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The controversy over SuperFreakonomicsFOOLS rush in where climatologists fear to tread. That, at least, is what critics are saying about a book called “SuperFreakonomics”, which was published on October 20th. Its authors are self-proclaimed “rogue economist” Steven Levitt, of the University of Chicago, and his swashbuckling sidekick Stephen Dubner, a journalist. The internet is now alight with controversy about a chapter in the book that examines climate change. The book is a sequel to “Freakonomics”. This newspaper, among many others, gave that work a glowi
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ng review as an unconventional look into the hidden economic forces behind imponderables such as estate agents’ fees and cheating sumo-wrestlers. The book’s approach was, and is, compelling: applying the tool of economic analysis to unusual, everyday situations to provide an objective view of the self-interests of self-interested parties. Readers felt they understood the world a little better as they learned why most drug dealers live at home, for example (the profits go to gang leaders). Crunch the numbers, the book insisted, and it all makes sense. ...
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The Nasdaq slumped and the Dow managed a slim gain Tuesday, as investors weighed a selloff in tech, a rally in energy and a surprise drop in consumer confidence.
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A glimmer of hope for corporate-governance reformAMERICA’S system of elections for the boards of companies has long been a sort of Potemkin village: impressive, until you lean on it. Yes, there is one share, one vote. But only candidates proposed by the incumbent board make it on to the ballot that the firm sends to shareholders. Other candidates can seek votes only by circulating “proxies” of their own to shareholders, at the candidates’ own expense. The cost of this is usually enough to deter them, allowing the official slate of directors to retain their lucrative boa
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rdroom sinecures uncontested—even if only a tiny proportion of shareholders actually vote for them.Several efforts to make it easier for shareholders to nominate directors have been frustrated by lobbying from corporate turkeys keen to postpone Christmas for as long as they can. Earlier this month the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced yet another year’s delay before it again considers proposals to ease outsiders’ access to proxies. Earlier attempts to bring reforms failed in 2003 and 2007, again due to furious corporate lobbying. ...
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Stocks tumbled Monday afternoon, erasing morning gains, as a strong dollar battered commodity shares and the financial sector tumbled.
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The quarterly reporting period has gotten off to a bang-up start, with 81% of companies outshining analysts' forecasts. But with expectations now raised, the latest crop of strong results has had little impact on the broad market.
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Heartening contemporary art sales in LondonWHAT a difference a year makes. The contemporary art sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York last November were furnished with works which had been consigned over the summer, when the market was still a jolly place. Reserves were optimistic and many consignors had been offered guarantees to entice them to sell. After the Dow crashed 500 points on September 15th 2008—the same day that saw the collapse of Lehman, a Wall Street firm that had survived 19th-century railway bankruptcies and the Great Depression, buyers of contemporar
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y art suddenly froze. November in New York was grim. Picture after picture failed to reach its reserve and the sales saw the largest number of lots bought in for nearly two decades. The two auction houses paid out more than $80m in guarantees.Prices of contemporary art at auction have dropped 50% or more in the year since. The withdrawal of guarantees (except in exceptional cases) has caused many consignors to hang on their work, which explains why, according to calculations made by ArtTactic, a London-based research firm, the volume of sales at contemporary-art auctions over the period has dropped by as much as 80%. ...
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