The True Story Of How One Economist Fraud Conned Other Economist Frauds... And Everyone Else

Tyler Durden's picture

We have long argued that when it comes to the deplorable and insolvent state of modern "developed" societies, the fault lies as much at the bottom, as at the top: the bottom, in this case, being the economic establishment in both academia and 'practice' that peddles a voodoo pseudoscience as a legitimate explanation for the unpredictable happenings in irrational world, meant to give people an illusory sense of control, and which works until it doesn't and fails spectacularly, at which point "the top", or the central banks conceived to smooth reality when it does not conform to economist models (and to facilitate wealth transfer from the poor to the rich of course), have to step in and fill gaping holes some $20+ trillion wide - see: 2008/2009 (all the while, the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, by way of that invisible tax known as inflation continues). And while it has proven easy for the shamans of this voodoo class to fool the general population time and again (use big words, speak loudly and with confidence, mock any opposing voices as not having a Ph.D. or a Nobel prize in economics... "act as if") in their infallibility and superiority or that they have even the faintest clue what it is they are talking about, the reverse has also turned out to be true. And as the case of one Mr. Baptista da Silva from Portugal has shown, there is nothing easier than for an economist to con other economists. Or, rather, one fraud to con a whole lot of other frauds.

From The Independent:

As an ex-presidential consultant, a former adviser to the World Bank, a financial researcher for the United Nations and a professor in the US, Artur Baptista da Silva's outspoken attacks on Portugal's austerity cuts made the bespectacled 61-year-old one of the country's leading media pundits last year.

 

The only problem was that Mr Baptista da Silva is none of the above. He turned out to be a convicted forger with fake credentials and, following his spectacular hoodwinking of Portuguese society, he could soon face fraud charges.

 

Mr Baptista da Silva's conversion into the latest must-interview figure on the media circuit began when he turned up last April at Lisbon's main philanthropic institution, the Academia do Bacalhau, with a large supply of business cards – which, it later turned out, bore false credentials – and an impressive-sounding dissertation entitled Growth, Inequality and Poverty. Looking Beyond Averages which, it also transpired, was "borrowed" from its writer, a World Bank employee, via the internet.

 

At the time, Mr Baptista da Silva also claimed to be a social economics professor at Milton College – a private university in Wisconsin, US, which actually closed in 1982 – and to be masterminding a UN research project into the effects of the recession on southern European countries. He even, some reports say, tried to pass himself off as a former adviser to Portugal's President, Joaio Sampaio, and the World Bank.

 

Blessed with such an impressive CV, Mr Baptista's subsequent criticisms of the Lisbon government's far-reaching austerity cuts, as well as dire warnings that the UN planned to take action against it, struck a deep chord with its financially beleaguered population.

 

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, his powerfully delivered comments at a debate at the International Club, a prestigious Lisbon cultural and social organisation last month, were greeted with thunderous applause and a part-standing ovation.

Remember: never, ever, question what you are told, or what passes as economic dogma and canon. Only nut job conspiracy theorists do that. Yet perhaps others should give it a try - it is amazing what rabbit holes they uncover:

Then, in a double page interview in the weekly newspaper Expresso in mid-December, Mr Baptista da Silva continued to denounce the government's policies. That was followed by an interview for the radio station TSF, appearances in high-profile television debates and well-publicised meetings with trade union leaders to advise them on economic policies.

 

Yet in the country's jails, Mr Baptista da Silva's sudden appearance among the intellectual elite caused amazement among his former cellmates. A colleague from his old school, lawyer Ricardo Sa Fernandes, who had come across Mr Baptista da Silva behind bars by chance when visiting one of his clients, told Visao magazine that when he saw the convicted fraudster on TV he was "staggered by his ability to put his past life behind him".

 

Mr Baptista da Silva's comeuppance began when the UN confirmed to a Portuguese TV station last month that he did not work for the organisation, not even as a volunteer, as he later alleged. Further media investigations uncovered his prison record and fake university titles, though Mr Baptista da Silva's claims to have studied economics have not been categorically disproven.

 

After sending out a press release blasting his former journalist friends and colleagues for what he called a "witch-hunt", Mr Baptista da Silva has now disappeared completely from public life, and there are reports he is under investigation for fraud charges by the police.

Sad: the one things that was missing from da Silva's arsenal to fool everyone in his intellectual superiority, his totally fraudulent background notwithstanding which went unquestioned for eight months, would have been a Nobel prize in Economics. Then everyone would have surely been totally and utterly fooled that this particular economist fraud was legitimate.

As for what the above episode demonstrates about all other economists, we let readers decide for themselves.

That one can con the general public, and other "academic peers" into believing one is sophisticated and educated, and most importantly, is an expert economist, and with such apparent facility, does more to denounce the shamanic bullshit that is economics, than we ever could.