Conflicts of Interest in Finance

Angered by a foreign downing of a U.S. airliner, and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of customary retaliation, fictional West Wing President Bartlet challenged his military advisors to devise a “disproportional response” that would go beyond “the cost of doing business” to deter future attacks and make Americans safe.

Financial corruption does not put our lives directly at stake. Yet, it is easy to imagine how widespread and recurring corruption could lead a future U.S. President – frustrated by the failure of markets, regulators, and the courts to change financial intermediaries for the better – to ask her financial and legal advisors for a similar disproportional response to make Americans safe...

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Truth or consequences: Ponzi schemes and other frauds

In the financial world, the real scandal is often what’s legal, but you still have to watch out for fraudsters. If you don’t pay the costs of screening and monitoring your financial counterparties, you may lose your house.

The never-ending need for financial vigilance came to mind recently when we noticed that the 1920 home of Charles Ponzi was for sale in Lexington Massachusetts. It’s a very large house – 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 7000 square feet of space (650 square meters) on nearly an acre of land (0.4 hectares).(You can see a picture here.) ...
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