What's the Problem with Jobs?

If you Google “Why companies don’t hire,” you get a flood of responses — and an interesting sidelight on the disappointing job news.

The End of Opportunity

Inch by inch, bit by bit, the American Dream has faded away

Two Truths on Taxes

We can usually handle two sets of opinions, without having to conclude that one is wrong. But what about two truths, two conflicting sets of facts? We have that with employment figures and corporate taxes.

The Toothbrush Test For Avoiding Bankers

It’s a crude idea, an inelegant metaphor, but it makes a lot of sense. At a time when the financial industry appears to have a lock on mergers and acquisitions, the technology industry is taking another path. Larry Page calls in the "Toothbrush Test".

The Police and the Military

In the aftermath of the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, we have the beginnings of a long-overdue national discussion about the militarization of local police forces. But what is the difference between the police and the military?

Mergers: A Boom With Many Busts

Mergers are hot again: According to Thompson Reuters, “so far this year, $2.2 trillion in deals has been announced globally.” But nothing brings home the irrational frenzy of today’s Investor Capitalism so much as the impressive scale of some of the failures.

Can Experts Agree?

Should it surprise us when experts actually agree? They frequently are invoked to express clashing points of view

The Empathy Gap

The powerful don’t empathize with those less powerful, according to new research reported in "The New York Times." The reason offered is that, “when people experience power, their brains fundamentally change how sensitive they are to the actions of others.”

How People Are Scammed Again and Again

It seems that the easiest people to scam are those who have been scammed. According to Doug Shadel an expert at AARP: “It’s pretty well known in the fraud world that the best list to get is the list of people who have already been taken.”

Casting Light on Corruption

Researchers have created an “index of corruption,” using a data base of court cases to rank different states. What does this tell us about how normal corruption has become?

Fleeing Taxes

What would you say to someone who tried to avoid taxes by registering as a resident in a state where he had, say, just a mailbox? Better yet, what would that state’s department of taxation say?

Counterintuitive Economics

There are two big ideas that don’t make sense but sometimes work in the world of macro-economics

Ambition's Illness

A team of psychologists set out to study the resilience of high achieving disadvantaged youths, starting with the assumption that their “success stories also translated into physical health benefits.”

The Real Problem With High Speed Trading

The conventional argument against high speed trading is that it gives an advantage to those with faster technology, not better judgment. It’s unfair. It’s analogous to insider trading, using information not generally available – in this case, milliseconds before it is available to others.

Why No Gay CEOs?

Sports figures, politicians, and political pundits have all recently come out of the closet. Why no CEOs?

Can Corporate Boards Be Socially Responsible?

Social responsibility costs money, so how do corporate boards reconcile the demand to increase shareholder value with the price of protecting the environment and concern with the safety of workers. Most don’t try very hard, according to the Harvard Business Review.

A Nation of Extremists

“The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10 percent to 21 percent. And ideological thinking is now much more closely aligned with partisanship than in the past.” Pew Research describes this as politics, but it's also psychopathology.

Why Is Home More Stressful Than the Workplace?

It certainly goes against conventional wisdom, but according to a new study, reported in The Wall Street Journal, we experience more stress at home than we do at work, measured by cortisol levels in the blood.

So Where Are All the American Economists?

A French economist “has put creditable numbers on tax evasion, showing that it’s rampant–and a major driver of wealth inequality,” according to a story in The New York Times. What some have long suspected has proved to be true.

Drug Companies Making Drugs–or Money

A professor of management practice at Harvard Business School recently asked a provocative question about the drug industry: “Is the role of leading large pharmaceutical companies to discover lifesaving drugs or to make money for shareholders through financial engineering?”

Bigger and Bigger and Better?

Increasingly, our financial world is an oligarchy of big established firms: big banks, big cable companies, big hospital systems, big advertising agencies, big airlines – you name it. It has frequently been argued that economies of scale will result in lower prices. Bigger, in other words, is better. But it isn’t always turning out that way.

Are Banks Bad For Us?

After years of an active revolving door between banks and their government regulators, their friends in high places are deserting them. Plain talk and sharp criticism are replacing what The New York Times referred to as “a general willingness to assume that everything was fine.”

Creativity on the Cheap

The secret is to trick yourself into ignoring what you know so well. Half closing your eyes, for example, blotting out the familiar to “see” something new. Turning an image upside down. Being playful or humorous.

Amnesia or Obfuscation?

The chief financial reporter of The New York Times seemed incredulous when he heard what some congressmen were saying about our markets not needing financial regulation: “Representative Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the committee, proclaimed ‘it is almost inconceivable that an asset manager’s failure could cause systemic risk.’

The Power of Short-Term Thinking

There is a growing consensus that our economy has become hostage to short-term thinking, the demand of investors for immediate returns on their investments. The Harvard Business Review focused on this in this month’s feature: “Are Investors Bad For Business?”

"There Is No Job Security"

That’s what a career counselor commented to The New York Times, in a story about rising fears of unemployment. “Job security is maintaining cutting-edge skills and establishing a far-reaching network.” In other words it is about continually preparing to be fired.

Bankers Running Away From Shareholders

Goldman Sachs is holding its annual meeting in Texas, though it is based in New York. Citigroup met in St. Louis. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, met in San Antonio. Why?

The Hard Work of Trust

Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway, suggests that “instead of filling your ranks with lawyers and compliance people, hire people that you actually trust and let them do their job.” A radically simple idea – and a good one....

Detecting Lies

Researchers know that we can be much better at detecting lies than we are – and that should not be so surprising given that polygraphs can do it. The information is stored in our bodies and brains, but the statistics that measure our conscious judgments show us to be miserable failures.

Is the Executive Brain Different?

The Wall Street Journal presented some findings about the “executive brain,” based on neuro-imaging, a technique for observing the brain’s activity while engaged in thinking. It turns out that the executive brain is no different from any other brain. The suggestions it makes for effective performance apply to all forms of thinking.

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