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....

Don't Retire

The Surprising Benefits of Continuing to WorkMore and more evidence suggests that retirement is not good for you. It's not just that we can't afford it, as pensions and other benefits are cut. It's bad for your health. 

The Social Unconscious

The Wisdom of Crowds RevisitedNature is full of examples of animals that pool their wisdom in the service of survival. Man too has that potential, but it is lost in the confusion and noise of individual conflict. 

Plenty of White Collar Crime, But Where Are the "Criminals?"

Is It a Contradiction in Terms?There is no shortage of white-collar crime in business and in government. The press is full of it. But there is little reference to white-collar "criminals." Is that a term reserved for the poor? 

Students' Stress Levels Rise

Is It About Unemployment?A recent survey revealed unprecedented levels of stress among college students in the US. Many commentators leaped to the conclusion that this reflected the uncertain job market. But do high levels of unemployment actually cause stress in students? 

Anxiety, Avoidance, Denial, and Worse

How to Really Mess up Your FinancesI have known patients who never open their mail - including bills. They live in so much dread of bad news that they make a point of avoiding any news at all. 

Unknown Knowns

What Madoff's Bankers Might Have KnownThe line between what we know and what we don't know is not as sharp as we would like to believe. Did Madoff's bankers know about his Ponzi scheme, as he insists they had to? Did they not know? Or did they not know that they knew it? 

Good Anxiety --and Bad

And How to Tell the DifferenceA certain amount of anxiety is useful - even indispensable. If you understand that it is a signal of impending danger, you can grasp its vital importance. When is danger ever entirely absent? 

Self-Esteem in the Marketplace

The Surprising Power of BrandsWe tend to assume that we have confidence in ourselves based on who we are and what we have done - or we don't. We think we feel good about ourselves consistently - or we don't. But it turns out that these internal beliefs are actually quite volatile. 

Love and Money

Thoughts for Valentine 's DayAn important way to be mindful about money is to keep your head when your heart is involved. All too many relationships get into trouble when personal finances are joined before each party gets to understand how far they can trust the other.