HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  December 1, 2016

Billionaire 'King of Bankruptcies' to Head Commerce Under Trump

Despite promises to 'drain the swamp,' Trump chose a man for Deputy Secretary of Commerce who enriched himself at expense of labor and consumers and shipped jobs overseas, says University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Bill Black
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Thanks for providing such a reliable news website - Shakur K
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. Black was a central figure in exposing Congressional corruption during the Savings and Loan Crisis.


JAISAL NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. Thanks for joining us again. We're continuing our conversation. This is Part 2 of our chat with Bill Black. Bill is an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, white-color criminologist, former financial regulator, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Of course, a regular contributor to The Real News. Thanks so much for joining us again, Bill.

Bill, in Part 1 we discussed Steve Mnuchin. Let's go to Wilbur Ross, Trump's pick for Commerce Secretary. Trump called him "the champion of American manufacturing". He's tasking him with cutting regulations and also unleashing America's energy resources. What can you tell us about him?

BILL BLACK: This is the primary swamp denizen that Trump promised to drain the swamp; instead, he's going to take all the creatures from the lagoon and put them in charge. Ross is the king of bankruptcy. He's also the king of running mines -- coal mines that killed people. So, you know, he's actively anti-labor. He has no interest in protecting consumers. As you said, he is going to be charged with deregulating and we saw what that has done every time they've done it -- in the savings and loan debacle, in the Enron and then in the most recent crisis. So, these are people -- it's wrong to say that they haven't learned nothing. They've learned exactly that they made a fortune out of the deregulation. They make it on the upside during the Bubble, and as we discussed in the last episode, they make it on the downside, after the Crash, through their foreclosures, and in the case of the commerce nominee, they make it through the failures of bankruptcy. And then, of course, Trump has said that he is one of the kings of bankruptcy and of screwing creditors in the process. Well, he's actually small fry compared to Ross.

JAISAL NOOR: Ross considers himself a savior of industry, like steel, and The Wall Street Journal reports that even some of his former adversaries have credited him with saving factories and even pensions for workers that might have been cut during his acquisitions and his reselling of those factories, one of those was right here in Baltimore, Bethlehem Steel; in the early 2000s, he bought it, and sold it in 2005. And his argument is that these would've been liquidated, "I helped negotiate with unions and other stakeholders, and I got people their jobs back."

That's sort of how Trump's selling him. He's going to help bring back industry. How do you respond to that?

BILL BLACK: Right. So, that negotiation with labor and with creditors, well, again, that's the same thing Trump does in bankruptcy. He first takes the cash out, then he says to his creditors, "Look! You could demand your pensions and you could demand to be paid and such, but if you do, it will all collapse. And so, I want a special deal in which I don't have to pay back most of my debts. I get to keep all those profits I got in the past, but I don't want to pay back my debts." And the bank gets the old joke that if a bank loans you $20,000, the bank owns you, but if the bank loans you $200 million, well, then you own the bank. You have the leverage as the debtor because they don't want to recognize this bad debt loss, and there are special accounting rules -- it's called a troubled debt restructuring -- that don't require you to recognize the losses immediately when you do one of these bailout deals. So, that's what he's actually king at.

To say that that means that the place survives, well, it would've survived anyway out of bankruptcy. The assets still exist. The workers still exist. So, the difference is this makes the hedge fund guy incredibly rich, and hedge fund guys are -- and they are richly all guys -- are, by far, the richest people. And, you know, people complain about Goldman Sachs. I complain about Goldman Sachs, and the salaries. But the hedge fund guys often make 10 times more than the CEOs of major banks. And, by the way, hedge funds have been out-performed by the general market, I think, this is the seventh year in a row, or so. So, they get them that massed amount of money not because of competence, but because, basically, they skim money off of these funds. They charge really disproportionately high funds [sic], and nobody complains as much because they're mostly taking it from other incredibly wealthy people. The typical person investing in these hedge funds has net worths measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

JAISAL NOOR: And part of what Wilbur Ross does, as well, is he often shifts jobs overseas, something that Trump has railed against from day one in his campaign. What could that mean for his role as the Commerce Secretary?

BILL BLACK: Well, that means yet another one of those campaign promises that was simply for the suckers. They've put the people in charge who have rigged the system over the last 30 years and that's hardly a surprise since Trump is exactly one of those people that survives solely because of inherited money and then a rigged system when he screws up the investments, which he does on a routine basis.

JAISAL NOOR: Just for our viewers, he was also involved in resurrecting Trump's casino business when that was failing, and Forbes ranks him as the 232nd richest person in the world. He's worth about $2.9 billion. Bill Black, thanks so much for joining us.

BILL BLACK: That's, by the way, normal for hedge fund owners.

JAISAL NOOR: Thank you for joining us at The Real News Network.



Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Israeli Forces Kill 4 Palestinians, Injure 40 on Israel's Independence Day
Infamous Mercenary Erik Prince Being Considered to Build Trump's Foreign Army for Syria
Leaders of China and Japan to Meet -- Could Be a Game Changer
Cuba has a New President: Is he 'Fidelista' or 'Raulista'?
Marc Steiner Show: Chelsea Manning
House Raid Illustrates How Baltimore Police Refuse to Take Black Residents Rights Seriously
Korean Peninsula in Historic Peace Talks - Thanks to Activists, Not Trump
Teacher Strikes Continue to Spread - A Symptom of Public Education Underfunding
IMF Says 2018 Economic Outlook is Rosy, But Austerity is Still Needed
Debunking the Myth of American Exceptionalism, with David Swanson
New Student Movement Seeks to Change Hopkins from Within
Corbyn: Does Strike on Syria Justify Bombing Saudi Arabia over Yemen?
Fighting the Oligarchy Inside the Democratic Party
Lopez Obrador's Lead Widens in Mexican Presidential Race Thanks to Trump
Justin Trudeau Vows to Bail Out Profitable Oil Company, Kinder Morgan
Global Warming's Impact on Ocean Currents to Amplify Sea Level Rise
State's Attorney's Race: Thiru Vignarajah on Freddie Gray and Gun Trace Task Force
Defense Stocks Soar as Trump Wages War on Syria
Philippines' Duterte Uses 'War on Terror' Tactics to Crack Down on Leftists
Philippines' Drug War Kills Poor Addicts, Not Rich Dealers
Col. Larry Wilkerson on Syria: War Powers are the 'Surest Way to Tyranny'
Senior Bernie Advisor says 'Bullshit' to Cuomo Campaign Claim It's 'Lockstep' with Sanders
The Perils of Being a Prosecutor and a Politician
France Joins US in a 'Poker Game,' Targeting Iran and Hezbollah
Activists Offer Palestinian and Kurdish Solidarity
Starbucks and the Criminalization of Blackness
Saudi Dictator Dines with French President as Yemenis Starve
State's Attorney's Race: Marilyn Mosby on Tyrone West, Keith Davis and Her Critics
Can a Government Program End Racist Government Practices?
Another Massive Tax Break for Developers? One Key Official Says No,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting