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.
As a follow-up on yesterday’s post, read this story about how Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas handled payments from Dankse Bank‘s Estonian unit.
A number of quotes will give you an idea of the priorities at the bank:
[W]hen workers sought broader scrutiny of certain clients, they got a familiar response from some higher-ups, the officer said: Shut up, focus on the transaction in front of you, file your paperwork and move on.
Although U.S. executives routinely promised regulators they’d get tough, former staffers say such efforts were often disregarded in favor of cozy relationships with overseas customers.
Throughout Deutsche Bank, compliance staff members were considered to be “one step above the janitors,” an unnamed former executive told lawyers who filed a 2016 lawsuit against the bank.
In Jacksonville, that task [i.e. know your customer] fell to an office that was understaffed and overly permissive, insiders recall.
Swedish tv station SVT has investigated suspected money laundering by Russian and Ukranian customers of Swedbank. Oligarchs used accounts at Swedbank’s Estonian branch to move money offshore. The documentary is available online in English: part 1 and part 2.
At the end of part 2, Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev is asked “why do you think they [i.e., the bank] let this happen?”. Ms. Kaleniuk replies “because it’s profitable!”.
In my opinion, criminals succeed in money laundering because compliance with AML regulation was (is?) not a priority for top executives.1 A lack of funding and management attention for compliance leads to a mentality of “just check the boxes, so it looks like we did what we had to do”.
Stronger enforcement, including higher fines and other sanctions, might change that situation.
[A] higher share of women on the boards of banks […] is associated with greater stability. As I have said many times, if it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look a lot different today. – Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
In today’s finance & crime news:
“Swedbank AB has fired its chief executive officer, Birgitte Bonnesen, amid allegations the bank was used to launder billions of dollars in Russian money on her watch.” – Bloomberg
For your information, five of the eleven members of Swedbank’s Board of Directors are women.
How international is the European banking landscape?
Jamie Dimon, CEO of American bank JPMorgan Chase, says that European banks need mergers across borders in order to become more competitive. I created the map below to illustrate that Dimon has a point (that’s why he’s richer than you).