The 99-word bio: Justin Fox is a columnist for Bloomberg View, writing about business. He started there in January 2015, after serving as editorial director and executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. Before joining HBR, he wrote a column for Time and created the Curious Capitalist blog for Time.com. Previously, Fox spent more than a decade at Fortune magazine. He was a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
The formal and still shortish bio: Justin Fox is a columnist for Bloomberg View, writing about business. He started there in January 2015, after serving as editorial director and executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, which was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2009, and the Amazon.com editors’ choice as the best business book of that year. Before joining HBR in 2010, he wrote a weekly column for Time and created the Curious Capitalist blog for Time.com. Previously, Fox spent more than a decade as a writer and editor at Fortune magazine, and worked at several newspapers. He has appeared frequently on radio and TV, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and written for The Atlantic and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. He has been a senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, son, and dog.
The long, informal, self-indulgent bio: I explain things for a living. I’ve been doing this as a columnist for Bloomberg View since January 2015. I came there from the Harvard Business Review, where over five years I served in a variety of editorial and management roles — including a highly educational stint as editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Press — and wrote a lot for HBR.org and a little bit for the magazine.
A few years ago I wrote a book. You can read more about it here; the short version is that The Myth of the Rational Market tells the story of the rise and fall of the efficient market hypothesis, the influential but flawed academic theory that financial market prices are rational and correct. It was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and a New York Times Notable Book of 2009. It was named the best business book of 2009 by the editors of Amazon.com. In the New York Times Book Review, Paul Krugman called it “a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the mess we’re in,” while in the Wall Street Journal Burton Malkiel described it as “a valuable and highly readable history of risk and reward.” It has been translated into six languages, with one more (Arabic) on the way. And, most important, Jon Stewart invited me onto his show to talk about it.
I wrote the book while working as the economics columnist for Time magazine, a job I held from 2007 to 2010, and as a writer and editor for Fortune, where I worked from 1996 to 2007. While at Fortune I launched a blog in 2006 called the Curious Capitalist (Fortune editor Brian O’Keefe came up with the name for me). After I brought it over to Time and enlisted my brilliant colleague Barbara Kiviat to help out, it became kind of a thing. In 2009 the Wall Street Journal named it one of the 25 best economics blogs (there were a lot of economics blogs in those days). The blog lived on for a while after I left; it has since been folded into the Time.com site, but the posts appear to still all be there (here’s one of my favorites). And the magazine’s economics column, now written by the great Rana Foroohar, is still called The Curious Capitalist.
Although I sometimes play one on TV, I am not an economist. My undergraduate degree in public and international affairs from Princeton did entail taking a few economics classes, but they weren’t very advanced ones. And while I studied political science on a Rotary fellowship at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for a year after college, I don’t have an advanced degree of any kind. What I know, I have learned on the job.
I grew up in the Bay Area suburb of Lafayette, California, and my first non-temporary job was as the agriculture and business reporter for The Advance-Register, an afternoon daily in the central California town of Tulare that has since been folded into the bigger paper up the road in Visalia. After about a year there I went to a high school friend’s wedding in Birmingham, Alabama. I interviewed at The Birmingham News while I was in town, got a job offer, and a few weeks later was driving my air-conditioner-free Ford Festiva to Selma, Alabama, to become the paper’s correspondent there. I got promoted to the statehouse bureau in Montgomery after six months of that, and as my salary catapulted past $25,000 a year I bought a Saturn SL2 with air conditioning. Two years later I made it up to Birmingham, where I was first the environmental reporter and then a writer for the paper’s great (they’d won a Pulitzer right before I joined up) editorial page. I ended up staying in Alabama just over five years. I met my future wife there, learned pretty much everything I know there, including a little bit of economics and finance, and generally just loved the place to death.
But I didn’t love it as much as I loved my future wife, so when she left for a job on Capitol Hill, I followed her, after detouring for several months through Central America, and got a job covering banking regulators for American Banker. After a year in D.C. (and a pretty great wedding) we moved to New York, where to my great surprise I landed at Fortune, which was going through a period of turmoil and opportunity in the months after John Huey took over as editor. Fortune in the late 1990s was an amazing place, the magazine bursting with ads and great stories and the offices bursting with brilliant business journalists. I got to spent 2000 and 2001 as the magazine’s Europe editor in London, then moved back to New York, bringing us up to the events related above. Also, while I was at Fortune I was selected in 2005 as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. My theory has always been that Miguel Forbes (of the Forbes Forbeses) was already on their list, so they figured they had to have somebody from Fortune to balance him out. In any case, it was a great — if of course weird and surreal and sometimes maddening — experience.
I now live in Manhattan with my wife and our son, who is a senior in high school. We have a dog, a mostly charming Labradoodle named Nora. My wife writes this awesome cocktail blog, and runs this excellent online service that you may find invaluable if you know somebody with a birthday or anniversary or some other big event coming.
Finally, I spent two academic years (’12-’13 and ’13-’14) moonlighting as a senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. The idea was that I would use the fellowship to figure out my next book. I had a great time and made some progress. I’ve made more progress since. But not quite enough to talk about here yet.