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Giant Pool of Money Analysis

The awful subprime lending crisis is truly one of the most convoluted, wreaking messes conjured by the financial industries in the 20th century. There are so many layers of bad choices and megalomaniacal errors intertwined into this ugly event that picking out just two biases/heuristics to analyze and discuss will surely fail from being a complete analysis. Nonetheless, this is a the task at hand and, though we will not but scratch the surface of this behemoth, teasing out a couple biases will make for a viable illustration and application of the concepts and issues we have discussed thus far in class.

The bias that caused the most havoc in this lending crisis scenario was articulated beautifully by Bazarman and Moore as The Confirmation Trap. The Confirmation Trap boils down to whether or not a person merely searches for data that supports the decision they wish to make rather than looking for proper, empirical data to prove the assumption correct. In other words, does a person looking to make a decision actually look to prove their assumption incorrect. Sadly, at nearly every stage and at every level of the subprime lending fiasco there is evidence that all the players fell victim to The Confirmation Trap.

Wason writes, “ . . . that obtaining the correct solution necessitates a willingness to attempt to falsify hypotheses, and thus to test those intuitive ideas which so often carry the feeling of certitude.” None of the characters in our story sought to find the faults in their assumptions rather they simply found the proof of what they desired to achieve.

The NPR program began with detailing the process by which people borrowing money in the early 2000’s went through to receive their toxic loans. Clarence Nathan, making $37k a year and owning no assets obtained a loan for $540k. Clearly, this man had no business being…...

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