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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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....
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...
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,...”
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.