Dark Patterns: why do companies pursue strategies that make their customers regret doing business?

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In this 30 minute video, Harry Brignull rounds up his work on cataloging and unpicking "Dark Patterns," (previously) the super-optimized techniques used by online services to lure their customers into taking actions they would not make otherwise and will later regret. Read the rest

Highest-paid CEOs generate lowest shareholder returns

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In Are CEOs paid for performance? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Equity Incentives, a new study from MSCI, researchers compared the salaries of 800 US CEOs of large and medium-sized companies to the returns to their shareholders during their tenure. Read the rest

A catalog of weird-ass corners of game theory research

Game theory is the place where politics, economics, psychology and math meet, and it offers the seductive promise of being able to quantify empirically optimal outcomes from thorny problems ranging from whether to go to war to how to split the tab at a restaurant. Read the rest

Study: top bank execs saw the crash coming and sold off shares in their own institutions

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In a new working paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research, scholars look at the trading records of shareholders, directors and top executives of major financial institutions in the runup to the crash of 2007, and find that the sell-offs by the top five executives at a bank strongly correlated with that bank's losses in the crash, but that other stakeholders' trading do not correlate: in other words, the very top brass of banks knew that they were sitting on piles of worthless paper and sold before anyone else knew about it, and kept their shareholders, direct reports, and the board of directors in the dark. Read the rest

Negative Swiss 50-year bond yields just shattered the global insecurity barometer

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National treasury bonds are the safe option in times of global turmoil, and the more uncertain things are, the more people buy them, and the higher their prices go. Read the rest

Brexit's other shoe drops: austerity, deregulation, climate nihilism

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As Conservative grandees jostle each other in the looming contest to become Prime Minister of the UK, we're starting to learn more about their plans for governing UK without the constraint of the European Union's human rights, environmental and labour rules. Read the rest

White House contends with AI's big social challenges, July 7/NYC

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Meredith from Simply Secure writes, "Artificial Intelligence is already with us, and the White House and New York University’s Information Law Institute are hosting a major public symposium to face what the social and economic impacts might be. AI Now, happening July 7th in New York City, will address the real world impacts of AI systems in the next next 5-10 years." Read the rest

Low income US households get $0.08/month in Fed housing subsidy; 0.1%ers get $1,236

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America is in the grips of one of the worst housing crises in its history, with 1 in 3 households spending more than 30% of their income on mortgage or rent payments; the US government has two kinds of housing subsidy, one for poor renters and the other intended for middle-income mortgage payers, but guess who gets most of the money? Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren on monopolies in America, including Apple, Google, and Amazon

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Elizabeth Warren is on fire in this speech at a New America Open Markets conference on monopolies this week in DC; Senator Warren is pitiless, lucid and laser focused on the way that corruption creates monopolies, and monopolies suborn corruption. Read the rest

The Olympics are profitable for every host city (that lies about the numbers)

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Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics, a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives analyzes the economics of hosting the Olympics, indicting the numbers game played by bid committees and the IOC. Read the rest

The blacker a city is, the more it fines its residents (especially black ones)

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In the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, much ink was spilled on the reliance of the predominantly black city on fines from its residents to pay its bills -- and on the use of what amounted to debtors' prisons that locked up those who wouldn't or couldn't pay the constant stream of fines and scared the rest into begging and borrowing to pay their own fines. Read the rest

The demographics of Brexit

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The Brexit vote wasn't mere xenophobia, it was self-destructive lashing out by people whom the political classes had written off for a generation. Read the rest

1 in 5 snoop on a phone belonging to a friend or loved one

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In Snooping on Mobile Phones: Prevalence and Trends, a paper presented at SOUPS 16, computer scientists from UBC and the University of Lisbon show that a rigorous survey reveals that up to one in five people have snooped on a loved one or friend by accessing their phone. Read the rest

Electronics repair shops overbill for labor when the customer has insurance

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In Insurance coverage of customers induces dishonesty of sellers in markets for credence goods , a research paper in PNAS by German and Austrian economists, the authors show experimental evidence that electronics repair shops are more likely to overcharge for labor when their customers have insurance. Read the rest

18% of the world's cargo ships are sitting idle

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In the aftermath of the 2008 crash, international shipping sank to record lows -- but container ship companies kept on building, turning out some of the biggest ships the seas have ever seen. Read the rest

Security economics: black market price of hacked servers drops to $6

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A new Kaspersky report analyzes an online hacker marketplace called xDedic, where access to 70,000 hacked servers -- multiplayer game servers, billing servers, cellular/ISP servers, dating servers, betting servers, government and university servers -- in 173 countries can be bought for $6 and up. Read the rest

Every industry thinks it's special, but only finance gets treated that way

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Economist John Kay, who writes for the Financial Times, delivered a powerful, eminently readable critique of the finance industry last month at the Bank of International Settlements conference. Read the rest

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