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How Prevalent Is Insider Trading? And What’s to Be Done About It? A Freakonomics Quorum

As I type these words, the biggest insider-trading trial in years, that of Raj Rajaratnam, has just gone to the jury. I haven’t followed the trial too closely, but the gist is evident: the line between “insider trading” and the legitimate, if sharp-elbowed, acquisition of useful trading information is extremely blurry. This is hardly the only insider case at the moment. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, famously said last fall that “illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise.” So it seemed a good time to put together a Freakonomics Quorum and ask a couple of straightforward questions. Read More »





Predicting the Midterm Elections: A Freakonomics Quorum

This year’s midterm elections promise to be a bit more eventful than usual, with predictions of seismic change in Congress and in many statehouses, most of it in a blue-to-red direction. But predictions aren’t elections; and even if the predictions hold true, what happens next? Read More »





What's Derek Jeter Worth? A Freakonomics Quorum

While the New York Yankees’ 2010 season came to a disappointing close, it would still appear inevitable that the team will want to re-sign Derek Jeter, their franchise shortstop. But it appears just as inevitable that his on-field performance isn’t worth nearly as much as he will likely want to be paid. Read More »





What's the Biggest Tax Mistake That Might Be Made This Year? A Freakonomics Quorum

Consider the ingredients: a frail economy, a toxic political environment, looming hard deadlines and massive uncertainty in the business community – the perfect circumstances under which to write some great federal tax policy!

But tax-code writing will be done – on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, the estate tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax, capital-gains taxes and more. Read More »





How Would You Simplify the Financial-Reform Bill? A Freakonomics Quorum

Last month, roughly two years into a global financial maelstrom, the U.S. Congress passed a financial-reform bill. It was more than 2,300 pages long, addressing everything from derivatives to consumer financial products to oversized banks. We asked a few clever people a simple question. Read More »





How Much Do Protests Matter? A Freakonomics Quorum

Iran’s citizens take to the streets en masse after a disputed election. Gay men in Salt Lake City hold a kissing protest. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church voice their anti-just-about-everything views to military funerals and elsewhere.

Beyond the media attention they inevitably garner, what do protests actually accomplish? Read More »





What Would Happen if Marijuana Were Decriminalized? A Freakonomics Quorum

So we asked a group of people — Paul Armentano, Mike Braun, Joel W. Hay, Jeffrey Miron, and Robert Platshorn — to think about a national decriminalization of marijuana (unlikely, let’s be honest) and answer the following: What would be some of the most powerful economic, social, and criminal-justice effects? Read More »





Let’s Talk About Tax Cheating: A Freakonomics Quorum

Photo: hoggardb The Internal Revenue Service presumably never likes tax cheats, but when money is tight there is more pressure put on the I.R.S. to step up enforcement and collect more money. The most recent gambit, reported today, is an amnesty program designed to root out offshore tax havens. We once wrote of another I.R.S. […] Read More »