Favorite Articles I’ve Written

The Tug of the New-Fangled Slot Machine

I go inside a slot machine factory for the New York Times Magazine. The diabolical brilliance of this modern-day marvel that generates the bulk of any casino’s profits.

The Madness of King George

George Gilder weighs the cost of his pie-eyed tech optimism.

See All

Articles in the New York Times

The Working Class Millionaires of Silicon Valley

Struggling to get by on $3 million a year: a part of the Times’s “Age of Riches” series.

“Mao Didn’t Really Like Me”

A Long March from Mao to Microsoft: one American’s journey from communist party insider to BMW-driving capitalist.

The Bureau of Resistance.

An “On Money” column on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

See All

Poverty, Inc. articles

Secrets of the Tax Prep Business

An article in Mother Jones about the fat profits the big tax prep chains make in lower-income neighborhoods.

America’s Poverty Tax

It’s expensive being poor: calculating the “poverty tax” assessed by check cashers, payday lenders, and other merchants of misery feasting on those of little means and with lousy credit.

Creating the $40-billion-a-year Payday Lending Industry

An excerpt of my book, Broke, USA, appearing in Bloomberg Business Week.

See All

Articles about New Orleans/Katrina

Cash Now, Questions Later

My first of a series of dispatches following a single business as it struggled to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina

All Parts of City to Rebuild Under New Orleans Plan

I scoop even the New Orleans Times-Picayune in reporting that the city will allow residents to rebuild anywhere they like, no matter how vulnerable a neighborhood to future flooding.

See All


Leader of the Free World

A profile of super-geek Linus Torvalds for the cover of Wired magazine.

It’s Not Google. It’s That Other Big I.P.O.

My first weeks covering Silicon Valley for the New York Times, I inadvertently delay an IPO.

The Sniffer versus the Cybercrooks

a profile I wrote for the Sunday Business section of the Times.

See All

Articles from my Chicago days

Seven Wretched Days

The mayor dies suddenly and the city’s aldermen gather to choose one of their one as his successor.

Who Killed Rudy Lozano?

Police and prosecutors went after the kid who pulled the trigger when the barrio’s most promising politician was killed at 31. Did they overlook the ones who pulled the strings?

An Enemy of the State

The U.S. government under Ronald Reagan tried to deport Dennis Brutus, an outspoken anti-apartheid activist and poet who taught at Northwestern. My first article for the Reader.

The Night Chicago Burned

Ignoring the 20th anniversary of the ’68 riots that indelibly changed the city’s west side, “confirming the suspicions of a great many Chicagoans about the mainstream white media’s lack of interest in the west side and in the black population in general.”

How Low They Can Go

I inaugurated a City Hall column during my time at the Reader. This was probably the one having the greatest impact.