Why do Conservatives Oppose Prosecuting Elite Corporate Frauds?

There are at least four principles that virtually all conservatives purport to support – except when the potential defendant is socially elite.  I have written previously about two of these principles on several occasions – the need for accountability and “broken windows” theory that calls for the prosecutors to make the prosecution of even minor […]

The Wall Street Takeover, Part 2

Five years later, and things seem marginally better in some areas (the CFPB exists), significantly worse in others (LIBOR, money laundering, London Whale, etc.). There has been some debate recently about whether we have a safer financial system today than before Lehman collapsed. But the fundamental issue, as Simon and I discussed in 13 Bankers, is […]


When I was a kid, there was always one response that won any playground argument: “Your mom wears Army boots”. It was the magic trump card that humiliated the opponent and ensured victory. To be sure, I never quite understood why. Was it because she “wore the boots in the family”? Or because she was […]

Treasury Department’s Disingenuous Answers to Elizabeth Warren on Dodd Frank, Too Big to Fail

One of the aggravating facts of life in bureaucracies is having to contend regularly with misrepresentation. And I don’t mean faux friendly corporate bromides like “We’re here to help,” but weasely, technically accurate but substantively misleading statements. A Treasury reply to some questions from Elizabeth Warren is a classic in this genre. The written responses […]

Thinking About Doing Business

In class #1 of Entrepreneurship without Borders (at MIT Sloan) we discussed attitudes towards starting a new business.  In many countries, people want to become entrepreneurs, but they can access only limited types of opportunities.  Relatively small established elites, often with strong political connections, are able to mobilize the resources needed to build a company that can […]

Non-Lessons of the Financial Crisis

As the fifth anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy approaches, the Internet is filling up with reflections on the financial crisis and the ensuing years. My main feeling, as expressed in my latest Atlantic column, is amazement at how little we seem to have learned. Looking back, the period in late 2008 and early 2009, when it was obvious […]

SEC Flacks Paint Lehman’s Looters as Victims of a ‘Political’ SEC

This is the second installment in a three-part series (read part one here) correcting the NYT propaganda that seeks to transmute the SEC’s refusal to hold any of Lehman’s looters accountable for their myriad frauds.  For the purposes of this article I assume that the reporters have accurately represented the SEC officials’ positions.  I discuss the journalists’ analytical […]