James K. Galbraith, author of The End of Normal and professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, has an inside view of the crisis leading to the recent referendum in Greece. Galbraith has worked for the past several years with recently departed Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as both a colleague and co-author, and he has just returned from Greece, where he looked down over the rooftops of Syntagma Square as citizens made history in a strong vote against austerity. He discusses the last week’s dramatic turn of events and what is at stake going forward as the austerity doctrine — and the entire neoliberal project — come under threat. This post was originally published on the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Ed Kane, a professor of finance at Boston College and grantee at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, studies the dangerous risk-taking of giant banks. He sees the cultures of Wall Street and regulators coming together to turn taxpayers into victims of theft and great harm. Like extreme drunk drivers before MADD or smokers on airplanes prior to the 1980s ban, megabankers currently get away with endangering others with little fear of repercussions. Kane discusses how changes in corporate law and culture must make it legally and socially unacceptable for bankers to blow their toxic fumes at the rest of us.
Entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan studies ways of thinking that hold us back and cause societal dysfunction. Her book Willful Blindness explores the costly failure to acknowledge danger in the SEC, the Catholic Church and other institutions. Her most recent book, A Bigger Prize: Why Competition Isn't Everything And How We Do Better, investigates our obsessive and damaging focus on competition. In her view, teaching competition from the earliest years produces adults who fail at creative thinking and generates a society where cheating is incentivized and people never learn to collaborate. In the following interview, she explains why this failure puts us all at risk. Heffernan recently spoke at the May 5-6 conference on Finance and Society, sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
The following is excerpted from the forward to the new book Privacy in the Modern Age: The Search For Solutions by Julia Horowitz and Jeramie Scott. Edited by Marc Rotenberg (The New Press, 2015).
The following is an excerpt from Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web by Joseph M. Reagle, Jr. (The MIT Press, 2015):
From polls, libertarians are known to be a fairly homogenous group that skews white, male, young, affluent (i.e. college-educated), and has a reputation for somwhat less than enthusiastic gender-inclusion. Far more identify with the Republican party (43 percent) than the Democratic party (5 percent). Is it surprising that they get anxious on the subject of people with vaginas who vote for liberal/progressive candidates?
Social anthropologist Janine Wedel, author, most recently, of Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt Our Finances, Freedom, and Security, has spent decades getting to the bottom of how powerful people wield influence. In her view, old ways of talking about formal systems of power and corruption don't begin to capture new realities. Truth and transparency, she warns, have devolved into performance art. The buck stops nowhere. Could women be particularly suited to disrupt the unaccountability structured into the DNA of many of today's financial, corporate and governmental organizations? Wedel weighs in. (Accountability is a key topic in a May 5-6 conference sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, " Finance and Society," which features Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, and other influential women who have challenged corrupt systems of power.)
Anat Admati, who teaches finance and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is author of The Bankers' New Clothes, a classic account of the problem of Too Big to Fail banks. On May 6th she will address the “Finance and Society” conference sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, featuring influential women who have challenged the status quo, like Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde, and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Admati will join Brooksley Born, former chair of Chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, to discuss how effective financial regulation can make the system work better for society. Seven years after financial hell broke loose, Admati warns that we are far from fixing a bloated and dangerous financial system —and that the system can’t fix itself. Why should you care? This gigantic house of cards could fall on you.
When it comes to what goes on in the marble corridors of the Federal Reserve, Americans tend to be suspicious. For different reasons, both the right and the left have challenged Fed policies aimed at bolstering the economy in the wake of the Great Recession. In two papers for the Institute of New Economic Thinking's Working Group on the Political Economy of Distribution, "Have Large Scale Asset Purchases Increased Bank Profits?" and the forthcoming "The Impact of 'Quantitative Easing' on Expected Profits: Explaining the Rise and Fall of the Fed's QE Policy," economist Gerald Epstein and his colleague Juan Antonio Montecino sought to find out who in the economy tends to benefit from the Fed's actions. They conclude that Wall Street and wealthy Americans are the big winners from policies like quantitative easing, while the rest see little improvement in their economic lives. End result? Inequality is getting worse.
In America, salvation is big business, and he who dies with the most souls wins. Plenty of lives are wrecked along the way, but no matter. When consumer capitalism meets religious yearning, the sky’s the limit of what can you can get away with. That’s the subtext of Alex Gibney’s latest film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and screened on HBO on March 29.