The world’s most unproductive entrepreneur


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Over the next few years, Low and his conspirators would use 1MDB to borrow billions of dollars from global capital markets, and would simply take much of the proceeds for themselves. To achieve all this required Low to do constant networking, set up immensely complicated financial and legal arrangements, and splash out tens of millions of dollars along the way to win friends and influence people. Low in fact worked hard at his corruption, and displayed unmistakable entrepreneurial flair–a huge amount of effort deployed to make his country poorer not richer.

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Andrew Batson’s Blog

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FINANCIAL MARKETS WERE NOT DESIGNED TO MANAGE THE PLANET


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Take the case of a farmer who is trying to decide on an investment strategy for the future of his farm: should he be planting new fruit trees, purchasing new equipment, increasing (or decreasing) his livestock, or investing in new buildings? Recall, now, that our hypothetical farmer gets his grain from wholesalers who themselves bought it at prices set on financial markets, and it becomes all too clear that excessive uncertainty surrounding the price of grain will leave him unable or unwilling to experiment with new strategies. The industrialist on whom Hayek based his own reasoning is likely to suffer from a similar paralysis.

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Nicolas Bouleau — Public Books

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Johnson & Johnson Knew Their Baby Powder Contained Asbestos for Decades


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This is a sad one.

J&J’s effort to protect its iconic Baby Powder franchise by shaping research was led by physician and scientist executives. An early 1970s study of 1,992 Italian talc miners shows how it worked: J&J commissioned and paid for the study, told the researchers the results it wanted, and hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal.

The effort entailed other attempts to influence research, including a U.S. government study of the health of talc workers in Vermont. J&J’s Windsor Minerals Inc subsidiary, one of several mine operators involved in the study, developed a relationship with the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health researchers to “even influence the conclusions” through suggestions of “subjective interpretations,” according to a 1973 Windsor Minerals memo.

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Lisa Girion — Reuters

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Pay, Power and Politics: Where Did Carlos Ghosn Go Wrong?


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One of the trending stories.

Did Ghosn have far too much control at the three companies? Apparently yes, noted MacDuffie, pointing to a Nissan director’s comments at a news conference where “he was critical of how much power is centralized in one person” in the alliance. Ghosn, 64, is approaching retirement and had already announced his plans to exit all roles in the alliance by 2020. “If he hadn’t emerged as such a hero from the early stages of this turnaround [at Nissan and Renault], many people would have said it’s a little risky to concentrate that much power in one person.”

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Knowledge&Wharton

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Christmas Without Toys R Us: Who Will Fill Its Stockings?


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Kahn remarked on how competitive the category has become, with all kinds of retailers trying to cash in. “I think of it as a ‘defender’ category,” she said. “If you’re a family – and that’s the kind of customer a lot of retailers want – then you have to buy your kids’ toys somewhere. So you’re seeing toys showing up in interesting [places].” Even electronics purveyor Best Buy is offering toys this year, Kahn noted. “You go into the store to buy toys, and while you’re in there you are buying in other categories. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s a really competitive area right now.”

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Knowledge@Wharton

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Yelp’s Heyday Is Over


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Will Zomato face a similar struggle in India?

Part of Yelp’s woes seems related to its new no-term deals, meaning advertising clients are not locked into a contract. While that move initially resulted in a jump in new accounts, it also means businesses aren’t obligated to continue to advertise if they’re not impressed with the results of their advertising — and seemingly, more and more business owners are taking their ad dollars elsewhere, especially as diners flock to other platforms. “I opened a new restaurant a few months ago, and for every five Google reviews we get, we get maybe one Yelp review,” says Danny Teran, co-founder of the NYC-based Watson Hospitality Group. “Three or four years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

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Whitney Filloon — Eater

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Money: 5,000 Years of Debt and Power


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The first lie is that if finance is entirely free, globalised and unregulated, it will develop instruments to insure against risks (derivative products), rendering impossible the spread and intensification of the blaze. After two decades of stable inflation and financial liberalisation, the financial community, the media, and the political establishment loved to proclaim that systemic crisis had now become impossible (‘this time it’s different’). But the impossible did happen. This owed not to some external mega-event but rather to the fact that speculation had eroded from within any sense of reason and any barrier to the appeal of greed. This first lie is also the basis for the other two.

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Michel Aglietta — Verso

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