Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hat tip to Jack Ayer for pointing out this interview about ethics and finance.

Here.  My favorite paragraph in the interview?
The ethical subversions which have cost banks and their shareholders so much, the collusion and self-dealing, were genuinely frowned on in my parts of the financial world. However, the wide gap between our practices and our clients’ true interests was so inherent in our business proposition that I can easily imagine how such behaviour seemed perfectly appropriate to practitioners elsewhere in the firms.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Two reasons to watch the Dewey & LeBoeuf indictments.

Here's one.  The other one is the use of RICO to include lawyers in conspiracies (here).  It will be interesting to see if the two intersect.

Friday, July 26, 2013

CEOs and off-the-job behavior.

Today's New York Times includes a report by Floyd Norris on a paper that links a CEO's off-the-job rule-flouting behavior with an increase in the likelihood that the CEO's company is going to have to restate earnings or that it might engage in fraud.

I'm looking forward to reading the paper.  My gut tells me that people who routinely break some rules make it easier for them to break others (a la classic cognitive dissonance theory).  It's not a huge leap from that conclusion to the conclusion that people who report to rule-flouting CEOs will likewise be tempted to bend the rules.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's not what you say; it's how you say it--and to whom.

I loved James B. Stewart's story in today's New York Times (Boss's Remark, Employee's Deed and Moral Quandary).  When one is a boss, one needs to be painfully aware of how even the most tossed-aside comment will sound to an employee.  My favorite part of the story:
No one asserts that Mr. Corzine told Ms. O’Brien to take customer money. Mr. Corzine’s lawyer, Andrew J. Levander, said Mr. Corzine was told the night before that the firm had $82 million in cash and another $602 million in unencumbered securities, and “it never dawned on him” that Ms. O’Brien or anyone else might “violate the golden rule” about safeguarding customer assets.
But how would Ms. O’Brien have interpreted Mr. Corzine’s comment? When I discussed this with John Hasnas, director of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics, he drew an analogy to the murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, after Henry II is said to have uttered, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”
“He didn’t actually tell anyone to murder the archbishop,” Professor Hasnas noted. “But people knew what would make him happy.” Indeed, history records that four of Henry’s courtiers promptly set off and dispatched the archbishop in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral. 
Yep.   And do I believe that Corzine's request added a silent "legally, of course" kicker?  Not for a minute.