When is a Job Real?

It is a difficult fact to face but businesses do not want to be stuck with most of their employees.

Guns, Paranoia and Twinkies

Since the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, the National Rifle Association reports gaining 100,000 new members. Gun sales have gone through the roof, many items are in short supply. Prices have doubled or tripled. What’s going on?

What "Big Data" Can't Do

Sometimes called “the internet of things,” Big Data has arrived. It will “replace ideas, paradigms, organizations and ways of thinking about the world,” said Professor Brynjolfsson, Director of M.I.T.’s Center for Digital Business at a recent conference. Well, maybe. But it’s worth thinking about what it might not be able to do.

Neuroeconomics?

Economists like facts, facts with numbers. And they like to link those facts with human behavior, specifically choices we make about spending, saving and investing. For many years, they had a favorite theory of motivation....

The Age of Apocalypse

We are surrounded by visions of the end of time. The recent obsession about the “end” of the world when the Mayan calendar runs out is just one example of how our culture is fixated on apocalypse. Why?

Debates Don't Matter Anymore

As we look back on November’s election, we hope to understand what produced the outcome: what issues persuaded most voters, what policies carried more weight, what candidates proved more trustworthy. But Sasha Issenberg, a reporter for Slate, has come out with a book that suggests none of those things mattered.

How Much Violence Can We Take?

A highly respected former sports reporter turned editorial commentator for The New York Times, Joe Nocera, just asked the question, “Should kids play football?” And the answer wasn’t clear.

Where Is the 'Human' in H.R. Now?

H.R. professionals used to work hard to maintain their usefulness and integrity. They understood that providing personal professional services is particularly complicated when the provider is a friend, a colleague or a boss. Nowadays, however, they are increasingly hard to find.

Neuromyths

A recent study revealed that two-thirds of the American public believe we only use 10% of our brains, and that is just one of our most widely held “neuromyths,” according to a recent account in The Wall Street Journal. Ironically, “the teachers who knew the most about neuroscience believed the most myths.” (See, “Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again.”)

Learning From Fragility

But Can We Make Ourselves Vulnerable? Five years ago, Nassim Nicholas Taleb captured our attention with his account of “black swans,” unpredictable events of extraordinary consequence. Within the year, the financial crisis both illustrated and vindicated his concept, and “black swans” entered our lexicon.

Voting: A Different Kind of Choice

It looked for a while that a flood of money would deeply skew the election, but that did not happen. The money was raised and spent, but to little effect. In a report on the electoral impact of the Super Pacs, The Daily Beast concluded: “No surprise, the conservative-leaning groups tended to be the biggest losers in our survey....

Trigger Happy Blame

Before we knew who was going to win the presidential election, Slate noted that he would end up being credited with the economic recovery now underway. That’s because our minds work by association, not logic.

America the "Best" and the "Biggest'

Our need to assert America’s superiority to other nations seems to be getting stronger as the case for it gets weaker and weaker. What’s going on?

Immortal Banks

The Daily Beast expressed the other day what most of us are coming to feel about the big banks: “You can slam them. You can sue them. You can even try to split them up. But the big banks won’t care.”

The Hive Hypothesis

A core concept in our culture is that we are individuals in competition with other individuals. Like chimpanzees roaming the veldt....

The Mystery of Consumer Confidence

What do consumers respond to?

What Happened to Truth?

Are we living in a "post-factual age?"

Good Robots, Bad Robots, and Us

Robots are getting better and better, and easier and easier to manage.

Crime Without Criminals?

More and more people are noting that when banks and other financial firms settle charges of fraud and pay out large sums of money as fines, it’s their customers who end up paying the bill. Worse, those actually responsible pay no penalty at all....

Frankenbanking

The recent high frequency trading disaster at Knight Capital brings home the danger of turning key decisions over to computers.

The Dance of the Behemoth Banks

A significant number of the wizards who put together the giant banks now “too big to fail” are having second thoughts. Why?

Do Banks Really Want Customers?

We used to take banks for granted as places to store our money, and sometimes we borrowed money from them as well. But recently it has looked like banks were getting tired of those boring and unprofitable tasks.

What is a Celebrity?

Why do many convicted felons in the US seem to go on to have active and lucrative media careers?

The Regulator's Dilemma

An investigation into why federal regulators failed to detect the dangerous trading practices at JPMorgan Chase reveals a dilemma that has not gotten enough attention.

Our Average Expectable Corruption

Americans seem to take for granted the almost daily revelations of corruption in the financial industry. It’s news, of course, when the manipulation of interbank interest rates is reported or a senior executive is convicted of insider trading. But it fails to stir much outrage. It seems different in London....

The Sovereignty of Wealth

A vast gap has grown up between the financial industry and the rest of us. The evidence is piling up – and it’s not just a matter of wealth.

The Risk of Investing in Things

Capitalism makes it possible to exchange anything for virtually anything else. All objects become commodities with cash values. But people get attached to things...

Gossip: The Unregulated Market in Information

Gossip has a bad name, as does rumor, innuendo, leaks and many of the other quick and dirty ways we have of disseminating information. We reject the idea of gossip because it is irresponsible. But that’s just another way of saying that it is not subject to the usual restraints we impose on our social discourse.

What Politicians Are Not Telling Us About the Economy

Our candidates are talking to voters about getting America back to work, but economists are talking to each other about how this is not likely to happen.

Leadership Out of the Box

“I thought I had to have all the answers myself,” said Kyle Zimmer on starting out as CEO of First Book. “I don’t think I had the humility or the perspective to understand that that’s never the game."

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