Cass Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. His latest book is The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavorial Science.
 (November 2016)


Listen, Economists!

Judge Guido Calabresi during arguments in Arar v. Ashcroft, New York City, December 2008. The court ruled that Maher Arar—a Canadian citizen who was wrongly deported by the US to Syria, where he was held for a year and subjected to torture—had no right to sue US government officials. In his dissent, Calabresi argued that ‘when the history of this distinguished court is written, today’s majority opinion will be viewed with dismay.’

The Future of Law and Economics: Essays in Reform and Recollection

by Guido Calabresi
Since its start in the 1960s, the field of “law and economics” has revolutionized legal thinking. It might well count as the most influential intellectual development in law in the last hundred years. It has also had a major impact on how regulators in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere …

Parking the Big Money

A beach in the Virgin Islands, which, along with countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg, are a notorious tax haven for the wealthy

The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens

by Gabriel Zucman, translated from the French by Teresa Lavender Fagan, with a foreword by Thomas Piketty

The Price We Pay

a film directed by Harold Crooks, inspired by Brigitte Alepin’s 2010 book La Crise fiscale qui vient (The Coming Fiscal Crisis)
A lot of wealthy people in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been hiding money in foreign countries—above all, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. As a result, they have been able to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Until recently, however, officials have not known the magnitude of that problem.

She Was Houdini’s Greatest Challenge

Harry Houdini, about to be padlocked into a packing case and lowered into New York Harbor, 1914

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

by David Jaher
What is the greatest competition in American history? In boxing, you might single out Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier, or perhaps Jack Dempsey against Gene Tunney. In chess, it has to be Bobby Fischer against Boris Spassky. In politics, it might be John F. Kennedy against Richard Nixon, or perhaps …

Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us

An advertisement for Rolls-Royce from the late 1950s

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception

by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
George Akerlof and Robert Shiller believe that once we understand human psychology, we will be a lot less enthusiastic about free markets and a lot more worried about the harmful effects of competition. In their view, companies exploit human weaknesses not necessarily because they are malicious or venal, but because the market makes them do it.

John & Harriet: Still Mysterious

Friedrich Hayek with a class at the London School of Economics, 1948

Hayek on Mill: The Mill–Taylor Friendship and Other Writings

by Friedrich Hayek, edited by Sandra J. Peart
How was it that Friedrich Hayek, of all people, became captivated by the love story of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor? And does that romance have anything to do with liberalism and liberty?

Who Knows If You’re Happy?

Car hop serving motorists at a drive-in eating place in Keemah, Texas, September 1945; photograph by Esther Bubley from David Campany’s The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, just published by Aperture

Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think

by Paul Dolan, with a foreword by Daniel Kahneman

Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience

a report by the National Research Council, edited by Arthur A. Stone and Christopher Mackie
When I was working in the federal government in 2010, I asked a colleague how things were going. His answer was unusual: “My moment-by-moment happiness is pretty low, but my life satisfaction is great.” As it happens, he was an expert on the last two decades of social science research …


The Hidden Stakes of the Election

Many of the biggest battles of the day—over health care reform, financial reform, environmental protection, workplace safety, civil rights—will ultimately be settled in court by lower-court judges in rulings that will get little public attention. The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, but some of the rules that are necessary to implement it may turn out to be vulnerable. Unlike presidents, judges often stay in their jobs for decades, and any president is in a position to shift the judiciary in major ways. Of course it is true that the 2012 presidential election will help to establish the meaning of the Constitution. Perhaps equally important, it will help to establish the fate of numerous rules designed to protect public safety, health, and the environment.