Liar’s Poker Reflection
Liar’s Poker Reflection
Liar’s Poker analyzes the corporate culture of Salomon Brothers and, more generally, the culture of financial capitalism and of the bond trading industry in the 1980s. Michael Lewis discusses many ethically dubious actions in the book, but his most interesting observations are systemic: harms were not merely caused by traders, but occurred because of a corporate culture and an economic system. Highly risky financial innovations took place under conditions of asymmetrical information and quasi-monopoly combined with an intensely competitive culture that valued monetary gain above all else.
This assignment asks you to choose a major theme( from the book relevant to business ethics and to develop and to analyze it with examples. The goal is to reflect on organizational ethics (how should we structure businesses so they benefit or at least do not harm stakeholders), personal ethics (what obligations to employees have to their employers, society at large, and themselves), or broader issues of economic organization (what should business’s role be in society and how should other social institutions structure and regulate commerce).
Pick one (and only one) theme for your reflection and explore it in depth. Possible themes include:
The role of personal responsibility in a corrupt corporate culture:
Can workers retain their integrity and moral compass in environments like the Salomon Brothers?
The ethics of financial innovation (including topics such as acceptable risk, leverage, fiduciary obligations):
What obligations do people working in the financial have toward customers and toward society more generally? How is this different from work in other sectors (or is it)?
Financial capitalism and the good life:
Does the life of a big-swinging dick provide a model to aspire to?
This assignment is meant to be open-ended, but it should include:
A statement of your major theme and its relevance for business ethics
A description of how Lewis develops your theme in Liar’s Poker illustrated with examples from the text
Connections between Liar’s Poker and larger issues of ethics and social responsibility relevant to life today
You will be graded on your ability to identify and develop a theme, the quality of your analysis, your choice of pertinent examples and anecdotes from the book, the structure of your reflection, and the cogency of your writing.
The assignment should be between two to three pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point or equivalent font) or approximately 500 to 600 words.