The Fight Against Corruption Needs Economists

Economy, Policies

The Fight Against Corruption Needs Economists

Combating corruption and kleptocracy has traditionally been an afterthought in U.S. foreign policy: a goal that most policymakers considered laudable but hardly a priority. That attitude is no longer acceptable. In recent years, countries such as China and Russia have “weaponized” corruption, as Philip Zelikow, Eric Edelman, Kristofer Harrison, and Celeste Ward Gventer argued in these pages last year. For the ruling regimes in those countries, they wrote, bribery and graft have “become core instruments of national strategy” through which authoritarian rulers seek to exploit “the relative openness and freedom of democratic countries [that] make them particularly vulnerable to this kind of malign influence.”

Strikingly, one particular form of financial aggression—covert foreign money funneled directly into the political processes of democracies—has increased by a factor of ten since 2014.

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Big Debt Plus Rising Interest Rates = Big Danger

Economy, Policies

Big Debt Plus Rising Interest Rates = Big Danger

If there is anything Wall Street banks crave is relief. Primarily relief from the potential for failure and, next, relief from holding much, if any, equity capital. These banks like their capital tiny and their profits huge. Losses should be socialized. After all, we want the ATMs to keep spitting out cash.

The SLR will be allowed to expire at the end of this month before most of us knew what it was—”supplementary leverage ratio.”  When covid hit the fan last March, as the WSJ explains, “The ratio measures capital—funds that banks raise from investors, earn through profits and use to absorb losses—as a percentage of loans and other assets. Without the exclusion, Treasurys and deposits count as assets [not equity].”

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