More on Academic Kickbacks

by Chris Sturr | November 17, 2010

The Paid Expert

When he read my last post, Rob Larson (author of the cover story in the current issue of D&S) forwarded me an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal, Beware of “Independent” Investing Research, and the accompanying graphic (see above).

I had been planning to post again on that very issue of economists for hire–the link I gave in my last post to the Chronicle article by Charles Ferguson hammers home on that, and the NYT just had an article on sky-high compensation for academic CEOs–whoops, I mean administrators.  One of the ones they mentioned was Columbia’s Lee Bollinger (I noticed because most of the Ivy presidents are not among the most highly compensated–the top folks tend to be from 2nd- or 3rd-tier private universities–here’s the table).  The blog where the review to Inside Job appeared had an ad for a book by Bollinger about free speech–ugh. I wonder if he said anything about the distorting effects of money on free speech. And I noticed that Bollinger was one of the people whom Ferguson tried to interview but who refused (see here).  Also, the NYT had an op-ed by Glenn Hubbard (here) about the Catfood Commission–whoops, I mean the Deficit Commission. The op-ed was repulsive. Entitled Left, Right and Wrong on Taxes, it declares early on that “we are in a difficult situation in large part because we have designed entitlements for a welfare state we cannot afford” and praises the commission’s “Zero Plan” for cutting marginal tax rates and corporate tax rates. But Hubbard is one of the people called out in the Charles Ferguson article I linked to in my last post:

Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the first George W. Bush administration, dean of Columbia Business School, adviser to many financial firms, on the board of Metropolitan Life ($250,000 per year), and formerly on the board of Capmark, a major commercial mortgage lender, from which he resigned shortly before its bankruptcy, in 2009. In 2004, Hubbard wrote a paper with William C. Dudley, then chief economist of Goldman Sachs [now president of the NY Fed], praising securitization and derivatives as improving the stability of both financial markets and the wider economy.

Ugh. The point is that this kind of corruption is easy to notice if you just glance at bylines and author bios–no research required (though of course Ferguson has obviously done lots of great research). People like Hollinger and Hubbard should just be disqualified from weighing in on public conversations. A main reason we “can’t afford” “entitlements” and the “welfare state” is that people like Hollinger and Hubbard, who must be in the top 1% of earners, are taxed at historically low rates, and people like Hubbard (and all the other economists Ferguson fingers) advocated policies that crashed the economy and gave windfalls to the wealthy. Yet Hubbard gets to mouth off about the Catfood Commission on the pages of the NYTimes.

And don’t get me started about Bloomberg’s appointment of crony Cathy Black as head of the NYC schools.  First the billionaire CEO buys the mayoralty of NYC, then he buys it again and overrides a voter-mandated term-limit law.  Now he’s appointing a fellow CEO with no experience in public education to head the public schools.

This is our future under plutocracy, I guess.

Ok–I didn’t get to posting all that stuff about QE2 and the big banks;  I will aim to do so by the end of the week.

–Chris Sturr

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