The decade of living dangerously: CEOs and capitalism Jayati Ghosh

This has been quite a decade for global corporate leaders, volatile not only in terms of their actual fortunes, but perhaps even more so with respect to the shifting perceptions of society. When the decade began, large corporations and those at their helm were at the peak of their power, flush with riches delivered by the dotcom boom in the US economy as well as the vast opportunities created by easier access to global markets. Along with economic wealth came social approbation. The glorification of business leaders became the norm, not only in the US and other developed countries, but…

Corporate Catharsis Jayati Ghosh

Another day, another Wall Street scandal. The regularity and frequency with which "bad news" is coming out of the corporate world in the US, involving some of the giants of international business, is almost laughable. Each week, at least one major company is being forced to reveal that it has been involved in financial irregularities, often of breathtaking extent. Some companies "forget" to record their losses, or record them as loans to specially created subsidiaries. Other companies "just happen" to slip in normal expenses as "capital expenses", thereby removing them from the profit-and-loss account. In some instances, important flows of…

The Merrill Episode: The myth of market self-governance C.P. Chandrasekhar

On April 26, David Komansky, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, one of the "big players" in world financial markets, apologised for a possible instance of breach of trust in the work of Merrill's stock research division. "We have failed to live up to the high standards that are our tradition, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to our clients, our shareholders and our employees," Mr Komansky said at the annual meeting of America's largest broker. Komansky's apology came in the wake of incessant pressure from Eliot Spitzer, the feisty New York attorney-general, who had launched investigations…