Economies, Advanced and Primitive

Christopher Caldwell ends an intriguing article on William Bagehot ( Weekly Standard , 12/22) with this: “To be blunt, credit is successfully reestablished when financial elites say, ‘When.’ Credit is close to a synonym for the mood of the ruling class. To say an economy is based . . . . Continue Reading »

Markets and People, II

Reader Jay Horne writes in response to my earlier post quoting Charles Morris, “After working on mechanical trading systems for the past several years (and having some success), I would suggest that it is the lumpiness, the human factors, that exactly create the opportunity for success with a . . . . Continue Reading »

Markets and people

Charles Morris (in The Trillion Dollar Meltdown ) says that one of the dangerous trends emerging in the 80s and 90s, and lurking behind the current financial crisis, is the “increased dominance of investment decisions by mathematical constructs.” He admits that “Large securities . . . . Continue Reading »

Augustine the Marginalist

In City of God, 11.16, Augustine observes the reality of marginal utility: “So far as the freedom of judgment is concerned . . . the reason of the thoughtful man is far different from the necessity of one who is in need, or the desire of the pleasure-seeker. For reason considers what value a . . . . Continue Reading »

Consumerism again

Heath and Potter find Thorstein Veblen’s critique of consumerism much more persuasive, “far more penetrating than any of the theories developed in the 20th century.” Veblen argued that while poor societies devote every increase in production to meeting basic needs, richer . . . . Continue Reading »


In their book, Nation of Rebels , Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter explain why the Marxian critique of the consumer society as a product of “generalized overproduction” doesn’t work: “There is no such thing as generalized overproduction. Never was, never has been.” More . . . . Continue Reading »


In his chapter on the Bolshevik Revolution, Rosenstock-Huessy spends a number of pages digressing about Marx and Marxism. The following notes summarize his treatment of Marxism. Marx, Rosenstock-Huessy begins, is the culmination of the protest against the “order of things” from within . . . . Continue Reading »

Work and teaching

Discussing the separation of workplace and home, Rosenstock-Huessy makes the striking observation that this divide separates labor from a man’s “right to teach, once the supreme value of a master’s earthly life.” . . . . Continue Reading »

VISA World

Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA Corporation, describes the rise and size of the company: “In 1968 the VISA community was no more than a set of beliefs and a vague concept. In 1970 it was born. Today, twenty-nine years later, its products are created by 22,000 owner-member financial . . . . Continue Reading »

Global corporations

Peter Drucker notes that “the distinction between parent and daughter [companies] is increasingly blurring. In the transnational company, design is done anyplace within the system. Major pharmaceutical companies now have research laboratories in five or six countries, in the United States, . . . . Continue Reading »