Off with their heads! Why financial regulation stopped working

Thirty years ago, when I was working for a time in Saudi Arabia, I saw a public execution. I didn’t attend an execution, I didn’t witness an execution, I just happened to be there. There was in the center of this town a square and in the square were gathered hundreds of people. I was working in a building next to the square and looked out the window to see what was causing all the noise. At that moment a prisoner was brought forward, his arms bound behind him. He was dragged up the steps to a platform and there fell to his knees. Another man whom I quickly came to understand was the executioner […]

Is the U.S. Startup Economy Failing?

As I’ve written here many times before, small companies and especially new companies are what create nearly all of the net new jobs in America, yet a new study released last week by the Hudson Institute suggests the rate of job formation by new firms is down dramatically in recent years, from an average of 11 new startup jobs per 1000 workers at a peak in 2006 down to 7.8 new startup jobs per 1000 workers in 2011 — a 29 percent decline.  So is the startup economy losing its oomph and should we be worried? No the startup economy isn’t losing its oomph but yes, it’s time […]

Ticked off: How stock market decimalization killed IPOs and ruined our economy


Well it took me more than the one day I predicted to finish this column, which purports to explain that dull feeling so many of us have in our hearts these days when we consider the U.S. economy. Our entrepreneurial zeal is to some extent zapped. For a decade it seemed we needed to jump from bubble to bubble in order just to drive economic growth — growth that ultimately didn’t last. What happened? Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) went away, that’s what happened.

I wrote several columns on job creation over the last year, columns that explained in great detail how new businesses, young businesses, and small businesses create […]

Why hardly anyone in the U.S. economy feels prosperous anymore

A couple of years ago, in an obvious moment of poor judgement, the Kauffman Foundation placed this rag on its list of the top 50 economics blogs in America. So from time to time I feel compelled to write about economic issues and this Labor Day holiday in the U.S. provides a good excuse for doing so now. In a sense you could say I inherited this gig because my parents began their careers in the 1940s working for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This first of two columns looks at employment numbers in the current recovery while the second will try to explain why the economy has been […]

Put LIBOR on Yahoo Groups

LIBOR, the London InterBank Offered Rate, has been in the news lately as heads begin to roll in London and soon New York now that it’s clear LIBOR was manipulated by big banks, affecting the value of hundreds of trillions worth of financial instruments. This is a complex topic and it will be awhile — perhaps years — before it is clear how or even if you and I were damaged by these shenanigans, but everyone seems to agree that it can’t be allowed to happen again. But how? To make this happen I think we need a new understanding of what “transparency” means in financial transactions in the 21st century.

Transparency is supposed to mean […]