 275 words: 77,017

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--And the Coming Cashless Society by David Wolman

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Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, cashless society, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, Diane Coyle, fiat currency, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, German hyperinflation, greed is good, Isaac Newton, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, Steven Levy, the payments system, transaction costs

In response to the suggestion that the Federal Reserve would soon inject hundreds of billions of newly conjured dollars into the economy, the price of gold shot up by more than $20 an ounce, on its way toward $1,300 an ounce, and $1,500 not long after that. “Some economists worry about the quality and quantity of money in the economy,” said Todd. “Bernard and the Liberty Dollar people are basically operating in that reality. But it’s distorted as they practice it.” One prong of the government’s case against von NotHaus, Todd explained, is that the whole thing was a Ponzi scheme. Nestled within the discounts for signing up users, commissions, price differences between silver bought and sold, adjustable base value, and re-minting fees for a MoveUp are red flags that indicate, in the words of the prosecutors, “a scheme and artifice to defraud.” Von NotHaus vehemently denies this, of course, saying that the Liberty Dollar is a single-tier referral system, just like when people put an Amazon.com button on their websites and get a small percentage from referred sales.

See also Police Leapfrog scenario Learning Channel Legal Tender Lens array Libertarians Liberty Dollar discounts for Move Up mechanism for Liberty Services Liliuokalani (Queen) Liquid assets Loans Locke, John Longshot magazine Lott, Trent Lydia (Greek kingdom) McDonald’s Madoff, Bernie Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mann, Ronald Manta currency Mark of the Beast Mark Twain Mas, Ignacio Massachusetts Bay Colony MasterCard Media Mercy Corp Metals, prices of Mexico Microchips Migrant laborers Military Review Millennium Prize Problems Minority Report (film) Mint.com Monetary sovereignty Money creation of definition of vs. equity faith in value of(see also Currencies; confidence in) and feces functions of hoarding language of minting mobile money (see also Cellphones: used for money transactions) money clips money illusion money supply new ideas about origin of and religion as representing pure interaction and states/governments various objects as See also Cash; Coins; Currencies; Digital money; Electronic money; Paper money; Saving(s) Money Illusion, The (Fisher) Money laundering M-Pesa service Mundell, Robert Musulin, Toni Napoleonic Wars Natural disasters Nazism Netherlands New Jersey Transit train Newton, Sir Isaac New Yorker, The New York Times New Zealand Nicaragua Nickel Nigeria Nixon, Richard Non-native’s Tipping Anxiety NORFED North Korea Norway Nuclear weapons Numismatists/notaphilists Obama, Barack Oil prices Onion, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Oyster cards Pain Panama Paper money burning constitutionality of as contaminated high-denomination banknotes and history/identity of issuing country inks used for legacy features of U.S. paper money manufacturing $1 bills $100 bills origin of plastic banknotes printing redeem-ability of redesign/reissue of security features for (see also Security issues) in seventeenth century Europe size of stashing varieties of See also Cash; Dollar currency Papua New Guinea Paul, Ron Pawn Stars (reality show) Payday lenders Payment technologies and small-value transactions See also Cellphones: used for money transactions; Credit cards; PayPal PayPal Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Peer-to-peer transactions Pennies Peru Peso currency Pew Research Center Philippines Central Bank Philosophy of Money, The (Simmel) Placebo effect Plasectomy Platinum Poland Police Polo, Marco Ponzi schemes Portugal Pound sterling currency Poverty. See also under Cash Power grid Precious metals. See also Gold; Platinum; Silver Presley, Telle Prices. See also Inflation Priming (psychological) Privacy issues Progressives (political) Promissory notes Prostitution P versus NP problem Pyramid schemes Quicken software Raghubir, Priya Ramsey, Dave Rapture Regulations Rejection, feelings of Religion.


pages: 289 words: 77,532

The Secret Club That Runs the World: Inside the Fraternity of Commodity Traders by Kate Kelly

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Bakken shale, bank run, Credit Default Swap, diversification, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, paper trading, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management, the market place

In the past, though, he had at least operated from one of its better-reputed offices, the Southern District of New York, where the miscreants included mobsters, terrorists, and white-collar criminals like Marc Rich who actually feared facing consequences for their actions. At the CFTC, Meister was now running a division that had lacked a permanent head for two and a half years and was known mainly for its exposure of small-fry Ponzi schemes and other retail fraud matters. Overall, it was really petty stuff. Since enforcement matters hadn’t even been listed on Gensler’s mental Post-it Note at the outset, he told Meister that if he joined the CFTC, the entire oversight program would be his to run, without undue interference from the boss. To Meister, accustomed to the groupthink of a private law firm, that was an attractive proposition.

Unmentioned but present in the public mind were fears that spikes in the price of wheat and other foods had sparked revolution in the Middle East in 2011, and that commodity index investing had contributed to high agricultural costs and the resultant global food crisis in general. Satisfied that his pet issue might finally come to fruition, Chilton announced his own plans to step down toward the end of 2013. He was writing a book on Ponzi schemes and eager to continue his television career. “It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it was challenged legally,” Chilton said of the new speculative curbs, “but I think it’s a bulletproof rule.” But in an interview with Bloomberg news, he eviscerated the industry lobbying that had undermined his efforts at reform. “The lesson for me is: The financial sector is so powerful that they will roll things back over time,” he said.


pages: 274 words: 66,721

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World - and How Their Invention Could Make or Break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, British Empire, carbon footprint, corporate governance, credit crunch, double entry bookkeeping, full employment, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Islamic Golden Age, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, Naomi Klein, Ponzi scheme, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile

Economist Basil Yamey argues that this was accounting’s formative moment: ‘Indeed, it might be claimed that the joint stock company was responsible for the transformation of book-keeping into accounting and for the profession of accountancy.’ When railway companies faltered in the late 1840s, struggling to return 10 per cent on investments, many began to fiddle their books. For example, they treated costs as capital investments rather than as expenses, thereby inflating their profits; and used fresh investments instead of profits to pay out dividends (a strategy now known as a Ponzi scheme, made infamous most recently by Bernie Madoff in 2009). The most notorious perpetrator of deceptive railway accounting was the ‘Railway King’, George Hudson (1800–71), who by 1844 controlled over 1600 kilometres of railway in Britain. Hudson overstated his profits and used shareholder investments to pay dividends. When he was eventually exposed by a group of outraged investors, he fled England to escape lawsuits against him for outstanding sums amounting to almost £600,000, a fortune at the time.

Crusades 16, 17, 18 currencies 100 da Gama, Vasco 29 da Pisa, Leonardo see Fibonacci da Vinci, Leonardo 7, 27, 32, 47, 60, 65, 80–2, 84, 87–8 Dafforne, Richard 120–3 Dandolo, Enrico 52 Dark Ages dark arts 35, 83 Darwin, Charles 139, 165 Das Kapital (Marx) 165 Dasgupta, Sir Partha 231–2, 237, 238, 239 Datini, Francesco 23–6, 52, 96 de’ Barbari, Jacopo 79 de’ Belfolci, Folco 34, 44 De divina proportione (Pacioli) 66, 82, 84, 85–6 De ludo scacchorum (Pacioli) 87–8 De pictura (Alberti) 60, 117 De quinque corporibus (Piero) 66 De viribus quantitatis (Pacioli) 83 Dean, Graeme W. 203 debit and credit entries 13, 55, 93–4, 100 difficulties 101–2, 122–3 The Decline of the West (Spengler) 167 Defoe, Daniel 127–8 della Francesca, Piero 7, 32, 34, 44–5, 46, 47 mathematical treatises 45, 66, 75 perspective painting 60, 64, 76–7 della Rovere, Giuliano 59 Deloitte, William 145 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 217 demand management 185 democracy 15 depreciation 148, 149, 231 Der moderne Kapitalismus (Sombart) 161–2, 171 derivatives market 198, 200 Descartes, René 40 d’Este, Isabella 83, 84, 88 dividends 144, 146, 147, 148, 149, 202 Doge’s Palace 50, 56 Domenici, Pete V. 191 domestic accounts 15–16 double-entry bookkeeping 8, 115, 120, 166 Badoer’s system 55 and capitalism 159–60, 161–75 and decision-making 126–7 earliest surviving 20–1 to improve the mind 125 link with rhetoric 172–3 in modern era 135–6, 249 origins 6–7, 16, 21–2 Pacioli’s definition 92–3 six essential features 20–1 texts on 117, 136 use by Datini 24, 26 Venetian 55, 67, 97–100, 123–7, 131 see also Particularis de computis et scripturis du Pont, Irénée 156 ducats 50, 55 Dürer, Albrecht 79–80 earnings per share (EPS) 219 earth see planet Earth Earth Summit 2012 248–9 East India Company 142 Ebbers, Bernie 213 eco-accounting 249 economic growth 192–3, 225, 227, 233, 242, 245, 248 economics 185 political economy 171 ecosystems 239–40, 247 education 245 Euclid’s Elements 37–8 quadrivium 36, 38, 43 trivium 38, 43 Egypt 35, 36 Eisenstein, Elizabeth 116–17 Elements (Euclid) 37–8, 39, 67, 68, 84 Elgin Marbles 15 Engels, Friedrich 162, 164, 165 England 116, 121, 131, 133, 147 Enron 3, 173, 194–9, 201, 207, 212–13, 214–16, 222–3 environmental accounting 233–8, 245, 247 environmental damage 222–3, 224–5, 232–3, 240, 241–2, 248 equity 21, 243 Erasmus of Rotterdam 68, 84–5 Erlich, Everett 235 Ernst & Young 209, 210, 216, 217 Espeland, Wendy Nelson 172–3 Euclid, Elements 37–8, 39, 67, 68, 75, 84 Eugenius IV, Pope 34 Europe 17, 20, 21, 22–3, 40, 116, 156, 188 accounting associations 153 currencies 25 medieval 26, 70–1 universities 30, 40, 42 vernacular languages 41 European Environment Agency 247 Evans, John H. 173–5 exchange rates 55 externalities 236 factory system 136–7, 138, 139–41, 165, 166 Farolfi ledger 20–1 Fastow, Andrew 213 Fells, J.M. 140–1 Fibonacci 18–19, 75 Fibonacci numbers 19–20 Liber abaci 19–20, 22, 39–41, 63, 66, 67, 75 Financial Accounting Standards Board (US) 206, 213 financial information 203–6 financial statements 5, 143, 144, 146, 200, 205, 214, 215 Fitoussi, Jean-Paul 243–4 Florence 6, 17, 34, 61, 64, 84 abbaco schools 41 bank ledger 20 expansion of commerce 21 Flugel, Thomas 127 Fondaco dei Tedeschi 56 Ford Motor Company 250–1 forests 240, 241 Forster, E.M. 154–5 Forster, Nathaniel 137 France 147 Franciscans 62, 65, 88, 89 Frankfurt Book Fair 95 Frederick II 95 Freiburg 27 Friedman, Milton 221 fund transfers 54 G20 249 Galileo 116, 166 Geijsbeek, John B. 157–8 General Electric 204 The General Theory of Employment (Keynes) 177–8, 179, 183, 185–6 Genoa 6, 17 geometry 36, 37, 38, 63, 73, 75, 81 Germany 56, 68, 183 Gertner, Jon 244 Giovanni, Enrico 244 Giovanni Farolfi & Co. 20 Glitnir 5 Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (Sukhdev) global financial crisis (2008) 3, 5, 197, 215, 242, 243–4 globalisation, of finance 206–7, 219, 221 Goethe, Johann W. von 128–31 golden ratio 66, 86 Goodwin, Sir Fred 197 governmental accounting 120 grammar 38, 43 Great Depression 177, 178, 179, 180, 227 Greece, ancient 15 mathematics 34–5, 37–8, 61 philosophers 37 green accounting 244 Green Economy Report (Sukhdev) 248–9 Greenspan, Alan 227–8 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 3, 180–2, 225, 227–30, 232–3, 235, 237–8, 242–3, 246 alternatives to 243–7, 249 failings of 246 Gross National Product (GNP) 1–3, 181, 190, 231 Groves, Eddy 208–9 Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino 66, 72, 79, 92 Gutenberg, Johann 68, 77 Hagen, Everett 186 Hamilton, Alexander 22 Hammurabi’s Code 14 Haq, Mahbub ul 245 Henry VIII 25 Herodotus 36 HIH 208, 209, 213, 215 Hindu–Arabic arithmetic 34, 41, 62, 67 Hindu–Arabic numerals 18–19, 21, 26–7, 38, 44, 52, 71, 75 Hoenig, Chris 246–7 honeybee pollination 237 Hoover, Herbert 177 Hopwood, Anthony housework, unpaid 229 How to Pay for the War (Keynes) 182–3 Hudson, George 142–3 human capital 231, 248 Human Development Index 245 Humanism (Florence) 43–4, 59–60, 68 Huxley, Aldous 32–3 income measurement 218–19, 226 income statements 5, 202, 203, 219 in ancient Rome 16–17 see also profit and loss accounts India 29, 238 trade/double entry 22 Indonesia 240 industrial revolution 131, 133, 139, 200, 226 inflation 182, 183 information processing 203 Institute of Accountants and Bookkeepers of New York (IABNY) 156, 157 Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) 153, 205–6 Insull, Samuel 202, 214 Insull Utility Investments 201–2 interest payments 25, 54, 96 international accounting 189, 207 International Accounting Standards Board 207, 214 International Monetary Fund 187 internet 204 inventory 97–9, 101 Islam 22, 39 Italy 6, 7, 16, 19, 28, 167–8 mathematics 34–42, 62 Jerusalem 17 joint stock companies 133, 136, 142, 147, 148 Joint Stock Companies Act 1844 144, 149 Jones, Edward T. 133–6 Jones’ English System of Book-keeping 133–6 journal 99, 100, 101, 103, 118, 203 Julius II, Pope 59 Kennedy, Robert F. 1–3, 229–30, 246 Keynes, John Maynard 8, 176, 177–80, 182–7, 190, 250 Klein, Naomi 221, 233 KPMG 210, 214, 217 Kreuger, Ivar 201 Kreuger & Toll 201 Kublai Khan 18 Kuznets, Simon 2, 177, 180–1, 189, 229 Lanchester, John 4, 198 Landefeld, Steven 228 Landsbanki 5 Latin 35, 41, 63, 71, 72, 73, 74, 116, 220 Lawrence, D.H. 154–5 Lay, Kenneth 195, 196, 197, 212–13, 214 ledgers 20, 93, 99–100, 103–4, 118, 203 14th century 24, 93 Badoer’s 52, 55 balancing 111 closing accounts 111–13 Farolfi 20–1 Lee, G.A. 20–1 Lee, Thomas A. 203 Lehman Brothers 5, 216 Liber abaci (Fibonacci) 19–20, 22, 39–41, 63, 66, 67, 75 limited liability 147–8, 149 Littleton, A.C. 17, 140, 146, 147, 158–9 Liverpool and Manchester Railway 141 Lives of the Most Eminent Painters (Vasari) 46 Living Planet Survey 241–2 Lloyds-HBOS 5 London and North Western Railway 141 Louis XII 82 Machiavelli 30 Mackinnon, Nick 79–80 Madoff, Bernie 142 Madonna and Child with Saints 47 magic 35, 40, 83, 220 Mair, John 118, 125, 130 Malatesta family 33–4, 43 Malthus, Thomas 171 Manchester cotton mill (Engels) 165 Mandela, Nelson 221 Mantua 83, 84 manufacturing 136–41 manuscripts 61, 70, 77 Manutius, Aldus 84 Manzoni, Domenico 118–19 maritime insurance 53 Mark the Evangelist 51–2 marketplace, 15th century 95 markets, impact on politics 221, 228 mark-to-model 213 Marshall Plan 188 Marx, Karl 162, 163–5, 171 mass production 138 mathematics 7, 22, 28, 47, 89–90 ancient Greek 34–5, 37–8, 63 Arab 18–19, 63 and art 85–6 Hindu 39–40 in Italy 34–42 and magic 35, 40, 220 medieval European 63, 251–2 taught as astrology 29–30, 42 universal application 73, 116–17 see also arithmetic Mattessich, Richard 12–13, 186 Maurice, Prince of Orange 120 Maxwell Communications 207 McDonald’s 224 Meade, James 183–4 measurement 23, 218–19 Medici of Florence 26, 64, 80, 168, 171 Mehmed II 57 Mellis, John 121 memorandum (waste book) 99, 101, 118 entering transactions 105–7, 118, 122 merchandise 104 merchant bankers 21, 26, 69 merchants 10, 23, 35, 41 Arab 18–19, 25 Indian 22 Italian 40, 42 Phoenician 36 Venetian 18, 27, 55–6, 69, 94–5, 149 Mesopotamia 12, 13, 14 metaphysics 36–7 Middle Ages 60, 251–2 Milan 30, 34, 47, 61, 80–3 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 239 Monsanto 222 Monteage, Stephen 124, 126 Morgan, John Pierpont 156 multiplication 74, 75–6 music 36, 38 Naples 50, 61–2 Napoleonic War 145 national accounts 175, 179–88, 190–3, 226–7, 230, 242, 244 natural capital 230–1, 235–9 navigation charts 23 Neighborhood Tree Survey (NY) 241, 244 Netherlands 119, 120 New Deal (Roosevelt) 177, 202 New York Light Company 155 New York Stock Exchange 155, 176, 201 New Zealand 153, 230 Nicholas V, Pope 61 No Royal Road: Luca Pacioli and his times (Taylor) 46–7 Nordhaus, William D. 180, 191, 227 numbers 37, 218, 219–20, 249 Obama, Barack 215, 246 O’Grady, Oswald 208 Oldcastle, Hugh 121, 124 Olmert, Michael 168 One.Tel 208, 209, 213, 215 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 190, 242 Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) 188 Ormerod, Paul 244 Ottoman Empire 29, 34, 50, 51, 56, 57, 116 Pacioli, Luca 7, 8, 27–8, 34, 35, 161, 219 abbaco mathematics 40, 41 as academic 65, 80, 84, 89 astrologer 42 birth 30 bookkeeping treatise see Particularis de computis and Piero della Francesca 45–6, 47–8 education 43–8 encyclopaedia see Summa de arithmetica on Euclid 84–5 games/tricks 83–4 itinerant teacher 61–6 last years 88–90 and Leonardo da Vinci 80–2, 84 in Milan 80–3 portrait 47, 79–80 and the printing press 66–72 remembered in Sansepolcro 31–2 in Rome 58–61 in Venice 49–58 Paganini, Paganino de 67–8, 71–2, 78, 85 painting 60, 64, 81 Pakistan 224, 245 Paris 23, 50 Particularis de computis et scripturis (Pacioli) 29–30, 78, 90–114, 117–18, 121 and capitalism 163 foundation of modern accounting 30, 75, 131, 157–9, 166 profit calculation 146–7 partnerships 108–9, 147 Patel, Raj 222, , 224 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010 (US) 246 patronage 59, 67, 70, 72 Paul II, Pope 59 Payen, Jean-Baptiste 139–40 Peking 18 Perspectiva (Witelo) 64 perspective 23, 42, 45, 60, 64, 76–7, 80, 82 Perugia 62–3, 64, 65 Petty, William 180 phi 86 Philip VI 23 philosophy 37, 40 Phoenicians 36 pi 36 Piazza San Marco 56 Pinto cars 250–1 Pisa 6, 17 Pitcher Partners 209, 210, 211–12 plagiarism 63 planet Earth 8–9, 248 accounting for 254 effects of cost-benefit approach 175 health of 224–5, 239 Plato 37 Platonic solids 45, 79, 86 Pliny the Elder 16 pollution 244 Polly Peck International 207 Polo, Marco 18 Ponzi scheme 142 Postlethwayt, Malachy 124 poverty 237, 246, 248, 249 Prato 23–4 Price, Samuel 145 Price Waterhouse 201, 207 PricewaterhouseCoopers 217 principlism 173–4 printing 29, 45, 60, 63, 66–72, 77–8, 90, 115–17 profit 21, 24, 97, 102–3, 127, 146–8, 159, 161, 167, 169 profit and loss accounts 55, 109–11, 112, 166 Pythagoras 35, 36–7 quadrivium 36, 38, 43 quant nerds 220 railways 141–3, 231 Ramsay, Ian 211 Ratdolt, Erhard 68, 116 record-keeping 15 Reformation 33 regulation 206–14, 215 Reid Murray Holdings 207–8 religion 24, 96, 116, 124–5, 220 see also Christian Church; Islam Renaissance 7, 8, 23, 26, 36, 59, 80, 86, 89, 168 art 6, 7, 44, 60, 86 Resurrection (Piero) 32, 33 retained-earnings statements 5, 219 rhetoric 172–3 Rialto 50, 55, 108 Ricardo, David 171 Rich, Jodee 213 Rinieri Fini & Brothers 20 Ripoli Press 70 Robert of Chester 39 Rockefeller, John D. 156 Roman numerals 19, 26–7, 38, 40, 71, 116 Romantic poets, English 131, 154 Rome 58–61, 64, 89 ancient 15–16 Rompiasi family 57, 58, 97 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 177, 178, 181, 202, 214, 215 Rose, Paul L. 71 Ross, Philip 209–10, 211 Rothschild banks 133 Royal Bank of Scotland 173, 197–8 royal estate management 16–17 Rule of Three 38, 41 Russia 153–4 salt 51 Samuelson, Paul A. 191, 227 Sansepolcro 30–4, 43–4, 48, 65, 77, 88–9, 168 Sanuto, Marco 66, 72 Sarbanes, Paul 191 Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 212, 215 Sarkozy, Nicolas 242–3, 245 satellite accounts 234–5 scandals/fraud 194–203, 206, 207–12, 215, 225 Schmandt-Besserat, Denise 11–12 Schumpeter, Joseph 169–70 science 35, 37, 40, 42, 67, 76, 116, 166–7 Scotland 27, 147, 150, 153 Scott, Sir Walter 150–1 Scuola di Rialto 58 Second World War 32, 181–5, 187, 227 Securities and Exchange Commission (US) 202–3, 213, 214 Sen, Amartya 243–4, 245 Sforza, Ludovico 80, 81–2, 85, 86, 168 Sikka, Prem 216, 217 Silberman, Mark 213 Simons, James 220 Sistine Chapel 65 Sixtus IV, Pope 59 Skidelsky, Robert 178, 182, 187 Skilling, Jeffrey K. 196, 197, 212, 214 Smith, Adam 171 social sciences 171, 175 socialism 171 Society of Accountants, Edinburgh 152 Sombart, Werner 161–2, 164, 165–6, 166–8, 169, 170, 171–2, 173 Spain 22, 39 Spengler, Oswald 167 Sri Lanka 232–3, 240 State of the USA 246 Stevin, Simon 120, 121, 166, 169 Stiglitz, Joseph 243–4 Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission 243–4 stock markets 143 stocktaking 166 Stone, Sir Richard 183–5, 188–9, 190 sub-prime mortgages Sukhdev, Pavan Summa de arithmetica (Pacioli) 57, 61, 62–3, 64, 72–7, 80, 82 printing 66–8, 71–2 publication 32, 77–9 sustainability 232, 243, 249 System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (UN) 234 System of National Accounts (UN) 189–90, 247 tabulae rationum 16 Taleb, Nassim N. 220 tariffs 63 Tartaglia, Nicholas 76 Taylor, R.


pages: 219 words: 61,720

American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness by Dan Dimicco

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American energy revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, carbon footprint, clean water, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, fear of failure, full employment, Google Glasses, hydraulic fracturing, invisible hand, job automation, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Loma Prieta earthquake, manufacturing employment, oil shale / tar sands, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, sovereign wealth fund, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration

All of the staggering wealth that was supposedly created in the 1990s and 2000s—think of the $7.3 trillion in home equity that evaporated when the housing bubble burst—wasn’t really created at all. In DiMicco’s words, “it was a shell game.” “What did we get by playing that game? We got bubbles. The savings-and-loan bubble, the dot-com bubble, the Enron bubble, the housing bubble, all of the Ponzi schemes originating on Wall Street, one after another, all trying to create wealth from nothing, all driven by major debt and smoke and mirrors.” Instead of allowing ourselves to wander further down the path of exploding bubbles and phantom prosperity, DiMicco argues that the nation’s political and economic leaders should have focused on innovating, building, and making things. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think the U.S. economy will come back using an obviously discredited model,” he says.

You find a pattern of well-paying jobs disappearing, to never return, and millions of manufacturing jobs being replaced with service industry jobs or financial industry jobs. You find greed, you find cheating and fraud and a wholesale abandonment of ethics. You find Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski. You find bubbles that burst with disastrous consequences. The housing bubble, like every other debt-driven bubble before it, was a giant Ponzi scheme. In reality, for every year that housing prices ballooned, and people found more elaborate ways of packaging financial service “products” that nobody really understood, we lost more ground. You can manage wealth, certainly. It’s important to manage wealth wisely. But you cannot establish a business of selling mortgages to people with low incomes and poor credit, repackage the debt into “mortgage-backed securities,” sell it around the world, and expect to last very long.


pages: 374 words: 114,600

The Quants by Scott Patterson

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Albert Einstein, asset allocation, automated trading system, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, centralized clearinghouse, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haight Ashbury, index fund, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Nash: game theory, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, merger arbitrage, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Lévy, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, statistical arbitrage, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Predators' Ball, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, volatility smile, yield curve, éminence grise

Amazingly, not one of the quants, despite their chart-topping IQs, their walls of degrees, their impressive Ph.D.’s, their billions of wealth earned by anticipating every bob and weave the market threw their way, their decades studying every statistical quirk of the market under the sun, saw the train wreck coming. How could they have missed it? What went wrong? A hint to the answer was captured centuries ago by a man whose name emblazoned the poker chips the quants wagered with that night: Isaac Newton. After losing £20,000 on a vast Ponzi scheme known as the South Sea Bubble in 1720, Newton observed: “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.” Just past 5:00 A.M. on a spring Saturday in 1961, the sun was about to dawn on a small, ratty casino in Reno, Nevada. But inside there was perpetual darkness punctuated by the glow of neon lights. A blackjack player sat at an otherwise empty table, down $100 and exhausted.

But only 20 P&G options in total had changed hands that day (this was well before the explosion in options trading that occurred over the following decade). Similar discrepancies appeared for trades on IBM, Disney, and Merck options, among others, Thorp’s research revealed. He told the firm that had made the investment to pull its money out of the fund, which was called Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. In late 2008, the fund, run by New York financier Bernard Madoff, was revealed as the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time, a massive fraud that had bilked investors out of tens of billions. Regulators had been repeatedly warned about the fund, but they never could determine whether its trading strategies were legitimate. While Thorp was taking a break from the investing game, the stage for the amazing rise of the quants had been set. Peter Muller, working at a quant factory in California, was itching to branch out and start trading serious money.

Gated mansions hunched in the Connecticut cold behind their rows of exotic shrubbery, bereft of their traditional lacings of Christmas glitz. Few of the high-powered occupants of those mansions felt much like celebrating. It was a glum holiday season in Greenwich, hedge fund capital of the world. Making matters worse, a multibillion-dollar money management firm run by a reclusive financier named Bernard Madoff had proved to be a massive Ponzi scheme, one that Ed Thorp had already unearthed in the early 1990s. The losses rippled throughout the industry like shock waves. A cloud of suspicion fell upon an industry already infamous for its paranoia and obsessive secrecy. Ground zero of Greenwich’s hedge fund scene was Two Greenwich Plaza, a nondescript four-story building beside the town’s train station that once had housed a hodgepodge of shippers, manufacturers, and stuffy family law firms.


pages: 459 words: 118,959

Confidence Game: How a Hedge Fund Manager Called Wall Street's Bluff by Christine S. Richard

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Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, family office, financial innovation, fixed income, forensic accounting, glass ceiling, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, short selling, statistical model, white flight

Rafael Mayer, an early investor in Pershing Square, says that Ackman’s drive to bring people around to his way of thinking can backfire. His impatience can make people feel a bit used, and his thoroughness can be seen as obsession, Mayer says. “Look at Markopolos,” Mayer says, referring to Harry Markopolos, the fund manager who tried for 10 years to warn the Securities and Exchange Commission in detailed letters and e-mails about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. “Unfortunately, if you write long letters, people think you are crazy,” Mayer says. Even Ackman’s friends poked fun at his relentless pursuit of MBIA. For his 40th birthday, Ackman’s wife Karen threw him a party, inviting more than 100 family members and friends to the Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant in upstate New York. Former Gotham colleagues David Berkowitz and David Klafter composed a song in Ackman’s honor set to the tune of the 1936 hit “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Deutsche Bank figured that if home-price appreciation fell to 4 percent a year, subprime losses would jump to 8 percent. A market in which home prices remained flat would completely wipe out triple-B-rated bonds. A triple-B rating is a low investment-grade-rated security. A decline in home values would cause the damage to move up the rating scale, putting even single-A-rated bonds in jeopardy. The subprime market contained the hallmark of every Ponzi scheme. It worked only as long as more money was put into the scheme. When home prices were rising, overextended borrowers usually could pay off their first mortgage—and often a home-equity loan and credit-card bills on top of that—by selling their house in a rising market. Once home prices stopped rising, the game was over, and home prices would plummet. The mortgage market may have become perilous in many places, but MBIA executives said the company remained open for business.

., MBIA Insurance Corporation and National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation, New York Supreme Court, New York County, May 13, 2009. Docket No. 6010475. Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. v. IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG, New York Supreme Court, New York County, Dec. 29, 2008. Docket No. 600704/08. Master File No. 07 Civ. 9901 (SHS) United States District Court Southern District of New York. In re Citigroup Inc. Securities Litigation. Citigroup’s CDO Ponzi Schemes. 208. Luke Mullins, “Waxman Digs Into Moody’s, S&P with Internal Docs,” U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 23, 2008. Special Comment, “Structured Finance Rating Transitions: 1983-2008,” Moody’s Investor Service, March 2009. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (New York: Bantam Dell, 2003), p. 272. Index ABX Index ACA Capital CDOs and CDSs and mark-to-market and mortgage crisis and rescue proposals for bond insurers and Standard & Poor’s and ACA Financial Guaranty Ackman, Bill See also Gotham Partners, Bill Ackman and; Pershing Square, Bill Ackman and background of books on investing, favorite children of grandmother of Harvard and Ackman, Jeanne Ackman, Karen Herskovitz background of Ackman, Larry Ackman Brothers & Singer Adamson, Simon Adelphia Adelson, Mark Aetna Life & Casualty Company AHERF (Allegheny Health, Education, and Research Foundation) bankrupty/ reinsurance Allegheny General Hospital Gotham Partners / Ackman and Moody’s and NYS attorney general’s office and- NYS Insurance Department and Pershing Square / Ackman and SEC and transaction details Wall Street Journal and AIG (American International Group) CDOs and CDSs and Congress and downgraded Federal Reserve bailout of Nightingale NYS attorney general’s office and AIG Financial Products (AIGFP) Aladdin Capital Management Allegheny General Hospital Allegheny Health, Education, and Research Foundation.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

The private appropriation and accumulation of this common wealth and the social labour congealed within it occur in two quite different ways. First, there is a vast array of what we would now consider extra-legal activities, such as robbery, thievery, swindling, corruption, usury, predation, violence and coercion, along with a range of suspicious and shady practices in the market (monopolisation, manipulation, market cornering, price fixing, Ponzi schemes etc.). Second, individuals accumulate wealth by legally sanctioned exchanges under conditions of non-coercive trade in freely functioning markets. Theorists of capital circulation and accumulation typically exclude activities of the first sort as excrescences external to the ‘normal’ and legitimate functioning of the capitalist market. They build their models of capital circulation and accumulation on the presumption that only the second mode of private appropriation and accumulation of social wealth is legitimate and relevant.

There are, as we have seen, various adjustments under way, but the more closely these are examined the more they appear as symptoms of the underlying problem rather than as signs of or paths towards long-term solutions. Of course, capital can construct an economy (and to some degree has already done so) based on a fetish world of fantasy and imagination built upon pyramiding fictions that cannot last. One final Ponzi scheme to eclipse all others is a possible scenario. Ironically, the innovations that are available to us in these times are most easily applied to increase rather than dampen speculative activity, as the case of nano-trading on the stock exchange illustrates. Such an economy will, before any ultimate denouement, be subject to periodic volcanic eruptions and crashes. Capital will not, under this scenario, end with either a bang or a whimper but with the sound of innumerable asset bubbles popping across the uneven geographical landscape of an otherwise listless capital accumulation.

283 Maddison, Angus 227 Maghreb 174 Malcolm X 291 Maldives 260 Malthus, Thomas 229–30, 232–3, 244, 246, 251 Manchester 149, 159 Manhattan Institute 143 Mansion House, London 201 manufacturing 104, 239 Mao Zedong 291 maquilas 129, 174 Marcuse, Herbert 204, 289 market cornering 53 market economy 198, 205, 276 marketisation 243 Marshall Plan 153 Martin, Randy 194 Marx, Karl 106, 118, 122, 142, 207, 211 and alienation 125, 126, 213 in the British Museum library 4 on capital 220 conception of wealth 214 on the credit system 239 and deskilling 119 on equal rights 64 and falling profits 107 and fetishism 4 on freedom 207, 208, 213 and greed 33 ‘industrial reserve army’ 79–80 and isolation of workers 125 labour theory of value 109 and monetary system reforms 36 monopoly power and competition 135 reality and appearance 4, 5 as a revolutionary humanist 221 and social reproduction 182 and socialist utopian literature 184 and technological innovation 103 and theorists of the political left 54 and the ‘totally developed individual’ 126–7 and world crises xiii; Capital 57, 79–80, 81, 82, 119, 129, 132, 269, 286, 291–2 The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 269, 286 Grundrisse 97, 212–13 Theories of Surplus Value 1 Marxism contradiction between productive forces and social relations 269 ‘death of Marxism’ xii; ecologically sensitive 263 and humanism 284, 286, 287 ‘profit squeeze’ theory of crisis formation 65 traditional Marxist conception of socialism/ communism 91 Marxists 65, 109 MasterCard Priceless 275 Mau Mau movement 291 Melbourne 141 merchants 67 and industrial capital 179 price-gouging customers 54 and producers 74–5 Mercosur 159 Mexican migrants 115, 175, 195–6 Mexico 123, 129, 174 Mexico City riots (1968) x microcredit 194, 198 microfinance 186, 194, 198, 211 Microsoft 131 Middle East 124, 230 Milanovic, Branko 170 military, the capacities and powers 4 dominance 110 and technology 93, 95 ‘military-industrial complex’ 157 mind-brain duality 70 mining 94, 113, 123, 148, 239, 257 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 292 Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas 264 Mitchell, Timothy 122 Modern Times (film) 103 Mondragon 180 monetarism xi monetary wealth and incomes, inequalities in (1920s) x 1071 monetisation 44, 55, 60, 61, 62, 115, 192–3, 198, 235, 243, 250, 253, 261, 262 money abandonment of metallic basis of global moneys 30, 37, 109 circulation of 15, 25, 30–31, 35 coinage 15, 27, 29, 30 commodification of 57 commodity moneys 27–31 creation of 30, 51, 173, 233, 238–9, 240 credit moneys 28, 30, 31, 152 cyber moneys 36, 109–10 electronic moneys 27, 29, 35, 36, 100 and exchange value 28, 35, 38 fiat 8, 27, 30, 40, 109, 233 gap between money and the value it represents 27 global monetary system 46–7 love of money as a possession 34 measures value 25, 28 a moneyless economy 36 oxidisation of 35 paper 15, 27, 29, 30, 31, 37, 40, 45 power of 25, 36, 59, 60, 62, 65–66, 131–6, 245, 266 quasi-money 35 relation between money and value 27, 35 represented as numbers 29–30 and social labour 25, 27, 31, 42, 55, 88, 243 and the state 45–6, 51, 173 storage of value 25, 26, 35 the US dollar 46–7 use value 28 money capital 28, 32, 59, 74, 142, 147, 158, 177, 178 money laundering 54, 109 ‘money of account’ 27–8, 30 monopolisation 53, 145 monopoly, monopolies 77 and competition 131–45, 218, 295 corporate 123 monetary system 45, 46, 48, 51 monopoly power 45, 46, 51, 93, 117, 120, 132, 133–4, 136, 137, 139, 141, 142–3 monopoly pricing 72, 132 natural 118, 132 of state over legitimate use of force and violence 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 see also prices, monopoly monopsony 131 Monsanto 123 Montreal Protocol 254, 259 ‘moral restraints’ 229, 233 mortgages 19, 21, 28, 32, 54, 67, 82, 239 multiculturalism 166 Mumbai 155, 159 Murdoch, Rupert xi Myrdal, Gunnar 150 N NAFTA 159 name branding 31, 139 nano-trading 243 Nation of Islam 291 national debt 45, 226, 227 National Health Service 115 National Labor Relations Board 120 National Security Administration 136 nationalisation 50 nationalism 7, 8, 44, 289 natural resources 58, 59, 123, 240, 241, 244, 246, 251 nature 56 alienation from 263 capital’s conception of 252 capital’s relation to 246–63 commodification of 59 domination of 247, 272 Heidegger on 59, 250 Polanyi on 58 power over 198 process-thing duality 73 and technology 92, 97, 99, 102 Nazis 151 neoclassical economists 109 neocolonialism 143, 201 neoliberal era 128 neoliberal ethic 277 neoliberalisation x, 48 neoliberalism xiii, 68, 72, 128, 134, 136, 176, 191, 234, 281 capitalism 266 consensus 23 counter-revolution 82, 129, 159, 165 political programme 199 politics 57 privatisation 235 remedies xi Nevada, housing in 77 ‘new economy’ (1990s) 144 New York City 141, 150 creativity 245 domestic labour in 196 income inequality 164 rental markets 22 social reproduction 195 Newton, Isaac 70 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) 189, 210, 284, 286, 287 Nike 31 Nkrumah, Kwame 291 ‘non-coincidence of interests’ 25 Nordic countries 165 North America deindustrialisation in 234 food grain exports 148 indigenous population and property rights 39 women in labour force 230 ‘not in my back yard’ politics 20 nuclear weapons 101 Nyere, Julius 291 O Obama, Barack 167 occupational safety and health 72 Occupy movement 280, 292 Ohlin Foundation 143 oil cartel 252 companies 77, 131 ‘Seven Sisters’ 131 embargo (1973) 124 ‘peak oil’ 251–2, 260 resources 123, 240, 257 oligarchy, oligarchs 34, 143, 165, 221, 223, 242, 245, 264, 286, 292 oligopoly 131, 136, 138 Olympic Games 237–8 oppositional movements 14, 162, 266–7 oppression 193, 266, 288, 297 Orwell, George 213 Nineteen Eighty-Four 202 overaccumulation 154 overheating 228 Owen, Robert 18, 184 Oxfam xi, 169–70 P Paine, Tom: Rights of Man 285 Paris 160 riots (1968) x patents 139, 245, 251 paternalism 165, 209 patriarchy 7 Paulson, Hank 47 pauperisation 104 Peabody, George 18 peasantry ix, 7, 107, 117, 174, 190, 193 revolts 202 pensions 134, 165, 230 rights 58, 67–8, 84, 134 people of colour: disposable populations 111 Pereire, Emile 239 pesticides 255, 258 pharmaceuticals 95, 121, 123, 136, 139 Philanthropic Colonialism 211 philanthropy 18, 128, 189, 190, 210–11, 245, 285 Philippines 115, 196 Picasso, Pablo 140–41, 187, 240 Pinochet, Augusto x Pittsburgh 150, 159, 258 planned obsolescence 74 plutocracy xi, xii, 91, 170, 173, 177, 180 Poland 152 Polanyi, Karl 56, 58, 60, 205–7, 210, 261 The Great Transformation 56–7 police 134 brutality 266 capacities and powers 43 powers xiii, 43, 52 repression 264, 280 surveillance and violence 264 violence 266, 280 police-state 203, 220 political economy xiv, 54, 58, 89, 97, 179–80, 182, 201, 206–9 liberal 204, 206, 209 political parties, incapable of mounting opposition to the power of capital xii political representation 183 pollutants 8, 246, 255 pollution 43, 57, 59, 60, 150, 250, 254, 255, 258 Pontecorvo, Gillo 288 Ponzi schemes 21, 53, 54, 243 population ageing 223, 230 disposable 108, 111, 231, 264 growth 107–8, 229, 230–31, 242, 246 Malthus’s principle 229–30 Portugal 161 post-structuralism xiii potlatch system 33 pounds sterling 46 poverty 229 anti-poverty organisations 286–7 and bourgeois reformism 167 and capital 176 chronic 286 eradication of 211 escape from 170 feminisation of 114 grants 107 and industrialisation 123 and population expansion 229 and unemployment 170, 176 US political movement denies assistance to the poor 292–3 and wealth 146, 168, 177, 218, 219, 243 world xi, 170 power accumulation of 33, 35 of capital xii, 36 class 55, 61, 88, 89, 97, 99, 110, 134, 135, 221, 279 computer 105 and currencies 46 economic 142, 143, 144 global 34, 170 the house as a sign of 15–16 of labour see under labour; of merchants 75 military 143 and money 25, 33, 36, 49, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65–6, 245, 266 monopoly see monopoly power; oligarchic 292 political 62, 143, 144, 162, 171, 219, 292 purchasing 105, 107 social 33, 35, 55, 62, 64, 294 state 42–5, 47–52, 72, 142, 155–9, 164, 209, 295 predation, predators 53, 54, 61, 67, 77, 84, 101, 109, 111, 133, 162, 198, 212, 254–5 price fixing 53, 118, 132 price gouging 132 Price, Richard 226, 227, 229 prices discount 133 equilibrium in 118 extortionate 84 food 244, 251 housing 21, 32, 77 land 77, 78, 150 low 132 market 31, 32 and marketplace anarchy 118 monopoly 31, 72, 139, 141 oil 251, 252 property 77, 78, 141, 150 supermarket 6 and value 31, 55–6 private equity firms 101, 162 private equity funds 22, 162 private property and the commons 41, 50, 57 and eradication of usufructuary rights 41 and individual appropriation 38 and monopoly power 134–5, 137 social bond between human rights and private property 39–40 and the state 47, 50, 58, 59, 146, 210 private property rights 38–42, 44, 58, 204, 252 and collective management 50 conferring the right to trade away that which is owned 39 decentralised 44 exclusionary permanent ownership rights 39 and externality effects 44 held in perpetuity 40 intellectual property rights 41 microenterprises endowed with 211 modification or abolition of the regime 14 and nature 250 over commodities and money 38 and state power 40–41, 42–3 underpinning home ownership 49 usufructuary rights 39 privatisation 23, 24, 48, 59, 60, 61, 84, 185, 235, 250, 253, 261, 262, 266 product lines 92, 107, 219, 236 production bourgeois 1 falling value of 107 immaterial 242 increase in volume and variety of 121 organised 2 and realisation 67, 79–85, 106, 107, 108, 173, 177, 179, 180, 221, 243 regional crises 151 workers’ dispossession of own means of 172 productivity 71, 91, 92, 93, 117, 118, 121, 125, 126, 132, 172, 173, 184, 185, 188, 220, 239 products, compared with commodities 25–6 profitability 92, 94, 98, 102, 103, 104, 106, 112, 116, 118, 125, 147, 184, 191–2, 240, 252, 253, 256, 257 profit(s) banking 54 as capital’s aim 92, 96, 232 and capital’s struggle against labour 64, 65 and competition 93 entrepreneurs 24, 104 falling 81, 107, 244 from commodity sales 71 and money capital 28 monopoly 93 rate of 79, 92 reinvestment in expansion 72 root of 63 spending of 15 and wage rates 172 proletarianisation 191 partial 175, 190, 191 ‘property bubble’ 21 property market boom (1920s) 239 growth of 50 property market crashes 1928 x, 21 1973 21 2008 21–2, 54, 241 property rights 39, 41, 93, 135 see also intellectual property rights; private property property values 78, 85, 234 ‘prosumers’ 237 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph 183 Prozac 248 public goods 38 public utilities 23, 60, 118, 132 Q quantitative easing 30, 233 R R&D ix race 68, 116, 165, 166, 291 racial minorities 168 racialisation 7, 8, 62, 68 racism 8 Rand, Ayn 200 raw materials 16, 17, 148, 149, 154 Reagan, Ronald x, 72 Speech at Westminster 201 Reagan revolution 165–166 realisation, and production 67, 79–85, 106, 107, 108, 173, 177, 179, 180, 221, 243 reality contradiction between reality and appearance 4–6 social 27 Reclus, Elisée 140 regional development 151 regional volatility 154 Reich, Robert 123, 188 religion 7 religious affiliation 68 religious hatreds and discriminations 8 religious minorities 168 remittances 175 rent seeking 132–3, 142 rentiers 76, 77, 78, 89, 150, 179, 180, 241, 244, 251, 260, 261, 276 rents xii, 16–19, 22, 32, 54, 67, 77, 78, 84, 123, 179, 241 monopoly 93, 135, 141, 187, 251 repression 271, 280 autocratic 130 militarised 264 police-state 203 violent 269, 280, 297 wage 158, 274 Republican Party (US) 145, 280 Republicans (US) 167, 206 res nullius doctrine 40 research and development 94, 96, 187 ‘resource curse’ 123 resource scarcity 77 revolution, Fanon’s view of 288 revolutionary movements 202, 276 Ricardo, David 122, 244, 251 right, the ideological and political assault on the left xii; response to universal alienation 281 ‘rights of man’ 40, 59, 213 Rio de Janeiro 84 risk 17, 141, 162, 219, 240 robbery 53, 57, 60, 63, 72 robotisation 103, 119, 188, 295 Rodney, Walter 291 romantic movement 261 Roosevelt, Theodore 131, 135 Four Freedoms 201 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 213, 214 Ruhr, Germany 150 rural landscapes 160–61 Russia 154 a BRIC country 170, 228 collapse of (1989) 165 financial crisis (1998) 154, 232 indebtedness 152 local famine 124 oligarchs take natural resource wealth 165 S ‘S’ curve 225, 230–31 Saint-Simon, Claude de Rouvroy, comte de 183 sales 28, 31, 187, 236 San Francisco 150 Santiago, Chile: street battles (2006–) 185 Sao Paulo, Brazil 129, 195 savings the house as a form of saving 19, 22, 58 loss of 20, 58 private 36 protecting the value of 20 Savings and Loan Crisis (USA from 1986) 18 savings accounts 5, 6 Scandinavia 18, 85, 165 scarcity 37, 77, 200, 208, 240, 246, 260, 273 Schumpeter, Joseph 98, 276 science, and technology 95 Seattle 196 Second Empire Paris 197 Second World War x, 161, 234 Securities and Exchange Commission 120, 195 security xiii, 16, 121, 122, 165, 205, 206 economic 36, 153 food 253, 294, 296 job 273 national 157 Sen, Amartya 208–11, 281 Development as Freedom 208–9 senior citizens 168 Seoul 84 serfdom 62, 209 sexual hatreds and discriminations 8 Shanghai 153, 160 share-cropping 62 Sheffield 148, 149, 159, 258 Shenzhen, China 77 Silicon Valley 16, 143, 144, 150 silver 27–31, 33, 37, 57, 233, 238 Simon, Julian 246 Singapore 48, 123, 150, 184, 187, 203 slavery 62, 202, 206, 209, 213, 268 slums ix, 16, 175 Smith, Adam 98, 125–6, 157, 185, 201, 204 ‘invisible hand’ 141–2 The Wealth of Nations 118, 132 Smith, Neil 248 social distinction 68, 166 social inequality 34, 110, 111, 130, 171, 177, 180, 220, 223, 266 social justice 200, 266, 268, 276 social labour 53, 73, 295 alienated 64, 66, 88 and common wealth 53 creation of use values through 36 expansion of total output 232 household and communal work 296 immateriality of 37, 233 and money 25, 27, 31, 42, 55, 88, 243 productivity 239 and profit 104 and value 26, 27, 29, 104, 106, 107, 109 weakening regulatory role of 109, 110 social media 99, 136, 236–7, 278–9 social movements 162–3 social reproduction 80, 127, 182–98, 218, 219, 220, 276 social security 36, 165 social services 68 social struggles 156, 159, 165, 168 social value 26, 27, 32, 33, 55, 172, 179, 241, 244, 268, 270 socialism 215 democratic xii; ‘gas and water’ 183 socialism/communism 91, 269 socialist revolution 67 socialist totalitarianism 205 society capitalist 15, 34, 81, 243, 259 civil 92, 122, 156, 185, 189, 252 civilised 161, 167 complex 26 demolition of 56 and freedom 205–6, 210, 212 hope for a better society 218 industrial 205 information 238 market 204 post-colonial 203 pre-capitalist 55 primitive 57 radical transformation of 290 status position in 186 theocratic 62 women in 113 work-based 273 world 204 soil erosion 257 South Africa 84–5, 152, 169 apartheid 169, 202, 203 South Asia labour 108 population growth 230 software programmers and developers 115, 116 South Korea 123, 148, 150, 153 South-East Asia 107–8 crisis (1997–8) 154, 232, 241 sovereign debt crises 37 Soviet Bloc, ex-, labour in 107 Soviet Union 196, 202 see also Russia Spain xi, 51, 161 housing market crash (2007–9) 82–3 spatio-temporal fixes 151–2, 153, 154, 162 spectacle 237–8, 242, 278 speculative bubbles and busts 178 stagnation xii, 136, 161–2, 169 Stalin, Joseph 70 standard of life 23, 175 starvation 56, 124, 246, 249, 260, 265 state, the aim of 156–7 brutality 266, 280 and capital accumulation 48 and civil society 156 curbing the powers of capital as private property 47 evolution of the capitalist state 42 and externality effects 44 guardian of private property and of individual rights 42 and home ownership 49–50 interstate system 156, 157 interventionism 193, 205 legitimate use of violence 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 loss of state sovereignty xii; and money 1, 45–6, 51, 173 ‘nightwatchman’ role 42, 50 powers of 42–5, 47–52, 57–8, 65, 72, 142, 155–9, 209, 295 and private property 47, 50, 58, 59, 146, 210 provision of collective and public goods 42–3 a security and surveillance state xiii; social democratic states 85 war aims 44 state benefits 165 state regulatory agencies 101 state-finance nexus 44–5, 46–7, 142–3, 156, 233 state-private property nexus 88–9 steam engine, invention of the 3 steel industry 120, 121, 148, 188 steel production 73–4 Stiglitz, Joseph 132–4 stock market crash (1929) x Stockholm, protests in (2013) 171, 243 strikes 65, 103, 124 sub-prime mortgage crisis 50 suburbanisation 253 supply and demand 31, 33, 56, 106 supply chain 124 supply-side remedies xi supply-side theories 82, 176 surplus value 28, 40, 63, 73, 79–83, 172, 239 surveillance xiii, 94, 121, 122, 201, 220, 264, 280, 292 Sweden 166, 167 protests in (2013) 129, 293 Sweezy, Paul 136 swindlers, swindling 45, 53, 57, 239 ‘symbolic analysts’ 188 Syntagma Square, Athens 266, 280 T Tahrir Square, Cairo 266 Taipei, Taiwan 153 Taiwan 123, 150, 153 Taksim Square, Istanbul 266, 280 Tanzania 291 tariffs 137 taxation 40, 43, 47, 67, 84, 93–4, 106, 133, 150, 155, 157, 167, 168, 172, 190 Taylor, Frederick 119, 126 Taylorism 103 Tea Party faction 205, 280, 281, 292 technological evolution 95–6, 97, 101–2, 109 technological imperatives 98–101 technological innovation 94–5 technology changes involving different branches of state apparatus 93–4 communicative technologies 278–9 and competition 92–3 constraints inhibiting deployment 101 culture of 227, 271 definition 92, 248 and devaluation of commodities 234 environmental 248 generic technologies 94 hardware 92, 101 humanising 271 information 100, 147, 158, 177 military 93, 95 monetary 109 and nature 92, 97, 99, 102 organisational forms 92, 99, 101 and productivity 71 relation to nature 92 research and development 94 and science 95 software 92, 99, 101 a specialist field of business 94 and unemployment 80, 103 work and labour control 102–11 telephone companies 54, 67, 84, 278 Tennessee 148 Teresa, Mother 284 Thatcher, Margaret (later Baroness) x, 72, 214, 259 Thatcherism 165 theft 53, 60, 61, 63 Thelluson, Peter 226, 227 think tanks 143 ‘Third Italy’ 143 Third World debt crisis 240 Toffler, Alvin 237 tolls 137 Tönnies, Ferdinand 122, 125 tourism ix, 16, 140, 141, 187, 236 medical 139 toxic waste disposal 249–50, 257 trade networks 24 trade unions xii, 116, 148, 168, 176, 184, 274, 280 trade wars 154 transportation 23, 99, 132, 147–8, 150, 296 Treasury Departments 46, 156 TRIPS agreement 242 tropical rainforest 253 ‘trust-busting’ 131 trusts 135 Turin, Italy 150 Turkey 107, 123, 174, 232, 280, 293 Tuscany, Italy 150 Tutu, Archbishop Desmond 284 Twitter 236 U unemployment 37, 104, 258, 273 benefits 176 deliberately created 65, 174 high xii, 10, 176 insurance 175 and labour reserves 175, 231 and labour-saving technologies 173 long-term 108, 129 permanent 111 echnologically induced 80, 103, 173, 274 uneven geographical developments 178, 296 advanced and underserved regional economies 149–50 and anti-capitalist movements 162 asset bubbles 243 and capital’s reinvention of itself 147, 161 macroeconomic processes of 159 masking the true nature of capital 159–60 and technological forms 219 volatility in 244 United Fruit 136 United Kingdom income inequality in 169; see also Britain United Nations (UN) 285 United States aim of Tea Party faction 280 banking 158 Bill of Rights 284 Britain lends to (nineteenth century) 153 capital in (1990s) 154 Constitution 284 consumption level 194 global reserve currency 45–6 growth 232 hostility towards state interventions 167 House of Representatives 206 human rights abuses 202 imperial power 46 indebtedness of students in 194 Indian reservations 249 interstate highway system 239 jobless recoveries after recession 172–3 liberty and freedom rhetoric 200–201, 202 Midwest ‘rust belt’ 151 military expenditures 46 property market crashes x, 21–2, 50, 54, 58, 82–3 racial issues 166 Savings and Loan Crisis (from 1986) 18 social mobility 196 social reproduction 196–7 solidly capitalist 166 steel industry 120 ‘symbolic analysts’ 188 ‘trust-busting’ 131 unemployment 108 wealth distribution 167 welfare system 176 universal suffrage 183 urbanisation 151, 189, 228, 232, 239, 247, 254, 255, 261 Ure, Andrew 119 US Congress 47 US dollar 15, 30, 45–6 US Executive Branch 47 US Federal Reserve xi, 6, 30, 37, 46, 47, 49, 132, 143, 233 monetary policy 170–71 US Housing Act (1949) 18 US Treasury 47, 142, 240 use values collectively managed pool of 36 commodification of 243 commodities 15, 26, 35 common wealth 53 creation through social labour 36 and entrepreneurs 23–4 and exchange values 15, 35, 42, 44, 50, 60, 65, 88 and housing 14–19, 21–2, 23, 67 and human labour 26 infinitely varied 15 of infrastructural provision 78 loss of 58 marketisation of 243 monetisation of 243 of money 28 privatised and commodified 23 provision of 111 and revolt of the mass of the people 60 social demand for 81 usufructuary rights 39, 41, 59 usury 49, 53, 186, 194 utopianism 18, 35, 42, 51, 66, 119, 132, 183, 184, 204, 206–10, 269, 281, 282 V value(s) commodity 24, 25 failure to produce 40 housing 19, 20, 22 net 19 production and realisation of 82 production of 239 property 21 relation between money and value 27, 35 savings 20 storing 25, 26, 35 see also asset values; exchange values; social value; use values value added 79, 83 Veblen, Thorstein: Theory of the Leisure Class 274 Venezuela 123, 201 Vietnam, labour in 108 Vietnam War 290 violence 53, 57, 72, 204–5, 286 against children 193 against social movements 266 against women 193 colonial 289–90, 291 and contemporary capitalism 8 culture of 271 of dispossession 58, 59 in a dystopian world 264 and humanism 286, 289, 291 of the liberation struggle 290 militarised 292 as the only option 290–91 political 280 in pursuit of liberty and freedom 201 racialised 291 state’s legitimate use of 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 of technology 271 and wage labour 207 virtual ecological transfer 256 Volcker, Paul 37 W wages 103 basic social wage 103 falling 80, 82 for housework 115, 192–3 low xii, 114, 116, 186, 188 lower bound to wage levels 175 non-payment of 72 and profits 172 reduction in 81, 103, 104, 135, 168, 172, 176, 178 rising 178 and unskilled labour 114 wage demands 150, 274 wage levels pushed up by labour 65 wage rates 103, 116, 172, 173 wage repression 158–9 weekly 71 see also income Wall Street criticised by a congressional committee 239–40 illegalities practised by 72, 77 and Lebed 195 new information-processing technologies 100 Wall Street Crash (1929) x, 47 Wall-E (film) 271 Walmart xii, 75, 84, 103, 131 war on terror 280 wars 8, 60, 229 currency 154 defined 44 monetisation of state war-making activities 44–5 privatisation of war making 235 resource 154, 260 and state aims 44 state financing of 32, 44, 48 and technology 93 trade 154 world 154 water privatisation 235 wave theory 70 wave-particle duality 70 wealth accumulation of 33, 34, 35, 157, 205 creation of 132–3, 142, 214 disparities of 164–81 distribution of 34, 167 extraction from non-productive activities 32 global 34 the house as a sign of 15–16 levelling up of per capita wealth 171 and poverty 146, 168, 177, 218, 219, 243 redistribution of 9, 234, 235 social 35, 53, 66, 157, 164, 210, 251, 265, 266, 268 taking it from others 132–3 see also common wealth weather futures 60 Weber, Max 122, 125 Weimar Republic 30 welfare state 165, 190, 191, 208 Wells Fargo 61 West Germany 153, 154, 161 Whitehead, Alfred North 97 Wilson, Woodrow 201 Wolf, Martin 304n2 Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 285 women career versus family obligations 1–2 disposable populations 111 exploitation of 193 housework versus wage labour 114–15 oppression against 193 social struggle 168 trading of 62 violence against 193 in the workforce 108, 114, 115, 127, 174, 230 women’s rights 202, 218 workers’ rights 202 working classes and capital 80 consumer power 81 crushing organisation 81 education 183, 184 gentrified working-class neighbourhoods ix; housing 160 living conditions 292 wage repression and consumption 158–9 working hours 72, 104–5, 182, 272–5, 279 World Bank 16, 24, 100, 186, 245 World Trade Organization 138, 242 WPA programmes (1930s) 151 Wright, Frank Lloyd: Falling Water 16 Wriston, Walter 240 Y YouTube 236 Yugoslavia, former 174 Z Zola, Émile 7


pages: 497 words: 123,718

A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption by Steven Hiatt; John Perkins

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, centre right, clean water, colonial rule, corporate governance, corporate personhood, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, energy security, European colonialism, financial deregulation, financial independence, full employment, global village, high net worth, land reform, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transatlantic slave trade, transfer pricing, union organizing, Washington Consensus, working-age population, Yom Kippur War

For example, Kamal Adham borrowed $313 million, including the money to buy his shares. Ghaith Pharaon, the son of an adviser to King Fahd, was also a BCCI investor as well as a front man for the bank’s illegal purchase of three U.S. banks. He got loans of $300 million. The loans of the Arab backers were written off the books or paid on paper by moving money among offshore banks. BCCI was, in effect, a huge Ponzi scheme. While the Pakistani bankers and their friends took money out, money was paid in by 1.4 million depositors, many of them South Asian small businesspeople or immigrants. The Arabs’ interest in the bank was more than financial. A classified CIA memo on BCCI in the mid-1980s said that “its principal shareholders are among the power elite of the Middle East, including the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, and several influential Saudi Arabians.

Robert Bench was associate deputy comptroller of the currency in the Treasury Department when he was sent a copy of a CIA report on BCCI. He quit to go to work for Price Waterhouse on the BCCI account.13 It wasn’t until 1991 that Price Waterhouse UK told the full truth. At the request of the Bank of England, PW wrote the confidential Sandstorm Report, which detailed the phony records and shell companies, the use of Middle Eastern nominees, the Ponzi schemes. Another failure in oversight was the work of a committee from eight countries set up in 1987 by the Basel Committee, the central club of the world’s big banks, to look at BCCI’s operations in the wake of rumors of funny dealings and big losses. The committee was next to useless: It took no action even after the Tampa charges became public knowledge. In 1988 and 1989, the Bank of England learned of BCCI’s involvement in the financing of terrorism and in drug money laundering, but it didn’t shut BCCI down.

Index Abacha, Sani 44, 125 Abedi, Agha Hasan 69, 70, 75, 77, 86, 87 Abu Dhabi 69, 73, 75, 76 Adham, Kamal 75, 86, 87, 88 Afghanistan 26 drug trade in 70 civil war in 70–71 African Development Bank 251 Africa Oil Policy Initiative Group 119 Akbayan 192–93 Alamieyeseigha, Diepreye 121, 123 Algeria 15, 200, 266 Allende, Salvador 27 al-Qaeda 77, 89 and offshore banks 24 al-Taqwa Bank 71, 89 Altman, Robert A. 78, 79, 86, 88 American Express Co. 268 American Mineral Fields 99 Amin, Idi 27 Annan, Kofi 126 AngloGold 244 Anglo-Iranian Oil Company 14 Angola 27, 95 foreign debt 243, 244 Aquino, Benigno 26 Aquino, Corazon 190 Arbusto Energy, Inc. 76 Argentina 236 defiance of IMF 273 foreign debt 228, 230, 233, 241, 244, 273 popular movements in 276 World Bank lending in 169–73 Asari, Alhaji 121, 123, 128–29 Asian “tiger” economies 21, 229, 257n16, 258n27 Azerbaijan 200 Bahamas, as offshore banking haven 45, 89 Baker, Howard 100 Baker, James 239, 256n12 Baker Plan 228, 239–40 Balfour Beatty 211 Banca del Gottardo 71 Banca Nazionale del Lavoro 72 Banco Ambrosiano 71 Bank of America 69–70, 74, 77 Bank of England 84 Bank of Credit and Commerce International 24 accountants and 83–84, 86 arms trade and 72–73, 90 CIA and 69, 70, 71–72, 73, 76 drug trade and 70, 80, 87, 90 indictments 86–88 Iran-Contra 72 money laundering 69, 79–81, 90 operations 73–75, 86 owners 69–70, 75, 76 as Ponzi scheme 75 terrorism and 70, 72, 73, 88–90 U.S. operations 77–79 Bank of New York-Inter-Maritime Bank 83, 88–89 Barrick Gold Corp. 99, 244 Bath, James R. 76 Bechtel Corp. 3, 99, 138, 278 Belgium 101, 104 Bello, Walden 186–87, 273 Ben Barka, Medhi 26 Benin, foreign debt of 249 Berlusconi, Silvio 54 Bernabe, Riza 191 “big-box” stores, campaigns against 278 bin Faisal al-Saud, Prince Turki 75, 78 bin Laden family enterprises 71–72, 89 bin Laden, Haydar Mohamed 89 bin Laden, Osama 26, 77, 88, 89, 42 and BCCI 71 Binladen, Yeslam 89 bin Mahfouz, Khalid 76, 77, 78, 86, 87, 88, 89 bin Sultan al-Nahyan, Sheikh Zayed 69, 75 Blair, Tony 219, 250 Blandón, José 80 Blum, Jack 79–81, 85–86 Bolivia 236, 273 foreign debt 230, 246, 247, 249 gas industry 154, 208 water privatization in 277 Boro, Isaac 122 Brady, Nicholas 80, 256n12 Brady Plan 221, 227, 228, 240–41, 259n35 Brazil 18, 27, 130, 208, 216, 236 foreign debt 227, 228, 230, 241, 244 Bretton Woods agreements 63 Bretton Woods institutions see World Bank, International Monetary Fund British Gas 139 British Petroleum 139, 144, 153 British Virgin Islands, as offshore banking haven 54 Brown & Root 99 Brown, Gordon 126, 127, 219, 250 Burkina Faso, foreign debt of 246, 249 Burundi 95, 247, 249 Bush, George H.W., and administration 27–28, 69, 72, 77, 80, 87, 88, 91n10, 100, 138, 206, 271, 272 Bush, George W., and administration 66, 271, 278 and Iraq War 13, 28 Bush Agenda, The (Juhasz) 4, 275 Cabot Corporation 104, 112n32 Cameroon, foreign debt of 249 Canada 99, 101, 201, 268, 271 Canadian Export Development Corp. 201, 202, 203, 204, 206 capital flight 24, 43–44, 231–36, 253, 258n27 Carter, Jimmy 76, 140 Casey, William 70, 82, 90 Cavallo, Domingo Felipe 238 Cayman Islands, as offshore banking haven 65, 72, 73, 74, 75, 86 Center for Global Energy Studies 145 Center for Strategic and International Studies 119, 120 Central African Republic 231 Central Intelligence Agency 3, 5, 15 Afghan rebels and 70–71 BCCI and 69, 70, 71–72, 73, 76, 78, 79–82, 85 Saudi intelligence services and 75 Chad, foreign debt of 249 Chavez, Hugo 3, 25, 273 Cheney, Dick 28, 133 Chevron Oil 135, 138, 139, 144, 153 in Nigeria 123–24 Chile 236 1973 coup in 27 China 4, 229, 236 foreign debt 222–23 Third World resources and 5, 117–18, 120–21, 124, 126–27, 130 Chomsky, Noam Hegemony or Survival 4 Christian Peacemaker Team 96, 106–8 Citibank, Citigroup 75, 100, 130, 138, 226, 238, 268 Clifford, Clark 78–79, 85, 86, 88 Clinton, Bill, and administration 119, 120, 126, 212, 271 Coalition of Immokalee Workers 272, 280 COFACE 201, 205, 212 Cogecom 100 cold war 4 and decolonization 16–17 Colombia, human rights in 107 colonialism, decline of formal 13–14 coltan: efforts to control 5, 26, 95 shortages of 95 uses for 94 Commission for Africa 251 Communism: appeal of 14 fall of 4, 13, 27, 137–38, 238 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (Perkins) 1–4, 6, 17 Congo, Democratic Republic of (Zaire): civil war in 26, 94–96, 108n3 corruption in 24, 254 foreign debt 220, 230, 247, 249 human rights in 107–8 rape as a weapon of war in 93, 96–98 Western role in 98–105, 109n4, 111n29 World Bank and 158 Congo Republic 230, 247, 249 cooperatives 276–77 corporations, as legal persons 277 CorpWatch 278 corruption: culture of 51–54 IMF/World Bank and 24–25, 157–74 offshore banking and 44–45, 52- power and 24 privatization and 24–25, 256n12 COSEC 209–10 Council on Foreign Relations 119–20 dam projects, 209–12 Dar al-Mal al-Islami 89 Daukoru, Edmund 125–27, 128 Davos see World Economic Forum DeBeers Group 101, 103 decolonization 13, 16–17 debt/flight cycle 231–36, 253, 258n27 debt relief, campaigns for 246, 252–55, 268 in U.S. 235 debt, Third World 32, 35 amount of relief 224–29 banks and 226–27, 229, 232–34 business loans 35–37, 227 cold war strategy and 17 corruption and 230, 231, 232, 253, 254, 257n23 1982 crisis 39, 55 disunity among debtor nations 237–39 dubious debts and 230, 235, 247, 253, 257n23, 261n68 growth of 18–19, 181, 229–36 as means of control 17, 23, 183–84 payments on 19, 190–91, 223, 228, 231, 247–48, 275 relief plans 220–22, 225–29, 239–52, 274 size of 221–24, 259n37, 260n46 social/economic impacts of 190–91, 231–36, 247–48 democracy: debt crisis and 236 economic reform and 276–79 global justice and 279–81 in Iraq 151–54 Deutsche Bank 226 drug trade 70, 80, 87 Dubai 73 Dulles, Alan 15 Eagle Wings Resources International 104 East Timor 205 economic development strategies: “big projects” and 16–17 debt-led 18–19 state-led 16–17, 19 economic forecasting 3 economic hit men 5 definition 1, 3, 18 John Perkins and 1–4, 17 types of 5, 18 Ecuador 236, 266 foreign debt 244 Egypt 14 Suez Crisis 15–16 Eisenhower, Dwight, and administration 15 elites, wealthy 4, 18, 57, 176, 183, 228, 232, 253 use of tax havens 43–44, 54–56, 65–66, 226, 232–34 El Salvador 26 empire see imperialism Eni SpA 144, 153 Enron 53, 54, 208–9 Ethiopia 230, 249 European Union 51 agricultural subsidies 22 environment degradation: development projects and 199, 200–211, 257n23 oil production and 115–16 export credit agencies: arms exports and 204–5 campaigns against 209–16 corruption and 200, 202–3, 205, 207–8 debt and 200 environmental effects 199, 200–211 nuclear power and 202, 205–6 operation of 197–201 secrecy of 205, 210–12 size of 201 World Bank and 199, 201, 202, 204 Export Credit Group 210, 215 Export Credits Guarantee Department 201, 205, 211 Export Finance and Investment Corp. 203, 204 export processing zones 178 Export Risk Guarantee 203, 211, 213 ExxonMobil 144 fair trade movement 280 Faisal, Mohammad al-89 Faux, Jeff Global Class War, The 4 Federal Bureau of Investigation 71 Federal Reserve Bank of New York 87 Federal Reserve System 78, 82, 88 Ferguson, Niall 13 First American Bankshares 78, 79, 82, 83, 85, 88 First Quantum Materials 101 First, Ruth 26 Focus on the Global South 187, 273 foreign aid 19 in Congo civil war 99–100 France 236, 244 empire 13 Suez Crisis and 15 free trade 4, 19, 21–23, 268, 271 British development and 21 U.S. development and 21 Free Trade Area of the Americas 271 Friends of the Earth 104, 269 G8 summits 212, 213, 219–20, 221, 246, 250, 271, 275 Gambia 243, 249 García, Alan 74 Gates, Robert 85 Gécamines 100, 104 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade agricultural trade 186–87 establishment of 267 TRIPS 23 Uruguay Round 23, 267 General Union of Oil Employees 135–36, 141–44 Georgia 207 Germany 212, 213, 216, 236 export credit agency 201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 207, 209–11, 212, 215–16 Green Party 206, 215 Ghana 16 development projects in 16, 207 foreign debt 230, 247, 249 impact of IMF SAP 5, 22 Giuliani, Carlo 271 Global Awareness Collective 278 Global Class War, The (Faux) 4 Global Exchange 278 globalization 3 alternatives to corporate 275–79 economic 176–79, 230, 236 impacts of 185–90, 234, 236, 263–65 of the financial system 55, 63–66 Globalization and Its Discontents (Stiglitz) 3, 4 Global justice movement: achievements of 276–79 campaigns 269–72, 274–75 in Global North 268–69, 271–72, 274 in Global South 271–74 origins of 268–69 proposals of 275–79 protests by 265–66, 270–71 Global South see Third World Gonzalez, Henry 72, 90 Gorbachev, Mikhail 137 Goulart, João 27 Groupement pour le Traitment des Scories du Terril de Lubumbashi 104 Guatemala 14, 236 Arbenz government 26 Guinea, foreign debt of 249 Guinea-Bassau 26, 247, 249 Guyana: export credit agencies and 203 environmental problems 203 foreign debt 241, 243, 244, 246, 247, 249 Haiti 236, 249 World Bank and 158 Halliburton 3, 133, 278 Hankey, Sir Maurice 145 Harken Energy Corp. 77, 78 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative 221, 225, 226, 230, 242–48, 275 conditions of 243–45 results of 248–50 Hegemony or Survival (Chomsky) 4 Hekmatyar, Gulbuddin 70 Helms, Richard 82 Henwood, Doug 23, 177–79 Heritage Foundation 121 Heritage Oil and Gas 100 Hermes Guarantee 201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 207, 209, 211, 212, 215–16 Honduras, foreign debt of 249 Hope in the Dark (Solnit) 281 Hungary, Soviet intervention in 16 Hussein, Saddam 28, 90, 141–42 and BCCI 72 Hutu people 94–96 Hypovereinsbank 209 Ijaw people 116, 121–23, 128 Illaje people 123 immigrant rights movement 281 imperialism 13–14 coups d’état and 27 divide-and-rule tactics 25, 26, 265 post-cold war changes 4–5 pressure on uncooperative countries 25, 142 resistance to 28, 115–17, 121–30, 143–44, 151–54, 176, 191–92, 265–66 resources and 98–106, 118–21, 133–34, 136, 139–40, 145 as system of control 17–28, 176 use of force 5, 25–28, 111n22, 113–14, 115–17, 123, 111n22 India 16, 119, 229, 236, 266 foreign debt 222, 223 export credit agencies and 206, 208 Maheshwar Dam 209–10 Indonesia 236 corruption in 202–3 export credit agencies and 200, 202–3, 205, 207, 216 foreign debt 228, 230, 244 inequality 44 Institute for Policy Studies 278 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 157 International Development Association 157, 242 International Forum on Globalization 266 International Monetary Fund 3, 4, 19, 135, 275 conflicts of interest 244 debt relief and 221–22, 224, 226, 237, 240, 243–46, 250–51, 252 Iraq and 151–53 Malaysia and 273 neoliberalism and 176–79, 222 offshore banking and 43, 234 protests against 266 structural adjustment programs 22, 23, 245, 265–66 Rwanda and 100 Uganda and 100 International Tax and Investment Center 134–35, 138–39, 144–54 International Trade Organization 267 Iran 14, 90, 145, 200 coup against Mossadegh 14–15 nationalization of oil industry 14 Iran-Contra affair 71–72 Iraq: BCCI and 72 foreign debt 152 Gulf War and 28, 72, 140, 141, 146 human rights in 105–6 oil production and reserves 135–36, 139–54 production sharing agreements in 147–54 sanctions against 72, 142 social conditions in 135, 142, 143 U.S. occupation of 28, 140, 141–42, 146, 250, 275, 278 Israel: and Suez Crisis 15 Yom Kippur War and 17 Ivory Coast 230 foreign debt 244, 249 “jackals” 25–26 James, Deborah 273 Japan 216, 236 Japan Bank for International Cooperation 201, 202, 203, 241 Jersey 88 banking boom in 46–47 impact on island 46, 51–52, 56–62 as offshore banking haven 43, 45, 56–61 Johnson, Chalmers Sorrows of Empire 4 Jordan 241, 266 Jordan, Vernon 100 JPMorganChase 226, 238 Jubilee South 190 Jubilee 2000 268 Juhasz, Antonia Bush Agenda, The 4, 275 Juma’a, Hassan 135–36, 140, 142–44, 154 Kabila, Joseph 96 Kabila, Laurent 94, 96, 99 Kagame, Paul 94, 98–99 ties to U.S. 99 Kazakhstan 138, 139, 144, 150 Keating, Charles 83 Kenya 236 foreign debt 243, 244 Kerry, John 76 investigation of BCCI 79–83, 87, 89 Kirchner, Nestor 273 Korea, Republic of 229, 272 Korten, David When Corporations Rule the World 4 KPMG 52 Krauthammer, Charles 13 Krushchev, Nikita 16 Kurdistan 211–12, 214 Kuwait 133, 141, 146, 152, 154 labor exports 235–36 Lake, Anthony 119–20 Lance, Bert 77 Lawson, Nigel 242 Lawson Plan 221, 242 Lee Kyung Hae 272 Liberia, World Bank lending to 159–67 Liberty Tree Foundation 276 Li Zhaoxing 117–18, 124 Lu Guozeng 117 Lumumba, Patrice 26 Luxembourg, as offshore banking haven 72, 73, 74 Madagascar, foreign debt of 249 Mahathir, Mohamad 273 Malawi 254 foreign debt 243, 249 Malaysia 41–43, 229 defiance of IMF 273 Mali, foreign debt of 246, 249 Marcos, Ferdinand 31, 48, 175, 176, 181–85 markets, corporate domination of 16 Martin, Paul 54 mass media, manipulation of 25 Mauritania, foreign debt of 247, 249 McKinney, Cynthia; hearing on Congo 98–99, 110n11 McLure, Charles 137–39 mercenaries: in Congo 111n22 in Nigeria 5, 25–26, 113–14, 115–17 Mexico 207, 256n14, 273 foreign debt 55, 227, 228, 230, 233, 240–41, 244 labor exports 236 Zapatista uprising 272 Middle East, and struggle for oil 27–28 military-industrial complex 99 military interventions 27–28 Mizban, Faraj Rabat 141 Mitterand Plan 221 Mobutu Sese Seko 24, overthrow of 94 Mondlane, Eduardo 26 Mongolia 207 Morales, Evo 277 Morganthau, Robert 69, 84–87 Moscow, John 58, 87 Mossadegh, Mohammad 3, 14–15, 27 Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta 122–24, 129 Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Workers’ Movement) 272 Mozambique 26, 27, 230 foreign debt 241, 246, 249 Mueller, Robert 87 mujahadeen (Afghanistan): and BCCI 70 and drug trade 70 Mulroney, Brian 100 Multilateral Agreement on Investment 269–70, 281 Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative 222, 225, 230, 250–52 Multilateral Investment Agreement 269 multinational corporations: export credit agencies and 209–11 export processing zones and 178 globalization, pressure for 138, 268, 275 mercenaries, use of 25–26, 111n22, 113–14, 115–17, 123 resources and 101–6, 111n29, 112n31, 112n32 scandals 5 transfer mispricing by 49–51 offshore banks, use of 24, 49–51 patents, control of 23 Museveni, Yoweri 95 Myanmar, foreign debt of 230 Nada, Youssef Mustafa 71–72 Namibia 95 export credit agencies and 207 Nasser, Gamal Abdel 15–16 National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia 88–89 National Family Farm Coalition 272 nationalism: pan-Arab 15 Iranian 14 Nehru, Jawaharlal 16 neocolonialism see imperialism neoliberalism 4, 19 critique of 176–79, 190–92, 234, 236 defined 176–77 economic development and 176–79, 232 economic strategies 178–81, 222, 230, 231, 236 Netherlands, overseas empire of 13 Newmont Mining Corp. 244 New World Order 27–28 Nicaragua 207 foreign debt 225, 230, 247, 249 U.S. proxy war against 26, 27, 79 Nicpil, Liddy 190–91, 192 Nidal, Adu 73 Niger, foreign debt of 241, 249 Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force 121, 123 Niger Delta Volunteer Service 122 Niger Delta region: attack on oil platforms 116–17 as “Next Gulf” 118–21 pollution from oil production 115–16 struggle against Shell 115–16, 121–24 Nigeria 200, 266 China and 117–18 colonial rule 115 corruption in 44–45, 230 foreign debt 223, 230, 233, 243, 244 oil production 115–16, 125–27 World Bank lending in 158, 167–69 Nkrumah, Kwame 16 nongovernmental organizations 239, 250 Noriega, Manuel 80 and BCCI 72, 79 North American Free Trade Agreement 4, 268, 272 nuclear power 205–6, 210 Obasanjo, Olusegun 125, 127 Obiang, Teodoro 48 O’Connor, Brian 144–45 OECD Watch 105 offshore banking havens: arms trade and 71–73 campaign against 62–64 central role in world trade 44, 47–48, 64–65 corruption and 24, 44–45, 52–56, 64, 231–33, 253 drug trade and 70 extraction of wealth 43, 54–56, 64–65, 226, 231–33, 253, 258n58 financial centers and 234, ignored by academia 44, 234 secrecy and 47–48, 53, 66 tax evasion and 43, 48, 49–51, 54, 57–59, 64–65, 226, 232 terrorism and 71, 88 Ogoni people 122–23, 125 Okadigbo, Chuba 116 Okonjo-Iweala, Ngozi 118 Okuntimo, Paul 123 Oil Change International 278 oil price spikes 236 oil production and reserves: future shortages of 28, 140 Indonesia 207 Iraqi 135–36, 144–54 Nigerian 113–14, 128–29 strategies to control 25–26, 27–28, 139–40 OM Group, Inc. 104, 112n31 OPEC 125–26, 128 1973 oil embargo by 17 dollar deposits in First World 17–18 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 135, 269 “Action Statement on Bribery” 216 export credit agencies and 210, 215 Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises 101, 102, 105–6, 112n31 “OECD Arrangement” 215 Overseas Private Investment Corp. 204, 206–9 Oxfam 43, 62–63, 250 Pakistan 90 Afghan mujahadeen and 70–71 BCCI and 70 export credit agencies and 207 foreign debt 244 Panama 3, 26, 72 as offshore banking haven 73, 74 Papua New Guinea: export credit agencies and 204 mining and environmental problems 204 Paris Club of creditors 220, 225–26, 227, 228, 242, 252 Peru 74 foreign debt 241 impact of IMF SAP 22 petrodollars, recycling of 17–18 Perkins, John 19 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man 1–2, 17 Pharaon, Ghaith 76, 77, 86, 87, 88 Philippines, the 31–34, 35–36 corruption in 181–82 democratic movements in 182–85, 236 economic decline in 187–89 emigration from 189, 236 foreign debt 181, 190–91, 230, 241, 244 Marcos regime 31, 34, 175, 176, 180–85, 261n61 martial law in 180–85 social conditions in 179–80, 185–86, 189–91 U.S. rule 175–76 World Bank and 158, 178–81 Pinochet, General Augusto 27, 45–46, 48 PLATFORM 140, 156n28 Portugal 209–10 Posada Carriles, Luis 26 poverty reduction strategy programs see structural adjustment programs Price Waterhouse 83–84 privatization 191 production sharing agreements 147–54 protectionism 21, 181, 186–87 proxy wars 27, 70–71 Public Citizen 269, 273 public utilities, privatization of 191, 261n61, 277 Rahman, Masihur 85 Reagan, Ronald, and administration 19, 79, 87, 136–37, 239 Iran-Contra affair 72 Rich, Marc 90 Rights and Accountability in Development 101, 104, 105 Rio Tinto Zinc 204 Ritch, Lee 79–80 Robson, John 138 Roldós, Jaime 3, 26 Roosevelt, Kermit 15 Rumsfeld, Donald 138 rural economic development 183, 186–87 Russia: debt relief and 225 oil industry 154 transition to capitalism 137–39, 258n28 Rutledge, Ian 149 Rwanda 94–96, 98, 249 massacre in 94, 99 SACE 201 Sachs Plan 221 Saleh, Salim 95 Saõ Tomé, foreign debt of 247, 249 Saud al-Fulaij, Faisal 86, 87 Saudi Arabia 3, 88 and BCCI 70, 75 Saro-Wiwa, Ken 125–26 Scholz, Wesley S. 104 Scowcroft, Brent 72 Senegal 16, 249 Senghor, Léopold 16 September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks 71 Shell Oil 144 Nigeria and 113–15, 122, 123, 125–29 at World Economic Forum 127 Shinawatra, Thaksin 54 Sierra Club 269 Sierra Leone 247 SmartMeme 276 Solnit, Rebecca Hope in the Dark 281 Somalia 251 Sorrows of Empire (Johnson) 4 South Africa 236 military interventions 27 Truth and Reconciliation Commission 26 Soviet Union 13, 14 de-Stalinization 16 Hungary, intervention in 16 influence in Third World 14 U.S. and 137 Stephens, Jackson 76, 77 Stiglitz, Joseph 24 Globalization and Its Discontents 3, 4 structural adjustment programs (SAPs) 19, 229–30 in Ghana 5, 22 in Peru 22 in the Philippines 176–79, 183–85, 190–92 in Zambia 22 Sudan 230, 251 Suharto 200, 202–3 Syria 211 Switzerland, as offshore banking haven 45, 65, 72 Taco Bell, boycott of 280 Tanzania, foreign debt of 247, 249 tax evasion 43, 48, 49–51, 54, 57–59, 64–65 Tax Foundation 137–38 tax havens see offshore banking havens Tax Justice Network 63 Tax Reform Act of 1986 138 Tenke Mining 99 terrorism: as EHM strategy 26, 72 financing of 42, 88–89 inequality and 44 Islamist 71–72, 89 Palestinian 73 Thatcher, Margaret 19, 138 Third World: as commodity producers 17, 23 conditions in 5, 96–97, 106–8, 116, 179–80, 185–90, 234, 236 development strategies 176–79 divisions among countries 265–68 elites in 25, 28, 43–44, 176, 226, 232–34 emergence of 14 lack of development in 232, 237 terms of trade and 22, 178–79 Third World Network 269 Tidewater Inc. 113 Torrijos, Omar 3, 26 Total S.A. 144, 153 trade unions 135–36, 141–44, 180, 186, 269, 274 transfer mispricing 49–51 cost to Third World 50 Transparency International 45 Turkey: export credit agencies and 206 Ilisu Dam 211–14 Turkmenistan 200 Uganda 94–96 foreign debt 241, 246, 249 Union Bank of Switzerland 57, 58, 77, 226, 250 United Arab Emirates 69, 73 United Fruit Company 15 United Kingdom 213 NCP for Congo 102–3 empire 13–14, 115, 129, 145 Iran and 14–15 Iraq occupation and 146, 151, 152 offshore banking and; Suez Crisis and 15 United Nations: trade issues and 265, 276 Panel of Experts, Congo 100–106, 112n32 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 220, 265, 267 United States: agricultural subsidies 22 aid 98 as empire 13, 28 cold war strategy of 16, 17, 24, 26 in Congo 99, 104, 105 debt-led development strategy of 176–79 Iran coup and 14–15 Iraqi oil and 133–34, 136, 139–40 Iraq wars 72, 133, 141–42 Islamists and 26 Nigerian oil and 118–21 Philippines and 175–76, 180 strategic doctrines 27–28, 118–19 support of Contras 72 trade deficit 23 trade policies 267 U.S.


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The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World by Ruchir Sharma

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3D printing, Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, dark matter, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, moral hazard, New Economic Geography, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, working-age population

Back then fertility rates in Europe were well above the replacement level, and life expectancy was much lower, so the working-age population was growing rapidly, in absolute numbers and as compared to the elderly population. With a growing supply of workers to fund a limited number of pensioners, Bismarck’s retirement plan—which taxed the young to pay pensions to the old—worked fine. Circumstances have reversed. Working-age populations are stagnating, but the Bismarckian “pay as you go” retirement plans remain the standard, even though various critics say they have become unsustainable Ponzi schemes. It’s not possible to recruit enough young contributors to pay for the pensions of retirees, who have become a bit too comfortable with these plans. While I was visiting Vienna in October 2013, a vibrant Austrian hotel manager told me in a casual chat that, still fit at 58, she was looking forward to her retirement in two years, when she said she would be entitled to public pension benefits nearly equal her last salary.

This “collateralized lending” works as long as borrowers short on income can keep getting new loans to cover their old loans—based on the rising price of the property or other assets they have offered up as collateral. By 2013, a third of the new loans in China were going to pay off old loans, a merry-go-round that would stop as soon as housing prices started to fall. That October Bank of China chairman Xiao Gang warned that the shadow banking system was starting to resemble a “Ponzi scheme,” with loans based on “empty real estate” that would never generate enough return to repay investors. At the March 2013 party congress, Wen Jiabao stepped down as premier, and as he left, he issued new warnings about China’s dire imbalances, saying there was a “growing conflict between downward pressure on economic growth and excess production capacity.” Instead of reforming China’s investment-driven growth model, however, Wen’s government had refueled it with trillions of dollars’ worth of new debt.

Renaissance Capital, January 24, 2013. Rotman, David. “How Technology Is Destroying Jobs.” MIT Technology Review, June 12, 2013. Roy, Amlan. “Indonesia: Are Good Demographics Adequate for Growth and Investments?” Credit Suisse Demographics Research, March 9, 2015. ——. “A Perspective on Migration: Past to Present.” Credit Suisse Demographic Research, September 30, 2015. Salsman, Richard M. “Social Security Is Much Worse Than a Ponzi Scheme—and Here’s How to End It.” Forbes, September 27, 2011. Saltar, Daniel. “The Focal Point: New Russia—New Focus.” Renaissance Capital, October 21, 2013. Schneider, Jim, et al. “Fortnightly Answers Questions: Where Is Everybody Going?” Goldman Sachs Research, September 3, 2015. Shedlock, Michael. “47% of Chinese Billionaires Want to Leave China Within 5 Years.” Financial Sense, September 5, 2014.


pages: 559 words: 169,094

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, big-box store, citizen journalism, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, financial innovation, Flash crash, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, new economy, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, smart grid, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, urban planning, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight

To encourage more growth, friendly county commissioners would waive the impact fees that were supposed to be assessed to the developers in order to help pay for new roads and water lines. In the exurbs going up around Tampa Bay, property taxes could remain low, with new schools and fire stations funded by bond issues floated on the projection of future growth. So in a sense everyone was getting returns from investments that would come in tomorrow, or next year. A few local critics pointed out the strategy’s resemblance to a Ponzi scheme. But everything kept growing and no one paid attention. The growth machine cleared out the pine trees and palmettos and orange groves along State Road 54 up in Pasco County. It cut down the mangroves on Apollo Beach and laid asphalt over the strawberry farms around Plant City. Farther south down Interstate 75, in Lee County, the growth machine built a university on the wetlands near Fort Myers (Senator Connie Mack put in a call to the Army Corps of Engineers), and it sold quarter-acre lots on the installment plan between the drainage canals of Cape Coral.

Half or two-thirds of the houses were vacant, but the residents who hung on in Country Walk parked their cars in the empty driveways and kept the neighboring lawns of San Augustine grass mowed to avoid an appearance of decline. On the more forsaken blocks the change was obvious—six inches of grass, weeds in the driveway, copper wiring ripped from the air-conditioner boxes, a rash of green mold spreading across a beige stucco wall, a VACANT or ABANDONED notice tacked to a front door. But the collapse of the Ponzi scheme was unspectacular, with no demolished factories or abandoned farms. The ghost subdivisions were pretty, in a way. Under the brilliant aquamarine sky the houses looked like perfect cardboard cutouts, the surfaces smooth and regular, the blinds drawn, the landscape almost untainted by human life. The prices that had rocketed skyward dropped just as fast to earth. Up State Road 54 from Country Walk, Bunny’s house in Twin Lakes, which had gone from $114,000 to $280,000 in six years, fell to $160,000 in two years.

Some of the foreclosed houses were being used by drug dealers or traffickers in stolen goods, littered with contraband. There had even been a shooting. Sheriff’s deputies were making nightly visits out to Carriage Pointe. Paranoia was running high, and one man proudly showed Van Sickler the security cameras he’d installed on his driveway. “In suburbia,” Van Sickler said, “no one can hear you scream.” A Ponzi scheme was a confidence game that succeeded only when enough people were willing to put aside common sense. Everyone involved was both being taken and taking someone else. The result was universal credulousness and universal fear. Carriage Pointe was supposed to be a little slice of the American dream, but it felt like the end of days. Van Sickler’s reporting there led him to conclude that the bust wasn’t all the fault of feckless homeowners, and he wrote a hard-edged piece exposing the role of developers and elected officials in creating the disaster


pages: 387 words: 110,820

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell

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barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, cognitive dissonance, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, deskilling, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, fear of failure, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge economy, loss aversion, market design, means of production, mental accounting, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price discrimination, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, washing machines reduced drudgery, working poor, yield management

Where would civilization be without the haggling rug merchants of Istanbul or the teeming bazaars of Marrakesh? Are these venerable institutions so different from Home Shopping Network, Filene’s Basement, and eBay? In a word, yes. The ancient marketplace was built on a balance of power between buyer and seller that is all but gone today. A cascade of corporate scandals and screwups from Enron to Halliburton to Citibank to Michael Madoff ’s audacious Ponzi scheme has shaken whatever faith we once held in corporate responsibility, and this mistrust has dripped down to the retail level. Even on the sacred rocks in Sedona, it seems, we get taken for a ride. Martin Neil Baily, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, said that the suspicion that we are being charged more than we should be is entirely rational. After all, plenty of retailers charge staggering sums for their goods.

The answer to this question is that it is not possible or, for that matter, sustainable. Shore and Prevor kept their operation afloat by locating stores in struggling malls and charging them an up-front fee for the favor of attracting foot traffic. Since these mall fees were essential to its survival, the company was required to expand continuously. In a sense, the company relied for its existence on a fully legal variation of a Ponzi scheme. Business plans like this are not built on a foundation of frugality. They are built on a platform of cognitive dissonance. Three months after boasting of their great success to the New York Times, Steve and Barry filed for bankruptcy. THRIFT MAY BE a bedrock American virtue, but it is no more branded into our DNA than it is branded into the DNA of any other culture. Benjamin Franklin, whose most famous homily translates roughly into “A penny saved is a penny earned,” confessed that thrift would elude even him were it not for Deborah, his frugal and hardworking wife.


pages: 430 words: 109,064

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson, James Kwak

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Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income per capita, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, sovereign wealth fund, The Myth of the Rational Market, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve

In the wake of the collapse of Bear Stearns, the SEC inspector general found that the agency not only took no meaningful action under the Consolidated Supervised Entity program, but also did a poor job implementing its Broker-Dealer Risk Assessment program (created in 1992 in response to the failure of Drexel Burnham Lambert). Under that program, the SEC received quarterly and annual reports from 146 broker-dealers—but generally only reviewed six of them.95 Most famously, the SEC managed to overlook Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme, despite tips and investigations going back to 1992.96 This failure to regulate the securities markets effectively was a consequence of the deregulatory ideology introduced by Ronald Reagan as well as the political influence of Wall Street. James Coffman, a former assistant director of the SEC’s enforcement division, wrote, Elected deregulators appointed their own kind to head regulatory agencies and they, in turn, removed career regulators from management positions and replaced them with appointees who had worked in or represented the regulated industries.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Inspector General, SEC’s Oversight of Bear Stearns and Related Entities: Broker-Dealer Risk Assessment Program, September 25, 2008, available at http://www.sec-oig.gov/Reports/AuditsInspections/2008/446-b.pdf. 96. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investigations, Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme—Public Version, August 31, 2009, available at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/business/20090904secmadoff .pdf. The total amount missing from client accounts was approximately $65 billion, including fake investment returns; the actual amount invested by and not returned to clients was closer to $20 billion. 97. James Coffman, “An Inside Perspective on Regulatory Capture,” The Baseline Scenario, August 14, 2009, available at http://baselinescenario.com/2009/08/14/an-inside-perspective-on-regulatory-capture/. 98.


pages: 302 words: 86,614

The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World's Top Hedge Funds by Maneet Ahuja, Myron Scholes, Mohamed El-Erian

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Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, family office, fixed income, high net worth, interest rate derivative, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, merger arbitrage, NetJets, oil shock, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, rolodex, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, systematic trading

Those talks were abandoned amid the turbulence of the financial crisis, and were resumed with a new urgency in the aftermath. AHL was up in 2008 but was down 17 percent in 2009, and in 2010 was still 3.7 percent below its high-water mark. Man’s fees suffered accordingly; in March 2010, fees amounted to $97 million, down from $358 million the year before. In addition, RMF, Man’s fund-of-funds business, lost $360 million in the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and others strategies suffered significant losses as well. In the face of these losses, Man’s CEO Peter Clarke began the search for new assets. GLG was the first place he turned, and he found receptive listeners. Between the market turmoil of 2008 and Coffey’s departure, GLG’s stock price tanked, and the amount of assets under management fell to $17.3 billion, reportedly threatening to put GLG in breach of a covenant on a $570 million loan from Citigroup.

He also endorsed the drafting of a “special ‘Private Investment Company’ statute, specifically tailored for SEC regulation of private investment funds.” This legislation, he said, “should require registration of private funds with the SEC; provide that each such fund and its investment manager be subject to SEC inspection and enforcement authority, just as mutual funds and registered investment advisers are; require custody and audit protections to prevent theft, Ponzi schemes, and fraud; should also require robust disclosures to investors, counterparties, and lenders; require that private funds provide basic census data in an online publicly available form; require that they implement anti–money laundering programs, just as broker-dealers, banks, and open-end investment companies must do; and, for larger funds, require the adoption of risk management plans to identify and control material risks, as well as plans to address orderly wind-downs.


pages: 339 words: 109,331

The Clash of the Cultures by John C. Bogle

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asset allocation, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, market bubble, market clearing, mortgage debt, new economy, Occupy movement, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, profit motive, random walk, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, William of Occam

Regulation is needed in order to: Establish and enforce sterner limits, as appropriate, on leverage and portfolio quality. Bring the opacity of today’s derivatives trading into the bright sunlight of transparency and openness, with public reporting of all transactions. Develop much stronger rules that would preclude—or at least minimize—obvious malfeasance such as insider trading, conflicts of interest, and the remarkably widespread Ponzi schemes that we’ve recently witnessed. Yes, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 attempted to deal with some of these issues. Certainly derivative transparency will be a plus, as will new requirements for banks’ capital. But after all the horse trading between Democrats and Republicans—and reformers, bankers, and lobbyists—I fear that its complex, obtuse regulations (some 170 separate rules are still being developed) involved in limiting proprietary trading by banks makes me wish we’d taken the simple step of restoring the separation of deposit taking banks from investment banks.

But a world of scarce and competing resources requires it, and proper cost-benefit analysis encompasses much more than simple economic costs.” [Italics added.] 3. The Securities and Exchange Commission The SEC too often failed to live up to its purpose: the protection of the interests of investors. Failure to rectify the, at best, misleading financial disclosures of many of our largest corporations, rarely seemed to catch the SEC’s usually watchful eye. And the failure to uncover the vast Madoff “Ponzi scheme” fraud, involving $60 billion worth of investors’ assets, gave the Commission’s critics the opportunity they sought to deprive it of the resources necessary to do its job. Chairmen Arthur Levitt and William Donaldson both served surely, wisely, and with distinction at the SEC’s helm during their terms in office (1993–2000 and 2001–2005, respectively), but the records of their successors were mixed at best.


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

The cost is footed by the world’s major oil-consuming economies, and the cash is shipped into the outstretched arms of oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia and Canada. When the world’s annual fuel bill was less than $800 billion, oil-importing nations like the United States clocked healthy economic growth year after year. Now that the world is spending more than $3 trillion a year on oil, those same economies are floundering. This isn’t a coincidence. Triple-digit oil prices turn the sovereign debt market into something resembling a giant Ponzi scheme. The investors who are buying the bonds that allow governments to roll over the debt amassing in the financial system are essentially making larger and larger bets on future economic growth. But as oil prices climb higher, the prospects for that growth become ever more tenuous. It’s like doubling down just as the odds are turning against you. Think about buying a 30-year government bond today.

A Rolex watch, to pick another example, has long been a token of wealth and status, but there’s no reason that can’t change. Judging by the protesters in the Occupy movement, a significant segment of our society has lost faith in the merits of unregulated capitalism. To them, a Rolex isn’t a sign that the wearer is an investment banker worthy of respect. Instead, it signals that the person who owns it may be about to break another securities law or make millions engineering a Ponzi scheme that will bilk suckers out of their life savings. As always, virtue is in the eye of the beholder. If values change, wearing a diamond-encrusted watch may someday send the wrong message. Consumer spending doesn’t necessarily have to be conspicuous to be unsatisfying. As per capita income increased in the postwar era, it stoked expectations of ever-larger increases in future consumption. Consider your situation if you’ve never owned a car before.


pages: 375 words: 105,067

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

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asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, Cass Sunstein, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, game design, greed is good, high net worth, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, éminence grise

As our collective finances got tighter over the first decade of the millennium, Orman’s New Age–oriented financial advice became increasingly hectoring. She yelled at people who got themselves into too much debt, whether it happened via a bout of unemployment or by taking on too much in college loans. She blamed the victims of Bernie Madoff for the fact that they had invested their funds in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme by telling them, “You walked right into that financial concentration camp.” She lectured people on her popular “Can I Afford It?” and “1 on One” segments on her CNBC show, weighing in on people’s desires to do such things as purchase a Porsche (denied) or even the desire to have a second child (also denied). Debuting mere months before the start of the Great Recession, her lectures rebranded Suze as the voice of financial common sense, an über-Jewish mother who tells it like it is no matter how bad the news.

The link between food and money is one made constantly by financial therapists and coaches, more than a few of whom, I discovered as I interviewed them, were also specialists in eating disorders. The idea is so pervasive, so commonly accepted that Geneen Roth, a star on the therapeutic circuit for such books Women, Food, and God, was able to spin her issues with money into, yes, yet another book after discovering she was a victim of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. In Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money, Roth posited that she had a binge-purge relationship with her funds, spending wildly, and then engaging in budgetary self-deprivation to compensate. Lora Sasiela, the therapist whose work led Melissa Cassera to realize she viewed money as a criminally insane penguin, concurs with the food-money analogy. Sasiela told me that when many of her money clients receive their monthly credit card bill, the reaction is similar to when someone with food issues steps on a scale to weigh themselves—the guilt, the fear, the remorse.


pages: 388 words: 106,138

The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook

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barriers to entry, financial independence, game design, Ponzi scheme, Saturday Night Live, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, trade route

“He would pick us up at the airport in a Rolls Royce,” Dave Mathis, one of Lou’s investors, remembered in the CNBC show American Greed. “He would take us to his steakhouse”—Pearl Steakhouse, in downtown Orlando. “We would be driven around on a bus, which on the side said ‘Backstreet Boys.’ And when the door opened, we had kids all over the place!” Is it possible that no one who was associated with Pearlman suspected his whole operation was in reality a giant Ponzi scheme? Pearlman was using the money from Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync to pay off investors in his other fraudulent businesses—the blimps, airplanes, and a massive insurance business scam. The forty-seven planes Pearlman claimed to own didn’t actually exist. In fact, he had only one plane, and the fleet depicted in the brochures for Trans Con (the name took on a whole new meaning, when Pearlman’s scheme finally came to light) was actually made of model airplanes, photographed to look real.

Kevin Richardson, explaining the decision to sue, said, “There came a point that we’d done five tours in Europe and none of us had a significant amount of money to show for it. We started looking at each other, going, ‘You know what? Our managers are driving Jaguars, and we’re sharing hotel rooms. Something’s not right.’ ” Jive managed to get the lawsuit settled quickly. The terms were not disclosed, but Pearlman had reportedly received $30 million, and one-sixth of whatever the Backstreet Boys earned in the future, which was what allowed him to keep his Ponzi scheme afloat for another eight years. “It’s ridiculous,” Brian Littrell said, of the settlement. “He’s doing no work.” The band in return got to break its contract with Big Poppa. By the time Millennium came out, they were free. Henceforth, in the official Backstreet Boys press-kit bio, there would be no mention of Pearlman. He was expunged from their history. ’N Sync also suspected Pearlman was stealing from them.


pages: 345 words: 87,745

The Power of Passive Investing: More Wealth With Less Work by Richard A. Ferri

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asset allocation, backtesting, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, cognitive dissonance, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, endowment effect, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, implied volatility, index fund, Long Term Capital Management, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Sharpe ratio, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, yield curve

If an active manager were talented, chances are you’ve never heard of him or her, and if you did, you’d never be able to hire them. It is a tragedy when poor investment decisions cripple the ability of a nonprofit organization to help others. Bernie Madoff had almost everyone fooled that he was a top hedge fund manager. He took everyone’s money, literally, and his high reported returns kept rolling in regardless of the amount he managed. Many nonprofits lost millions of dollars when Madoff’s Ponzi scheme collapsed. Other organizations lost a large portion of their assets during the global recession because the investment committees made ill-timed asset allocation decisions. These mistakes didn’t happen to organizations that adopted and maintained a prudent passive management strategy. Your organization is important. It does good things for people and has an important moral message for society.

See Price-earnings ratio (P/E) Pennings, Joost Pension funds: legal acts governing small plans social security and trustees for Pensions & Investments Performance monitoring Performance studies. See Early performance studies Permanent loss Persistence of performance academic studies: bond funds Carhart’s work Fama and French “Hot Hands” study Personal trust(s): fiduciary investing and taxes and Pioneering Portfolio Management (Swensen) Plain vanilla index Policy changes Ponzi scheme Poor accounting Portfolio choices: bottom line and changing the model efficient portfolios fund selection strategies modeling the active bet modifications to model portfolios of active funds quantifying of random portfolio results real-world test relative performance model short-term/long-term Portfolio management: annual evaluation debate on facts about objective of options for Portfolio Selection: Efficient Diversification of Investments (Markowitz) Portfolio theory, modern Positive period weighting Predictors of top performance: fund expenses as qualitative factors as ratings as Pre-inflation return Price-earnings ratio (P/E): growth/value stocks portfolio returns and Price-to-book (P/B) Price-to-cash-flow Price Waterhouse Private trust management: categories of trusts restatement of trusts (third) taxes and UPIA and active management UPIA and passive investing Procrastinating non-index investors: changing/staying the course definition of endowment effect and land of the lost modern portfolio theory and veering off course Prospect theory Prudence, elements of Prudent Investor Act: A Guide to Understanding, The (Simon) Prudent Investor Rule Prudent Man Rule “Purity Hypothesis, The” Qualitative factors, performance and Random walk Random Walk Down Wall Street, A (Malkiel) Rating methods, performance and Real estate Real Estate Investment Trust Act Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Real return Rebalancing portfolio Recovery, market Registered investment advisor (RIA) Reinganum, Marc REITs.


pages: 261 words: 86,905

How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester

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asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working poor, yield curve

He ran a series of investment funds that offered returns whose consistency, never failing to offer double-digit returns, should have been extremely suspect—in fact it was this very consistency that raised the suspicions about Madoff. When Madoff’s frauds were exposed in 2008, it turned out that he had been running a classic Ponzi scheme, in which the new money being paid into the funds is given directly to older customers, to make it look as if the investments are successful. After his arrest Madoff said that the Ponzi scheme had been running since 1991 and that he had never made any real investments with his clients’ money. He pled guilty to eleven felonies in March 2009 and was sentenced to 150 years in jail. Manias, Panics, and Crashes An amusing book by the economist Charles Kindleberger, who as I said in Part I is something of an intellectual hero of mine.


pages: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

These were the guys in charge, the ones tasked with rescuing the entire global financial system, and nothing about their vague and contradictory answers to simple questions projected competence or good faith. Washington managed to pass the bailout for the financial sector, and while Wall Street would soon return to glory, wealth, and profitability, the rest of us would come to learn in gruesome detail all the ways in which the source of its prosperity had, in fact, been the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of human civilization. The cumulative effect of these scandals and failures is an inescapable national mood of exhaustion, frustration, and betrayal. At the polls, we see it in the restless, serial discontent that defines the current political moment. The last three elections, beginning in 2006, have operated as sequential backlashes. In 2006 and 2008, Democrats were able to point to the horrifyingly inept response to Katrina, the bloody, costly quagmire in Iraq, and, finally, the teetering and collapsing economy.

We know that various tribunes of officialdom spin and dissemble, but we are not, as a rule, disposed to think they are engaged in a comprehensive, systematic cover-up of some monstrously destructive hidden agenda. Because revelations of systemic deception erode our most basic, default expectation of good faith, they play an outsize role in producing a crisis of authority. Each exposure of previously secret misdeeds—steroid use, Ponzi schemes, rigged intelligence—produces an acute and debilitating psychological effect. Vertigo sets in, similar to that experienced by a spouse who, after decades of what he thought was a happy, loyal marriage, discovers his wife has been cheating all along. Suddenly we realize we live in a world entirely more depraved than the one we thought we inhabited. This was the defining experience of many Americans during the mid-1970s, the last period in which the nation suffered through a crisis of authority.


pages: 124 words: 39,011

Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It by Robert B. Reich

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, banking crisis, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, job automation, Mahatma Gandhi, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor

That law still left more than twenty million without health insurance. They and any others who would lose medical coverage if the new law were repealed will get emergency care when they’re in dire straits in any event—hospitals won’t refuse them—but we all end up paying indirectly. Regressives pretend they’re about opportunity. But in reality, as I’ve said before, they’re promoting social Darwinism. 8. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Don’t believe it. In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund, and I know how the Social Security actuaries make their projections. Social Security is solvent for the next twenty-five years, until 2037. It could be solvent for the next century if we raised the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. As I write, that ceiling is $110,100. Until 2010, Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits.


pages: 102 words: 33,345

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary

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augmented reality, Berlin Wall, dematerialisation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fall of the Berlin Wall, invention of movable type, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, megacity, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, V2 rocket

Lenin, Trotsky, and their cohort made use of every communications technology at hand in 1917, but they never elevated them to privileged and sacrosanct determinants of an entire constellation of historical events, as some cyberactivists have done in extolling the role of social media in recent political movements and uprisings. Once there is mystification and the attribution of quasi-magical capabilities to networks, it becomes like faith in a Ponzi scheme that will automatically pay off on behalf of the weak and oppressed. The myths of the egalitarian and empowering nature of this technology have been cultivated for a reason. Police agencies of the global order can only be gratified by the willingness of activists to concentrate their organizing around internet strategies, by which they voluntarily kettle themselves in cyberspace, where state surveillance, sabotage, and manipulation are far easier than in lived communities and localities where actual encounters occur.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

The mechanisms that culminated in the crisis were built upon foundations of the entrepreneurial self, from exhortations to surrender to the risk of thrill-ride mortgages, capitulation to the financialization of everyday life, participation in virtual selves wending their way through the “weightless economy” on the Internet, day trading like the big boys, getting your information from Facebook and Fox and talk radio, to the indulgences of entertainment theology as Ponzi scheme, and recruitment into astroturfed politics to assist you in expressing your smoldering yet underappreciated individuality. Everyone strove to assume a persona that someone else would be willing to invest in, all in the name of personal improvement. Found yourself in trouble? You could always sell a kidney or enroll in a drug trial . . . Maybe you could rent your body as surrogate mother, or maybe resort to just a little strategic intimacy, with discreet recompense on the side25 . . .

Not only was the movement largely professionally astroturfed by a few large shadow private organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity, American Majority, the Tea Party Express, and FreedomWorks, but it derived much of its energy on the ground through open encouragement of small-bore entrepreneurs to make money in whatever ways they might imagine off the cascading sequence of rallies, bus tours, self-publication of pamphlets, conferences, disruption of town meetings, and other public gatherings.10 In a sort of chain-letter Ponzi scheme, or better yet, an Amway franchise, the disgruntled were first financed and regimented through large quasi-corporations, made to feel empowered by encouragement to do the same on a smaller scale with their own venture-capital start-ups, then themselves motivated to recruit others to join the movement.11 For instance, 41 percent of the booths at the Tea Party convention in Phoenix in February 2011 were manned by for-profit groups; an additional 35 percent were large business interests such as Philip Morris and Exxon Mobil.

See Neoliberal Thought Collective (NTC) Nugent, Ted NYU (New York University) O Obama, Barack Occam’s Razor Occupiers Occupy Handbook Occupy London Occupy Movement Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Odyssey (Homer) Old Thinking Oldham, Taki, Turf Wars Open questions Open Society The Open Society and Its Enemies (Popper) Oracle at Delphi Ordoliberalism Oreskes, Naomi Original Sin O’Rourke, Kevin Orszag, Peter Orwell, George Osborne, George Outsourced Self (Hochschild) OWS (Occupy Wall Street) P Page, Scott Palin, Sarah Pareto, Vilfredo Patterson, Scott, Dark Pools Paul, Ron Paulson, Hank Payday loans Payne, Christopher PBS Peck, Jamie Pecora, Ferdinand Perry, Rick Pesaran, Hashem Pew Economic Policy Group Financial Reform Project Philip Morris Phillips Curve Philosopher’s Stone Pimco Pinochet, Augusto Pinto, Edward Pissarides, Christopher Pity the Billionaire (Frank) Plant, Raymond Plato Plehwe, Dieter Ponzi scheme Poon, Martha Popper, Karl Portes, Richard Posner, Richard Power Auctions Predator Nation (Ferguson) Prediction as red herring Prescott, Edward C. Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board Princes of Theory Princeton University Private debt Privatized revolt Proctor, Robert Prophet of the Reformation Protestant Reformation Proteus, Odyssey Provigil Prozac Profits, corporate Public choice theory Purity of Populist Expression Pynchon, Thomas, Gravity’s Rainbow Q Quah, Danny Quarterly Journal of Economics Queen of England Quiggin, John Crooked Timber on economic crisis Williamson on Zombie Economics R Radin, Margaret Rajan, Raghuram Rajnarathan, Raj Rand, Ayn on Hayek Rapture Rationality repudiation Reads, Leonard Reagan, Ronald Reagan–Thatcher era Reckless Endangerment (Morgenson and Rosner) Regulation as panacea Reinhardt, Uwe Reinhart, Carmen Relm Foundation Republican Party, Restructuring of universities Reuters Revealed (Journal) Scripture Revere, Paul “Ricardian Equivalence,” Righteous Sound Thinking Risk Risk, Uncertainty and Profit (Knight) Ritalin Ritholtz, Barry Road to Serfdom (Hayek) Robbins, Lionel Robin, Corey Robinson, Joan Rogoff, Kenneth Rogoff Reinhart neoliberal line Romer, Christina Romer, Paul Romney, Mitt Roosevelt Institute Röpke, Wilhelm Rosner, Josh Rosston, Gregory Rothbard, Murray Roubini, Nouriel Royal Bank of Scotland Rubin, Robert Ruccio, David Rudd, Kevin Rüstow, Alexander Ryan, Paul S Sachs, Jeffrey Sadism Salmon, Felix Samuelson, Paul Sanders, Bernie Santa Clara University Santa Fe Institute Santelli, Rick Sargasso Sea of Ambiguity Sargent, Thomas Sassen, Saskia Savior of the American Economy Schapiro, Mary Schmitt, Carl Schneider, Louis School of Reformed Orthodoxy Schwartz, Anna J., The Monetary History of the United States Schweizerisches Institut für Auslandforschung (Swiss Institute of International Studies) Science ScienceMart Scott, Hal Scott, John MacCallum SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) Second Life “The Seekers,” Selfhood, neoliberal Seltzer, Nicolas Sen, Amartya Senate Banking Committee Shales, Amy Shapiro, Harold Sharfstein, David Shattered Shaw, D.


pages: 598 words: 140,612

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser

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affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

New England’s climate is very similar to that of old England, so Boston couldn’t send much overseas that the English couldn’t get more cheaply closer to home. Yet Bostonians wanted to buy European manufactured goods, like guns and Bibles. In its early years, Boston operated as a sort of colonial-era Ponzi scheme: the first wave of immigrants sold basic survival items, like food and clothing, to the next wave of immigrants, who, like John Harvard himself, came over with money. The problem with Ponzi schemes is that they require eternal exponential growth, and Boston’s growth stalled when the English Civil War established a Protestant commonwealth in the old country. Boston’s citizenry then tried a lot of different moneymaking experiments, like ironworks and printing presses, but its first reinvention owes more to luck than skill.


pages: 484 words: 136,735

Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis by Anatole Kaletsky

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bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, global rebalancing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Washington Consensus

But if governments and central banks use the economic tools at their disposal—and if political and business leaders seize the opportunities presented by the emergence of a new capitalist system—the optimism expressed by Summers could prove to be justified. If the next decade does indeed prove more prosperous than the last one, the world will conclude that the market-oriented reforms of the Thatcher-Reagan era were not just a cynical deception, that financial capitalism was not just a Ponzi scheme, that the wealth created in the precrisis decades was not just a figment of collective madness, that the demolition of communism, the technological revolution, the rise of Asia, and the abolition of the gold standard were not just daydreams but earth-shattering historical events. These are essentially the arguments of this book. But what if the world economy does not recover as suggested and the evolution of capitalism just described does not occur?

This interpretation of the crisis implies that economic liberalization and globalization should be preserved as far as possible and used as the foundation for a new adaptive, mixed-economy version of the capitalist system, which should prove even more productive and successful. The second plausible response to the crisis was to argue that Thatcher-Reagan capitalism had been a fraud and a failure. The economic growth supposedly unleashed by the reforms of the 1980s was just an illusion, conjured up by a gigantic Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. After all the speculative bubbles and phony financial froth were blown away, the true wealth created from the 1980s onward turned out to be much smaller than the wealth created in the era of government-led, strictly regulated, high-tax capitalism from 1945 until the 1970s. On this reading of history, even the apparent resolution of class conflicts that was arguably the greatest achievement of the 1980s was a mirage.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

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23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra

When the music stopped, $65 billion of investors’ funds had been looted. It was roughly what John Law did in Paris with the Mississippi Company in 1719, what John Blunt did in London with the South Sea company in 1720, what Charles Ponzi did in Boston in 1920 with reply coupons for postage stamps, what Ken Lay did with Enron’s stock in 2001. Is it possible that not just the recent credit boom, but the entire postwar rise in living standards was a Ponzi scheme, made possible by the gradual expansion of credit? That we have in effect grown rich by borrowing the means from our children and that a day of reckoning is now at hand? It is certainly true that your mortgage is borrowed (via a saver somewhere else, perhaps in China) from your future self, who will pay it off. It is also true on both sides of the Atlantic that your state pension will be funded by your children’s taxes, not by your payroll contributions as so many think.

Kung people 44, 135, 136–7 Kuznets curve 106 Kwakiutl people 92 Lagos 322 Lagrange Point 346 lakes, acidification of 305–6 Lamalera people 87 Lancashire 214, 217, 232, 263 Landes, David 223, 406 Lang, Tim 392 language: and exchange 58; genes for 55; Indo-European 129; and isolationism 73; Neanderthals 4, 55; numbers of languages 73; as unique human development 4 Laos 209 lapis lazuli 162, 164 Lascaux caves, France 6 lasers 272 Lassa fever 307 Laurion, Attica 171 Law, John 29, 259 Lawson, Nigel, Baron 331 Lay, Ken 29, 385 Layard, Richard 25 lead 167, 174, 177, 213 Leadbetter, Charles 290 Leahy, Michael 92 leather 70, 122, 167, 176 Lebanon 167 LeBlanc, Steven 137 LEDs (light-emitting diodes) 21–2 lentils 129 Leonardo da Vinci 196, 251 Levy, Stephen 355 Liang Ying (farm worker) 220 liberalism 108, 109–110, 290 Liberia 14, 316 libertarianism 106 Libya 171 lice 68 lichen 75 life expectancy: in Africa 14, 316, 422; in Britain 13, 15, 284; improvements in 12, 14, 15, 17–18, 205, 284, 287, 298, 316; in United States 298; world averages 47 Life (magazine) 304 light, artificial 13, 16, 17, 20–22, 37, 233, 234, 240, 245, 272, 368 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) 21–2 Limits to Growth (report) 303–4, 420 Lindsey, Brink 102, 109 linen 216, 218 lions 43, 87 literacy 106, 201, 290, 353, 396 Liverpool 62, 283 local sourcing (of goods) 35, 41–2, 149, 392; see also food miles Locke, John 96 Lodygin, Alexander 272 Lombardy 178, 196 Lomborg, Björn 280 London 12, 116, 186, 199, 218, 222, 282; as financial centre 259 longitude, measurement of 261 Longshan culture 397 Los Angeles 17, 142 Lothal, Indus valley 162, 164 Louis XI, King of France 184 Louis XIV, King of France 36, 37, 38, 184, 259 Lowell, Francis Cabot 263 Lübeck 180 Lucca 178, 179 Lunar Society 256 Luther, Martin 102 Luxembourg 331 Lyon 184 Macao 183 MacArthur, General Douglas 141 Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 1st Baron 11, 285–7, 359 McCloskey, Deirdre 109, 366–7 Mace, Ruth 73 McEwan, Ian 47 Machiguenga people 87 MacKay, David 342 McKendrick, Neil 224 McKibben, Bill 293 Macmillan, Harold, 1st Earl of Stockton 16 McNamara, Robert 203 mad-cow disease (vCJD) 280, 308 Madagascar 70, 299 Maddison, Angus 180 Maddox, John 207 Madoff, Bernard 28–9 Maghribis 178, 180 magnesium 213 maize 126, 146–7, 153, 155, 156, 163; for biofuel 240, 241 malaria 135, 157, 275, 299, 310, 318, 319, 331, 336, 353, 428, 429 Malawi 40–41, 132, 316, 318 Malawi, Lake 54 Malay Peninsula 66 Malaysia 35, 89, 242, 332 Mali 316, 326 Malinowski, Bronislaw 134 malnutrition 154, 156, 337 Maltese Falcon, The (film) 86 Malthus, Robert 139, 140, 146, 191, 249, 303 Malthusianism 141, 193, 196, 200, 202, 401 mammoths 68, 69, 71, 73, 302 Manchester 214, 218, 283 Mandell, Lewis 254 manganese 150, 213 mangoes 156, 327, 392 Manhattan 83 manure 147, 150, 198, 200, 282 Mao Zedong 16, 187, 262, 296, 311 Marchetti, Cesare 345–6 Marcuse, Herbert 291 Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France 199 markets (in capital and assets) 9, 258–60 markets (in goods and services): and collective betterment 9–10, 36–9, 103–110, 115–16, 281; disdain for 102–3, 104, 291–2, 358; etiquette and ritual of 133–4; and generosity 86–7; global interdependence 42–3; market failure 182, 250; ‘perfect markets’ 249–50; and population control 210–211; and preindustrial economies 133–4; and trust 98–100, 103; and virtue 100–104, 105; see also bartering; exchange; trade Marne, River 234 Martu aborigines 62 Marx, Karl 102, 104, 107–8, 291, 406 Marxism 101, 217–18, 319, 356 Maskelyne, Nevil 221 Maudslay, Henry 221 Mauritius 187, 316 Mauryan empire 172–3, 201, 357 Maxwell, James Clerk 412 measles 14, 135, 310 meat eating 51, 60, 62, 68–9, 126, 147, 156, 241, 376 Mecca 177 Mediterranean Sea: prehistoric settlements 56, 68–9, 159; trade 89, 164, 167–8, 169, 171, 176, 178 meerkats 87 Mehrgarh, Baluchistan 162 Mehta, Suketa 189 Meissen 185 memes 5 Menes, Pharaoh of Egypt 161 mercury 183, 213, 237 Mersey, River 62 Merzbach valley, Germany 138 Mesopotamia 38, 115, 158–61, 163, 177, 193, 251, 357; see also Assyrian empire; Iraq metal prices, reductions in 213 Metaxas, Ioannis 186 methane 140, 329, 345 Mexico: agriculture 14, 123, 126, 142, 387; emigration to United States 117; hurricanes 335; life expectancy 15; nature conservation 324; swine flu 309 Mexico City 190 Meyer, Warren 281 Mezherich, Ukraine 71 mice 55, 125 Michelangelo 115 Microsoft (corporation) 24, 260, 268, 273 migrations: early human 66–70, 82; rural to urban 158, 188–9, 210, 219–20, 226–7, 231, 406; see also emigration Milan 178, 184 Miletus 170–71 milk 22, 55, 97, 135 Mill, John Stuart 34, 103–4, 108, 249, 274, 276, 279 Millennium Development goals 316 Miller, Geoffrey 44, 274 millet 126 Mills, Mark 244 Ming empire 117, 181–4, 260, 311 Minoan civilisation 166 Mississippi Company 29 Mittal, Lakshmi 268 mobile phones 37, 252, 257, 261, 265, 267, 297, 326–7 Mohamed (prophet) 176 Mohawk Indians 138–9 Mohenjo-Daro, Indus valley 161–2 Mojave Desert 69 Mokyr, Joel 197, 252, 257, 411, 412 monarchies 118, 162, 172, 222 monasteries 176, 194, 215, 252 Monbiot, George 291, 311, 426 money: development of 71, 132, 392; ‘trust inscribed’ 85 Mongolia 230 Mongols 161, 181, 182 monkeys 3, 57, 59, 88; capuchins 96–7, 375 monopolies 107, 111, 166, 172, 182 monsoon 174 Montesquieu, Charles, Baron de 103 moon landing 268–9, 275 Moore, Gordon 221, 405 Moore, Michael 291 Morgan, J.P. 100 Mormonism 205 Morocco 53, 209 Morse, Samuel 272 mortgages 25, 29, 30, 323; sub-prime 296 Moses 138 mosquito nets 318 ‘most favoured nation’ principle 186 Moyo, Dambisa 318 Mozambique 132, 316 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 267 Mugabe, Robert 262 Mumbai 189, 190 murder 14, 20, 85, 88, 106, 118, 201 Murrays’ Mills, Manchester 214 music 70, 115, 266–7, 326 Myceneans 166 Nairobi 322 Namibia 209, 324 Napoleon I 184 NASA 269 Nashville 326 Nassarius shells 53, 56, 65 National Food Service 268 National Health Service 111, 261 nationalisation (of industry) 166, 182 nationalism 357 native Americans 62, 92–3, 138–9 Natufians 125 natural selection 5–6, 27, 49–50, 350 nature conservation 324, 339; see also wilderness land, expansion of Neanderthals 3, 4, 53, 55, 64, 65, 68, 71, 79, 373, 378 Nebuchadnezzar 169 needles 43, 70 Nehru, Jawaharlal 187 Nelson, Richard 5 Nepal 15, 209 Netscape (corporation) 259 New Deal 109 New Guinea: agriculture 123, 126, 387; languages 73; malaria 336; prehistoric 66, 123, 126; tribes 87, 92, 138 New York 12, 16, 83, 169, 190 New York Times 23, 295, 305 New Zealand 17, 35, 42, 70 Newcomen, Thomas 244, 256 newspapers 270, 295; licensing copyrights 267 Newsweek (magazine) 329 Newton, Sir Isaac 116, 256 nickel 34, 213 Niger 208–9, 210, 324 Nigeria 15, 31, 99, 117, 210, 236, 316 Nike (corporation) 115, 188 Nile, River 161, 164, 167, 171 nitrogen fertlisers 140, 146, 147, 149–50, 155, 305 nitrous oxide 155 Nobel Peace Prize 143, 280 ‘noble savage’ 43–4, 135–8 Norberg, Johann 187 Nordau, Max 288 Nordhaus, William 331 Norte Chico civilisation 162–3 North, Douglass 324, 397 North Carolina 219–20 North Korea 15, 116–17, 187, 333 North Sea 180, 185 North Sentinel islanders 67 Northern Rock (bank) 9 Northumberland 407 Norton, Seth 211 Norway 97–8, 332, 344 Norwich 225 nostalgia 12–13, 44, 135, 189, 284–5, 292 Novgorod 180 Noyce, Robert 221, 405 nuclear accidents 283, 293–4, 308, 345, 421 nuclear power 37, 236, 238, 239, 245, 246, 343, 344, 345 nuclear war, threat of 280, 290, 299–300, 333 Obama, Barack 203 obesity 8, 156, 296, 337 obsidian 53, 92, 127 occupational safety 106–7 ocean acidification 280, 340–41 ochre 52, 53, 54, 92 octopi 3 Oersted, Hans Christian 272 Oetzi (mummified ‘iceman’) 122–3, 132–3, 137 Ofek, Haim 131 Ohalo II (archaeological site) 124 oil: and ‘curse of resources’ 31, 320; drilling and refining 242, 343; and generation of electricity 239; manufacture of plastics and synthetics 237, 240; pollution 293–4, 385; prices 23, 238; supplies 149, 237–8, 280, 281, 282, 296, 302–3 old age, quality of life in 18 olive oil 167, 169, 171 Olson, Ken 282 Omidyar, Pierre 99 onchoceriasis 310 open-source software 99, 272–3, 356 Orang Asli people 66 orang-utans 60, 239, 339 organic farming 147, 149–52, 393 Orinoco tar shales, Venezuela 238 Orma people 87 ornament, personal 43, 52, 53, 54, 70, 71, 73 O’Rourke, P.J. 157 Orwell, George 253, 290, 354 Ostia 174 otters 297, 299 Otto I, Holy Roman emperor 178 Ottoman empire 161 Oued Djebanna, Algeria 53 oxen 130, 136, 195, 197, 214–15 oxytocin (hormone) 94–5, 97–8 ozone layer 280, 296 Paarlberg, Robert 154 Pacific islanders 134 Pacific Ocean 184 Paddock, William and Paul 301 Padgett, John 103 Page, Larry 114 Pagel, Mark 73 Pakistan 142–3, 204, 300 palm oil 57–8, 239, 240, 242, 339 Pan Am (airline) 24 paper 282, 304 Papin, Denis 256 papyrus 171, 175 Paraguay 61 Pareto, Vilfredo 249 Paris 215, 358; electric lighting 233; restaurants 264 parrots 3 Parsons, Sir Charles 234 Parthian empire 161 Pasadena 17 Pataliputra 173 patents 223, 263, 264–6, 269, 271, 413–14 patriarchy 136 Paul, St 102 PayPal (e-commerce business) 262 peacocks 174 peanuts 126 peat 215–16 Peel, Sir Robert 185 Pemberton, John 263 pencils 38 penicillin 258 Pennington, Hugh 308 pensions 29, 40, 106 Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, The 174 Persia 89, 161, 171, 177 Persian Gulf 66, 164, 340, 429 Peru 97–8, 126, 162–3, 320, 387; silver 31, 132, 183–4 pessimism: and belief in turning points in history 287–9, 301, 311; natural pessimism of human nature 294–5; in nineteenth century 283–8; in twentieth century 281, 282, 288–91, 292–4, 296–308, 328–9; in twenty-first century 8–9, 17, 28, 281–2, 291–2, 308–311, 314–15; ubiquity of 280–85, 291–2, 294–7, 341, 352 pesticides 151–2, 154, 155, 336; DDT 297–8, 299; natural 298–9 Peto, Richard 298 Petty, Sir William 185, 199, 254, 256 pharmaceutical industry 260, 266 philanthropy 92, 105, 106, 295, 318–19, 356 Philip II, King of Spain 30–31 Philip II of Macedon 171 Philippines 61–2, 89, 234 Philistines 166, 170, 396 Phillips, Adam 103, 292 Phoenicians 166–70, 177 photography 114, 283, 386 physiocrats 42 pi, calculation of 173 pig farming 135, 145, 148, 197 Pinnacle Point, South Africa 52, 83 Pisa 115, 178 plagues 135, 176, 195–6, 197; forecasts of 280, 284, 307–310; see also Black Death plastics 237, 240, 270 Plate, River 186 platinum 213 Plato 292 Plautus 44 ploughing 129–30, 136, 145, 150, 195, 197, 198, 215 pneumonia 13, 353 Polanyi, Karl 164–5 polar bears 338–9 polio 261, 275, 310 political fragmentation 170–73, 180–81, 184, 185 pollution: effects on wildlife 17, 297, 299, 339; and industrialisation 218; pessimism about 293–4, 304–6; reduction in 17, 106, 148, 279, 293–4, 297, 299 polygamy 136 Pomeranz, Kenneth 201–2 Ponzi, Charles 29 Ponzi schemes 28–9 population control policies 202–4, 210–211 population growth: and food supply 139, 141, 143–4, 146–7, 192, 206, 208–9; global population totals 3, 12, 14, 191, 206, 332; and industrialisation 201–2; and innovation 252; pessimism about 190, 193, 202–3, 281, 290, 293, 300–302, 314; population explosions 8, 139, 141, 202, 206, 281; and specialisation 192–3, 351; see also birth rates; demographic transition; infant mortality; life expectancy porcelain 181, 183, 184–5, 225, 251 Porritt, Jonathan 314 Portugal 75, 183, 184, 317, 331 Post-it notes 261 Postrel, Virginia 290–91 potatoes 199 Potrykus, Ingo 154 pottery 77, 158, 159, 163, 168, 177, 225, 251 Pound, Ezra 289 poverty: and charitable giving 106; current levels 12, 15, 16–17, 41, 316, 353–4; and industrialisation 217–20; pessimism about 280, 290, 314–15; reduction in 12, 15, 16–17, 290; and self-sufficiency 42, 132, 200, 202, 226–7; solutions to 8, 187–8, 316–17, 322, 326–8, 353–4 Prebisch, Raul 187 preservatives (in food) 145 Presley, Elvis 110 Priestley, Joseph 256 printing: on paper 181, 251, 252, 253, 272; on textiles 225, 232 prisoner’s dilemma game 96 property rights 130, 223, 226, 320, 321, 323–5 protectionism 186–7, 226 Ptolemy III 171 Pusu-Ken (Assyrian merchant) 165–6 putting out system 226, 227, 230 pygmy people 54, 67 Pythagoras 171 Quarterly Review 284 quasars 275 Quesnay, François 42 racial segregation 108 racism 104, 415 radioactivity 293–4, 345 radios 264–5, 271 railways 252; and agriculture 139, 140–41; opposition to 283–4; speed of 283, 286; travel costs 23 rainforests 144, 149, 150, 240, 243, 250–51, 338 Rajan, Raghuram 317 Rajasthan 162, 164 Ramsay, Gordon 392 rape seed 240 Ratnagar, Shereen 162 ravens 69 Rawls, John 96 Read, Leonard 38 recession, economic 10, 28, 113, 311 reciprocity 57–9, 87, 95, 133 Red Sea 66, 82, 127, 170, 174, 177 Rees, Martin 294 Reformation 253 refrigeration 139 regress, technological 78–84, 125, 181–2, 197–200, 351, 380 Reiter, Paul 336, 428 religion 4, 104, 106, 170, 357, 358, 396; and population control 205, 207–8, 211; see also Buddhism; Christianity; Islam Rembrandt 116 Renaissance 196 research and development budgets, corporate 260, 262, 269 Research in Motion (company) 265 respiratory disease 18, 307, 310 restaurants 17, 37, 61, 254, 264 Rhine, River 265–6 rhinoceroses 2, 43, 51, 68, 73 Rhodes, Cecil 322 Ricardo, David 75, 169, 187, 193, 196, 249, 274 rice 32, 126, 143, 146–7, 153, 154, 156, 198 Rifkin, Jeremy 306 Riis, Jacob 16 Rio de Janeiro, UN conference (1992) 290 risk aversion 294–5 Rivers, W.H.R. 81 Rivoli, Pietra 220, 228 ‘robber-barons’ 23–4, 100, 265–6 Rockefeller, John D. 23, 281 Rocky Mountains 238 Rogers, Alex 340 Roman empire 161, 166, 172, 173–5, 184, 214, 215, 259–60, 357 Rome 158, 175 Romer, Paul 269, 276–7, 328, 354 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 109 Roosevelt, Theodore 288 Rosling, Hans 368 Rothschild, Nathan 89 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 43, 96, 104, 137 Royal Institution 221 rubber 220 rule of law 116–18, 325 Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, Count 221 rural to urban migration 158, 188–9, 210, 219–20, 226–7, 231, 406 Ruskin, John 104 Russia, post-Soviet 14; oil and gas production 31, 37; population decline 205 Russia, prehistoric 71, 73 Russia, Tsarist 216, 229, 324 Rwanda 14, 316 rye 124, 125, 199, 224, 286 Sachs, Jeffrey 208 Saddam Hussein 161 Sahel region 123, 334 Sahlins, Marshall 133, 135 Sahul (landmass) 66, 67 Salisbury, Wiltshire 194 Salk, Jonas 38, 261 salmon 297 Salmon, Cecil 142 saltpetre 140 Sanger, Frederick 412 Sanskrit 129 São Paulo 190, 315 Sargon of Akkad 164 SARS virus 307, 310 satellites 252, 253 satnav (satellite navigation systems) 268 Saudi Arabia 238 Saunders, Peter 102 Schumpeter, Joseph 113–14, 227, 260, 276, 302 science, and innovation 255–8, 412 Scientific American 280 Scotland 103, 199–200, 227, 263, 315 scrub jays 87 scurvy 14, 258 sea level, changes in 128, 314, 333–4 Seabright, Paul 93, 138 seals (for denoting property) 130 search engines 245, 256, 267 Second World War 289 segregation, racial 108 Seine, River 215 self-sufficiency 8, 33–5, 39, 82, 90, 133, 192, 193, 351; and poverty 41–2, 132, 200, 202, 226–7 selfishness 86, 87, 93–4, 96, 102, 103, 104, 106, 292 Sematech (non-profit consortium) 267–8 Sentinelese people 67 serendipity 257, 346 serfs 181–2, 222 serotonin 156, 294 sexism 104, 136 sexual division of labour 61–5, 136, 376 sexual reproduction 2, 6, 7, 45, 56, 271; of ideas 6–7, 270–72 Sforza, house of 184 Shady, Ruth 162 Shakespeare, William 2; The Merchant of Venice 101, 102 Shang dynasty 166 Shapiro, Carl 265 sheep 97, 176, 194, 197 Shell (corporation) 111 shellfish 52, 53, 62, 64, 79, 92, 93, 127, 163, 167 Shennan, Stephen 83, 133 Shermer, Michael 101, 106, 118 ship-building 185, 229; see also boat-building shipping, container 113, 253, 386 Shirky, Clay 356 Shiva, Vandana 156 Siberia 145 Sicily 171, 173, 178 Sidon 167, 170 Siemens, William 234 Sierra Leone 14, 316 Silesia 222 silicon chips 245, 263, 267–8 Silicon Valley 221–2, 224, 257, 258, 259, 268 silk 37, 46, 172, 175, 178, 179, 184, 187, 225 Silk Road 182 silver 31, 132, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 171, 177, 183–4, 213 Silver, Lee 122–3 Simon, Julian 83, 280, 303 Singapore 31, 160, 187 Skhul, Israel 53 slash-and-burn farming 87, 130 slave trade 167, 170, 177, 229, 319, 380; abolition 214, 221 slavery 34, 214–15, 216, 407; ancient Greece 171; hunter-gatherer societies 45, 92; Mesopotamia 160; Roman empire 174, 176, 214; United States 216, 228–9, 415; see also anti-slavery sleeping sickness 310, 319 Slovakia 136 smallpox 13, 14, 135, 310; vaccine 221 smelting 131–2, 160, 230 smiling 2, 94 Smith, Adam 8, 80, 96, 101, 104, 199, 249, 272, 350; Das Adam Smith Problem 93–4; Theory of Moral Sentiments 93; The Wealth of Nations vii, 37–8, 39, 56, 57, 93, 123, 236, 283 Smith, Vernon 9, 90, 192 smoke, indoor 13, 338, 342, 353, 429 smoking 297, 298 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act 186 soap 176, 215 social networking websites 262, 268, 356 socialism 106, 115, 357, 406 software, computer 99, 257, 272–3, 304, 356 solar energy 216, 243, 244 solar power 234–5, 238, 239, 245–6, 343, 344–5, 408 solar wind 346 solid-state electronics 257 Solomon, Robert 94 Solow, Robert 276 Somalia 14, 316, 337, 353 songbirds 55 Sony (corporation) 261 sorghum 126, 156 South Africa: agriculture 154; economy 316, 322; life expectancy 316; pre-historic 52, 53, 54, 83 South Korea 15, 31, 116–17, 187, 212, 322 South Sea Company 29 Southey, Robert 284–5 Soviet Union 16, 107, 109, 289, 299, 318, 324 soybeans 147, 148, 155, 156, 242 space travel 268–9, 275, 282 Spain: agriculture 129; climate 334; Franco regime 186, 289; Peruvian silver 30–31, 183–4; tariffs 222 spears 6, 43, 48, 50, 52, 70, 80, 81, 91 specialisation: by sex 61–5, 136, 376; and division of labour 7, 33, 38, 46, 61–5, 175; and exchange 7, 10, 33, 35, 37–8, 46, 56, 58, 75, 90, 132–3, 350–52, 355, 358–9; and innovation 56, 71–2, 73–4, 76–7, 119, 251; and population growth 192–3, 351; and rule of law 116, 117–18 speech 2, 55; see also language Spencer, Herbert 108 Spengler, Oswald 289 sperm counts 280, 293, 329 spice trade 167, 175, 176, 177, 179, 185 Spinoza, Baruch de 116 Sputnik 282 squashes (vegetables) 126, 163 Sri Lanka 35, 38, 66, 205, 208, 299 Stalin, Joseph 16, 262 stamp seals 130 Stangler, Dane 294 steam engines 126, 214, 221, 228, 231–2, 244, 256, 258, 270, 271, 413–14 steamships 139, 253, 283 Stein, Gil 159 Stein, Herb 281 stem-cell research 358 Stephenson, George 256, 412 Steptoe, Patrick 306 sterilisation, coerced 203–4 Stern (magazine) 304 Stern, Nicholas, Baron 330–31, 332, 425 Stiner, Mary 64, 69 storms 314, 333, 335 Strabo 174 string 70 strokes (cerebral accidents) 18 Strong, Maurice 311 Subramanian, Arvind 317 subsidies: farming 188, 328; renewable energy supplies 344 subsistence farming 87, 138, 175–6, 189, 192, 199–200 substantivism 164–5 suburbia 108, 110, 190 Sudan 316 suffrage, universal 107 sugar 179, 202, 215 sugar beet 243 sugar cane 240, 241, 242 Sun Microsystems (corporation) 259 Sunda (landmass) 66 sunflowers 126 Sungir, Russia 71, 73 superconductivity, high-temperature 257 Superior, Lake 131 supermarkets 36, 112, 148, 268, 292, 297 surfboards 273 Sussex 285 Swan, Sir Joseph 234, 272 Swaziland 14 Sweden 17, 184, 229, 305, 340, 344 Swift, Jonathan 121, 240 Switzerland 264 swords, Japanese 198–9 Sybaris 170–71 symbiosis 75, 351 synergy 6, 101 Syria 124, 130, 164, 174 Szilard, Leo 412 Tahiti 169 Taiwan 31, 187, 219, 322 Talheim, Germany 138 Tanzania 316, 325, 327–8; Hadza people 61, 63, 87 Tapscott, Don 262 Tarde, Gabriel 5 tariffs 185–7, 188, 222–3 taro (vegetable plant) 126 Tartessians 169 Tasman, Abel 80 Tasmania 78–81, 83–4 Tattersall, Ian 73 Taverne, Dick, Baron 103 taxation: carbon taxes 346; and charitable giving 319; and consumption 27; and declining birth rates 211; early development of 160; and housing 25; and innovation 255; and intergenerational transfer 30; Mauryan empire 172; Roman empire 184; United States 25 Taylor, Barbara 103 tea 181, 182, 183, 202, 327, 392 telegraph 252–3, 257, 272, 412 telephones 252, 261; charges 22–3, 253; mobile 37, 252, 257, 261, 265, 267, 297, 326–7 television 38, 234, 252, 268 Telford, Thomas 221 Tennessee Valley Authority 326 termites 75–6 terrorism 8, 28, 296, 358 Tesco (retail corporation) 112 Tesla, Nikola 234 text messaging 292, 356 Thailand 320, 322 Thales of Miletus 171 Thames, River 17 thermodynamics 3, 244, 256 Thiel, Peter 262 Thiele, Bob 349 Thoreau, Henry David 33, 190 3M (corporation) 261, 263 threshing 124, 125, 130, 153, 198; machines 139, 283 thumbs, opposable 4, 51–2 Thwaites, Thomas 34–5 Tiberius, Roman emperor 174, 259 tidal and wave power 246, 343, 344 Tierra del Fuego 45, 62, 81–2, 91–2, 137 tigers 146, 240 timber 167, 216, 229; trade 158, 159, 180, 202 time saving 7, 22–4, 34–5, 123 Timurid empire 161 tin 132, 165, 167, 168, 213, 223, 303 ‘tipping points’ 287–9, 290, 291, 293, 301–2, 311, 329 Tiwi people 81 Tokyo 190, 198 Tol, Richard 331 Tooby, John 57 tool making: early Homo sapiens 53, 70, 71; machine tools 211, 221; Mesopotamian 159, 160; Neanderthals 55, 71, 378; Palaeolithic hominids 2, 4, 7, 48–51; technological regress 80 Torres Strait islanders 63–4, 81 tortoises 64, 68, 69, 376 totalitarianism 104, 109, 181–2, 290 toucans 146 Toulouse 222 Townes, Charles 272 ‘toy trade’ 223 Toynbee, Arnold 102–3 tractors 140, 153, 242 trade: and agriculture 123, 126, 127–33, 159, 163–4; early human development of 70–75, 89–93, 133–4, 159–60, 165; female-centred 88–9; and industrialisation 224–6; and innovation 168, 171; and property rights 324–5; and trust 98–100, 103; and urbanisation 158–61, 163–4, 167; see also bartering; exchange; markets trade unions and guilds 113, 115, 223, 226 trademarks 264 traffic congestion 296 tragedy of the commons 203, 324 Trajan, Roman Emperor 161 transistors 271 transport costs 22, 23, 24, 37, 229, 230, 253, 297, 408 transport speeds 22, 252, 253, 270, 283–4, 286, 287, 296 trebuchets 275 Tressell, Robert 288 Trevithick, Richard 221, 256 Trippe, Juan 24 Trobriand islands 58 trust: between strangers 88–9, 93, 94–8, 104; and trade 98–100, 103, 104; within families 87–8, 89, 91 Tswana people 321, 322 tungsten 213 Turchin, Peter 182 Turkey 69, 130, 137 Turnbull, William (farm worker) 219 Turner, Adair, Baron 411 turning points in history, belief in 287–9, 290, 291, 293, 301–2, 311, 329 Tuscany 178 Tyneside 231 typhoid 14, 157, 310 typhus 14, 299, 310 Tyre 167, 168–9, 170, 328 Ubaid period 158–9, 160 Uganda 154, 187, 316 Ukraine 71, 129 Ulrich, Bernd 304 Ultimatum Game 86–7 unemployment 8, 28, 114, 186, 289, 296 United Nations (UN) 15, 40, 205, 206, 290, 402, 429 United States: affluence 12, 16–17, 113, 117; agriculture 139, 140–41, 142, 219–20; biofuel production 240, 241, 242; birth rates 211, 212; civil rights movement 108, 109; copyright and patent systems 265, 266; credit crunch (2008) 9, 28–9; energy use 239, 245; GDP, per capita 23, 31; Great Depression (1930s) 31, 109, 192; happiness 26–7; immigration 108, 199–200, 202, 259; income equality 18–19; industrialisation 219; life expectancy 298; New Deal 109; oil supplies 237–8; pollution levels 17, 279, 304–5; poverty 16–17, 315, 326; productivity 112–13, 117; property rights 323; rural to urban migration 219; slavery 216, 228–9, 415; tax system 25, 111, 241; trade 186, 201, 228 Upper Palaeolithic Revolution 73, 83, 235 urbanisation: and development of agriculture 128, 158–9, 163–4; global urban population totals 158, 189, 190; and population growth 209–210; and trade 158–61, 163–4, 167, 189–90; see also rural to urban migration Uruguay 186 Uruk, Mesopotamia 159–61, 216 vaccines 17, 287, 310; polio 261, 275; smallpox 221 Vandals 175 Vanderbilt, Cornelius 17, 23, 24 vCJD (mad-cow disease) 280, 308 Veblen, Thorstein 102 Veenhoven, Ruut 28 vegetarianism 83, 126, 147, 376 Venezuela 31, 61, 238 Venice 115, 178–9 venture capitalists 223, 258, 259 Veron, Charlie 339–40 Victoria, Lake 250 Victoria, Queen 322 Vienna exhibition (1873) 233–4 Vietnam 15, 183, 188 Vikings 176 violence: decline in 14, 106, 201; homicide 14, 20, 85, 88, 106, 118, 201; in pre-industrial societies 44–5, 136, 137–9; random 104 Visby, Gotland 180 vitamin A 353 vitamin C 258 vitamin D 129 Vivaldi, Antonio 115 Vladimir, Russia 71 Vogel, Orville 142 Vogelherd, Germany 70 voles 97 Voltaire 96, 103, 104, 256 Wagner, Charles 288 Wal-Mart (retail corporation) 21, 112–14, 263 Wales 132 Wall Street (film) 101 Walton, Sam 112–13, 263 Wambugu, Florence 154 war: in Africa 316; in hunter-gatherer societies 44–5; threat of nuclear war 280, 290, 299–300; twentieth-century world wars 289, 309; unilateral declarations of 104 water: contaminated 338, 353, 429; pricing of 148; supplies 147, 280, 281, 324, 334–5; see also droughts; irrigation water snakes 17 watermills 176, 194, 198, 215, 216–17, 234 Watson, Thomas 282 Watt, James 221, 244, 256, 271, 411, 413–14 wave and tidal power 246, 343, 344 weather forecasting 3, 4, 335 weather-related death rates 335–6 Wedgwood, Josiah 105, 114, 225, 256 Wedgwood, Sarah 105 weed control 145, 152 Weiss, George David 349 Weitzman, Martin 332–3 Welch, Jack 261 welfare benefits 16, 106 Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of 89 Wells, H.G. 65, 313, 352, 354 West Germany 289–90 West Indies 202, 216, 310 Western Union (company) 261 Westinghouse, George 234 whales 6, 281, 302 whaling 87, 185, 281 wheat 42, 71, 124, 125, 129, 139, 140, 146–7, 149, 153, 156, 158, 161, 167, 300–301; new varieties 141–3 Wheeler, Sir Mortimer 162 wheels, invention of 176, 274 Whitehead, Alfred North 255 Wikipedia (online encyclopedia) 99, 115, 273, 356 Wilberforce, William 105, 214 Wilder, Thornton 359 wilderness land, expansion of 144, 147, 148, 239, 337–8, 347, 359 wildlife conservation 324, 329 William III, King 223 Williams, Anthony 262 Williams, Joseph 254 Williams, Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury 102 Wilson, Bart 90, 324 Wilson, E.O. 243, 293 Wiltshire 194 wind power 239, 246, 343–4, 346, 408 wolves 87, 137 women’s liberation 108–9 wool 37, 149, 158, 167, 178, 179, 194, 224 working conditions, improvements in 106–7, 114, 115, 188, 219–20, 227, 285 World Bank 117, 203, 317 World Health Organisation 336–7, 421 World Wide Web 273, 356 World3 (computer model) 302–3 Wrangham, Richard 59, 60 Wright brothers 261, 264 Wright, Robert 101, 175 Wrigley, Tony 231 Y2K computer bug 280, 290, 341 Yahgan Indians 62 Yahoo (corporation) 268 Yangtze river 181, 199, 230 Yeats, W.B. 289 yellow fever 310 Yellow river 161, 167 Yemen 207, 209 Yir Yoront aborigines 90–91 Yong-Le, Chinese emperor 183, 184, 185 Yorkshire 285 Young, Allyn 276 young people, pessimism about 292 Young, Thomas 221 Younger Dryas (climatic period) 125 Yucatan 335 Zak, Paul 94–5, 97 Zambia 28, 154, 316, 317, 318, 331 zero, invention of 173, 251 zero-sum thinking 101 Zimbabwe 14, 28, 117, 302, 316 zinc 213, 303 Zuckerberg, Mark 262 Acknowledgements It is one of the central arguments of this book that the special feature of human intelligence is that it is collective, not individual – thanks to the invention of exchange and specialisation.


pages: 349 words: 134,041

Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives by Satyajit Das

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Brownian motion, business process, buy low sell high, call centre, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, fixed income, Haight Ashbury, high net worth, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index card, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass affluent, merger arbitrage, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Journalism, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, technology bubble, the medium is the message, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Vanguard fund, volatility smile, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond

Trend chasers, ‘mo’ (momentum) buyers, kept buying because they kept making money; nobody could explain the overvaluation; the doomsayer’s position became untenable and, puzzled by the duration of overvaluation, even intelligent and honest analysts eventually succumbed, evolving complex theories of why it was different this time. The overvaluation was sustainable after all. Theories of the ‘new economy’ and the good returns allowed suspension of reality for a little longer but eventually, the Ponzi scheme collapsed.3 Every rising market is driven by a new paradigm, every crash is the same as the last crash. In 2001, the Internet bubble burst. The NASDAQ index fell 80%. Eliot Spitzer and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) belatedly took up the issue of the analysts and some were banned from the securities industry. They paid fines but had earned huge financial rewards during the boom.

The Kyoto Protocol was coming in – ‘carbon’ trading would explode. 12_NOTES.QXD 17/2/06 4:43 pm Page 321 Notes Chapter 1 Financial WMDs – derivatives demagoguery 1 ‘What Worries Warren’ (3 March 2003) Fortune. 2 Quoted in David James ‘Wot’s all this then, Alan?’ (10–16 July 2003) BRW. 3 Remarks at the Futures Industry Association, Boca Raton, Florida (19 March 1999). Chapter 2 Beautiful lies – the ‘sell’ side 1 Quoted in Frank Partnoy (2004) Infectious Greed; Owl Books, New York, p. 55. 2 Sun Tzu (translated by Thomas Cleary) (1988) The Art of War; Shambala, Boston & London. 3 Ponzi schemes are a type of illegal pyramid scheme. They are named after Charles Ponzi, who duped thousands of New England residents into investing in a speculative scheme in the 1920s. The basic scheme offers high returns to investors and relies on using money from new investors to pay off earlier investors, until the whole thing collapses. 4 Quoted in Frank Partnoy (2004) Infectious Greed; Owl Books, New York, p. 83. 5 Morgan Stanley’s settlement is described in ‘Frustration’ (17 July 2004) The Economist, pp. 68–9. 6 Michael Lewis ‘How the Eggheads Cracked’ (24 January 1999) New York Times Magazine, pp. 24–42.


pages: 311 words: 130,761

Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America by Diana Elizabeth Kendall

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Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, declining real wages, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, ending welfare as we know it, framing effect, Georg Cantor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, haute couture, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, lump of labour, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working poor

Farkas, former chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lending firms, of “masterminding a fraud scheme that cheated investors and the federal government out of billions of dollars and led to the failure of Colonial Bank.”3 According to the article, Farkas perpetrated the fraud by setting up an elaborate shell game that involved covering up the lender’s losses by creating fake mortgages and passing them along to private investors and government agencies: “Mr. Farkas pocketed at least $20 million from the fraud, which he used to finance a private jet and a lavish lifestyle that included five homes and a collection of vintage cars, prosecutors said.”4 Similarly, media sources have described R. Allen Stanford, a Texas financier who defrauded investors in a massive $8 billion Ponzi scheme, as a “billionaire inmate” with a net worth of $2.2 billion who possesses $100 million in private jets, a yacht he paid $100,000 a week to rent, and a fully stocked, professional kitchen in his company’s Houston headquarters.5 Media descriptions of upper-class crime and the excessive patterns of consumption that typically accompany it may influence ordinary people’s perceptions of how the rich live and the gratification they receive from acquiring more and more luxury possessions such as private jets, yachts, and mansions.

Subsequent investigation reveals that the victim “was trapped inside the car’s windshield after the accident and that the driver—a high profile publicist—left the man dying in her garage” before disposing of the body.71 “Darwinian” uses what Law & Order refers to as a “rippedfrom-the-headlines” plot that combines two real criminal cases, one in which a woman (of more modest means than in the TV show) left a man to die on her windshield after hitting him with her car and a second involving a wellknown society publicist convicted on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident after she backed her Mercedes SUV into a group of people going to a night club. This episode is characteristic of the bad-apple messages that Law & Order and other crime dramas send to viewers.72 When Bernard (“Bernie”) Madoff was accused of perpetrating a $65 billion fraud in a Ponzi scheme, set up through Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, that cost many investors their life savings, a Law & Order episode combined elements of his crimes with the murder of a television reporter: While investigating the murder of television reporter Dawn Prescott, detectives Lupo and Bernard discover that she was involved in a love triangle involving 9781442202238.print.indb 75 2/10/11 10:46 AM 76 Chapter 3 another reporter at the station.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

The labor movement has never been perfect, but I respect it and am grateful for the improvements it has brought to our world. Despite my favorable regard for organized labor, for the purposes of this book I have to focus somewhat on certain failings. The problems of interest to me are not really with the labor movement, but with the nature of levees. What might be called “upper-class levees,” like exclusive investment funds, have been known to blur into Ponzi schemes or other criminal enterprises, and the same pattern exists for levees at all levels. Levees are more human than algorithmic, and that is not an entirely good thing. Whether for the rich or the middle class, levees are inevitably a little conspiratorial, and conspiracy naturally attracts corruption. Criminals easily exploited certain classic middle-class levees; the mob famously infiltrated unions and repurposed music royalties as a money-laundering scheme.

., 75, 91, 266–67 New York Times, 109 Nobel Prize, 40, 118, 143n nodes, network, 156, 227, 230, 241–43, 350 “no free lunch” principle, 55–56, 59–60 nondeterministic music, 23n nonlinear solutions, 149–50 nonprofit share sites, 59n, 94–95 nostalgia, 129–32 NRO, 199–200 nuclear power, 133 nuclear weapons, 127, 296 nursing, 97–100, 123, 296n nursing homes, 97–100, 269 Obama, Barack, 79, 100 “Obamacare,” 100n obsolescence, 89, 95 oil resources, 43, 133 online stores, 171 Ono, Yoko, 212 ontologies, 124n, 196 open-source applications, 206, 207, 272, 310–11 optical illusions, 121 optimism, 32–35, 45, 130, 138–40, 218, 230n, 295 optimization, 144–47, 148, 153, 154–55, 167, 202, 203 Oracle, 265 Orbitz, 63, 64, 65 organ donors, 190, 191 ouroboros, 154 outcomes, economic, 40–41, 144–45 outsourcing, 177–78, 185 Owens, Buck, 256 packet switching, 228–29 Palmer, Amanda, 186–87 Pandora, 192 panopticons, 308 papacy, 190 paper money, 34n parallel computers, 147–48, 149, 151 paranoia, 309 Parrish, Maxfield, 214 particle interactions, 196 party machines, 202 Pascal, Blaise, 132, 139 Pascal’s Wager, 139 passwords, 307, 309 “past-oriented money,” 29–31, 35, 284–85 patterns, information, 178, 183, 184, 188–89 Paul, Ron, 33n Pauli exclusion principle, 181, 202 PayPal, 60, 93, 326 peasants, 565 pensions, 95, 99 Perestroika (Kushner), 165 “perfect investments,” 59–67, 77–78 performances, musical, 47–48, 51, 186–87, 253 perpetual motion, 55 Persian Gulf, 86 personal computers (PCs), 158, 182n, 214, 223, 229 personal information systems, 110, 312–16, 317 Pfizer, 265 pharmaceuticals industry, 66–67, 100–106, 123, 136, 203 philanthropy, 117 photography, 53, 89n, 92, 94, 309–11, 318, 319, 321 photo-sharing services, 53 physical trades, 292 physicians, 66–67 physics, 88, 153n, 167n Picasso, Pablo, 108 Pinterest, 180–81, 183 Pirate Party, 49, 199, 206, 226, 253, 284, 318 placebos, 112 placement fees, 184 player pianos, 160–61 plutocracy, 48, 291–94, 355 police, 246, 310, 311, 319–21, 335 politics, 13–18, 21, 22–25, 47–48, 85, 122, 124–26, 128, 134–37, 149–51, 155, 167, 199–234, 295–96, 342 see also conservatism; liberalism; libertarianism Ponzi schemes, 48 Popper, Karl, 189n popular culture, 111–12, 130, 137–38, 139, 159 “populating the stack,” 273 population, 17, 34n, 86, 97–100, 123, 125, 132, 133, 269, 296n, 325–26, 346 poverty, 37–38, 42, 44, 53–54, 93–94, 137, 148, 167, 190, 194, 253, 256, 263, 290, 291–92 power, personal, 13–15, 53, 60, 62–63, 86, 114, 116, 120, 122, 158, 166, 172–73, 175, 190, 199, 204, 207, 208, 278–79, 290, 291, 302–3, 308–9, 314, 319, 326, 344, 360 Presley, Elvis, 211 Priceline, 65 pricing strategies, 1–2, 43, 60–66, 72–74, 145, 147–48, 158, 169–74, 226, 261, 272–75, 289, 317–24, 331, 337–38 printers, 90, 99, 154, 162, 212, 269, 310–11, 316, 331, 347, 348, 349 privacy, 1–2, 11, 13–15, 25, 50–51, 64, 99, 108–9, 114–15, 120–21, 152, 177n, 199–200, 201, 204, 206–7, 234–35, 246, 272, 291, 305, 309–13, 314, 315–16, 317, 319–24 privacy rights, 13–15, 25, 204, 305, 312–13, 314, 315–16, 321–22 product design and development, 85–89, 117–20, 128, 136–37, 145, 154, 236 productivity, 7, 56–57, 134–35 profit margins, 59n, 71–72, 76–78, 94–95, 116, 177n, 178, 179, 207, 258, 274–75, 321–22 progress, 9–18, 20, 21, 37, 43, 48, 57, 88, 98, 123, 124–40, 130–37, 256–57, 267, 325–31, 341–42 promotions, 62 property values, 52 proprietary hardware, 172 provenance, 245–46, 247, 338 pseudo-asceticism, 211–12 public libraries, 293 public roads, 79–80 publishers, 62n, 92, 182, 277–78, 281, 347, 352–60 punishing vs. rewarding network effects, 169–74, 182, 183 quants, 75–76 quantum field theory, 167n, 195 QuNeo, 117, 118, 119 Rabois, Keith, 185 “race to the bottom,” 178 radiant risk, 61–63, 118–19, 120, 156, 183–84 Ragnarok, 30 railroads, 43, 172 Rand, Ayn, 167, 204 randomness, 143 rationality, 144 Reagan, Ronald, 149 real estate, 33, 46, 49–52, 61, 78, 95–96, 99, 193, 224, 227, 239, 245, 255, 274n, 289n, 296, 298, 300, 301 reality, 55–56, 59–60, 124n, 127–28, 154–56, 161, 165–68, 194–95, 203–4, 216–17, 295–303, 364–65 see also Virtual Reality (VR) reason, 195–96 recessions, economic, 31, 54, 60, 76–77, 79, 151–52, 167, 204, 311, 336–37 record labels, 347 recycling, 88, 89 Reddit, 118n, 186, 254 reductionism, 184 regulation, economic, 37–38, 44, 45–46, 49–50, 54, 56, 69–70, 77–78, 266n, 274, 299–300, 311, 321–22, 350–51 relativity theory, 167n religion, 124–25, 126, 131, 139, 190, 193–95, 211–17, 293, 300n, 326 remote computers, 11–12 rents, 144 Republican Party, 79, 202 research and development, 40–45, 85–89, 117–20, 128, 136–37, 145, 154, 215, 229–30, 236 retail sector, 69, 70–74, 95–96, 169–74, 272, 349–51, 355–56 retirement, 49, 150 revenue growth plans, 173n revenues, 149, 149, 150, 151, 173n, 225, 234–35, 242, 347–48 reversible computers, 143n revolutions, 199, 291, 331 rhythm, 159–62 Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Kiyosaki), 46 risk, 54, 55, 57, 59–63, 71–72, 85, 117, 118–19, 120, 156, 170–71, 179, 183–84, 188, 242, 277–81, 284, 337, 350 externalization of, 59n, 117, 277–81 risk aversion, 188 risk pools, 277–81, 284 risk radiation, 61–63, 118–19, 120, 156, 183–84 robo call centers, 177n robotic cars, 90–92 robotics, robots, 11, 12, 17, 23, 42, 55, 85–86, 90–92, 97–100, 111, 129, 135–36, 155, 157, 162, 260, 261, 269, 296n, 342, 359–60 Roman Empire, 24–25 root nodes, 241 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 129 Rousseau humor, 126, 129, 130–31 routers, 171–72 royalties, 47, 240, 254, 263–64, 323, 338 Rubin, Edgar, 121 rupture, 66–67 salaries, 10, 46–47, 50–54, 152, 178, 270–71, 287–88, 291–94, 338–39, 365 sampling, 71–72, 191, 221, 224–26, 259 San Francisco, University of, 190 satellites, 110 savings, 49, 72–74 scalable solutions, 47 scams, 119–21, 186, 275n, 287–88, 299–300 scanned books, 192, 193 SceneTap, 108n Schmidt, Eric, 305n, 352 Schwartz, Peter, 214 science fiction, 18, 126–27, 136, 137–38, 139, 193, 230n, 309, 356n search engines, 51, 60, 70, 81, 120, 191, 267, 289, 293 Second Life, 270, 343 Secret, The (Byrne), 216 securitization, 76–78, 99, 289n security, 14–15, 175, 239–40, 305–8, 345 self-actualization, 211–17 self-driving vehicles, 90–92, 98, 311, 343, 367 servants, 22 servers, 12n, 15, 31, 53–57, 71–72, 95–96, 143–44, 171, 180, 183, 206, 245, 358 see also Siren Servers “Sexy Sadie,” 213 Shakur, Tupac, 329 Shelley, Mary, 327 Short History of Progress, A (Wright), 132 “shrinking markets,” 66–67 shuttles, 22, 23n, 24 signal-processing algorithms, 76–78, 148 silicon chips, 10, 86–87 Silicon Valley, 12, 13, 14, 21, 34n, 56, 59, 60, 66–67, 70, 71, 75–76, 80, 93, 96–97, 100, 102, 108n, 125n, 132, 136, 154, 157, 162, 170, 179–89, 192, 193, 200, 207, 210, 211–18, 228, 230, 233, 258, 275n, 294, 299–300, 325–31, 345, 349, 352, 354–58 singularity, 22–25, 125, 215, 217, 327–28, 366, 367 Singularity University, 193, 325, 327–28 Sirenic Age, 66n, 354 Siren Servers, 53–57, 59, 61–64, 65, 66n, 69–78, 82, 91–99, 114–19, 143–48, 154–56, 166–89, 191, 200, 201, 203, 210n, 216, 235, 246–50, 258, 259, 269, 271, 272, 280, 285, 289, 293–94, 298, 301, 302–3, 307–10, 314–23, 326, 336–51, 354, 365, 366 Siri, 95 skilled labor, 99–100 Skout, 280n Skype, 95, 129 slavery, 22, 23, 33n Sleeper, 130 small businesses, 173 smartphones, 34n, 39, 162, 172, 192, 269n, 273 Smith, Adam, 121, 126 Smolin, Lee, 148n social contract, 20, 49, 247, 284, 288, 335, 336 social engineering, 112–13, 190–91 socialism, 14, 128, 254, 257, 341n social mobility, 66, 97, 292–94 social networks, 18, 51, 56, 60, 70, 81, 89, 107–9, 113, 114, 129, 167–68, 172–73, 179, 180, 190, 199, 200–201, 202, 204, 227, 241, 242–43, 259, 267, 269n, 274–75, 280n, 286, 307–8, 317, 336, 337, 343, 349, 358, 365–66 see also Facebook social safety nets, 10, 44, 54, 202, 251, 293 Social Security, 251, 345 software, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 68, 86, 99, 100–101, 128, 129, 147, 154, 155, 165, 172–73, 177–78, 182, 192, 234, 236, 241–42, 258, 262, 273–74, 283, 331, 347, 357 software-mediated technology, 7, 11, 14, 86, 100–101, 165, 234, 236, 258, 347 South Korea, 133 Soviet Union, 70 “space elevator pitch,” 233, 342, 361 space travel, 233, 266 Spain, 159–60 spam, 178, 275n spending levels, 287–88 spirituality, 126, 211–17, 325–31, 364 spreadsheet programs, 230 “spy data tax,” 234–35 Square, 185 Stalin, Joseph, 125n Stanford Research Institute (SRI), 215 Stanford University, 60, 75, 90, 95, 97, 101, 102, 103, 162, 325 Starr, Ringo, 256 Star Trek, 138, 139, 230n startup companies, 39, 60, 69, 93–94, 108n, 124n, 136, 179–89, 265, 274n, 279–80, 309–10, 326, 341, 343–45, 348, 352, 355 starvation, 123 Star Wars, 137 star (winner-take-all) system, 38–43, 50, 54–55, 204, 243, 256–57, 263, 329–30 statistics, 11, 20, 71–72, 75–78, 90–91, 93, 110n, 114–15, 186, 192 “stickiness,” 170, 171 stimulus, economic, 151–52 stoplights, 90 Strangelove humor, 127 student debt, 92, 95 “Study 27,” 160 “Study 36,” 160 Sumer, 29 supergoop, 85–89 supernatural phenomena, 55, 124–25, 127, 132, 192, 194–95, 300 supply chain, 70–72, 174, 187 Supreme Court, U.S., 104–5 surgery, 11–13, 17, 18, 98, 157–58, 363 surveillance, 1–2, 11, 14, 50–51, 64, 71–72, 99, 108–9, 114–15, 120–21, 152, 177n, 199–200, 201, 206–7, 234–35, 246, 272, 291, 305, 309–11, 315, 316, 317, 319–24 Surviving Progress, 132 sustainable economies, 235–37, 285–87 Sutherland, Ivan, 221 swarms, 99, 109 synthesizers, 160 synthetic biology, 162 tablets, 85, 86, 87, 88, 113, 162, 229 Tahrir Square, 95 Tamagotchis, 98 target ads, 170 taxation, 44, 45, 49, 52, 60, 74–75, 77, 82, 149, 149, 150, 151, 202, 210, 234–35, 263, 273, 289–90 taxis, 44, 91–92, 239, 240, 266–67, 269, 273, 311 Teamsters, 91 TechCrunch, 189 tech fixes, 295–96 technical schools, 96–97 technologists (“techies”), 9–10, 15–16, 45, 47–48, 66–67, 88, 122, 124, 131–32, 134, 139–40, 157–62, 165–66, 178, 193–94, 295–98, 307, 309, 325–31, 341, 342, 356n technology: author’s experience in, 47–48, 62n, 69–72, 93–94, 114, 130, 131–32, 153, 158–62, 178, 206–7, 228, 265, 266–67, 309–10, 325, 328, 343, 352–53, 362n, 364, 365n, 366 bio-, 11–13, 17, 18, 109–10, 162, 330–31 chaos and, 165–66, 273n, 331 collusion in, 65–66, 72, 169–74, 255, 350–51 complexity of, 53–54 costs of, 8, 18, 72–74, 87n, 136–37, 170–71, 176–77, 184–85 creepiness of, 305–24 cultural impact of, 8–9, 21, 23–25, 53, 130, 135–40 development and emergence of, 7–18, 21, 53–54, 60–61, 66–67, 85–86, 87, 97–98, 129–38, 157–58, 182, 188–90, 193–96, 217 digital, 2–3, 7–8, 15–16, 18, 31, 40, 43, 50–51, 132, 208 economic impact of, 1–3, 15–18, 29–30, 37, 40, 53–54, 60–66, 71–74, 79–110, 124, 134–37, 161, 162, 169–77, 181–82, 183, 184–85, 218, 254, 277–78, 298, 335–39, 341–51, 357–58 educational, 92–97 efficiency of, 90, 118, 191 employment in, 56–57, 60, 71–74, 79, 123, 135, 178 engineering for, 113–14, 123–24, 192, 194, 217, 218, 326 essential vs. worthless, 11–12 failure of, 188–89 fear of (technophobia), 129–32, 134–38 freedom as issue in, 32–33, 90–92, 277–78, 336 government influence in, 158, 199, 205–6, 234–35, 240, 246, 248–51, 307, 317, 341, 345–46, 350–51 human agency and, 8–21, 50–52, 85, 88, 91, 124–40, 144, 165–66, 175–78, 191–92, 193, 217, 253–64, 274–75, 283–85, 305–6, 328, 341–51, 358–60, 361, 362, 365–67 ideas for, 123, 124, 158, 188–89, 225, 245–46, 286–87, 299, 358–60 industrial, 49, 83, 85–89, 123, 132, 154, 343 information, 7, 32–35, 49, 66n, 71–72, 109, 110, 116, 120, 125n, 126, 135, 136, 254, 312–16, 317 investment in, 66, 181, 183, 184, 218, 277–78, 298, 348 limitations of, 157–62, 196, 222 monopolies for, 60, 65–66, 169–74, 181–82, 187–88, 190, 202, 326, 350 morality and, 50–51, 72, 73–74, 188, 194–95, 262, 335–36 motivation and, 7–18, 85–86, 97–98, 216 nano-, 11, 12, 17, 162 new vs. old, 20–21 obsolescence of, 89, 97 political impact of, 13–18, 22–25, 85, 122, 124–26, 128, 134–37, 199–234, 295–96, 342 progress in, 9–18, 20, 21, 37, 43, 48, 57, 88, 98, 123, 124–40, 130–37, 256–57, 267, 325–31, 341–42 resources for, 55–56, 157–58 rupture as concept in, 66–67 scams in, 119–21, 186, 275n, 287–88, 299–300 singularity of, 22–25, 125, 215, 217, 327–28, 366, 367 social impact of, 9–21, 124–40, 167n, 187, 280–81, 310–11 software-mediated, 7, 11, 14, 86, 100–101, 165, 234, 236, 258, 347 startup companies in, 39, 60, 69, 93–94, 108n, 124n, 136, 179–89, 265, 274n, 279–80, 309–10, 326, 341, 343–45, 348, 352, 355 utopian, 13–18, 21, 31, 37–38, 45–46, 96, 128, 130, 167, 205, 207, 265, 267, 270, 283, 290, 291, 308–9, 316 see also specific technologies technophobia, 129–32, 134–38 television, 86, 185–86, 191, 216, 267 temperature, 56, 145 Ten Commandments, 300n Terminator, The, 137 terrorism, 133, 200 Tesla, Nikola, 327 Texas, 203 text, 162, 352–60 textile industry, 22, 23n, 24, 135 theocracy, 194–95 Theocracy humor, 124–25 thermodynamics, 88, 143n Thiel, Peter, 60, 93, 326 thought experiments, 55, 139 thought schemas, 13 3D printers, 7, 85–89, 90, 99, 154, 162, 212, 269, 310–11, 316, 331, 347, 348, 349 Thrun, Sebastian, 94 Tibet, 214 Time Machine, The (Wells), 127, 137, 261, 331 topology, network, 241–43, 246 touchscreens, 86 tourism, 79 Toyota Prius, 302 tracking services, 109, 120–21, 122 trade, 29 traffic, 90–92, 314 “tragedy of the commons,” 66n Transformers, 98 translation services, 19–20, 182, 191, 195, 261, 262, 284, 338 transparency, 63–66, 74–78, 118, 176, 190–91, 205–6, 278, 291, 306–9, 316, 336 transportation, 79–80, 87, 90–92, 123, 258 travel agents, 64 Travelocity, 65 travel sites, 63, 64, 65, 181, 279–80 tree-shaped networks, 241–42, 243, 246 tribal dramas, 126 trickle-down effect, 148–49, 204 triumphalism, 128, 157–62 tropes (humors), 124–40, 157, 170, 230 trust, 32–34, 35, 42, 51–52 Turing, Alan, 127–28, 134 Turing’s humor, 127–28, 191–94 Turing Test, 330 Twitter, 128, 173n, 180, 182, 188, 199, 200n, 201, 204, 245, 258, 259, 349, 365n 2001: A Space Odyssey, 137 two-way links, 1–2, 227, 245, 289 underemployment, 257–58 unemployment, 7–8, 22, 79, 85–106, 117, 151–52, 234, 257–58, 321–22, 331, 343 “unintentional manipulation,” 144 United States, 25, 45, 54, 79–80, 86, 138, 199–204 universities, 92–97 upper class, 45, 48 used car market, 118–19 user interface, 362–63, 364 utopianism, 13–18, 21, 30, 31, 37–38, 45–46, 96, 128, 130, 167, 205, 207, 265, 267, 270, 283, 290, 291, 308–9, 316 value, economic, 21, 33–35, 52, 61, 64–67, 73n, 108, 283–90, 299–300, 321–22, 364 value, information, 1–3, 15–16, 20, 210, 235–43, 257–58, 259, 261–63, 271–75, 321–24, 358–60 Values, Attitudes, and Lifestyles (VALS), 215 variables, 149–50 vendors, 71–74 venture capital, 66, 181, 218, 277–78, 298, 348 videos, 60, 100, 162, 185–86, 204, 223, 225, 226, 239, 240, 242, 245, 277, 287, 329, 335–36, 349, 354, 356 Vietnam War, 353n vinyl records, 89 viral videos, 185–86 Virtual Reality (VR), 12, 47–48, 127, 129, 132, 158, 162, 214, 283–85, 312–13, 314, 315, 325, 343, 356, 362n viruses, 132–33 visibility, 184, 185–86, 234, 355 visual cognition, 111–12 VitaBop, 100–106, 284n vitamins, 100–106 Voice, The, 185–86 “voodoo economics,” 149 voting, 122, 202–4, 249 Wachowski, Lana, 165 Wall Street, 49, 70, 76–77, 181, 184, 234, 317, 331, 350 Wal-Mart, 69, 70–74, 89, 174, 187, 201 Warhol, Andy, 108 War of the Worlds, The (Wells), 137 water supplies, 17, 18 Watts, Alan, 211–12 Wave, 189 wealth: aggregate or concentration of, 9, 42–43, 53, 60, 61, 74–75, 96, 97, 108, 115, 148, 157–58, 166, 175, 201, 202, 208, 234, 278–79, 298, 305, 335, 355, 360 creation of, 32, 33–34, 46–47, 50–51, 57, 62–63, 79, 92, 96, 120, 148–49, 210, 241–43, 270–75, 291–94, 338–39, 349 inequalities and redistribution of, 20, 37–45, 65–66, 92, 97, 144, 254, 256–57, 274–75, 286–87, 290–94, 298, 299–300 see also income levels weather forecasting, 110, 120, 150 weaving, 22, 23n, 24 webcams, 99, 245 websites, 80, 170, 200, 201, 343 Wells, H.


pages: 288 words: 16,556

Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

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bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, financial innovation, full employment, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, income inequality, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market design, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, profit maximization, quantitative easing, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Vanguard fund, young professional, Zipcar

In his 2010 book No One Would Listen, stock market analyst Harry Markopolos argued that government regulators can be deaf to evidence of nancial excess, even fraud, if the culprit appears to have legitimacy and prestige. The regulators quickly go after small-time crooks, Markopolos argued, but when it comes to large companies, they are “captive to the companies they are supposed to regulate.” Markopolos uncovered substantial evidence that the massive hedge fund run by the respected Wall Street gure Bernard Madoff was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, a fraudulent investment scheme built on a plan for social contagion of enthusiasm among investors. The fund was eventually exposed in 2008. But Markopolos had complained about Mado ’s scheme to the SEC as early as 2000. In 2005, three years before the ultimate collapse of the scheme, Markopolos presented a twenty-one-page document to SEC New York Branch Chief Meaghan Cheung and explained his ndings.

Steel production was to be carried out in backyard furnaces that would be considered laughable by knowledgeable steel industry analysts, but those who understood that had no in uence in China at the time. Of course there was no way to short the Great Leap Forward. As a result of this bubble, agricultural labor and resources were rapidly diverted to industry. The result was massive famine, with tens of millions of deaths.3 The Great Leap Forward also has aspects of a Ponzi scheme. There are reports that Mao Zedong, on visiting a modern steel plant in Manchuria in 1959, became doubtful that the backyard furnaces were a good idea. According to his personal physician and later biographer Li Zhisui, “he gave no order to halt the backyard steel furnaces. The horrible waste of manpower and materials, the useless output from the homemade furnaces, was not his main concern. Mao still did not want to do anything to dampen the enthusiasm of the masses.”4 The Great Leap Forward, as well as the Cultural Revolution that followed it, was essentially a calculated scheme to create a social contagion of ideas.


pages: 442 words: 135,006

ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano

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Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, call centre, credit crunch, double entry bookkeeping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, illegal immigration, Julian Assange, London Interbank Offered Rate, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, open borders, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Steve Jobs, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

His activities soon attract the attention of the FBI, who till then had mostly been used to dealing with the Italo American mafia and weren’t really equipped to deal with the Russians yet. In 1995 Ivan’kov has an extortion on his hands, or rather “a debt collection” of $3.5 million. Aleksandr Volkov and Vladimir Vološin, two Russian businessmen with mysterious pasts working on Wall Street, founded Summit International, an investment company in New York in which the Chara Bank of Moscow invested, $3.5 million. But Volkov and Vološin’s company is nothing but a gigantic Ponzi scheme: The two of them promise creditors, for the most part Russian immigrants, a 120 percent annual interest rate. But in truth they don’t invest anything, spending the money instead on women, travel, and gambling. When the president of Chara Bank asks them to return the money they had “invested,” the two managers refuse. So the Moscow bank asks Ivan’kov for help, and he takes it upon himself to get the money back.

., 38–39 Oficina de Envigado (Office of Envigado), 161–62, 165 Olive Tree Party, 170 omertà code, 340 Onorata Società (Honored Society), 170, 171, 175, 176, 187, 195 Onwumere, Peter Christopher, 323 Operación Leyenda (Operation Legend), 31–33 Operation Crimine-Infinito, 168, 193 Operation Dark Waters, 306 Operation Decollo (Take-Off), 178–81, 189, 192–94, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200 Operation Decollo bis, 192 Operation Decollo Money, 192–93, 198 Operation Decollo ter, 192, 197, 199 Operation Dinero, 222–26 Operation Magna Charta, 298 Operation Meta, 330 Operation Millennium, 158 Operation Overloading, 202 Operation Reckoning, 185–86, 191 Operation Sword, 277–78 Operazione Solare, 185–86, 191 opium, 16–21, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38–40, 62, 282–83 Opnor (ship), 321 Orange Revolution, 285 Orechovskaja group, 263 Oseguera Ramos, Nemesio (El Mencho), 67 Oslo Accords, 154–55 Osorio Chong, Miguel Ángel, 54, 70 Ospedaletto, Italy, 302 Overdose (sailboat), 300 Paderno Dugnano, Italy, 168, 193 Padua, Italy, 329 Palace of the Thousand and One Nights, 45 Palermo, Caterina, 220 Palermo, Giuseppe, 235 Palermo maxi-trial, 169 Palestine, 143 Palo Borracho, 329 Palo della Banda dell’Ortica, 212 Palombini Bar, 225 Panama, 150, 231, 319 Pannunzi, Alessandro, 218, 229, 230, 238 Pannunzi, Roberto (Bebè), 211, 213–22, 226, 227–36, 238–40, 305 Pannunzi, Simona, 218 Papp, Katalin, 269 Paraguay, 334 Paramaribo, Suriname, 335 paranoia, 36, 123, 374 Paris, France, 119, 314 Paris, Natalia, 133–36, 137, 140, 143–49, 151, 157–60 Parma, Italy, 238 Parrita (paramilitary), 138–39 Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) (Institutional Revolutionary Party), 100 Paso Fino horses, 223 Pastrana, Andrés, 154–57, 158 PATRIOT Act (2001), 242, 254 Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, 84 Pay de Limón (sniffer dog), 345 Pearl cocaine, 117–18 Pelle, Antonio (‘Ntoni Gambazza) , 202 Peña Nieto, Enrique, 54, 68, 70 Peru, 232 phencyclidine, 113 Picasso, Pablo, 223 Pictet Cie, 255–57 piedra muñeca marble, 177, 180 Ping ideogram, 304 Pinochet, Augusto, 350 Piraeus, Greece, 233 Piromalli, Francesco and Giuseppe (Roly-poly brothers), 230–31 Piromalli family, 172, 305 Pistoleros, 360 Pistone, Joe, 80 Pizza Connection, 255 Pizzata, Bruno, 202–3, 205 Plan Colombia, 155–57 plastic surgery, 45–46 plata o plomo (money or lead), 127, 130 Platì, Italy, 193, 194, 215, 216, 217, 218, 229, 230 Pocho (sniffer dog), 343–44 Poh Lin (ship), 332 Policía Federal Ministerial (PFM), Mexican, 101 Polsi, San Luca, Italy, 168, 186–87, 194 Ponte San Pietro, Italy, 237 Ponzi schemes, 273–74 Poptún training camp, 86–87 Porky’s strip club, 279–80 Portugal, 297, 317–25, 333 Posada, Rosa María, 154 Posadas Ocampo, Juan Jesús, 40–41 potassium carbonate, 75 Poveda, Christian, 348–56 Prague, 275–76, 277 Presidential Security Service, Russian, 269 Prestieri, Maurizio, 226–27 Progreso, Mexico, 98, 329 Project Coronado, 64–65 prostitution, 94, 135, 269–70 Puente Grande prison, 41 Puma, Commander (AFI commander), 101 Pupone (Big Baby) (real estate agent), 202 Putin, Vladimir, 285–86 racehorses, 223, 252–53 Ragal (sniffer dog), 345 Rambo (paramilitary), 188 Ramírez Treviño, Mario Armando (El Pelón; X20), 61 Ramiro (drug dealer), 184, 190 Reagan, Ronald, 29 Red Ribbon Week, 33–34 Resortito (clown), 95–96 Reta, Rosalío, 96–97 Revelation, Book of, 375 Rex (mule dog), 346 Reyes, Fernando, 47 Reynosa, Mexico, 60, 101 RHM Trust Bank, 222–23 Riina, Salvatore (Totò), 259 Rijeka, Croatia, 180 Rimini, Italy, 251 Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, 129, 142 Roizis, Griša (the Cannibal), 279–81 Romanò, Attilio, 339 Romano, Lino, 339, 340 Rome, 202, 215, 225, 227, 230, 232, 239–40, 300, 331 Romero Vázquez, Jesús Antonio, 100 Rosarno, Italy, 193, 202–3, 298 RosUkrEnergo, 285–87 Rotterdam, 291, 308, 332 Royal Air Maroc, 323–24 Royal Bank of Scotland, 249–50, 252 Rubens, Peter Paul, 223 Ruello, Nello, 204 Russia: arms trafficking in, 272, 273, 282, 283 arrests and imprisonment in, 260, 263, 275–76, 284–85 banking in, 270–71, 274 cocaine trafficking in, 279–82, 283, 287 drug addiction in, 282–83 economy of, 265–67, 270–71, 285–87 gas exports of, 285–87 mafia of, 251–52, 258–87, 289, 294 money laundering in, 251, 260, 268–69, 273, 276–78, 281, 283–84 prisons of, 260, 262, 265 prostitution in, 269–70 protection rackets in, 263–66 violence in, 263–68, 273, 285 see also Soviet Union sailing vessels, 296–300 St.


pages: 523 words: 159,884

The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, Bay Area Rapid Transit, big-box store, collective bargaining, cross-subsidies, intermodal, James Watt: steam engine, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban sprawl

The Southern Pacific, whose terminus was in Los Angeles, then a modest Mexican-style town, ran along the border with Mexico through New Mexico and Texas and eventually to New Orleans, the mouth of the Mississippi. It was the brainchild of the Big Four of the Central Pacific, who were reliant on expanding their rail network in order to allow them to pay off the debts incurred in building the original transcontinental. To them, railroad construction was like a giant Ponzi scheme:17 they had to keep building in order to disguise the fact that their company was in financial trouble— although, personally, they had all enriched themselves. The Southern Pacific was not a single line but rather a collection of existing railroads that the Big Four had built or purchased in California, and in 1907 it joined with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to form the Northwestern Pacific.

W. Norton, 2011), xxiv. 14. Stewart H. Holbrook, The Story of American Railroads (Bonanza Books, 1947), 213. 15. In railroad terms, a washout denotes the erosion of the track bed by flowing water, as a result of heavy rain or flooding. 16. William D. Middleton, George M. Smerk, and Roberta L. Diehl, eds., Encyclopedia of North American Railroads (Indiana University Press, 2007), 729. 17. A Ponzi scheme pays returns out of sums invested by other investors and therefore makes no genuine profit. It is named after Charles Ponzi, one of the first perpetrators of this type of fraud. 18. John F. Stover, American Railroads (University of Chicago Press, 1961), 76. 19. Ibid., 78. 20. The Great Northern’s premier passenger service was named Great Northern in Hill’s honor, a name that today’s Chicago–Seattle Amtrak retains. 21.


pages: 455 words: 138,716

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi

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banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, butterfly effect, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Edward Snowden, ending welfare as we know it, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, information retrieval, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, naked short selling, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, regulatory arbitrage, short selling, telemarketer, too big to fail, War on Poverty

The government similarly decided not to press forward with cases against a number of other prominent financial fraud targets. In early 2010 the DOJ decided to end the investigation of AIG Financial Products chief Joe Cassano, the patient zero of the financial crisis, whose half-trillion-dollar portfolio of unsecured credit default swaps imploded in 2008, forcing the government to bail out AIG and sending the world economy into a tailspin. Cases involving Ponzi scheme artists Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford were restricted to a few defendants apiece, while banks and other institutions that aided their frauds got off clean. It would be years before the Obama administration would begin again to look at the role played in the Madoff scandal by JPMorgan Chase, Madoff’s banker. Meanwhile, after the first trial of baseball great Roger Clemens ended in a mistrial, the government pushed forward, keeping dozens of agents and lawyers on the case and deciding ultimately to retry the arch-villain, accused of lying about taking steroids.

As a result of this lunatic process, houses in middle- and lower-income neighborhoods from Fresno to the Jersey Shore became jammed full of new home borrowers, millions and millions of them, who in many cases were not equal to the task of making their monthly payments. The situation was tenable so long as housing prices kept rising and these teeming new populations of home borrowers could keep their heads above water, selling or refinancing their way out of trouble if need be. But the instant the arrow began tilting downward, this rapidly expanding death-balloon of phony real estate value inevitably had to—and did—explode. In other words, it was a Ponzi scheme, no different than the Bernie Madoff caper, only executed on an exponentially huger scale. The scheme depended upon the ability of a nexus of large financial companies to factory-produce and sell these magic home loans fast enough, and in big enough numbers, to continually keep more money coming in than going out. Once the bubble burst, lawsuits were filed everywhere and whistle-blowers emerged by the dozen, showing, in graphic documentary detail, how nearly every major financial company in America had chosen to participate in this enormous fraud.


pages: 559 words: 155,372

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez

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Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Web Services, Burning Man, Celtic Tiger, centralized clearinghouse, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, financial independence, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hive mind, income inequality, interest rate swap, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Network effects, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social web, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, urban renewal, Y Combinator, éminence grise

Somerset, 200 Mayer, Marissa, 78 Mayfield Capital, 154, 156, 159, 162–63 McAfee, 382 McCorvie, Ryan, 16–17 McDonald’s, 82, 450 McEachen, Matthew (“MRM”), 41, 46, 62–63 call to, 123 CEO position, 249 chaos monkey suggestion, 103 codebase and, 66, 73, 184, 234 coding, 146 comrade-in-arms, 91 as daredevil, 136–37 deal details and, 251–52 earnestness, 68 Facebook and, 223, 225 family, 135, 205 getting to know, 88 irritation, 102–3 lost with, 109 paying off mortgage, 494 as resourceful savior, 100–101 as steadfast, 67 McGarraugh, Charlie, 14–15 McLean, Malcom, 447 media publishers, 387 MediaMath, 390 Menlo Park, 84 bedroom community, 338 conferences, 119 headquarters, 469 moving to, 337 schools, 306 meritocracy, 74 Merkle, 384 mesothelioma, 81 Miami drug trade, 304 Michelangelo, 334 Microsoft Adchemy and, 153–54, 161–62 Atlas, 383, 453–55 calendar, 340 dogfooding, 43 monopolist, 286 program managers, 272 middle managers, 359 Miller, Arthur, 104 Miller, Frank, 434 Milton, John, 475 minimum viable product (MVP), 434 miracles, 51 misleading, offensive, or sexually inappropriate (MOSI), 310 Mixpanel, 62 mobile commerce, 484–89 mobile data, 382, 477, 484, 486 Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), 448 monetary value, 317–19 monetization bet, 4 data-per-pixel, 274 digital, 184 Facebook, 5, 209, 275, 278, 298, 318, 425, 444 folly, 361–72 Google, 186 growth, 141 influences, 9 savvy, 486–89 tug-of-war, 379 Twitter, 190 zero-sum game, 319 money fuck-you money, 102, 415–16 investors, 74 outside, 155 pre-money valuation, 212 seed, 96 of VCs, 174 Moore’s law, 25 MoPub, 476–77, 479–81 morality, 226, 256, 284 Morgenstern, Jared, 218 Morishige, Sara, 183 Morris, Robert Tappan, 60–61 Mortal Kombat 3, 178 Moscone, George, 181 Moskovitz, Dustin, 284 Motwani, Rajeev, 138 Museum of Natural History, 366 My Life as a Quant (Derman), 16 MySpace, 283–84 N00b, 269 Nanigans, 480–81 Narasin, Ben, 128–31, 143–44 NASDAQ, 405, 410 National Socialism, 356 native ad formats, 448–49 Neko, 482 Netflix, 83, 103, 328 Netscape Navigator, 286 Neustar, 384, 386 New Rich, 357 New York Times, 448, 486 New Zealand, 318 News Feed addictive, 482 ads, 482–84, 488, 492 click-through rates, 487 content, 309 creation, 2 distribution, 364 as magic real estate, 362 spamming users, 372 versions, 444 newspaper advertising, 36–37 Nielsen, 385 1984 (Orwell), 433 noncash valuation, 212 no-shop contract, 201 Nukala, Murthy crossing paths, 167–68 ego, 42–43 greed, 44 hazing by, 71 immigrant worker, 72 lecture from, 65–66 manipulative rage, 136 pep rally, 36 saying good-bye to, 73 self-preservation and, 162–63 tantrums, 45 as tyrant, 158 vindictiveness, 134 wooing by, 154 Obama, Barack, 299–300 obscenity, 268 OkCupid, 54 Olivan, Javier, 410 Omnicom, 437, 443 on-boarding, 260–67, 271 one shot, one kill motto, 298 one-on-one, 434, 457, 469 online dating, 54–55 Opel, John, 148 Open Graph, 280, 364 optimization, 276, 302 Oracle investors, 111 job at, 193 logo, 124 product shindigs, 181 recruiting, 70 Orkut, 379 Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, 193, 203, 253 Orwell, George, 433 outside money, 155 Ovid, 316 Oxford English Dictionary, 80 Page, Larry, 112, 428, 431 Pahl, Sebastien, 119 Palantir, 272 Palihapitiya, Chamath, 265–66 Palo Alto bosom of, 116 climate, 123 downtown, 333, 338 East, 404 hub, 109 old, 112, 158 posh, 84 shuttles, 289, 339 Stanford grads, 63 Pamplona running of bulls, 106–7 Pan-Arabism, 356 Pansari, Ambar, 210 Paper, 283 Parse, 155 Patel, Satya, 249–50 Patton, 369 Payne, Jim, 476 PayPal, 78, 124 personal wealth, 415 personally identifiable information (PII), 395 photo sharing, 286, 490–91, 493 photo-comparison software, 310 Pickens, Slim, 102 Piepgrass, Brian, 374 pings, 188, 327, 422 PMMess, 347–51, 407, 409 poker playing, 396–97 polyandry, 483 Polybius, 172, 316, 336 Pong, 150 Ponzi scheme, 16 pornography, 167, 262, 268, 312, 314, 315 post-valuation, 212 pregnancy, 58–59 pre-money valuation, 212 La Presse, 37 privacy Facebook and, 316–29 Irish Data Privacy Audit, 278, 320–23 PRIZM Segments, 385 product development, 47, 94, 191, 220, 334, 370, 389 product managers (PMs) as Afghan warlords, 273 earning money, 302 everyday work, 294 Facebook, 4, 6–7, 10, 91, 97, 202, 210, 271–79 Google, 192 habitat, 341 high-value, 246 ideal, 219 information and, 295 internal and external forces and, 316–17 last on buck-passing chain, 327 managing, 276 stupidity, 313 tech companies, 272 tiebreaker role, 292 product marketing manager (PMM), 277, 366 product navigators, 272 production, 94 product-market fit, 175 programmatic media-buying technology, 38 Project Chorizo, 296 pseudorandomness, 75 publishers, 37, 39 Putnam, Chris, 284 Qualcomm, 70 quants, 16–18, 24, 29, 141, 207 Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS), 149 Rabkin, Mark, 3, 312, 389, 398, 435 Rajaram, Gokul, 8, 10 accepting offer from, 248 banter with, 472–73 as boss, 3 bribery, 471 FBX and, 435 go big or go home ethos, 300 in great debate, 459 influence, 202 insubordination toward, 465 interview with, 221–22 leadership, 309 loss of trust, 468 lot with, 373 management of, 434 middle manager, 463–64 one-on-one and, 469 as product leader, 276–77 riding by, 346 stripping of duties, 452 word of, 252 Ralston, Geoff, 93 Rapportive, 96–97, 106 real-time bidding (RTB), 40–41 real-time data synchronization, 38 Red Rock Coffee, 84 RedLaser, 51 Reesman, Ben, 308, 389, 399–400, 475, 477 relativity, 25 replicating portfolio, 247–48 retargeting, 9, 381, 395, 438, 461 return of advertising spend (ROAS), 81 revenue dashboards, 274–75, 295–96 Right Media, 37–38 The Road Warrior, 134 Roetter, Alex, 185, 190, 493–94 romantic liaisons, 55–56 Romper Stomper, 202 Rosenblum, Rich, 21–22 Rosenn, Itamar, 368 Rosenthal, Brian, 389, 390 Ross, Blake, 444 Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 303 rounds, 156 routing system, 324 Rubinstein, Dan, 312–13 Ruby on Rails, 155 Russia, 375–76 Sacca, Chris, 128, 141, 143 acquisition advice, 187–88, 212–13, 245–47 on deals, 205–7 ignoring inquiries, 201 pseudoangel, 113, 117–19 wisdom, 202 Safari, 484 safe sex, 58 safeguarding role, 315 sailboat living, 307, 332, 337–38 salaries, 358 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), 181 Sandberg, Sheryl, 2, 10 data joining and, 465 gatekeeper, 4–5 intimates, 3–4 leadership, 410 managerial prowess, 311–13 meetings, 371, 382, 459 PowerPoint and, 7 recommendations to, 462 schmoozing, 367 wiles of, 408 Sarna, Chander, 67–68, 71, 72 sausage grinder, 296 scale, 300 Scalps@Facebook, 314 scavenging foray, 116 schadenfreude, 16–17 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 282 Schrage, Elliot, 3–4, 410 Schreier, Bryan, 123–25 Schrock, Nick, 400 Schroepfer, Mike, 2 Schultz, Alex, 374 scientific racism, 122 Scoble, Robert, 100 Scott, George C., 24, 369 security, 314–15 seed money, 96 Sequoia, 122–25, 130, 159 severance package, 470–71 severity-level-one bug (SEV1), 323 sexual molestation, 17 Shaffer, Justin, 219–21, 444 Shakespeare, William, 120, 427, 456 Shapiro, Scott, 378, 459 Shelly, Percy Bysshe, 337 Shockley, William, 122 shuttles, 289, 339 Siegelman, Russell, 146, 201, 213, 397 angel investor, 110–13 commitment, 141–43 negotiations, 116–17 Silicon Valley.

They absolutely litter Wall Street now, and some areas of finance, like the hyperfast world of high-frequency trading, couldn’t exist without them. The most authentic view of their world was penned by a founder of the Goldman Strategies team, Emanuel Derman, in his classic My Life as a Quant. † For fans of schadenfreude, life is a never-ending feast. When the Madoff scandal, the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, erupted in late 2008, it would turn out that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity had invested all of its assets with Madoff. Elie’s son, Elisha, my boss, was the foundation’s treasurer. This reminds me of the joke about mixed emotions being the sight of your mother-in-law driving over a cliff in your new Porsche. Shame about the loss to such a worthy cause, but as for the hit to Elisha Wiesel, well, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy


pages: 422 words: 113,830

Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips

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algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency peg, diversification, Doha Development Round, energy security, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, mobile money, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

The new treasury secretary, as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, had been part of the troika running the rescue programs. The incoming Roosevelt administration of 1933 had no similar link. Gallup’s November poll had found 60 percent of those sampled calling it critical or very important for Obama to impose stricter regulation on financial institutions. Then December’s revelation of the $50 billion Ponzi scheme run by financier Bernard Madoff further soured the public. In December’s CNN/opinion research poll, 74 percent of those sampled said they believed Madoff’s behavior was common among financial advisers and institutions, and 59 percent said that government regulated the stock market and financial institutions too loosely, up from 50 percent in September. Surveytakers may continue to record such answers.

My task here is somewhat narrower: to set out several securities-market-related dimensions unique to the last three decades, clearly the deepest of the three transformations. The financial sector cut its teeth in the Gilded Age, in the years of J. P. Morgan and the initial emergence of the great corporations and trusts. In the Roaring Twenties came the first broad American stock mania, replete with Ponzi schemes and bucket shops. But amid the blood, sweat, and jeers of the Depression, tickertape ballyhoo collapsed into caution. Contemporary finance was able to seize and hold the nation’s reins, in part by selling markets as a participatory experience and democratic empowerment only when the 1980s and 1990s brought support from pension funds, Internet trading, and 401(k)s. FIGURE 3.1 Ten Recurring Characteristics of U.S.


pages: 189 words: 57,632

Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future by Cory Doctorow

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book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, en.wikipedia.org, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, Jeff Bezos, Law of Accelerating Returns, Metcalfe's law, mutually assured destruction, new economy, optical character recognition, patent troll, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Sand Hill Road, Skype, slashdot, social software, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

In 2004, a player in the MMO EVE Online declared that the game's creators had stacked the deck against him, called EVE, "a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest." He was upset over a change in the game dynamics which made it easier to play a pirate and harder to play a merchant. The player, "Dentara Rask," wrote those words in the preamble to a tell-all memoir detailing an elaborate Ponzi scheme that he and an accomplice had perpetrated in EVE. The two of them had bilked EVE's merchants out of a substantial fraction of the game's total GDP and then resigned their accounts. The objective was to punish the game's owners for their gameplay decisions by crashing the game's economy. In both of these instances, players — residents of virtual worlds — resolved their conflicts with game management through customer activism.


pages: 162 words: 50,108

The Little Book of Hedge Funds by Anthony Scaramucci

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Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, business process, carried interest, Credit Default Swap, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fear of failure, fixed income, follow your passion, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, index fund, Long Term Capital Management, mail merge, margin call, merger arbitrage, NetJets, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, Y2K, Yogi Berra

And yet, he was never able to offer any transparency as to his investment process, philosophy, or allocation. Interesting. Fund of fund managers (some of them at least) took the easy way out and allocated aggressively to Madoff. And so, several funds of hedge funds—Fairfield Greenwich and Tremont Partners, to name two—took the easy way out and allocated aggressively to Mr. Madoff and his fraudulent Ponzi scheme. That is disgraceful! What happened to all of the research and risk management and due diligence? Any cursory review of Madoff would have caused a shunning of Madoff, as if he were a leper in a nudist colony! After all, he was self–taught and had an unknown accountant who worked out of a storefront across the Tappan Zee Bridge. How could they invest with such a manager? The Madoff Factor gave the industry a bad rap and set it back big time . . . and almost completely shut it down in Europe.


pages: 177 words: 54,421

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

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Airbnb, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, delayed gratification, Google Glasses, Jeff Bezos, Lao Tzu, Paul Graham, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, side project, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Upton Sinclair

A genuinely good and loyal individual, he was not cut out for the dirty world of Washington, and it made quick work of him. He left office a maligned and controversial figure after two exhausting terms, almost surprised by how poorly it had gone. After the presidency, Grant invested almost every penny he had to create a financial brokerage house with a controversial investor named Ferdinand Ward. Ward, a Bernie Madoff of his day, turned it into a Ponzi scheme, and publicly bankrupted Grant. As Sherman wrote with sympathy and understanding of his friend, Grant had “aimed to rival the millionaires, who would have given their all to have won any of his battles.” Grant had accomplished so much, but to him, it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t decide what was important—what actually mattered—to him. That’s how it seems to go: we’re never happy with what we have, we want what others have too.


pages: 200 words: 47,378

The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos

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AltaVista, altcoin, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, cryptocurrency, ethereum blockchain, global reserve currency, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, Oculus Rift, packet switching, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, ransomware, reserve currency, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Skype, smart contracts, the medium is the message, trade route, underbanked, WikiLeaks

I don’t see any of those people in this room but we better be careful just in case they show up. Of course, they’re wrong. Bitcoin is none of those things. Bitcoin is simply a technology. As a technology, often the first use it finds is in the hands of criminals. The first cars were used as getaway vehicles. The first telephones were used to plot conspiracy. The first telegrams were used to run long-distance mail-fraud schemes and Ponzi schemes. The first forms of electricity were used to run medical hoaxes and scam people. These things always happen with a new technology, and they happen with bitcoin, too. "Bitcoin is simply a technology. As a technology, often the first use it finds is in the hands of criminals. The first cars were used as getaway vehicles… Criminals use the most cutting-edge technology because they operate in an environment with very high profit margins and very high risk."


pages: 166 words: 49,639

Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think by Luke Johnson

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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Grace Hopper, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, James Dyson, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, mittelstand, Network effects, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, patent troll, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traveling salesman, tulip mania

Only risk-positive entrepreneurs have the guts to risk making fresh investments in this environment, a time when investment is exactly what society needs to pick itself up again. Watch out for an epidemic of petty fraud The economist J. K. Galbraith asserted that fraud rose in a bull market and shrank in a slump. As he put it, the ‘bezzle’ rises in a boom because of lax controls, and fades in a bust. Colossal frauds like Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme suggests Galbraith may be right about large-scale embezzlement, but my experience is the opposite when it comes to petty larceny. One of our restaurant companies suffered a disturbing rise in insurance claims. It wasn’t down to carelessness. Several claims related to apparent falls by suppliers’ workers. The curious thing is that in more than one case the victim appears to have waited more than fifteen months before notifying us of the injury.


The Handbook of Personal Wealth Management by Reuvid, Jonathan.

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asset allocation, banking crisis, BRICs, collapse of Lehman Brothers, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, financial deregulation, fixed income, high net worth, income per capita, index fund, interest rate swap, laissez-faire capitalism, land tenure, market bubble, merger arbitrage, new economy, Northern Rock, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, short selling, side project, sovereign wealth fund, statistical arbitrage, systematic trading, transaction costs, yield curve

Previous conceptions of what were safe forms of investment and how diversified portfolios could be structured at acceptable levels of risk were tossed aside. High-net-worth individuals (HNWs) and others with significant capital assets, including pension pots, available for investment have had to rethink their investment strategies. Financial institutions and advisers were caught on the hop too and have had to tighten their investment analysis and due diligence routines. Bernard Medoff’s failed Ponzi scheme in New York demonstrated how reputable fund managers, in the UK as well as the United States, could be sucked into a quite simple scam through a lack of rigour in their investment selections. The UK is now engulfed by economic recession. Normally, the banking system remains strong in recessionary times and plays an important part in supporting both business and individuals. This time, the banks have not performed their credit provision functions, in spite of taxpayer funding by the government, so that the recession is likely to be longer and deeper than usual.


pages: 282 words: 26,931

The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It by Craig Brandon

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Bernie Madoff, call centre, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Gordon Gekko, helicopter parent, impulse control, new economy, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader

The regional accreditation organizations that are supposed to evaluate the quality of education at our colleges and universities seem to have been soundly sleeping as the colleges dumbed down their programs, inflated grades, and turned themselves into entertainment centers. They are like Securities and Exchange Commission watchdogs, fiddling with forms while corporate raiders fleeced millions of Americans and Bernie Madoff set up his Ponzi schemes. There are six regional accreditation groups in the United States, but they all work pretty much the same way. Colleges apply for membership and then become a part of the organization. The college and individual departments submit regular self-study reports about changes they have made and problems they are experiencing. The accrediting groups develop a book-length statement of standards that they use as a guide when suggesting changes in college policies, courses, and programs.


pages: 222 words: 50,318

The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream by Christopher B. Leinberger

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, big-box store, centre right, credit crunch, David Brooks, desegregation, Donald Trump, drive until you qualify, edge city, full employment, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, RAND corporation, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Seaside, Florida, the built environment, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight

Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, “TEA-21—Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century,” http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tea21/suminves.htm#fl. 5. There is much truth to this accusation. Many real estate developers purchased S&Ls in the 1980s and then turned around and made loans to their own projects, having the S&L take on massive risk, which was government-insured. In addition, many S&L owners continually refi nanced loans at ever higher appraised valuations, justifying larger and larger loans. This was a Ponzi scheme with federal loan insurance NOTES | 183 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. backing it up, leading to inevitable bankruptcy, the government holding the bag. Only a few S&L owners, most infamously Charles Keating, went to jail. Japan had a comparable financial sector crisis at about the same time; banks had made a huge number of loans to real estate projects that then went sour. However, the Japanese did not recognize the problem or do anything drastic about it, like the U.S. did with the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC).


pages: 300 words: 78,475

Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream by Arianna Huffington

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carried interest, citizen journalism, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, extreme commuting, Exxon Valdez, full employment, greed is good, housing crisis, immigration reform, invisible hand, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, new economy, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, single-payer health, smart grid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Works Progress Administration

“We had no indication that we … were the victims of such a highly sophisticated, massive fraudulent scheme.” Who could have known? Well, financial fraud investigator Harry Markopolos, for one. Not only did he know, he did everything he could to make sure everybody else knew as well.148 In 1999, after researching Madoff’s methods, Markopolos wrote a letter to the SEC saying, “Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme.” He pursued his claims with the feds for the next nine years, with little result. One would think the “Who Could Have Known?” excuse has been exposed as a sham enough times to render it obsolete, but there are always new incentives to not know. In the wake of 9/11, Condoleezza Rice assured us nobody “could have predicted” that someone “would try to use an airplane as a missile.”149 Except, of course, the 1999 government report that said “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House.”150 After Katrina, the Bush White House read from the “Who Could Have Known?”


pages: 264 words: 79,589

Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen

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Apple II, Brian Krebs, Burning Man, corporate governance, dumpster diving, Exxon Valdez, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, index card, McMansion, Mercator projection, offshore financial centre, packet switching, pirate software, Ponzi scheme, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, traffic fines, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day, Zipcar

By all evidence, criminals were e-gold’s bread and butter. By December 2005, the company’s internal investigations had identified more than three thousand accounts involved in carding, another three thousand used for buying and selling child porn, and thirteen thousand accounts linked to various investment scams. They were easy enough to spot: the “memo” field in child porn transactions would read, for example, “Lolita”; in Ponzi schemes, “HYIP,” for “high-yield investment program.” Carders included shorthand descriptions of what they were buying: “For 3 IDs”; “for dumps”; “10 classics”; “Fame’s dumps”; “10 M/C”; “one plat and six classics”; “20 vclassics”; “18 ssns”; “10 AZIDs”; “4 v classics”; “four cvv2s”; “for 150 classics.” For a long time, e-gold largely turned a blind eye to the criminal trade; employees locked down some accounts used by child porn sellers but didn’t stop them from transferring out their money.


pages: 236 words: 77,735

Rigged Money: Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game by Lee Munson

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affirmative action, asset allocation, backtesting, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, buy low sell high, California gold rush, call centre, Credit Default Swap, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, fiat currency, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, follow your passion, German hyperinflation, High speed trading, housing crisis, index fund, joint-stock company, moral hazard, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, random walk, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, too big to fail, trade route, Vanguard fund, walking around money

It took me several years to find a decent certified public accounting (CPA) firm to handle my company’s accounting. Why would my industry be any different? How a So-Called Pro Fools Himself There is a natural desire for people to either want a get-rich-quick scheme, or a play-it-safe investment. Usually it is one and the same. I want to make a lot and not lose anything—don’t you? How on earth can Ponzi schemes exist if not for our ability to suspend all reason in the hope of a sure thing? I was invited to be the guest at a small conference for a broker-dealer of which the owner was an old friend. This guy used to be one of my cold callers. He dialed the phone hundreds of times a day hawking stocks. He has done well since those days, but he is polite enough to give me credit for his early education on the mean streets.


pages: 224 words: 64,156

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

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1960s counterculture, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, digital Maoism, Douglas Hofstadter, Extropian, follow your passion, hive mind, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Long Term Capital Management, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, social graph, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

Regulations could be expressed in a more general and abstract way. For instance, if a regulator became curious about whether a particular derivative should be understood as a form of insurance—which should only be allowed if the insurer has adequate reserves—it would be easy to make the necessary analysis. (This function would have prevented much of the current mess.) It should also be possible to detect the potential emergence of Ponzi schemes and the like within complex networks of transactions that might otherwise fool even those who designed them. Visualizations or other nonstandard presentations of transactions that would help legislators and other nonspecialists understand new ideas in transactions might be developed. A tool to help consumers cope with the monetary world might well come from an enlightened NGO or a university.


pages: 214 words: 71,585

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum

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delayed gratification, demographic transition, Donald Trump, financial independence, happiness index / gross national happiness, index card, Mason jar, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, Skype, women in the workforce

Though it wasn’t due to the Pill alone: once women started entering institutes of higher education in increasing numbers, and the job market opened its arms (if not its coffers), birthrates plummeted even further. As much as women talk the talk about maternal instinct, fewer than ever are walking the walk: the fastest-growing segments of the female population now have either zero children or one child by age forty. According to demographers, the consequences down the road will be seismic: an aging citizenry unable to sustain itself economically (Social Security is already basically a national Ponzi scheme, some are calculating). Though no one exactly says it, women are voting with their ovaries, and the reason is simple. There are too few social supports, especially given the fact that the majority of women are no longer just mothers now, they’re mother-workers. Yet virtually no social policy accounts for this. Interestingly, women with the most education are the ones having the fewest children, though even basic literacy has a negative effect on birthrates in the developing world—the higher the literacy rate, the lower the birthrate.


pages: 232

Planet of Slums by Mike Davis

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barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, centre right, clean water, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, edge city, European colonialism, failed state, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, jitney, Kibera, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, megacity, microcredit, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, rent control, structural adjustment programs, surplus humans, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor

As Devisch explains, "With such a large part of the population of Kinshasa involved in these financial schemes, the effects of the collapse on the economy, and especially the informal sector, were 64 Tshikala Biaya, " SAP: A Catalyst for the Underdevelopment and Privatization of Public Administration in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1997-2000," DPMN Bulletin 7:3 (December 2000). 65 Devisch, "Frenzy, Violence, and Ethical Renewal in Kinshasa," p. 604. 66 See analyses by World Bank researchers: Carlos Elbirt, "Albania under the Shadow of the Pyramids;" and Utpal Bhattacharya, "On the Possibility of Ponzi Schemes in Transition Economies," in Transition Newsletter (newsletter published by the World Bank Group) (January-February 2000), (www.worldbank.org/transitionnewsletter/janfeb600/pgs24-26.htm). disastrous. The bitter frustration of the people led to an imaginary yet vicious mentality of sorcery."67 The immediate aftermath, amidst continuing inflation, was the great urban jacqwrie of September 1991 when Kinshasa's slum-dwellers — with the Army's connivance — engaged in a massive, festive pillaging of factories, stores, and warehouses.


pages: 283 words: 77,272

With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald

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Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Clive Stafford Smith, collateralized debt obligation, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Brooks, deskilling, financial deregulation, full employment, high net worth, income inequality, Julian Assange, nuremberg principles, Ponzi scheme, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks

In sum, the financial crisis caused by Wall Street was easily one of the most devastating and misery-producing events in American history. To the limited extent its causes have been investigated, it has become increasingly clear that the crisis was the result of plundering, fraud, lawlessness, and criminality on a massive scale. Major sectors of the financial industry turned out to be little more than glorified Ponzi schemes. Credit agencies on which investors relied routinely gave their stamp of approval to debt and loan instruments that were backed by “assets” of little or no value. Wall Street flooded the nation with toxic “derivative products,” which Warren Buffett had denounced back in 2003 as “financial weapons of mass destruction” posing a “mega-catastrophic risk.” And yet there has been virtually no punishment for the perpetrators, and it is highly unlikely that there will ever be any.


pages: 244 words: 79,044

Money Mavericks: Confessions of a Hedge Fund Manager by Lars Kroijer

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Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, diversification, diversified portfolio, family office, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, implied volatility, index fund, Jeff Bezos, Just-in-time delivery, Long Term Capital Management, merger arbitrage, new economy, Ponzi scheme, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, Vanguard fund, zero-coupon bond

‘If that guarantee is anything more than empty words or fraud, anyone would be crazy not to invest with you and you should be running the largest money-management firm in the world. I should tear up my presentation and market myself as someone who knows someone who can generate 16–18 per cent uncorrelated returns, which would be enough to make me an attractive prospect. In fact, you should take $100 and gear it five times and you would be almost guaranteed to double your money every year. Even the Ponzi schemes don’t promise that!’ I assumed we would be thrown out of the office at this point, but Mr Totti was clearly having fun. He was almost relieved that someone had challenged him and we ended up spending two hours in his office discussing how much market correlation there is in many funds even if they go to great lengths to disguise it. When we finally got up, Mr Totti said he had enjoyed the meeting and would make sure that his firm gave us a close look.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

The small and underfunded teams who handle that work, from the FBI to investigators at the Securities and Exchange Commission, have learned through the decades that bankers are virtually invulnerable. They spend heavily on our politicians, which always helps, and are also viewed as crucial to our economy. That protects them. If their banks go south, our economy could go with them. (The poor have no such argument.) So except for a couple of criminal outliers, such as Ponzi-scheme master Bernard Madoff, financiers don’t get arrested. As a group, they made it through the 2008 market crash practically unscathed. What could ever burn them now? My point is that police make choices about where they direct their attention. Today they focus almost exclusively on the poor. That’s their heritage, and their mission, as they understand it. And now data scientists are stitching this status quo of the social order into models, like PredPol, that hold ever-greater sway over our lives.


pages: 249 words: 73,731

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz

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corporate governance, currency manipulation / currency intervention, flex fuel, medical malpractice, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, shareholder value, Steve Jobs, Toyota Production System, transfer pricing, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile

Industrial jobs can be created again, and Americans can once again aspire to middle-class jobs through actually making things.We need to remember that economic value is basically created only one of three ways:• Mining the material from the bowels of the earth • Growing food and wood on the surface of the earth • Manufacturing and distributing the products of the first two Everything else is simply trading “value” that has already been created. And issuing mortgages, for high profit, to home “owners” who manifestly don’t qualify for homeownership is about as economically useful as a Ponzi scheme, which, now that I think of it, it resembles. GM will come back. The people, the skills, the desire to succeed are all there. The competitive “killer instinct” is at a higher pitch than at anytime in the last fifty years. The burdens of the past, which so shackled the company, and hangovers from the parties of better days, are gone. Unfortunately, many investors, including the author, lost a lot, but that’s what Chapter 11 does: it assures a new beginning, but with new owners.


pages: 304 words: 80,965

What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us, and How to Fix It by Stephen Davis, Jon Lukomnik, David Pitt-Watson

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Admiral Zheng, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, Northern Rock, passive investing, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, WikiLeaks

When a plan is controlled by a plan-sponsor executive, usually the chief financial officer or head of the human resources department, he or she may do the best they can to advance the interests of beneficiaries. But the potential for a conflict of interest is obvious. What is not as obvious is that a corporate official may simply not be as vigilant in overseeing the pension plan if he or she is not overseen by the people with a stake in its performance. In one disheartening case, a corporate pension plan included infamous Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff’s fraudulent investment program even though the custodian of the plan refused to take custody of Madoff’s “assets.”16 The challenge is to ensure that those with the power to control funds act in the interests of those who are supposed to benefit from them. When those in charge of the plan are not accountable to members, it is difficult to be sure if, when, how frequently, how energetically, and how skillfully this oversight is carried out.


pages: 221 words: 68,880

Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy (Bicycle) by Elly Blue

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, car-free, hydraulic fracturing, if you build it, they will come, Jane Jacobs, job automation, Loma Prieta earthquake, medical residency, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, ride hailing / ride sharing, science of happiness, the built environment, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Eventually the road needs to be expanded; the initial debt has not been fully paid off, so a new, larger loan is taken out to fund the new project and pay off the old one. The money is borrowed against the promise of further development to bring in new tax revenue. And so it continues. Charles Marohn, an engineer and planner from rural Minnesota and author of the blog Strong Towns, writes compellingly that this is “like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.” Marohn makes a compelling case. “In sixty years of building endlessly outward,” he writes, “we have reaped significant short term financial gains. But the cost is long-term financial obligations of a much greater magnitude. Every time the bill comes due, we have to double down. “The public debt we have used to build a vast network of roads and utilities is unsustainable,” he adds, “but this is nothing compared to the private debt that American households have taken on in the form of high interest mortgages and crippling transportation bills.”


pages: 1,199 words: 332,563

Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition by Robert N. Proctor

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