Senior KIE Fellow Edward Balleisen Honored

Ed Balleisen, Associate Professor of History and Senior Fellow in the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, was recently honored at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference (BCH).

Balleisen specializes in the evolving “culture of American capitalism,” the institutions, values, and practices that have historically both structured and limited commercial activity. At the 2018 BCH, he was awarded the Harold F. Williamson Award, given every other year to “a mid-career scholar who has made significant contributions to the field of business history.” The Williamson Prize Committee emphasized Balleisen’s scholarship, including his first book, Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America (UNC Press, 2001), as well as his most recent book, Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (Princeton University Press, 2017). The award citation stressed that “his pioneering insights into the ‘dark side’ of capitalism have helped us to go beyond the usual paeans to market efficiencies and the unalloyed virtues of unfettered entrepreneurship, changing how we approach the history of business.”

Also at the conference, Balleisen’s Fraud received the Ralph Gomory Book Prize, awarded annually to a volume that demonstrates “the effects of business enterprises on the economic conditions of the countries in which they operate.” The prize committee described Fraud as “deeply-researched, engagingly written, and full of insightful analysis,” and as “an important contribution to the history of business and capitalism.”

The citation noted Balleisen’s teaching and mentoring awards at Duke and his leadership in founding a number of collaborative undertakings, including KIE’s Rethinking Regulation Program and an oral history project on regulatory governance.

Andrea Renda comments on White House regulation strategy

Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Andrea Renda is featured in a Bloomberg article exploring President Trump’s “New Math on Old Regulations.”

Renda, who also serves as Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, wrote a study on cost-benefit analysis for the European Commission in 2013. In his assessment of President Trump’s Executive Order to require Congress to phase out two federal regulations for every new one, Renda noted that “it’s impossible to affix a dollar amount to any total estimate of regulatory impact.”

Probably, it’s on the hidden part of the envelope,” he says. “It’s farther than the back of the envelope.”

Will there be an easy way for the Trump Administration to evaluate the benefits of decreased regulation? Read the Bloomberg article for more information.

Public Policy student highlights Kenan’s influence on interdisciplinary project

sarah-kerman-colorizedIn a new post on the Bass Connections website, junior Sarah Kerman reflects on her time working with a group that investigated efforts of government agencies to evaluate impacts of regulatory programs. The 2015-2016 project, titled “Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review,” included Kenan faculty leads Jonathan Wiener and Lori Bennear, co-directors of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program.

In her post, Kerman noted the value of attending Kenan’s 2016 Rethinking Regulation Symposium, where she presented initial findings from the group as part of the Regulatory Cooperation and Administrative Oversight Panel:

“Participating in the panel, responding to questions about our project and hearing about the work of other researchers focusing on regulatory issues revealed lots of possible venues for further research and really helped me get a better sense of how our team’s project could fit into the field of existing research on ex-post regulatory review.”

The Silver Family Kenan Institute Ethics Fund provided additional support for the project.

For more insight and to learn about Kerman’s work, visit the Bass Connections website.

Philosophy student explores healthcare ethics, political disagreement

FA_Ancell_AaronAaron Ancell, Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy, coauthored a paper that was published this month in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.

The paper, “How to Allow Conscientious Objections in Medicine While Protecting Patient Rights,” challenges those who propose an outright ban on conscientious objections in medicine, arguing that many conscientious objections must be permitted simply because they fall within the range of freedom doctors have to define the scope of their own practices. The latter half of the paper proposes a framework for permitting certain conscientious objections while mitigating the unjust burdens that such objections often impose on patients.

Read more on the Interdisciplinary Studies website.

Barak Richman talks major health insurance merger with Wall Street Journal

richmanKenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Barak Richman appeared on The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal” show, where he provided insight and context on the fallout from a federal judge’s decision to block a proposed merger between health insurers Aetna and Humana.

Richman, who also serves as the Edgar P. and Elizabeth C. Bartlett Professor of Law Professor of Business Administration at Duke’s School of Law, noted that a judge overseeing the merger found the two companies were coming together as a way to aggregate monopoly and pricing power.

They wanted to come together to negotiate better prices with providers and they wanted to skirt whatever sort of possibilities of market competition there is, so they can increase prices on consumers. And that really reflects what the primary business model is in insurance right now. It’s to create size and to leverage pricing power, both against providers and against consumers.”

Do today’s insurers need a new business model? See the full interview on the Wall Street Journal website.

Kenan initiative leads to Balleisen’s new book on history, ethics of fraud

When Edward J. Balleisen launched the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program in 2010, he was already deep into research on a history of business fraud in the United States.  Through a series of interdisciplinary conversations, research collaborations, and engagements with journalists and policy-makers made possible by Rethinking Regulation, he developed new questions and perspectives on that research.

ed balleisen-fraud book-coverThen, in early 2014, KIE sponsored a day-long manuscript workshop for Balleisen, which brought together scholars from across the Triangle and from disciplines ranging from history, political science, sociology, and economics to philosophy, neuroscience, and law, as well as North Carolina’s Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection. Feedback from the workshop was crucial as Balleisen crafted the final version of his newly published book, which pieces together a modern history of fraud, its far-reaching impacts on America, and the regulatory policies put in place to contain it.

In “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” Balleisen, an associate professor of history and public policy and vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, weaves stories of dishonesty and efforts to limit deceptive marketing going back to the early 19th century. He explores challenges of social trusts in a modern, capitalist economy and investigates what makes consumers and investors vulnerable to fraud.

“Fraud is a perennial problem for any capitalist society,” Balleisen said. “We tend to go through periods of generational amnesia about regulatory structures that we put in place after sufficient recognition of the costs associated with widespread fraud, but there’s always a tradeoff. To enact policies that tend to restrict opportunity for deception means inevitably restricting opportunity for competitive sales practices. In moments when economic stagnation becomes an abiding concern, policy-makers tend to pull back on the regulation of deception.”

Finding an appropriate middle ground, Balleisen noted, can be difficult in a country with a longstanding history of facilitating and promoting innovation. The freedom provided to entrepreneurial firms that offer new products, services, and ways of doing business inevitably generates cases of financial and consumer fraud, he said.

“It’s also sometimes hard for people to agree about what is fraudulent in the first place,” Balleisen said, especially in the midst of rapid changes in the business environment.

For more information about Balleisen’s book, “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” visit its page on the Princeton University Press website.