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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Grace Hopper, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, James Dyson, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, mass immigration, mittelstand, Network effects, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, patent troll, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traveling salesman, tulip mania, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators
Yet the spirit of independent innovation springs eternal. I can recommend the 2008 movie Flash of Genius, based on an article (also now a book) by John Seabrook. It tells the true story of Bob Kearns, the professor who pioneered the intermittent windscreen wiper for cars. He showed it to the Ford Motor Company in 1969, but subsequently entered into interminable litigation with it, almost reminiscent of Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. More than twenty years later, he settled for $10.2 million, but only after legal action had taken over his life. Unfortunately, patent infringement is a fact of life for inventors. Sir James Dyson, inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, talks in his autobiography Against The Odds (Orion, 1997) about various lawsuits against both Hoover and Amway. Knowledge of patent law and persistence bordering on the obsessive seem useful attributes if you want to be a successful inventor.
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure by Tim Harford
Andrew Wiles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, Deep Water Horizon, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fermat's Last Theorem, Firefox, food miles, Gerolamo Cardano, global supply chain, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge worker, loose coupling, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Netflix Prize, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, PageRank, Piper Alpha, profit motive, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, rolodex, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, web application, X Prize, zero-sum game
It’s also absurd that a year after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, the courts were exploring four different possible legal treatments of money in Lehman accounts. Regulators should have the authority to rule on ambiguities quickly. Of course, fairness is important when billions of dollars are at stake – but when a bank goes bankrupt, the worst possible decision is indecision. The physical economy can be paralysed by the tangle of claims against the banks – like some modern-day equivalent of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the inheritance dispute in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, which dragged on for so long that legal fees consumed the entire estate and none of the relatives got a penny. Regulators also need the authority to take over banks or other financial institutions and quickly restructure them. As Tony Lomas discovered, international banks splinter into national banks as they die, so this kind of authority would need international agreement.