John Gapper

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Full name: John Gapper

Area of interest: Business trends and strategy, esp. in the US. (Blog covers: business, finance, media, technology)

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:




Networks:!/johngapper |



Education: Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania: US education and training; Harkness fellow of the Commonwealth Fund of New York

Career: Reporter with The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph; joined FT in 1987: has covered banking, labour relations and the media, was the assistant editor incharge of comment analysis pages and features

Current position/role: Associate editor and chief business commentator

  • also writes/has written for: Los Angeles Times: archive

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:



Broadcast media: Appears regularly on CNN, CNBC and the BBC

Video: John Gapper visits occupy Wall Street protests -


Awards/Honours: Business Journalist of the Year Awards 2008: Best Communicator



Books & Debate:

All that glitters John Gapper.jpg

Latest work: Debut novel A Fatal Debt will be published in July/August 2012 by Random House in the US and Duckworth in the UK


Current/recent debate:

Financial Times

Column name:

Remit/Info: Business and finance, focussing on the media and technology industries and innovation. Also writes editorial and features on a range of business topics

Section: Comment

Role: Associate editor and chief business commentator. Writes this column and also contributes leaders and other articles




Commissioning Editor:

Day published: Thursday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: 900 words

Articles: 2017

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

  • Master of risk who did God’s work for Goldman Sachs but won it little love - Lloyd Blankfein, the financier who is the FT Person of the Year, heads Wall Street’s most powerful institution, but he still has to prove himself in the market of public opinion - 24th December
  • How America let banks off the leash - This week, the last two large banks to receive capital injections from the US government at the height of the crisis in October 2008 agreed their exit with the Treasury - 17th December
  • Enterprise stakes out a place in space - Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic service deserves to be taken seriously because it makes financial sense. The more that people pay privately to experience some of the thrills that astronauts have enjoyed, the greater the potential for Nasa to focus on grander projects - 10th December
  • Cable guys gain little from merging - Comcast’s expected $30bn bid for NBC Universal is complex and unjustified, writes John Gapper. The rest of the media industry has given up on efforts to show that the merged whole can be greater than the sum of the parts, and Comcast should too - 3rd December
  • A healthy appetite for the right price - The Cadbury takeover battle shows the advantages of the UK system. The City’s focus on price allows investors to make up their own minds without being stymied by directors. A sound outcome is more likely than in the murky US alternative - 26th November
  • How Wall St family was torn apart by greed and jealousy - Charlie Gasparino, author of ‘The Sellout’, was as close as anyone to the Street’s big, wayward figures before they met their downfall - 19th November
  • How to reinvent China's gtowth - China faces a complex and perilous transition phase as it tries to transform from a middle-income, high-growth, very big developing economy into an advanced economy with a diversified industrial bas - 19th November
  • Murdoch will relish a battle over online pay walls - He talks of cracking down on ‘content kleptomaniacs’, but has not yet secured his doors against them - 14th November
  • How not to take care of a brand - Amputations from a stroller?! By the time Farzad Rastegar, chief executive of Maclaren in the US, had lunch with John Gapper in New York on Tuesday, he sounded shaken. Maclaren has done a poor job of telling its story. What are the lessons for companies facing similar crises? - 12th November
  • Safe signals from Buffett’s train deal - Buying a railroad is a sound way to gain cash dividends, and broad exposure to companies that need coal and freight, but not to invest in innovation. Is the $27bn BNSF deal the ultimate symbol not only of Warren Buffett’s investment style but also of how he sees his country - 5th November
  • A three-way split is the most logical - By insisting on the break-up of the ING Group into its banking and insurance divisions – and on it divesting its US direct savings arm – EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes set a welcome precedent this week. But will any country be brave enough to enact a Kroes-like split on financial institutions - 29th October
  • Galleon’s reach - Investment: As a New York hedge fund chief faces charges of insider dealing, a case that also involves IBM, Intel and McKinsey executives is causing shock well beyond the world of finance - 26th October
  • Galleon’s reach - Investment: As a New York hedge fund chief faces charges of insider dealing, a case that also involves IBM, Intel and McKinsey executives is causing shock well beyond the world of finance - 24th October
  • Goldman should be allowed to fail - It might sap some resentment if taxpayers could see that Goldman’s bonuses were a form of equity partnership, and that the bank would be allowed to founder in any future crisis - 22nd October
  • A credibility problem for Goldman - Having taken government money to survive the crash, Goldman Sachs is in such rude health that it will be handing out billions in bonuses. There is much outrage that the US bank wants to carry on as its old self (but bigger) in a world that has changed - 15th October
  • The death of the media mogul - There may be someone out there who will become the 21st-century equivalent of Bertelsmann’s Reinhard Mohn, a modest entrepreneur who crossed technological and social boundaries to create a media empire. But we shall not see his like again - 8th October
  • Clearing up the future of futures - Banks have found corporate allies in their battle to stop the tough new rules proposed for derivatives, including demanding that standard contracts are traded on an exchange. But they must not be allowed to derail the regulations - 1st October
  • Where there’s a will there’s a way - Banks should write their own living wills, making them safer in life and easier to dispose of in death - 24th September
  • Squeeze the leviathans of finance - It is necessary to have tough restrictions on systemically important banks deemed ‘too big to fail’ and impose a much bigger regulatory ‘tax’ on large banks than small ones, through higher capital charges and stricter limits on leverage - 23rd July
  • A pugnacious pundit Wall Street can’t ignore - John Gapper meets Charlie Gasparino, the CNBC reporter who has broken many stories about the financial crisis, and discovers why everybody listens when he talks - 17th July
  • Little laptops snap at the oligopoly - The Asus Eee and rival netbooks made by Taiwan companies have converted consumers and caused havoc in the personal computer industry, reducing revenues and margins at both software and hardware companies - 16th July
  • Dirty Digger blags his way into the headlines - Rupert Murdoch has been hit by accusations of phone-hacking by his British tabloids, hurting the reputation he has been building in the US through proper journalism at The Wall Street Journal - 11th July
  • Big banks look to rainmakers again - Investment banks are hitting back at boutiques by giving top performers the status they crave, as the growing complexity of deals means more seasoned advisers are needed. But don’t expect it to last - 9th July
  • Madoff’s sentence is both necessary and rare - The 71-year-old fraudster conduct was indefensible and he deserved what he got. But the case was unusual. The question is whether Bernard Madoff’s spectacular sentence should become the benchmark for future cases of corporate fraud. I think not - 2nd July
  • Madoff’s victims have their moment but the suffering continues - After Monday, there will be no more court hearings to attend and Mr Madoff will disappear into a high security prison for life. The victims will be left with a long, frustrating battle to try to recover some of their money - 30th June
  • Apple avoids the pain of competition - It seems odd that companies can gain an advantage by working with others and by sharing knowledge. Yet being part of a network not only can help a company to gain from others’ knowledge but also can reinforce its market position, as Apple’s contest with Palm shows - 25th June
  • Technology is for revolution (and repression) - Technology gets a bad rap in the old media. In books and films, it is often the machinery used by governments to crush individuality - 20th June
  • The hidden cost of free vaccines - One-off gifts of childhood vaccines can cause more harm than good. Developing countries obtain far greater benefits from being offered guaranteed low prices for a vaccine over several years, enabling them to plan vaccination properly - 17th June
  • Turf warriors head for Washington - We are about to observe the next phase in the government’s attempt to stabilise the US financial system. It is about to launch its effort to reform the notoriously tangled and overlapping system of financial regulation. It is vital to get this right - 11th June
  • General Motors goes to the garage - Chapter 11 gives chief executive Fritz Henderson room to manoeuvre in stripping down GM’s balance sheet, curbing its healthcare and pension liabilities and closing reluctant dealers. But can he remould GM for the long-term, rather than just foster a cyclical revival - 4th June (See: GM: the bankruptcy process)
  • When not cutting prices becomes a luxury - Discounting can exact a terrible price, as the imminent bankruptcy of General Motors shows. The company was the king of price-discounting even in the good times. But luxury and premium brands have grown so much that their owners cannot choose from a menu of cutting costs, output or prices. All are required - 28th May
  • Wolfram Alpha asks searching questions of the web - For years, there has been little competition in the business of enabling people to find out things on the web: Google led and a bunch of its would-be rivals lagged behind. Suddenly, however, internet search is becoming lively again - 23rd May (See: Wolfram|Alpha)
  • Detroit will dodge Obama’s fuel rules - Barack Obama’s complex intervention is an inefficient – and probably ineffective – way of meeting the twin aims he has set for the US motor industry: to curb fuel consumption and dependence on foreign oil and help the Detroit three “once more outcompete the world” - 21st May
  • Find the right buyer for your paper - Two astute wheeler-dealers – Carlos Slim, the Mexican media mogul, and David Geffen, the Hollywood big shot – have their eyes on The New York Times. But, with the share price close to an all-time low, is it time for the Ochs-Sulzberger family to sell? - 14th May
  • How banks learnt to play the system - The results of the US stress tests are a harsh judgment on the biggest US banks and a damning verdict on Basel and two decades of capital adequacy regulation. We must learn the lesson that banks faced with new balance sheet rules will strive to evade those rules - 7th May
  • Madison Avenue feels the squeeze - Today’s face-off between the people in suits – media planning agencies – and advertising’s creatives is fuelled by recession rather than growth, and the internet rather than television, with clients demanding extra work – such as digital campaigns – for the same money - 30th April
  • Outside Edge: Maestros, mitts and the best laid plans - the vagaries of pitches, stadiums and concert halls - 25th April
  • Why brands now rise in the east - For a long time, global products have been made in the image of what US consumers wanted, or dreamed. But a shift in consumer buying power towards emerging markets is helping the spread of eastern products and altering how western groups develop and market global brands - 23rd April
  • Don’t set Goldman free, Mr Geithner - Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein wants his institution to pay back the $10bn in taxpayer money it took last autumn when its future looked dicey. It could then go back to paying employees what it wants and buying and selling what it fancies. He is peddling an illusion - 16th April
  • It’s good to get behind the wheel - Most of the US auto industry’s problems were caused not by the nature of cars but standard-issue mismanagement, tolerated for decades. The inability, or unwillingness, of shareholders to enforce clearly needed changes is also found elsewhere - 2nd April
  • We need to share the bail-out bill - One thing we have learnt in the past year is that some banks are definitely too big to fail. We may yet discover something even more disturbing: that some are too big to save - 26th March
  • AIG reinvents the trader’s option - For the taxpayer, it is a travesty to be forced to pay additional bonuses to the wreakers of havoc. But for the financial institutions involved in credit derivatives, it is even worse than that – a humiliation that should compel them to change the way they pay people - 19th March
  • The case for a Glass-Steagall ‘lite’ - There are sound reasons to impose some kind of split between buy side and sell side in the financial services industry. It is wrong to jump from doubting the usefulness or practicality of reimposing the Glass-Steagall Act to rejecting any such structural reform - 12th March
  • Too long in the spaceship, Hank - Hank Greenberg, the former AIG chief executive, has chutzpah. Having presided for decades over a vast and impenetrable insurance company-cum-hedge fund that the American government has spent many billions of dollars bailing out, he feels hard done by - 5th March 2009
  • The Murdochs’ generation gap - Rupert Murdoch’s best response to the simmering discontent over the problems at News Corporation would be to set some sort of timetable for him stepping down. But there is still no sign of it happening - 26th February
  • Big-hitters stumped by their own ego - When a single figure not only controls a financial institution but embodies it, investors should be wary. Banks that keep the ambitions and egos of individuals in check by making them work with, and under the eyes of, others have a fair chance of detecting fraud - 19th February
  • King Lear proves the point: listen to that whistleblower - In many cases, managers to whom a whistleblower complains are not at fault but dismiss the complaint as wrong or overblown - 14th February
  • Heaven help the banking system - The US Treasury secretary is a good conciliator. Geithner’s years at the New York Federal Reserve have taught him how to stroke politicians. But his challenges are just starting. Wednesday’s thrashing of Wall Street bankers was an appetiser for Congress - 12th February
  • Curbing a few bankers’ earnings is a small price - Barack Obama’s decision to impose a salary cap of $500,000 on the senior executives of financial institutions, including Wall Street banks, that need public money to prop themselves up is rough justice - 5th February
  • Davos and the spirit of mutual misunderstanding - This year’s forum showed what happens when the world economy ceases to finance global co-operation and goodwill - 31st January
  • The humbling of Davos Man - The credit crisis turned out to be Wall Street’s hurricane Katrina. It transpired financiers had no idea of the risks they were taking and could not stop their banks sinking in a storm. If they cannot do their own job, why should we let them do anything else - 29th January
  • Nationalisation is not a panacea - Governments are bad owners for banks. They are conflicted because, although politicians like to castigate bankers for risk-taking, they also push them to lend freely. Also, a full public recapitalisation in the US or UK would be enormously costly - 22nd January
  • Citigroup must recruit a zombie-slayer - The fear is that the US government will take control of bank to stop it becoming a 1990s Japanese-style zombie bank, drifting from crisis to crisis with inadequate capital in a swamp of bad loans and toxic securities. Welcome to the job, Mr Parsons - 15th January
  • Funds of funds have to work harder - Two decades ago, most hedge funds obtained most of their funds from individuals and family trusts. Now, there are many more funds to deal with and institutional money is encroaching. Funds of funds must show they contribute something valuable - 8th January

Articles: 2008

  • Business in 2009: On the bright side, the chocolate-makers will be fine - Businesses face depressed demand and credit difficulties, and banks are unpopular with taxpayers who bailed them out - 30th December 2008
  • Wall Street insiders and fools’ gold - People lined up to entrust their savings to Bernie Madoff. Many got a tip from a friend or adviser about a Wall Street operator with a great record. No one thought he was operating a Ponzi scheme but plenty thought he had an unfair advantage - 18th December 2008 (Summary of Bernard Madoff news articles here)
  • We cannot improvise our way out of trouble - By giving cash to companies that are in the worst trouble and have the most political clout, governments are in danger of investing their money badly - 13th December 2008
  • Who will mourn local newspapers? - On Monday, the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy. The New York Times Company followed by saying it might mortgage its Renzo Piano-designed headquarters building to reduce debt - 11th December 2008
  • Hedge funds are going down with dignity - Instead of asking for government support, managers have been taking their punishment - 6th December 2008
  • Time to give something back, Bob - Robert Rubin needs to find a way to make up for his part in Citi’s downfall. My suggestion is that, in addition to giving up his bonus for this year and last, he returns the bonuses he got in 2005 and 2006, when Citi’s risk-taking ratcheted up - 4th December 2008
  • It is just another risk for Buffett - On the face of it, Warren Buffett’s deal to write $35bn of put options on equity markets looks both unwise and uncharacteristic. But we should not be shocked. For several decades he has proved to be exceptionally good at taking big financial risks - 27th November 2008
  • The perils of having a passionate helmsman - What Jerry Yang thought was right for Yahoo turned out not to be, and his enthusiasm for the enterprise he built, which he thought could flourish independently, was misguided. Sometimes a company requires a dispassionate leader - 20th November 2008
  • Detroit tries to fool them again - Washington should insist GM takes over Chrysler, reducing the big three to two. The US would get a smaller and stronger industry and competitors would be less crowded out by the US taxpayer - 13th November 2008
  • Chief executive or business-basher? - The president-elect looks and talks like a brilliant chief executive. But is that the real Barack Obama? - 6th November 2008
  • Shock: Drudge loses his grip on US media! - Just as Fleet Street swings left and right politically, depending on where it sees its commercial advantage, the US media have shifted left for a time, to mimic what they judge to be the country’s mood. When that mood swings back, so will the media - 30th October 2008
  • A rogue system with lax limits on risk-taking - In this crisis, whatever turns out to have occurred at Caisse d’Epargne, companies and banks bear responsibility - 24th October 2008
  • America was right to look and learn - Mr Bush and Mr Paulson were forced to accept that they were either with European governments or the markets would be against them - 16th October 2008
  • The real end of big bonuses - There will now be two kinds of Wall Street employer: safe and decently paid or risky and highly paid - 11th October 2008
  • Some blame lies closer to home - We home buyers and mortgage borrowers share the blame for the subprime mortgage mess, whether we are American, British or Icelandic - 9th October 2008
  • The fatal banker’s fall - It is hard to imagine Wall Street dusting itself off and getting back to business as usual this time. Bankers’ unpopularity has been propelled to greater heights than before - 2nd October 2008
  • Whatever is good for Goldman . . . - Goldman partners are not only smarter than the average Wall Street bear, but often turn up in “public service”. The next president should recruit from elsewhere - 25th September 2008
  • King’s men must put themselves together again - Humpty Dumpty seems an apt metaphor for the global financial system, which has fallen down and cannot get back up on its own - 20th September 2008
  • This greed was beyond irresponsible - I have a fine seat in the FT’s New York office looking down the canyon of Sixth Avenue towards the banks of Midtown. From my perch, I have watched the flabbergasting events of the past week - 17th September 2008
  • The last gasp of the broker-dealer - Sunday marked not only the end of Lehman Brothers and the surrender of Merrill Lynch but also the end of a banking era - 16th September 2008
  • A tragedy of hubris and nemesis - Dick Fuld reformed Lehman, but he never changed from the the dark and obstinate loyalist. In the end, his pride and obstinacy stood in the way of its desperate efforts in the past half year to right itself - 15th September 2008
  • Take this weekend off, Hank - Paulson has done his best to keep the dollar strong and financial confidence intact. The US Treasury secretary must now allow events to take their course - 11th September 2008
  • Google launches Microsoft’s big fear - Microsoft’s founder turned his company upside down 15 years ago because he grasped what the internet might do. The unveiling of Chrome shows his instincts were good - 4th September 2008
  • Advertisers will see you read this - Most people know vaguely that companies use technology to track browsing habits but are unaware of the scale and penetration of these techniques. It is harder than it should be to opt out of being tracked by advertising networks or search engines - 14th August 2008
  • Why Sony lost the battle of the e-book - 7th August 2008
  • Corporate culture shock is a big deal - Many mergers fail and those between companies from different nations, with different legal systems, customers, investors and cultures, are notoriously risky. But what seem like national tensions are often corporate ones in disguise - 31st July 2008
  • Why the U-turn is a high-risk tactic - When a big company takes over a small one, the acquirer insists its new subsidiary will be left alone. Then, one day, the leash becomes shorter - 24th July 2008
  • Short-selling reveals corporate realities - 19th July 2008
  • America's air force misses the target - Unlike the Joint Strike Fighter programme, the US will not share the F-22 with its allies because it wants to keep hold of the technology. However, it does not want to buy many of the aircraft either, which has made each fighter absurdly expensive - 16th July 2008
  • Yahoo must call time on Jerry Yang - There has not been a lot of consensus in the bizarre, prolonged battle for control of Yahoo but all the participants are united in one belief: do not trust the other guy - 9th July 2008
  • British consumers face their retail reckoning - There is an evocative scene in The Ice Age, Margaret Drabble’s novel about the 1974 property crash, in which Len Wincobank, a property developer who has been sent to jail for fraud, longingly remembers the marvellous food he used to eat - 4th July 2008
  • The record labels can take a punch - It was a sparky Glastonbury Festival this year. Not only did Jay-Z defy the indie-anthem-loving crowd but Amy Winehouse waded into the audience and punched a fan - 2nd July 2008
  • Bickering will never feed the world - Long-running feuds often go quiet for a while but it takes only one incident to make them flare up again. So it is with the argument between exponents of organic farming and those who prefer technology-intensive, industrialised agriculture - 12th June 2008
  • The Panglossian approach to debt - As the US continues to flirt with recession and banks face credit downgrades and a rumbling crisis of confidence, one bunch of financial institutions is doing quite nicely, thank you - 4th June 2008
  • A Sex and the City guide to the entertainment industry - It may not take a lot to make the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch’s city tabloid, grumpy but the four actresses of Sex and the City, the new film of the television series, certainly provoked it this week - 14th May 2008
  • On the pot-holed highway to hell - If anyone doubts the problems of US infrastructure, I suggest he or she take a flight to John F. Kennedy airport (braving the landing delay), ride a taxi on the pot-holed and congested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and try to make a mobile phone call en route - 8th May 2008
  • The return of high-risk optimism - Only at the Milken Institute Global Conference would one song played between financial debates be Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.” - 1st May 2008
  • A good name sliced, diced and traded - Farewell, Marcel Ospel. The former UBS chairman did not seek re-election to the board of the Swiss bank at its annual general meeting on Tuesday. It was just as well since, after $37bn (£19bn) in subprime-related losses, he might not have survived - 24th April 2008
  • The airlines merger that will not fly - When a business venture is declared to be good for everyone – even those with widely differing interests – it often turns out not to be particularly good for anyone - 17th April 2008
  • It is time for reflection, not regulation on banking - We are at a moment of peril for financial markets - 27th March 2008
  • Why Bear’s bankers should do penance this Easter - The words “suffering” and “banker” do not go together often. But the rescue of Bear Stearns, the Wall Street investment bank, this week, is a rare case of their collision - 22nd March 2008
  • How Bear aided its own demise - When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That is the cliché about surviving crises. It is not: When the going gets tough, the tough go to Detroit to play bridge - 20th March 2008
  • How the fighter knocked himself out - There was a cruel thrill about being in Manhattan on Monday afternoon, as the jaw-dropping news of Eliot Spitzer's links to the Emperors Club prostitution ring emerged - 13th March 2008
  • Creative types must face the music - The late 20th century was a very good time to run a studio or a label in a media company. Apart from having a lot of freedom and being paid a lot of money, executives and producers could hang out with artists and feel creative themselves - 6th March 2008
  • Opening the windows on Microsoft - Andrew Grove, former chief executive of Intel, popularised the Silicon Valley motto: "Only the paranoid survive." In the preface to his book of that title he wrote: "The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business, and then another chunk, and then another, until there is nothing left." - 28th February 2008
  • The top 10 Northern Rock losers - There are no winners from the British government’s decision this week to nationalise Northern Rock, the mortgage lender. There is, however, an embarrassment of losers - 21st February 2008
  • In defence of the investment bankers - The last British experiment with government wage controls was in the late 1960s, when the National Board for Prices and Incomes was given the task of assuaging the doubts of international bankers (the “gnomes of Zurich”) and staving off a sterling crisis by capping wage increases - 14th February 2008
  • Haze may obscure Microsoft’s path - In these volatile times, not many companies are willing to launch hostile bids for others and even fewer will back their hunch with $44bn. So Microsoft deserves the thanks of idle investment bankers and a nod from the rest of us - 7th February 2008
  • The crazy world of the superstar encourages risk - In recent days we have witnessed two men taking leave of their senses. In one case, however, there was method to the madness - 31st January 2008
  • Recession fears fail to damp party mood at Davos - 24th January 2008
  • Likeness to Barings is striking - It has been difficult to find an optimist in Davos this week, or at least an optimist who dared to speak his or her name - 24th January 2008
  • Davos Bill is tarnishing his philanthropic brand - Up here in Davos, in the mountain air, the usual philanthropic suspects have gathered for the World Economic Forum. Bono, George Soros and Bill and Melinda Gates are all here. One old hand is out of town, however: Bill Clinton, the former US president and quintessential Davos man - 24th January 2008
  • Detroit looks uneasily to the east - Most of the time, the shift in the business world's axis away from the US and towards Asia proceeds gradually enough to be imperceptible. This week there was a lurch - 17th January 2008
  • Obama still has lessons for business - Barack Obama, the 46-year-old Illinois senator, is now in a hard fight with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. But he has already achieved something with his soaring rhetoric and his promise of change in Washington: the admiration of Americans, Bill Clinton excepted - 10th January 2008
  • Lessons from Nestlé's coffee break - It is the New Year: time to make resolutions and decide which Christmas presents we actually want to keep. The best thing Santa brought this year was a gadget I want to show off to friends: not an iPod or a Wii, but a Nespresso machine - 3rd January 2008

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