On America's Short-Termist And Fraud-Provoking Culture

Two months ago we posted an excellent introduction from Dan Ariely on the truth about dishonesty. The focus on our ease of rationalizing dishonest acts struck quite a chord and as a follow-up the behavioral economist discussed several real-life examples with Capital Account's Lauren Lyster. Critically, firms are shifting their focus from long-term growth to maximizing 'shareholder-value' (since any short-term mis-step in a liquidity-fueled boom such as this is punished to the point of 'going-concern') and the increasingly short-term focused attitude not only hurts employees and taxpayers but serves to provoke a culture of dishonesty or fraud. Ariely also notes, rather interestingly, that new disclosure requirements for 'academic-based' reports merely creates a more exaggerated result - since report-preparers now know the result will be discounted further. Again, one could argue, that Bernanke's ZIRP world (and an under-the-surface reality known to all that we are on a precipice) creates an ever-decreasing time-horizon for every 'invisible-hand'-driven act we undertake: we have shifted from "Get Rich Quick" to "Get Rich Quicker...By Any Means."


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