Bernie Madoff Bryan Smith/ZumaPress

Van fraude, dwazen en financiële markten

NEW HAVEN – Adam Smith schreef ooit beroemd geworden woorden over een ‘onzichtbare hand,’ waardoor het najagen van individueel eigenbelang op vrije concurrerende markten de belangen van de maatschappij als geheel zou bevorderen. En Smith had gelijk: de vrije markt heeft een ongekende voorspoed gegenereerd voor zowel individuen als de maatschappij. Maar, omdat we gemanipuleerd of bedrogen kunnen worden of slechts maar passief verleid, overtuigt de vrije markt ons ook om dingen aan te schaffen die noch goed zijn voor onszelf noch voor de maatschappij.

Deze observatie is een belangrijk aanhangsel bij de visie van Smith. En het is dit aanhangsel dat George Akerlof en ik in ons nieuwe boek, Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception, verkennen.

De meesten onder ons hebben wel eens met ‘phishing’ te maken gehad: ongevraagde e-mails en telefoontjes met doel ons te bedriegen. Een ‘phool’ (lees: fool,=dwaas, red.) is eenieder die de alomtegenwoordigheid van phishing niet geheel bevat. Een phool herkent geïsoleerde voorbeelden van phishing, maar niet de reikwijdte van de professionaliteit die er achter zit, noch hoe zwaar dit professionalisme levens beïnvloedt. Droevig genoeg zijn velen van ons ooit phools geweest – inclusief Akerlof en ik zelf, wat de reden is dat we dit boek geschreven hebben.

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