Ever the optimist, Gladwell’s theories assume the good intentions of
everyone involved. Today, as he watches the world’s financial systems
collapse and people’s life savings go kaput, he radiates calm. Rather
than joining the mobs seeking to hang villainous CEOs from the nearest
lamppost, Gladwell counsels his followers to step back, take a deep
breath, and find the procedural flaw in the system that can be fixed.
“I don’t think anybody was being venal or corrupt. It’s not a scandal
as we normally understand scandals,” he says. “It’s a case of the
system being, the risk models being broken, the system not functioning
as it should, regulation not being appropriate to what people were
doing.” Tinker with the risk models, increase the regulatory structure,
Gladwell says, and the problem is solved. That may not be as
emotionally satisfying as punching out a CEO on a treadmill, but it’s a
lot more comforting.
Here is the whole piece, interesting throughout. Thomas Schelling and Megan McArdle are among those making cameos. Hat tip goes to Andrew Sullivan.