"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?

Thinking and Tweeting

What Does It Take to Do Both? Bill Keller recently weighed in on something many of us worry about: will the intellectual development of our children be stimulated or stunted by Facebook?

The Political Irrelevance of the Unemployed

The great advantage of democracy is that it gives a voice to those who can speak. But what if your voice is too weak to be heard?

The Decline of Men

The Erosion of Male Advantage in the Workplace It has generally been thought that men get better as they age.... But if there was any truth to this, recently evidence suggests these benefits no longer count. Time is not on their side.

A Yet More Pathetic Fallacy

The Economy Projecting feelings into forests and clouds is a great way to evoke moods, but it’s startling to see economist routinely doing this to the economy. When poets do this to nature, we call it the “pathetic fallacy,” but what should we call it when economists do it to economic data?

There's More to life Than Happiness

The Endless, Inconclusive Pursuit There are several problems with making happiness the goal of life. It’s elusive, constantly shifting. It’s ephemeral. And it also leaves out too much of what makes life satisfying.

Four "Money Scripts"

What Money Really Buys There are four basic attitudes to money, according to Brad Klontz, a research associate professor at Kansas State University. He calls them “money scripts”: money avoidance, money worship, money status and money vigilance.

Three Ways of Celebrating the Death of Bin Laden

Three Different Points of View Many were jubilant after the announcement of Bid Laden’s death. But what were they so happy about?

So Easy To Be Bad

Two professors of management, Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunzel, recently concluded: “people consistently believe themselves to be more ethical than they are.”

Are the British More Rational?

Deficits in Britain and America Both countries face "broadly similar deficit challenges," as The New York Times put it in a recent story. "Britain aims to close a fiscal gap of about 10 percent of gross domestic product. The comparable figure in the United States is 9.5 percent." That's where the similarities end.

Work and Suicide

What it means to be without work: Common sense suggests that suicides will increase in times of economic hardship, like all other expressions of psychological distress. So far, however, the evidence has been mixed.

When Reassurance Gives You the Jitters

Trying to Calm the Public Why is it that the efforts to calm the public after Japan’s nuclear disaster didn’t work?

Jobs Are Up, But What Kinds of Jobs?

The media have been celebrating the good news about unemployment. The rate has gone down to 8.8%. But the news obscures the fact that having a job does not provide security for many people.

Why Do the Rich Feel Poor?

And Who is Really Wealthy? A recent survey by Fidelity Investments showed: “Some 42 percent of more than 1,000 millionaires . . . said they did not feel wealthy. Respondents had at least $1 million in investable assets,...”

Making Stupid MIstakes

Seeing and Not Seeing Many simple mistakes are obvious once you see them -- and almost impossible to detect before you do. Writing in The New York Times recently, Joseph Hallinan noted our tendency to infer what we see rather than actually look closely.

Frightened By Japan

Keeping It in Perspective The earthquake and Tsunami in Japan may not have as much of an economic impact on the world as we feared. “Globally, Japan will likely be a growth hiccup,” says The Wall Street Journal. On the other hand, many of us are reacting on a more personal level....