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About Benjamin Ho
Ben Ho is an associate professor of behavioral economics at Vassar College and author of the book Why Trust Matters: An Economist's Guide to the Ties that Bind Us. Ho applies economic tools like game theory and experimental design on topics like apologies, identity, inequality and climate change. Before Vassar, he taught MBA students at Cornell, served as lead energy economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and worked/consulted for Morgan Stanley and several tech startups. Professor Ho also teaches at Columbia University where he is a faculty affiliate for the Center for Global Energy Policy. His work has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Ho holds seven degrees from Stanford and MIT in economics, education, political science, math, computer science and electrical engineering.
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Have economists neglected trust? The economy is fundamentally a network of relationships built on mutual expectations. More than that, trust is the glue that holds civilization together. Every time we interact with another person—to make a purchase, work on a project, or share a living space—we rely on trust. Institutions and relationships function because people place confidence in them. Retailers seek to become trusted brands; employers put their trust in their employees; and democracy works only when we trust our government.
Benjamin Ho reveals the surprising importance of trust to how we understand our day-to-day economic lives. Starting with the earliest societies and proceeding through the evolution of the modern economy, he explores its role across an astonishing range of institutions and practices. From contracts and banking to blockchain and the sharing economy to health care and climate change, Ho shows how trust shapes the workings of the world. He provides an accessible account of how economists have applied the mathematical tools of game theory and the experimental methods of behavioral economics to bring rigor to understanding trust. Bringing together insights from decades of research in an approachable format, Why Trust Matters shows how a concept that we rarely associate with the discipline of economics is central to the social systems that govern our lives.