Too Big to Be Liable

The accountability banks don’t want to face.

The Secret of Credit

Most of us view trust as valuable and desirable, something that improves the quality of our personal lives. We seldom take the next step and view it as indispensable, a vital ingredient in society — and in the economy.

Problems Without Answers

Our Need for Fictions. We like to think that all problems have solutions. The reasons may be complex and difficult to grasp, but our faith is that if we understand the causes, we can cure the effects.

Bankruptcy, Default, Debt — and Being a Person

In the eyes of the law, a corporation is a person, but when a real person, that is, a person of flesh and blood, declares bankruptcy or defaults on his or her debt it is usually considered a moral failure....

Beta Wealth

Preoccupied as we are with the 1% at the top, we lose sight of how volatile all wealth today has become....

What Do Banks Add to the Economy?

What justifies the bloated expenses of the finance industry, the exorbitant salaries, percentages taken off the top, the finder’s fees, the bonuses? We have to wonder what do bankers do that justifies the added cost of their services?

Are We All Connected?

Here Comes Not Quite Everybody It is a cliché that the Internet connects everyone, so it probably has escaped consciousness that many actually cannot afford the high-speed service the rest of us now take for granted.

Political Desperation and Hatred

“Anyone But Mitt” Democratic politics, in theory, is about people choosing leaders to guide the country. But lately it has come to seem in the U.S. that the process has become vindictive and charged with hatred.

The New Look of Retirement

Retirement used to be thought of as an ideal goal, almost a right. After 30 or 40 years of productive work, people expected to be able to take it easy. But that idea has now become obsolete - and maybe it is undesirable as well.

The Contradictions of Inequality

Though Americans pay lip service to the idea that “all men are created equal,” as Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence, we have always taken huge inequalities for granted.

Truth, Faith, and Evangelical Truth

The line between religion and science seems to be increasingly sharp and abrasive these days, which is bit of a puzzle if you know something about history. Scientists have not been atheists, by and large, and believers have not always been so certain of their beliefs.

We the People and Fraud

How could anyone object to a campaign against fraud? In a society mesmerized by the presence of fraud everywhere – on Wall Street, in corporate headquarters, in politics and, of course, on street corners – it looks all too plausible for government to mount a campaign against voter fraud as well.

Occupy Wall Street Revisited

Those who took the "carnival" on Wall Street seriously seem to have been right. The protesters camping out in lower Manhattan and other financial sites around the world have struck a deep chord that continues to resonate.

Jobs or Good Jobs?

Focusing on the unemployment crisis alone can cause us to ignore the quality of the jobs we need to create.

Occupy Wall Street: Carnival or Protest?

Over the Edge of Politics The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration that has grown over the past few weeks has attracted growing media attention, but not always much respect. Reporters are captivated by the odd assortment of protestors that keeps showing up. Commentators sense it is important, but they don’t know what to make of it.

"Rogue" Traders

Or How to Avoid Blame I have no inside knowledge about Kweku Adoboli, the UBS trader arrested last week after he reportedly lost over two billion dollars. But common sense suggests that the way it is being played in the press is misleading. This cannot be just about the occasional individual “rogues” who run wild.

The Biggest Elephant in the Room

The Growing Gap Between the Rich and the Poor The full story is never on the front pages of our newspapers. You have to piece it together, but the evidence is everywhere -- and it adds up to important and frightening news about how our social fabric is being pulled apart.

Myths of Regulation

Conservatives have embraced the truism that businesses are hurt by government regulation. Ideologically, they argue, rules infringe on individual freedom, but they have also persuaded themselves that they are actually bad for the bottom line.

Seeing CEOs Without Halos

The idealized glow of a halo makes it hard to see clearly – and to think straight. We are reminded about this now as Steve Jobs has stepped down as Apple’s CEO, and the press is full of dire warnings about the company’s future.

Dr. Doom and Risk Aversion

The Wrong Rebound Armies are notorious for fighting the last war. Struggling to prepare for new threats, they are blinded by the former threats they faced, the last war they finished learning to fight. We all tend to have the same problem. It is the other side of learning from experience....

Understanding Why People Riot

We hear it all the time about riots: “hooliganism” or, as David Cameron put it last week, “criminality, pure and simple.” But riots are complex events, hard to reduce to something as simple as that.

Privatizing Justice And Outsourcing Oversight

Only a handful of bankers or brokers have been indicted for criminal actions during the frenzy that led up to the credit crisis, and yet there is widespread agreement that hundreds if not thousands are to blame...

The American Way of Unemployment

According to a recent report in Newsweek: “In the last decade layoffs have become America's export to the world.” It’s a quick and dirty way for businesses to cut back on expenses, but like many quick fixes it conceals a host of unintended costs.

Why the Government Won't Default on Its Debt

The Politics of Blame While the media are obsessed with the prospect of a debt default, very few people in America take it seriously. Even financial markets are calm.

Reforming Capitalism

Can It Be Done? Capitalism must reform itself writes Dominic Barton, the global managing director of McKinsey & Company. He’s not talking about oversight or imposing regulation. He’s talking about fundamental differences in how it is actually working, changes for the “long term.”

Bulletproof Investments

Investors today are more alert than ever to the chance of a catastrophic downturn in financial markets, when conventional forms of risk management fail. “Black Swans” Nassim Taleb called such unexpected and unpredictable events that are not supposed to happen – until they do.

The Costly Paradox of Productivity

Who Pays? The news about unemployment is dismal – and getting worse. Today the official unemployment rate in the U.S. has inched up another tenth of a percent. But there is even worse news, embedded in the seemingly positive figures about productivity in the workplace.

How the Rich Think About Investments

Are They Different From the Rest of Us? The rich, the super-rich and the merely rich around the globe are getting richer. A report in The New York Times confirms what we already know, but it also tells us something about how they are thinking.

The Tight Community of Bosses

Who Will Watch the Watchdogs? Many corporate board members survive damage to their reputations without any penalty, according to The Wall Street Journal. “A surprising number of embattled CEOs, forced out for poor performance or legal problems, find a warm reception from outside corporate boards on which they sit.” Why?