Monthly Archives: July 2013

John Gapper

JK Rowling is very annoyed at Russells, a London law firm that specialises in entertainment and media, for leaking the fact that she had written The Cuckoo’s Calling under the name Robert Galbraith. Read more

John Gapper

How well is Wall Street doing? That depends on whether you are looking at their results as a casual observer, or a shareholder.

This is turning into one of the best earnings seasons on Wall Street since 2009, when banks made a rapid recovery from the 2008 crisis. Not only were they bailed out but supported by ultra-low interest rates and official backing for troubled assets. Read more

John Gapper

Alfred Marshall, the economist, wrote in 1890 that changes in technology and trade meant that “the operations in which a man exceptionally favoured by genius and good luck can take part are so extensive as to enable him to amass a large fortune with a rapidity hitherto unknown”.

Andrew Hill

Children learn that “copycat” is a term of abuse the first time they are punished or ridiculed for trying to replicate a friend’s work – or style – at school. In business, however, imitation can be a virtue, as Rocket Internet has discovered.

Newly endowed with $400m from billionaire Len Blavatnik and Kinnevik, the Swedish investment company, Rocket should now be able to launch even more companies into cyberspace. But Rocket, known and often criticised for cloning others’ internet successes in new territories and then selling them, needs to beware the old maxim “up like a rocket, down like a stick”. Read more

Andrew Hill

I’m intrigued by the possibility that the civil trial of Fabrice Tourre, the former Goldman Sachs banker, may hinge on whether an email to his girlfriend was a love letter or an injudicious admission that he was misleading investors about the complex mortgage-related securities he was selling.

The lead attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission said at the opening of the civil hearing on Monday that it was the latter. Mr Tourre’s lawyer asked the jury to put the language of the communication down to “youthful arrogance” and said it was “an old-fashioned love letter” to his girlfriend, who was a Goldman co-worker. Read more

It’s hard to hide from big data. After submitting its staff records for independent analysis, one retailer discovered it was paying more than 150 employees who had called in sick years earlier – and simply disappeared from the workplace. The human resources managers responsible were so terrified of the potential backlash if they revealed the figures to their chief executive, they decided to keep the job of handling absences in-house.

Not since Barings financed the Louisiana Purchase on behalf of Thomas Jefferson in 1803 has a UK enterprise had so much money riding on the Gulf of Mexico state. It isn’t working out as well for BP as for the former merchant bank.

Andrew Hill

The Ashes is regularly described as “one of the oldest rivalries in sport” – a phrase to get the blood running for English and Australian cricket fans as the latest series gets under way. But could the competitive edge that makes the Test matches so exciting lead to unethical behaviour on and off the field? It seems so.

Academics exploring the difference between healthy competition and sometimes unhealthy rivalry suggest that the latter is “associated with increased Machiavellianism, over-reporting of performance, willingness to employ unethical negotiation tactics, and unsportsmanlike behavior”. Read more