Ethics and “Experts”

Surprise! They don’t got’em! Well, sometimes they do. But I feel like the following story happens repeatedly (though maybe not as egregiously!).

From Mr. Levine at Bloomberg. Basic story, defendant interview potential experts and hire one, leaving the others behind. One of the left behind experts goes and pitches himself to the plaintiff in the case … after leaving a written record about how bad the plaintiff’s case is with the defendant. You. Should. Not. Do. This.

Also, if you do, it’s a common courtesy to tell the plaintiff about it before they hire you. Pro Tip to all my experts out there.

This is the right answer!

Tyler Cowen in a piece about blackmail on Bloomberg column:

So what are some lessons from the apparent greater prevalence of blackmail risk?

First: Be good! Minimize the chance that someone can blackmail you.

Real Fake School

This has been in the news a lot. I’m kind of a fan of this in a way that I haven’t seen discussed (the real fake school, that is). As a way to make money, this seems pretty good, and straight forward. There is a supply of foreigners that want to stay in America and are willing to pay for it. Our government could use some money.

Lawyers, make your decisions early in the day

This is in the world of finance, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t apply to legal decision making.

We find that forecast accuracy declines over the course of a day as the number of forecasts the analyst has already issued increases. Also consistent with decision fatigue, we find that the more forecasts an analyst issues, the higher the likelihood the analyst resorts to more heuristic decisions by herding more closely with the consensus forecast, by self-herding (i.e., reissuing their own previous outstanding forecasts), and by issuing a rounded forecast

Perhaps more interesting is that the market abides.

Finally, we find that the stock market understands these effects and discounts for analyst decision fatigue.

Hirshleifer, David A. and Levi, Yaron and Lourie, Ben and Teoh, Siew Hong, Decision Fatigue and Heuristic Analyst Forecasts (February 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24293. Available at SSRN:

Stories that deserve more analysis

Yes, I know PG&E has been in the newsalot. For not great things. But I feel like this is like a boiling the frog issue. This is all very bad – it’d be great to see an overall data visualization of all of this – because I actually think PG&E’s behavior is even worse than we realize. I don’t have time (or ability!) to do this, but it’d be super interesting and is a story that needs to be told.

Bad Blood

Great book. But I haven’t a different question. Why did not one of the in-house counsel who worked there do a noisy exit? Just FYI, my belief is that in-house lawyers serve as the moral compass for their companies. Yes, this can sound overly optimistic and conceited – but who else is better placed?