Stories by Felix Salmon

Jeffrey Epstein demonstrates how capitalism rewards malign actors

Financier Jeffrey Epstein
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In reporting on Jeffrey Epstein I've been able to speak to a few different people who had firsthand experiences with him. (I also reported this week on how he managed to circumvent Harvard's rule against accepting money from him.) Common threads include his easy charm and the way in which he went out of his way to show concern for others.

Why it matters: Epstein is an extreme case, but charming sociopaths in general tend to do very well in business.

Markets are untrustworthy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The big lesson of this week: Don't trust the markets.

What's happening: U.S. money markets fell into chaos this week as risk-free overnight interest rates spiked to almost 10%. But, while market information is a very important signal, it should never be taken as being definitive.

When do-gooders don't

An illustration of blue and red hands intertwined.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We, the parent company of WeWork, is on a very high-minded mission. That mission is, literally, "to elevate the world's consciousness."

Reality check: We is also a company whose founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder is reportedly happy to leave "a sizable chunk" of marijuana in a chartered Gulfstream jet, opening up its owner to significant criminal liability. The same man "instructed staff to fire 20% of employees a year."