Felix Salmon

The non-scandal of Scott Irwin and Craig Pirrong

December 29, 2013

Ostensibly Respectable Academic Is In Fact A Hack: it’s a hardy perennial, and an enjoyable one at that. The best example is Inside Job, where big names like Ric Mishkin and Glenn Hubbard got their well-deserved comeuppance. And it’s a genre I’ve indulged in myself: last year, for instance, I spent 4,500 words on a paper by Bob Litan, showing how he lies with numbers to arrive at his paymasters’ predetermined conclusion.

Why it’s not OK for cyclists to run red lights

August 5, 2012

Randy Cohen, the NYT’s former Ethicist columnist, has now attempted an ethical defense of running red lights on his bicycle. “I flout the law when I’m on my bike,” he writes; “you do it when you are on foot, at least if you are like most New Yorkers.”

Business ethics need to move beyond what’s illegal

July 18, 2012

Business school professor Luigi Zingales, with the full agreement of fellow business-school professor Justin Wolfers, has an important op-ed under a provocative headline: “Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?”

Media ethics and transparency

July 11, 2012

I’ve just been told that it’s International Media Ethics Day in September, which is so far away that I’m bound to forget to post something. But I have been thinking a bit about media ethics of late, and especially the ever-increasing list of rules designed to ensure that journalists are neither conflicted nor seen to be conflicted. And the more I look at such things, the more I come to the conclusion that all too often they do a very good job of banning harmless activity, while at the same time proving quite ineffective against situations which are far more ethically problematic.

Is Kenneth Dam working for Elliott Associates?

May 13, 2012

Kenneth Dam is an unusually reticent professor. Since he released his amicus brief in the case of Elliott vs. Argentina, I’ve phoned him and sent him multiple emails to two different addresses, but have received no reply at all. Which is odd, because he clearly feels very strongly about the case — strongly enough to enlist Kevin Reed, of the white-shoe law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, to put together his brief and submit it to the Second Circuit.

Was Walmart’s ethics policy part of the problem?

April 24, 2012

Back in November 2006, Eduardo Castro-Wright, who was then the US president of Walmart, dispatched the company’s jet to pick up marketing head Julie Roehm in Chicago. She arrived late, in an ice storm, but made it in to the Walmart headquarters, where Castro-Wright started grilling her on the agency review process: how she had picked DraftFCB as the agency which would take over Walmart’s $1 billion-per-year account. Roehm had interviewed some 30 agencies before settling on Draft; the questions centered on whether she had allowed any of those agencies to pay for dinner while she was talking to them, and whether she had accepted a lift in the car of any of the agencies’ CEOs.

Could the NYT make money from its scoops?

April 24, 2012

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the NYT’s Walmart exposé this weekend is that it was such a surprise to the market. Note this, for instance:

When journalists take money from Wall Street

March 20, 2012

Many thanks to Paul Starobin for getting to the bottom of the question of journalists being paid by Wall Street to give speeches. This is one of those issues, a bit like the exact meaning of “off the record”, where everybody thinks they know what the standard is, but everybody also thinks it’s different.

Hank Paulson’s inside jobs

November 29, 2011

What on earth did Hank Paulson think his job was in the summer of 2008? As far as most of us were concerned, he was secretary of the US Treasury, answerable to the US people and to the president. But at the same time, in secret meetings, Paulson was hanging out with his old Goldman Sachs buddies, giving them invaluable information about what he was thinking in his new job.