Blame, Bias and Belief

Having just begun The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, I wanted to share a wonderful excerpt. While this student is commenting on the origins of the First World War, his comments take us far beyond. “Indeed, isn’t the whole…

Solving Our Economic Problems

Having experienced an economic calamity, don’t we just need to figure out how to prevent it from happening again? Yes…but that might be impossible. MIT economist Andrew Lo read 21 books on the financial crisis. 11 were from academics, 10…

Consumer Choices

If you were asked today to plan next week’s snacks, would you select fruit or chocolate? In a 1998 study, 74% of those surveyed said fruit. However, when the same people had to decide between fruit and chocolate for today’s snack,…

Leverage

In many ways, the recent financial crisis was (and is) really about seesaws. A seesaw is a lever that lets you do a lot with a little. Using a seesaw, a person weighing 100 pounds can lift someone at the…

Crisis Autopsy

In an October NY Times op-ed, Calvin Trillin describes a (hypothetical) conversation in a midtown bar about the financial crisis. “The financial system nearly collapsed because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.” By contrast, decades ago, a top student became…