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

Banks confront negative interest rates with plans to store titanic bundles of money on-site

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The world's central banks, freaked out about huge leverage by financial institutions and borrowers and unwilling to engage in economic stimulus themselves, have been moving interest rates lower and lower, until now, many banks are offering negative interest rates, meaning that buying $100 worth of treasury bills today will return $99 in cash tomorrow -- hoping that this will incentivize banks to issue enough loans to make up for politically impossible governmental fiscal stimulus. Read the rest

Roddenberry's Star Trek was "above all, a critique of Robert Heinlein"

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Star Trek turned 50 in 2016. In its half-century of existence — on TV, on the big screen, and in the worldwide community of its fans — Star Trek has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Even casual viewers know the pointed ears, the Vulcan salute, and the meaning of “beam me up, Scotty.” Manu Saadia's Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek is available from Amazon.

Yet, Star Trek does not owe its enduring popularity and its place in our collective imagination to its aliens or to its technological speculations. What makes it so unique, and so exciting, is its radical optimism about humanity’s future as a society: in other words, utopia.

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US government agency's own numbers predict virtually no gains from TPP

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The United States International Trade Commission, "an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches," has just tabled a deep, 792-page report on the likely economic benefits to the USA from the secretly negotiated, anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they predict that the agreement will deliver 0.01% growth to the US economy between now and 2032, when it will level off altogether. Read the rest

Internet economics 101: "bandwidth hogs" considered harmless

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Big telcos and cable operators demand the right to impose data caps that punish their most enthusiastic customers for using too much Internet (with exceptions to the caps made for services that have paid bribes for "preferred carriage" of course), and they say that it's simple economics: if you use up more of a service, you should pay more for it. Read the rest

Rich people don't move when their taxes go up

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In Millionaire Migration and the Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from Administrative Data, Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young builds on his substantial research on "millionaire migration," to show that only a small minority of millionaires move when local taxes go up -- far too few to represent a net loss to the tax coffers. Read the rest

US Gov't survey: Half of Americans reluctant to shop online due to privacy & security fears

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A study by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that half of American Internet users are "deterred" from engaging in online transactions because of fears over privacy and security breaches. Read the rest

Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

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Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

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