Moguls-relatively unmoderated by outside shareholders, capricious, dictatorial and long-tenured to the point of senility-do have one redeeming virtue. They're distinct individuals who can afford occasionally to tell the truth, while hired managers stick to mealy-mouthed platitudes.

A case in point: News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch, at the quarterly presentation of his media conglomerate's results, explained why he wouldn't be investing more in Putin's Russia. "This is purely me, I'm sorry: the more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it. The more successful we'd be, the more vulnerable we'd be to have it stolen from us, so there we sell now." (Incidentally, that was a Superbowl championship ring that kleptocratic Russian president Vladimir Putin was trying on in this photo with Murdoch from last year-and not the ring that the media mogul lost this year in Sun Valley.)

Of course, the Australian media mogul was equally outspoken about China, suggesting that western-style media would undermine the supremacy of the country's Communist regime. And he's spent years eating his words.