Beneath the Financial Secrecy

Trillions of dollars are flowing through the world’s over 90 tax havens. This playground of the rich is growing rapidly. How do they do it?
A panel of expert economic writers examine some of the most significant financial exposes of our time, and discuss the challenges and dangers faced when pursuing justice.
Highlights from Griffith University’s Integrity 20 Conference, ‘What Lies Beneath’ 26th October, 2016

Big Ideas | 2nd February 2017

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Talking Bodies

Modern medicine, personal health tracking, and why health journalism is broken. Jody Avirgan talks to James Hamblin, the doctor-turned-journalist and a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Hamblin, the author of “If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body”, draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners.
Illustration by Ski

What’s The Point | 2nd February 2017

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George Washington and the Hyper-Partisan Now

In 1796, George Washington gave his farewell address as he left the American presidency. His speech warned against the dangers of partisanship,

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”

In this episode New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman joins Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon to discuss how Washington’s views have held up or proven inadequate within the political context of the present. Avlon has recently published new book, Washington’s Farewell: the Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.

Illustration: The ghost of George Washington chopping down cherry trees

New York Public Library | 31st January 2017

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Human Instinct to Herd

The instinct to herd is hardwired into us. And while humans still might physically clump into groups, it does translate into behavior linked to financial markets, news consumption, restaurant-picking and Brooklyn facial hair decisions.
Michelle Baddeley – a professor in economics and finance of the built environment at University College London — tells how modern herding often follows from an information imbalance, real or perceived, in which a person follows the wisdom of crowds. The decision to join in, she explains, is often based an astute reading of risk; as she quotes John Maynard Keynes, “It’s better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right.” As a real world example of that, she points to the plight of the junior researcher, whose career is best advanced by serving up their innovative insights along conventional lines.
Apart from reputational damage control, there are pluses and minuses to human herding, Baddeley notes there are advantages to finding safety in numbers: “It’s a good way to find a hotel.” But there are pernicious outcomes, too, like groupthink, as individuals join thought groups that reinforce their existing world-view. And it doesn’t help, her research finds, that people are more likely to herd the less well-informed they are.
Baddeley was principal investigator on a Leverhulme Trust project focused on neuroeconomic examination of herding in finance and has observed dire consequences of this in financial markets, where pushing against the grain makes for a short career for anyone other than the luckiest professional stockpicker.

Social Science Bites | 1st February 2017

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Food as the Ultimate Intellectual Exploration

Unique anthropological approach to food has led Mark Miller, the modern founder of southwestern cuisine, to explore cuisines in over 100 countries around the world. He joins Tyler for a conversation on all that he’s learned along the way, including his pick for the most underrated chili pepper, palate coaching, the best food cities in Asia, Mexico, and Europe, the problems with sous-vide, why the Michelin guide is overrated, mezcal versus tequila, the decline of food brands, how to do fast food well, and why the next hipster food trend should be about corn.

Conversations with Tyler | 25th January 2017

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