EppsNet Archive: Bankruptcy

EppsNet Book Reviews: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

22 Dec 2015 /

Carol Dweck’s research is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs that we’re aware of or unaware of but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs can have profound effects.

Dweck’s insight into fixed mindset (bad) vs. growth mindset (good) is powerful but there’s really not enough to it to sustain a book-length exposition without a lot of repetition and illustrational anecdotes, the problem with which is 1) they tend to be overly simple tales of triumph and failure with clearly identified causes; and 2) they ignore the inevitability of regression.

For example, two of the people Dweck identifies as exemplars of the growth mindset are Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez. Mindset was published in 2006, after which Woods’s career imploded in the wake of extramarital affairs with 100 or so women, and Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for cheating.

Among the companies singled out as possessing a growth mindset is Circuit City, which announced in January 2009 that it was going out of business.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think Dweck’s work is insightful and illuminating, I just don’t think it works well as a book. For a shorter introduction, try, for example, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” recently published in Scientific American.

Rating: 3-stars


Get Rich Making Dumb Decisions

31 Mar 2014 /

The people on the short side of the subprime mortgage market had gambled with the odds in their favor. The people on the other side — the entire financial system, essentially — had gambled with the odds against them. Up to this point, the story of the big short could not be simpler. What’s strange and complicated about it, however, is that pretty much all the important people on both sides of the gamble left the table rich. . . . The CEOs of every major Wall Street firm were also on the wrong end of the gamble. All of them, without exception, either ran their public corporations into bankruptcy or were saved from bankruptcy by the United States government. They all got rich, too.

What are the odds that people will make smart decisions about money if they don’t need to make smart decisions — if they can get rich making dumb decisions?

— Michael Lewis, The Big Short

I See a City That’s Coming Back

22 Jul 2013 /

We are one nation. We are one people. We will rise and we will fall together. Anyone who doesn’t believe it should come here to Detroit. It’s like the commercial says: This is a city that’s been to heck and back. And while there are still a lot of challenges here, I see a city that’s coming back.

Barack Obama, Sept. 5, 2011

But I Didn’t Mean It

22 Jul 2013 /


Here is Your Wakeup Call, America: Detroit Just Went Bankrupt

20 Jul 2013 /
United Artists Theater in Detroit

United Artists Theater in Detroit

Detroit used to be known as “the Paris of the midwest” – a city of wide streets, imposing buildings, and home to the great US auto industry. In 1960, it had the highest per capita income in the nation. But decades of decline, racial tension and corruption have brought the motor city to its knees.

Highest per capita income in the nation! I did not know that.

Anyway, Detroit filed for bankruptcy last week with debts of more than $18 billion.

The city’s population has dropped from 2 million in 1950 to 700,000 today, as Detroiters have become fed up with decades of mismanagement and rising crime and poverty. Detroit’s murder rate is at a 40-year high, only a third of its ambulances are in working order, and nearly half its streetlights are broken.

Citizens wait 58 minutes for the police to respond to calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes. There are 78,000 abandoned buildings . . .

Michael Moore, like a stopped clock, is occasionally right. It’s funny he should say that though — “You’re next” — because he’s never been an advocate of fiscal responsibility or not spending lots and lots of money that you don’t actually have.

Maybe I’m misinterpreting but if what he’s saying is that America is on track for bankruptcy, then I couldn’t agree more.


A Long and Short Explanation of Why Borders Books Went Out of Business

7 Aug 2011 /

Borders, unable to find a buyer willing to get it out of bankruptcy, plans to close its remaining 399 stores and go out of business by the end of September.

msnbc.com
_DSC8630 Borders Book Store and entertainment shop in administration press photos

“When Borders started up 40 years ago,” I explain to my son, “there was a certain percentage of the American public that bought books and read them.

“It wasn’t nearly as large as the percentage who preferred to sit on their fat asses and watch television but it was there. There was a profit to be made from it.

“Today, if I tell someone about a book I’m reading, they look at me like I’m confessing a perversion. Reading a book?!

“Not only does no one read books but if anyone does get a notion in their head to read one, they’re likely to buy it online and/or download it onto a device.

“The market for people who walk into a store and buy a book has dried up like a raisin.”

“Books, schmooks,” the boy replies.