Superstar academic economists charge $1000+/hr to defend disastrous corporate megamergers

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In 1977 Richard Posner (then a prof at the University of Chicago's notorious ultra-libertarian school; now a federal judge) teamed up with an economist and law student to form Lexecon, which has since grown to a firm worth more than $130,000,000, whose major business is to serve as intellectual guns-for-hire who will produce plausible-seeming economic models defending giant corporate mergers against anti-trust regulators. Read the rest

US unemployment timelapse highlights 2008 crisis

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It's difficult to comprehend the onset and severity of the 2008 financial crisis, but this timelapse map of US unemployment data from 1990 through July 2016 helps put things in context. Read the rest

Despite Brexit, the UK is going to end up sending billions to the EU

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If the UK wants access to the EU markets, it's going to have to pay billions of pounds, something that the Brexit Leave campaign conveniently neglected to mention (they also conveniently neglected to mention that even if this wasn't true, the money the UK used to pay to the EU wasn't going to be spent on the NHS). Read the rest

Internet shutdowns cost the world at least $2.4 billion last year

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Deji from Access Now writes, "How much does it cost to shut down the internet? A new report by the Brookings Institution assesses costs during a one year period between 2015-2016 and found immense losses. It's just a baseline too -- and doesn't even include things like mobile money or lost tax receipts. The real number is likely much higher." Read the rest

Millennials are legit screwed

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The Economic Innovation Group and Ernst and Young surveyed 1200 millennials and found that, basically, everything sucks. Read the rest

July: Vancouver imposes a 15% tax on foreign real estate speculators; September: home sales drop by a third

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Vancouver has been wracked by a white-hot property bubble driven primarily by offshore speculators, mostly Chinese, who have driven up the price of housing beyond the means of working Vancouverites, crippling the city's daily life as workers, students and families struggle to find somewhere -- anywhere -- to live. Read the rest

Report paints UK as the sick man of Europe

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The pro-Brexit narrative insisted that the UK was one of Europe's greatest, most vibrant economies, and that, unshackled from European regulation, the country would be able to soar to the heights it deserves. Read the rest

Shadow Regulation: the secret laws that giant corporations cook up in back rooms

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The winner-take-all economy has turned virtually every industry into a cartel (four record labels, two cable companies, two phone operating systems, etc) who operate without fear of competition regulation, allowing representatives of a few companies to gather in closed-door meetings to cook up operating agreements that end up having the force of law. Read the rest

Chinese real estate bubble is "biggest in history"

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Wang Jianlin made billions speculating on Chinese real-estate; now that he's diversified into buying Hollywood movie studios and chains of movie theaters, the richest man in China is prepared to say what many have known: the Chinese property market is a huge, deadly bubble that's ripe to burst. Read the rest

Swedish law will let you write off the money you spend fixing things rather than trashing them

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In Sweden a legislative proposal will let repair shops will charge lower sales-tax, and allow people who repair their appliances and bicycles be to write off their expenditures. Read the rest

Climate denial's internal contradictions spring from a need to defend economic doctrine

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A trio of scholars who study the psychology and philosophy of science have written a fantastic paper for Springer's Sythese looking at the way that climate change conspiracy theorists construct their view of the world, and how these conspiracy theories contain self-contradictory theses (like the idea that climate change can't be predicted and the idea that the data shows we're actually headed for an ice-age). Read the rest

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

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Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

Designing the future of work

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Over at Democracy Journal, my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler explore the "digital coordination economy" (aka the on-demand economy) and how "it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well." From Democracy Journal:

As software takes an increasing role on both sides of transactions—ordering and producing—it promises to bring vastly more efficient coordination to these kinds of basic economic functions. This emerging digital coordination economy, with its efficient matching and fulfillment of both human and nonhuman needs, has the potential to generate tremendous economic growth.

However, as software engineers essentially author a growing segment of our economic operating system, it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well. Already the growth of on-demand work has allowed investors and owners in some industrialized regions to reap substantial financial returns while many of the people using platforms to generate income streams are struggling to maintain their standard of living. Uber drivers, for example, have seen a drop in earnings in the United States over the last couple of years, even as the company continues to grow at a dramatic pace.

It is clear that the fundamental technologies driving the coordination economy are neither “good” nor “bad,” but rather offer a heady combination of opportunities and challenges.

Read the rest

US religion is worth $1.2T/year, more than America's 10 biggest tech companies, combined

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The largely tax-free religion industry is one of the biggest in America, worth $1.2 trillion/year, a number that includes religious "healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations." Read the rest

Bloated U.S. management costs over $3 trillion annually

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"The cost of excess bureaucracy in the U.S. economy amounts to more than $3 trillion in lost economic output, or about 17% of GDP," write Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini in Harvard Business Review. Their recommendation? Cut management in half. The don't specify if that's crosswise or lengthwise. Read the rest

Bill Gates' net worth hits $90B, proving Thomas Piketty's point

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When Thomas Piketty published his 2013 book Capital in the 21st Century, he said that capitalism's primary beneficiaries aren't those who make amazing things that improve the world (as its proponents claim) -- rather, it favors those who have a lot of money to begin with. Read the rest

Las Vegas: high unionization rates mean smaller wage-gaps for women, especially older women

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Las Vegas is one of America's most unionized cities, and importantly, the unionization rates are especially high in trades dominated by women, such as cocktail servers and hotel cleaners, making Vegas one of the most equal places in America in terms of wage-parity between women and men, and also between young workers and older workers. Read the rest

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