What We Read Today 01 July 2014

July 1st, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

  • BNP Paribas to pay $9bn to settle sanctions violations (BBC News) The French bank BNP Paribas has agreed to pay a record settlement of $8.9 billion for money laundering activities. Also, the bank will plead guilty to two criminal charges of breaking U.S. sanctions against trade with Sudan, Iran and Cuba. Eleven individuals are also facing charges. See also press release from the Federal Reserve Board.

Follow up:

  • Secrets of the Creative Brain (Nancy Andreasen, The Atlantic) A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

In A Beautiful Mind, her biography of the mathematician John Nash, Sylvia Nasar describes a visit Nash received from a fellow mathematician while institutionalized at McLean Hospital. "How could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical truth," the colleague asked, "believe that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world?" To which Nash replied: "Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously."

Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill. And some people, like John Nash, are both.

  • Moaning Moguls (James Surowiecki, The New Yorker) Hat tip to Marvin Clark who asks "are the rich being taken advantage of by the rest of us?" Stephen Schwarzman, Tom Perkins, and other billionaires have recently ranted against the poor and middle class. James Surowiecki explains why: It is a matter of faith with many of the wealthy that "people succeed or fail because that's what they deserve". The view is that failure is a condition "earned" by lack of merit and any attempt to reduce inequality "looks unfair".

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