How do you move millions of dollars from one place to another?
Obviously, you use a bank.
But what if the money is dirty?
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has documented several laundromats, e.g. the Troika Laundromat.
A laundromat is a scheme of shell companies and bank accounts to move money – often Russian money – offshore. The investigations read like a spy novel, full of criminals, politicians, lawyers and bankers.
For example, this article explains how Moldovan judges enabled flows out of Russia by authenticating guarantees on “defaulted loans” between shell companies.
In the thread below, Benjamin Braun explains Germany’s political economy. More specifically, he and Richard Deeg studied the interaction between the financial and non financial corporate (NFC) sectors.
Let me try to summarize the argument.
The German NFC sector has high profits (1) and runs a trade surplus (2).
(1) enables companies to finance their own investments. They don’t need to borrow money from banks.
(2) leads to an inflow of reserves and deposits at banks. As a result, German banks lend to foreign entities.
This seems a sensible story.
However, I don’t agree with the conclusion:
First of all, I highly doubt any policymakers really want to help German banks. If that were the case, the monstrosity of publicly owned, unprofitable banks would have been cleaned up by now.
But even if German politicians cared, it’s not clear that stronger unions or higher wages would be more than a drop in a bucket.
A higher demand for credit would have an immediate positive impact on German banks. And there is a lot of room for growth.
Home ownership in Germany is low compared to non-German speaking countries, as you can see in this picture from Eurostat.
Stimulating home ownership would boost the demand for mortgages.
More investment by the government, as called for by industry and labor unions, would also increase the domestic supply of assets for banks if it’s funded by bonds instead of taxes.
If Angela Merkel wants some more advice, she can leave a comment 🙂
Unsurprisingly, people on Twitter took issue with the authors’ claim:
I find this polemic boring and unproductive.
Boring, because I explained the misconceptions surrounding “money from thin air” in Bankers are people, too. (If you have a copy of the book, see page 38).
It’s also unproductive, because a slogan is not an insight. VOX claims to provide ‘Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists’. It’s a sad state of affairs if leading economists produce more heat than light by using slogans.
Scientists don’t argue about slogans. Insight follows from identifing the relevant mechanisms or from looking at empirical findings, not from these endless ‘debates’.
That’s why Bankers are people, too contains so many drawings of simple balance sheets and discussions of behavior and incentives. I wanted to be crystal clear, not become yet another vague economics guru.
AI will disrupt finance, but not in the way some tech bros think.
In a viral thread, David Heinemeier Hansson describes how Apple Card discriminates against his wife. Nobody at the company can explain how the algorithm makes its decision. Just “computer says no”.
That’s the kind of bureaucratic horror you expect from an old-fashioned state-run company. Ironically, Apple markets its credit card as “built on the principles of simplicity, transparency, and privacy” and “Created by Apple, not a bank”.
Yeah, I’ll stick to my bank, thanks.
If you can’t explain your AI, lawsuits are coming.