Essays | The Great Epizootic

This is my favorite of the short pieces I wrote for last year

It was early October 1872. Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House, Susan B. Anthony was getting ready to cast her first, illegal vote, Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt were making a killing in railroads and giving the Gilded Age its gilt, and somewhere outside of Toronto, a horse sneezed.

Read more of my article here: The Great Epizootic | Flashback | OZY

Essays | John Muir’s Steampunk Years

My investigation of a surprising side of a pioneering environmetnalist.

You know him, if at all, as the bearded sage of the California upcountry, the co-founder and first president of the Sierra Club, guiding spirit of the National Park Service. He’s the man who said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” and who claimed he never saw a discontented tree. But in 1850s Wisconsin, John Muir was just a weird kid with a Scottish accent and a genius for inventing improved sawmills and clockwork labor-saving devices — mechanisms for controlling nature, not extolling it.

Read more: John Muir, the Inventor | Flashback | OZY

Essays | Shadow Banking

My first foray into financial journalism.

The financial news has been abuzz about JPMorgan Chase’s record $13 billion penalty agreement over the bank’s lending practices leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. And rightly so — it’s refreshing to see at least a little responsibility being taken for the train wreck of subprime mortgages, exotic securitizations and suddenly frozen cash flows. The official response to the financial crisis has often focused less on justice than on the simple goal of never letting this happen again, with bailouts trumping just deserts for the good of the system at large. By 2010, legislation like the Dodd-Frank Act and the international Third Basel Accord added new regulations for bank behavior, limiting the amount of risk they could take on and implementing stress tests to keep better checks on the institutions’ health.

But the new regulations go only so far — and, in some ways, might be making things even riskier.

Read more: Breaking the Banks | Fast forward | OZY

Essays | The Rise of the Milibands

In which I write about, naturally, Labour Party Politics. A big shout-out to my fiancee Jeannie Rose, who reviewed tons of YouTube videos to help me nail just the right body language descriptions of the brothers Miliband.

When brothers vie for the same prize, the metaphors just about write themselves: Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Romulus and Remus, Prospero and Antonio, Peyton and Eli. Such was, is and ever shall be the case for Ed and David Miliband, who were — until 2010 — the twin leading lights of the Labour Party, heirs apparent to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. They served together on Brown’s last cabinet, but David, the older brother, outshone the younger until 2010, when Ed challenged and beat his brother in Labour’s leadership election.

End of story? Don’t bet on it.

Read more: Shakespeare in Government | Rising Stars | OZY

Essays | Isabele Ealet

Even among the alpha-male, aggressive stereotypes at elite financial institutions, the world of commodity trading has a reputation of being rough-and-tumble. So, in 2007, when French trader Isabelle Ealet was promoted to the head of Goldman Sachs’ commodities unit, it created a lot of positive notice. Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and president, Gary D. Cohn, have both served as head of the best commodities unit in the world.

Read more: Read more: Isabelle Ealet | Rising Stars | OZY