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HackwatchNewsletter | June 7, 2024

Neoliberal Champions Under the Microscope: Hackwatch’s Latest Exposés

Adam PosenCatherine RampellHackwatchJamie DimonKen Rogoff
Neoliberal Champions Under the Microscope: Hackwatch’s Latest Exposés

This article first appeared in our weekly Hack Watch newsletter on media accountability. Subscribe here to get it delivered straight to your inbox every week, and check out our Hackwatch website.

Today, RDP is pleased to unveil four new Hackwatch bios on Jamie Dimon, Adam Posen, Ken Rogoff, and Catherine Rampell. All of them represent neoliberalism and corporate apologists; continually speaking on behalf of the current economic orthodoxy that has led us to our current polycrisis. Read below for a brief overview of the most salient aspects of their bios, and check them out in full at hackwatch.us to learn more about the cynical ways they spread economic and political misconceptions in the media.

Jamie Dimon is the bank executive at the helm of the United States’ largest bank. He frequently appears on mainstream news outlets, from CNN to The New York Times, Fox News, Bloomberg, CNBC, and more. A career monopolist, he has excelled at acquiring banks and other financial firms. Under his watch, JPMorgan has become repeatedly embroiled in investigations by financial regulators, leading to the bank paying out billions of dollars in fines for serious regulatory infractions. To make matters worse, his bank sits at the very top of several risk scores by the Office of Financial Research (OFR). Obviously, since he is leading the riskiest bank in America while constantly getting into trouble with regulatory authorities, he uses every chance he gets to denounce any efforts at imposing more robust regulatory safeguards on the financial industry.

Dimon consistently spreads the misconception that increased bank oversight and stringent regulations would harm the economy. He also disparages student loan forgiveness, despite JPMorgan earning a whopping $6.9 billion when it sold its student loan portfolio in 2017, and has defended the way his bank has used overdraft fees to exploit the poorest Americans. As an executive board member of the Business Roundtable, he has denounced Biden’s proposed billionaire and corporate tax hikes in the FY 2025 budget proposal. The group has also spread the misconception that higher corporate tax rates lower workers’ wages—a myth that the Economic Policy Institute has debunked. 

Adam Posen is a Harvard-trained economist, former central banker, and frequent writer for the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Finance & Development Magazine, as well as the in-house publication of the International Monetary Fund. He leads the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank whose founding chair was Peter G. Peterson, the co-founder of Blackstone, former Lehman Brothers CEO, and Richard Nixon’s Commerce Secretary. Posen has also served as a consultant during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations to the Departments of Treasury and State, the White House Council of Economic Advisors, as well as to the IMF, the European Commission, a number of central banks, and more. Described as a “superstar central banker,” he served on the Bank of England’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee. 

Posen has made anti-worker arguments when defending corporate-friendly trade agreements. He has criticized the effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, falsely equating it with pandering to non-college-educated white men. He has consistently supported trade liberalization, and when speaking on the economic destruction wrought by the globalization of the 1990s, said that “…some people have suffered, but that happens all the time.” Posen has also criticized the function of government subsidies in promoting green industrial development. He routinely cites Covid-19 vaccine inequality to warn that current industrial policies could lead to unequal global access to green technologies. However, it was the intellectual property regime underpinned by the World Trade Organization and supported by Posen, not government subsidies, which prevented the equitable distribution of Covid jabs. 

Ken Rogoff is a neoliberal ideologue. He holds an endowed chair in international economics at Harvard, and is an advisor to centrist think tank Economic Innovation Group. He is a longtime Republican, and was also chief economist to the International Monetary Fund during the George W. Bush administration. 

Through what would be considered severe academic fraud if it came from someone less prominent, Rogoff fudged numbers in his work, “Growth in a Time of Debt” to suggest that there is a strong correlation between high levels of public debt and slower GDP growth. This paper and other works were used to push through austerity measures amidst the Great Recession, despite the fact that millions of people were in particularly dire need of financial support from the government. After a UMass Amherst student and their professor started inspecting Rogoff’s paper more closely, they discovered that an Excel coding error and an unusually weighted data set were behind the results. Rogoff’s fudged numbers directly led to millions of people not receiving desperately needed government assistance after a major financial catastrophe.

Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist at The Washington Post, and has also appeared on CNN, PBS NewsHour, and Marketplace. Rampell claims a commitment to data-driven journalism, but her inability to call out corporations for their role in the 2021-2022 inflationary period has put her at explicit odds with the growing body of scholarship on seller’s inflation. Sellers’ inflation explains inflation by showing that in industries which are controlled by large monopolies, coordinated price hikes have unjustifiably raised prices. Rampell, however, has opted to focus on the question of “greed”. “Greed” is a non-scientific term and a convenient abstraction, and she uses it to misrepresent the scholars writing about seller’s inflation as unserious amateurs who don’t really know how economics “works.” The claim being made is that consolidated markets were the dry forest and the pandemic the inflammatory spark that set forth a forest fire of inflation. But by refusing to engage with the actual causal argument she was ostensibly critiquing, Rampell committed herself to serving as an apologist for the corporate oligopolies truly responsible for raising prices. 

Among her other views, Rampell has also denounced student debt forgiveness, falsely characterizing helping people with undergraduate degrees who are saddled with suffocating amounts of debt as a handout to the rich. Her penchant for defending business interests has also led her to repeatedly warn against a $15 federal minimum wage. Amidst the UAW strikes in the fall of 2023, she played “devil’s advocate” for the auto bosses, a practice which in effect attempted to delegitimize the autoworkers’ grievances and challenged the political momentum behind their actions.

The fact that Rampell is viewed as a member of the center-left with views on inflation, unions, and the labor market that are well to the right of the median American makes her influential. Proper understanding of her as an anti-Trump centrist with corporate friendly tendencies would be much more accurate–and this sort of re-classification is important for our economic discourse as a whole. 

These are just a glimpse at the new personalities gracing our list of Hacks. Be sure to check out the full bios to learn more about the various ways in which these hacks are undermining public discourse on economic issues. 

Adam PosenCatherine RampellHackwatchJamie DimonKen Rogoff

More articles by Jacob Plaza

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