Wall Street’s 10 Most Notorious Stock Traders

The country’s financial hub has a long history of lying, cheating, and stealing

No one likes recessions, but no one dislikes them more than the crooks who are an inevitable part of any financial market.

As the economy goes south, companies seeking to cut costs scrutinize their books more carefully and bring embezzlements to light. Investors take money out of higher-earning (and therefore inherently more risky) funds and put them into safer ones, and Ponzi schemes collapse as a result. Credit becomes tighter, and loan requests are more carefully investigated, so businesses with cooked books find their insolvency revealed. Read more »

The Greatest Comeback

After one Ford changed America, another accomplished something almost as amazing

I‘ve always thought that one of the saddest words in the English language is has-been . While it has a modern ring—perhaps because the movies and television have produced so many stars who’ve enjoyed, in Andy Warhol’s famous phrase, 15 minutes of fame—the phrase actually was first recorded in 1606, when London’s Globe Theatre was the pinnacle of show business. Of course, there are has-beens to be found far from the stage.

 
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Show Business

A critic looks at 10 movies that show how Americans work together.

If the business of business is business, then it’s the business of Hollywood to be skeptical. At least about business. Virtually from the beginning, the movies have seen American business as an object of farce or satire at best or some vaguely defined evil at worst. From more than eight decades of filmmaking, one is hard put to name a handful of films that portray businessmen in a heroic or even nonpredatory way. One might suspect Hollywood of an antibusiness bias if not for the fact that the film industry’s view of labor is even darker.

 
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10 Great American Business Novels

A student of an underappreciated literary genre selects some books that may change the way you see what you do.

It has always struck me that the best business novels are interactive. In them, the world of commerce is driven by people whose reality is made palpable to us but whose values, attitudes, and biases often compel us to question our own: As a businessperson, how would I relate to the kind of complex, unpredictable circumstances in which all-too-real fictional characters commonly find themselves?Read more »

Speaking Of Business

A sampling of the wisdom of Americans from Ben Franklin to Cameron Crowe

All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise… from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation. —John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, August 25, 1787

 

Nothing but money is sweeter than honey. —Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1735

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The Long, Stormy Marriage Of Money And Politics

… or why in America campaign-finance reform never succeeds

In the summer of 1787 a sweaty group of politicians was debating the clauses of a proposed constitution in humid Philadelphia. Endless problems reared their ugly heads: the distribution of power between large states and small states; slavery; the size of a standing army; the powers of the Presidency. The framers solved—or postponed—most of these dilemmas with their famous genius for compromise. But one quandary was solved differently. Read more »

Super Mario Nation

THE VIDEO GAME turns twenty-five this year, and it has packed a whole lot of history into a mere quarter-century

 

In 1962 an M.I.T. student named Steven Russell pulled off the ultimate hack. Russell was the kind of kid people make jokes about: short, full of nervous energy, passionately devoted to B-grade science fiction, shy, and brilliant. He worked with the Tech Model Railroad Club, a campus organization that had recently begun turning its focus from toy trains to computers. TMRC members had their own vocabulary. Read more »

What Made The Government Grow

…and grow, and grow, from almost no employees to three million. Don’t blame the welfare state, or the military; the truth is much more interesting.

 

The tradition of distrusting government—almost any government—has such deep roots in the American past that a newcomer could justifiably think of the United States as a nation of a quarter of a billion near-anarchists. After all, it was Tom Paine, a major voice of the American Revolution, who declared that “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” Is Paine too radical for you? Read more »

Inventing The Commercial

THE IMPERIUM OF modern television advertising was born in desperate improvisation

It was 1945, and everybody needed everything. If you knew how to build a car, a house, or a washing machine, you could sell it faster than you could make it. Car dealers, including fine old names that soon would be history—Hudson, Nash, Packard, and Studebaker—all had long waiting lists. Many dealers bluntly Quoted not the price of the car but the price of getting on their waiting lists. Read more »

The Emperor’s Pierce-arrow

When American cars ruled the world

THE CURRENT VOGUE FOR PUSHING TO SELL AMERICAN AUTOMOBILES ABROAD can certainly be called overdue. No one has seriously tried such a thing in generations. To make inroads on the number of Volkswagens in Mexico or of Austin Minis in France or on the sea of Japanese automobiles in Japan might seem unprecedented. But actually it’s just an attempt to recapture former markets. Read more »