PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.
Bill Black is a white-collar criminologist. He was on the committee that investigated banking fraud in the Savings and Loan crisis, and he’s been an often critic of the media and how it covers the current financial and economic crisis. He recently wrote a piece about The New York Times journalists and how they don’t even read some of their own financial guys, like Krugman. And he now joins us to talk about his critique of The New York Times and the media. Thanks for joining us. Bill joins us from D.C., where he’s now visiting. Bill, I think I did the whole introduction, except to say that you’re also the author of the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. Thanks for joining us again.
WILLIAM K. BLACK, ASSOC. PROF. ECONOMICS AND LAW, UMKC: Thank you.
JAY: So talk a bit about your piece about The New York Times. And what was your point?
BLACK: Well, there were a series of articles in The New York Times covering the recent elections in Europe, particularly in France and Greece, but also mentioning Germany and England. And the common denominator in each of these elections was that the people rose up against the parties imposing Berlin’s austerity program, which has forced Europe back into recession and forced the periphery of Europe back into depression. And they rejected this soundly in these votes.
But the amazing thing was that The New York Times reporters were treating this like, well, these people must be financially illiterate, because everybody knows austerity is the only thing that can be done, and austerity must be done, and it’s good and such. So the more they destroy the economy, the more the New York Times reporters seem to think that destroying the economy is the objective.
And Paul Krugman has been very good. He is, after all, Nobel laureate in economics. He writes a regular column for The New York Times, and for months he’s been explaining how insane the austerity program is. But apparently the New York Times reporters don’t read their own Nobel prize winning economists.
JAY: Well, the same thing was happening here during the high tide of the super committee and all the focus on the American debt and deficit. The same thing was happening. The media was just presupposing that you need to have these kinds of cuts and they’re good for the economy, and this kind of notion that if you have austerity, it frees up the society for growth. I mean, that’s the argument, and I guess most journalists seem to buy into that. So what’s wrong with that?
BLACK: Well, it’s the opposite is true. If you’re in a recession, the problem is you don’t have sufficient demand to keep people employed. And so that typically means private-sector demand is seriously inadequate. Austerity means that you reduce public-sector demand at the same time that private-sector demand is already inadequate. Well, if you do that, then you have really inadequate demand and you have really severe unemployment, which is why unemployment has shot upward throughout Europe, why it’s over 20 percent in a number of the nations of the periphery, why youth unemployment is over 50 percent, why immigration is a leading strategy of European kids when they get their college degree. And it’s a policy that is tearing the European Union apart politically, and socially as well.
You know, this is the equivalent up bleeding a patient, and then, of course, they don’t get better, because you bled them, so you bleed them some more, and then you yell at them for—you know, what’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you recovering? And you bleed them some more. And, you know, pretty soon they’re pretty near death’s door and you’re—can’t understand why they’re not praising you and instead they’re voting you out of office.
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