Business

Growing up in a family with many members who earned their livings on Wall Street and with many ancestors and relatives who had done the same, I—as might be expected—very early heard stories of business that I found as fascinating as the tales of military action I was soaking up at the same time. The novelist Thomas Hardy explained that “war makes rattling good history,” but it was James Gordon Bennett, the founder of the New York Herald, who explained why business makes the same.Read more »

Why Enron Always Happens

And how history shows it’s actually good for us

THERE’S AN OLD JOKE ABOUT A COMPANY’S NEEDING TO hire a new accounting firm. The chief executive invites the heads of eight firms to come in for interviews and he hires one right away. A friend asks him how he did it. “Simple,” the chief executive replies. “I just asked each of them one question. How much is two plus two?”

“That’s easy,” the friend says.

“Sure it is. Seven of them said four. So I gave the job to the eighth. He said, ‘What number do you have in mind?’” Read more »

The Party Of The People

A clipping selected at random from a generous stack tells me that the would-be Democratic candidate Tom Harkin is pitching a “populist, sharply partisan message.” I get the impression that the two adjectives are interchangeable. Another clip predictably calls David Duke a “populist.” That’s no surprise either. I have heard the word applied to Jesse Jackson and Ronald Reagan in previous campaigns—in fact, to practically every candidate who did not outright propose restricting government to the rich, the wise, and the well born.Read more »