U.S. Editor, Reuters.com, Brooklyn, NY
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Oct 22, 2009

Lab rats, Michael Jordan and Wall Street pay

UPDATE: Watch a Reuters video interview with Ariely.

What do turn of the century lab rats, clutch NBA players like Michael Jordan, and Wall Street’s highest-paid executives have in common? Dan Ariely has some ideas.

“We study the irrationality of people and markets. 2008 was a very good year for us,” the behavioral economist noted wryly at the Poptech conference on Thursday.

Oct 19, 2009

Reuters at Poptech

Reuters will be covering the PopTech conference, dedicated to “world-changing people, projects and ideas,” from Oct 21-25, including interviews with food writer Michael Pollan, Nike sustainability expert Lorrie Vogel, and many more.

Join the conversation by sending a Twitter message with the #poptech hash tag or leave a comment in our live blog.

Oct 1, 2009
via DealZone

Should Ken Lewis get his payday?

Ken Lewis started at Bank of America 40 years ago, working his way up from junior credit analyst to the CEO suite. His employment contract at the nation’s largest banks obviously predates the government’s bailout of Bank of America. Yet pay czar Kenneth Feinberg may have a say on whether he cashes in on retirement benefits and accumulated compensation worth $125 million.Some argue it is simply inappropriate for Feinberg to try to tackle Lewis’ retirement package.”A fair reading of the situation would be he is getting what he is entitled to and game over,” said Alan Johnson, a Wall Street compensation consultant.But to many, Lewis is a poster child for the crisis that struck Wall Street banks last year, nearly collapsing the financial sector and resulting in taxpayers spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out firms like Bank of America.”The Obama administration has to use every tool at its disposal to fix the pay problem, particularly the golden parachute for failed executives,” said Richard Ferlauto, director of corporate governance and pension investments for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the largest U.S. labor unions.Should Lewis get his retirement package in full? Leave your answer in the comments section.

Sep 24, 2009
via MacroScope

G20 live blog from Pittsburgh

Reuters will be live-blogging the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday. Our army of correspondents, equipped with Twitterberries and Flip cams, will be bringing you the latest on the economy, climate change and bank regulation.Click on “Make a comment” below to leave us your thoughts on what the world leaders in Pittsburgh should accomplish. And visit our G20 page for full coverage of the event.

Sep 21, 2009
via Tales from the Trail

Was Afghan report leaker listening to NPR this weekend?


Legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, the former analyst who released the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, offered some well-timed advice Sunday when he appeared on NPR’s On the Media. In an interview with host Brooke Gladstone, he urged government insiders to leak information about a potential build-up of U.S. troops in Afghanistan:

“There are a lot of people looking at estimates that are being withheld from the public … They should ask themselves, did my oath to uphold and support the Constitution really permit me to keep quiet when I see the public being lied to?”I’m sure there are many people in the Pentagon and the CIA and the White House who are in my shoes right now. My advice to them is, don’t do what I did, don’t reveal it six years from now, don’t wait till the escalation has occurred. Instead, they should do what I wish I had done in 1965, which is to the tell the public what I believed right then: That my president was making a terrible mistake, that Congress should hold hearings, Congress should demand the truth and Congress should set him straight.”

Less than 24 hours later, Ellsberg’s contemporary Bob Woodward had this scoop:

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict “will likely result in failure,” according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Sep 13, 2009
via DealZone

Wells Fargo’s Malibu mess

Partying bankers, a foreclosed mansion, Madoff victims and a ritzy Malibu neighborhood that’s home to Tom Hanks: Friday’s Los Angeles TImes story had a little something for everyone.The paper reported that Cheronda Guyton, a Wells Fargo senior vice president responsible for foreclosed commercial properties, spent weekends at 106 Malibu Colony Road throwing “eye-catching” parties, one of which had guests arriving in a yacht.Eyepopping pictures of the mansion are available on the realtor’s website.The Wall Street Journal’s Deal Journal interviewed real estate agent Irene Dazzan-Palmer, who has been trying to sell the property:

It’s explosive because it happened in Malibu. We are a celebrity beach community. It’s also because these poor people lost their house and then a bank employee moves in. It leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

The mansion’s previous owners were forced into foreclosure because they were victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.Wells Fargo has launched an investigation.Tell us your thoughts on this hot-button story.

Sep 10, 2009
via DealZone

Lehman and its aftermath, by the numbers


With apologies to Harper’s Index, some collected statistics on the collapse of Lehman and the roller-coaster year that followed.

Add your own significant digits in the comments section.


Number of siblings who made up the original Lehman Brothers, founded as a dry-goods store in 1844:

Sep 2, 2009
via Ask...

Should junk food be taxed?


Increasingly vocal calls for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food are fueling a behind- the-scenes battle that public health officials say is reminiscent of America’s war on cigarettes.Fueling the debate are revenue-hungry federal, state and local governments officials who are eying a potential $50 billion windfall from taxes on over 10 years.Take a look at the New York City Department of Health’s ad discouraging people from drinking sugary sodas, and let us know whether you think a junk food tax would be good public policy, or an intrusive step too far by the nanny state.

Sep 1, 2009
via From Reuters.com

Following the smart money


At least 20 of the 30 biggest hedge funds boosted their positions in financial institutions in the last quarter, a sign that Wall Street is ready to bet on more risky sectors in the hope of longer-term rewards.The push into financials indicates fund managers including Steven Cohen and John Paulson — closely watched as barometers of risk — have shifted from routine merger arbitrage plays to directional bets with more reward potential.More coverage analyzing the Smart Money:Paulson’s AngloGold bet points to inflationBetting on a takeover of CF Industries Holdings

    • About Adam

      "I'm a nine-year Reuters veteran who has covered a range of technology and media beats in New York and London. In 2006 I was the founding Reuters bureau chief in Second Life, a virtual world with its own currency and economy."
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