Economic Ties?


As rare as it is to get any two economists to agree, the chances are even slimmer of hearing three Nobel economics laureates concur.

And so it was that each of the award winning economists — Eric Maskin (2007), Michael Spence (2001) and Robert Merton(1997) — all had their own take on the legacy of three years of financial and economic crises when they spoke to a conference organised by Pioneer Investments  in London last week.

 To be fair, they broadly coagulated around the inevitability of greater regulation of banking and finance and also on the enormity of China’s now imposing position in world economic affairs.

That said, when it came to the burning issue of the moment — whether Greece’s deepening government debt crisis sounds a death knell for Europe’s single currency — they were poles apart. Maskin reckoned markets were correct to question the euro’s future; Spence felt “creative solutions” would be found to see monetary union muddle through.

But if you’re wondering why markets seem to have got the heebeegeebees about the global economic recovery all of a sudden this year, Bob Merton — no stranger to markets doing the unexpected in his 1998 role as a director of failed hedge fund Long Term Capital Management – captured it best.

from Adam Pasick:

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.

As pay czar Kenneth Feinberg prepares his plan to slash bonuses at bailed-out banks and automakers, perhaps it's time to question one of the central assumptions of the exec comp status quo: Does more compensation always make people more motivated and better at their jobs?