October 5, 2011
The History of an Industry, Nudge and Other Ways to Crowd Your Nightstand
After a summer hiatus, I am back at the Business Law Prof Blog, and excited to be rejoining the conversation.
I thought I would start with a warm-up post about reading lists to share with you two recent additions to mine and to solicit feedback on what you are reading, want to read, or wish your students would read.
While not yet on my nightstand, a book that is going into my Amazon “wishlist” is Bill Vlasic’s Once Upon a Car: The Fall & Resurrection of America’s Big Three Auto Makers—GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Raised in an automotive town (not Detroit, but Kokomo, Indiana where cars were also king), I grew up in the shadow of large manufacturing plants and next door to factory workers so the drama offered inside this book is particularly interesting to me. The author’s perspective as the Detroit Bureau chief for the New York Times contributes a unique component to the story of near-financial collapse by GM and the long standing Ford/GM/Chryslers rivalries which unfolds in a retrospective on the financial crisis. The reviews of the book praise it for weaving together a story that is both business and politics as it describes the race for green technology, the courting of a new President, and the tensions between the manufacturers, the unions, and the labors resulting from burgeoning labor costs. The book was released yesterday, and featured in the New York Times and the Washington Independent Review of Books on Monday.
Only a year and a half late to the party, I am finally starting to read Nudge, Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness written by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. While I was recently attended the Midwestern Law & Economics Association conference someone finally mentioned a book during their talk that I had (a) heard of, and (b) was relatively confident that I could finish, so I ordered Nudge and will be reading it this month along with blogging. The premise of Nudge is that no decision setting is neutral, thus the environment and context in which we make decisions influence the outcome of that decision. In my business classes I talk about how the uniform rules or default statutes set a statutory preference for a certain outcome because changing the default requires positive action and incurring transaction costs. Thaler and Sunstein make a similar argument regarding legal preferences in many areas of the law, particularly in the context of social issues, arguing that our laws predict outcomes in many respects through mechanisms like opt-out versus opt-in regimes and should be used to encourage socially-beneficial behavior.
I welcome your comments on what you are reading, want to read, or wish your students were reading.
Thanks Anne. I recommended The Big Short by Michael Lewis to my BA students. I think it gives one of the better accounts of the recent financial crisis (from the perspective of those who saw it coming and acted on it). Plus, it is an easy read.
Posted by: H. Murray | Oct 7, 2011 8:56:54 AM