When the CEOs of the major American car companies travelled to Washington to beg Congress for a bailout, the most memorable moment in the popular media was when Representative Brad Sherman grilled the CEOs about their use of individual corporate jets.

The issue was deemed sufficiently important for public relations that General Motors wants to block the public from tracking its leased planes. Japanese CEOs seem to have a completely different attitude when dealing with potentially embarrassing corporate perks:

Why the big difference in approach between US and Japanese company leadership? According to Steven Levitt, in his TED talk on Crack Economics, the Americans seem to be following a fairly new principle in economics that is common in gangland hierarchies. This principle is so new that economists don’t have a proper academic term for it, so Levitt uses a gang leader’s parlance:

Indeed, the “weak and shit” hypothesis seems to fit the car company CEOs quite well.

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