- The Big Picture - http://www.ritholtz.com/blog -

Why is AEI Scrubbing Wallison’s Name From AEI’s Financial Deregulation Project?

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On December 15, 2010 @ 10:42 am In Analysts,Bailouts,Credit,Politics,Real Estate | Comments Disabled

It appears that the web editors at the AEI have been busy.

Peter Wallison, currently a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission,
was also the co-director of AEI’s Financial Deregulation Project, along with his co-director, Columbia professor Charles Calomoris [1].

Over at Calomoris’s bio, his status as co-director of AEI’s Financial Deregulation Project is the first sentence;

Not so on for his co-director Wallison. Indeed, any reference to his participation on the Financial Deregulation Project is gone from Wallison’s AEI bio [2].  Instead, the language has been replaced with the more benign “codirector of AEI’s program on financial policy studies.”

Why the change? After all, it is the AEI’s position that deregulation was not a cause of the crisis.

The language change is a poor attempt to hide Wallison’s role in the radial deregulation of derivatives, banking, leverage and sub-prime mortgages from casual inspection.

This Intellectual dishonesty is telling, but unnecessary. Many people from across the political spectrum agree with the AEI that the bank bailouts were wrong, that corporate giveaways are inappropriate, and that the government created Moral Hazard.

However, some of those people consider data, facts, details, as part of their analysis.

Wallison, like most idealogues (on the Right and the Left), suffers from cognitive dissonance: When presented with facts that challenge or contradict his ideology, their brains get flummoxed. Rather than accept the possibility that deeply held beliefs are wrong, the mind fabricates rationales and excuses for the evidence in front of them. The same cognitive factors that lead sports fans to blame the referees when their teams fail to impress also lead idealogues to ignore facts and focus on beliefs. Hence, the wingnut obsession with the CRA, Fannie Mae, even Acorn as the prime cause of the crisis.

Somehow, it was apparently not dissonant enough to recognize how bad that looked — and so, it appears the title on Wallison’s bio was changed (I know I saw it there previously). You can find the same title on a few other AEI pages — see for example this [3] — and on Google’s cache, but you better hurry, its disappearing. (Its still at his Wikipedia entry [4], but I would bet not for long).

Why someone who writes articles with titles such as “Deregulation Not to Blame for Financial Woes [5]” can possibly be a fair minded member of this panel is another story that references the incompetency of the Obama White House, but that is an entirely different post.

This morning, we learned that all 4 GOP members [6] are refusing to participate in the panels findings, and instead are releasing their own set of findings that conflict with their ideology.

My views are simply to follow the data where it leads and you and draw conclusions from that, rather than start with your conclusions and focus only on items that support those predilections . . .

>

UPDATE DECEMBER 21 2010 10:19am

I wrote Wallison asking about this — his (unedited) response follows:

“Sure, happily. Several years ago, I was named the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at AEI. At that point, it seemed sensible to me to change the name of the policy area that I was co-heading. I forgot to tell Charlie Calomiris, who was my co-head, and he did not make the change in his bio. Never having read his bio, I didn’t notice this. That’s all there is to it.”

>

[7]

>

Update: December 15, 2010 4:05pm

Dan Gross adds to the ouevre here:

Scrubbing History at the American Enterprise Institute [8]

>

Previously:
AEI: Continually, Unrepentently, Embarrassingly Wrong [9] (September 2010)


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/12/aei-scrubbing-wallisons-fin-dereg-project/

URLs in this post:

[1] Charles Calomoris: http://www.aei.org/scholar/9

[2] Wallison’s AEI bio: http://www.aei.org/scholar/58

[3] this: http://www.aei.org/basicPages/20040927152122935

[4] Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_J._Wallison

[5] Deregulation Not to Blame for Financial Woes: http://www.aei.org/article/28701

[6] 4 GOP members: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/business/economy/15panel.html

[7] Image: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/AEI-Wallison.png

[8] Scrubbing History at the American Enterprise Institute : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Scrubbing-History-American-dg-3420375950.html

[9] AEI: Continually, Unrepentently, Embarrassingly Wrong: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/11/aei-continually-unrepentently-embarrassingly-wrong/

Copyright © 2008 The Big Picture. All rights reserved.