Leif Pagrotsky on Wall Street Excess

Question: What is Wall Street’s fundamental flaw?

Pagrotsky: What disturbs me about Wall Street is not that individuals who bet their own money can win if they are smart. What disturbs me is the reward system in general for employed people, that if you take big risks, if you incur big risks for your company, big risks are usually connected with high prices. Then, you earn a big bonus. But when that risk materializes and you lose, you don’t lose. Somebody else loses. Maybe not even your employee. Maybe the taxpayers. I think the bonus system, the way it has been designed in the United States, on Wall Street in particular, has amplified volatility in the markets. It has produced excessive risk taking, it has produced the excesses in lending to people who cannot pay interest on their debts, for instance, and I think that is at the heart of this problem, and when we come out of this, I say ‘we’ because we are the same in my country as well, this must be part of the lesson learned. This is a destabilizing force that should be part of regulation. I’ve had a public debate with the regulators in my country who say that the remuneration system is something between employees and employers in the financial industry. I say it is not. It is a matter for the regulators because the way remuneration is designed is an important element in stability versus instability of these markets, and that cannot be left to market participants alone.

Rewarding the financial industry for missteps and passing the buck is inherently wrong, says Leif Pagrotsky.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

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  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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