The Best Way to Rob a Bank is still to Own One: a Postscript – New Economic Perspectives

Everyone remembers the heyday of gangster America.  Murder Inc. and the trail of dead goombas that came to represent Organized Crime in the USA, headed by guys with names like “Lucky” Luciano and “Bugsy” Siegel..

Willie Sutton famously quipped “That’s where the money is!” when he was asked why he robbed banks.  Another saying to come down over the years is “The best way to rob a bank is to own it” and evidently our gangsters took that advice to heart.  Now, criminals with names like Bugsy Blankfein and Legs Dimon have moved out of the shadowy world of loan sharking and went legit.

This is what has happened to throw such a monkey wrench into the daily operation of this country.  Think NYC corruption nation wide.

William Black, who sent the fraudsters to jail when they did this with the Savings and Loans in the 1980s was right then and he is right still.

The Best Way to Rob a Bank is still to Own One: a Postscript

Posted on October 8, 2012 by Devin Smith | 2 Comments

By William K. Black

The central questions for a theorist are whether his theory showed strong explanatory power and to what extent it proved useful in diverse settings. A distinguished economist, Dr. Jayati Ghosh, has addressed those questions in an article in which she was explaining to Indian readers that a large fraud, Satyam, was not the product of unique defects in Indian regulation.

But the truth is that instances like Satyam are neither new nor unique to India. Similar — and even more extreme — cases of corporate malfeasance abounded in the past decade, across all the major capitalist economies, especially in the US. And these were not aberrations, rather typical features of deregulated capitalist markets.

Furthermore, there is also quite detailed knowledge about the nature of such criminal tendencies within what are supposedly orderly capitalist markets. Four years ago, at a conference in New Delhi, the American academic William Black spoke of how financial crime is pervasive under capitalism. He knew what he was talking about: as an interesting combination of lawyer, criminologist and economist, he recently authored a best-selling book on the role of organised financial crime within big businesses.

This book — The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How corporate executives and politicians looted the S&L industry — is a brilliant exposé of the savings and loan scandal in the US in the early 1980s. It received rave reviews, with the Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof calling it a modern classic and praise came from all quarters including the then chairman of the US federal reserve, Paul Volcker.

via The Best Way to Rob a Bank is still to Own One: a Postscript – New Economic Perspectives.


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