Letter from the post-work dystopian future

Joel Johnson's short sf story "Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese" is a series of letters between a brother and sister on either side of the post-work divide: the have, and the have-not. Read the rest

Real estate bubble drives urban blight

The West Village's unique identity made it one of the most valued real-estate spots in the world, which is why its bohemian tenants are being forced out by landlords who jack up the rent and leave the place empty until they can convince a multinational to sign a lease -- it's Mark Jacobs versus Jane Jacobs. Read the rest

Poverty is a tax on cognition

In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about. Read the rest

Former IMF chief economist on the problems with TPP

Tim Harford writes, "Simon Johnson is a fascinating character, former chief economist of the IMF and now scourge of bankers and lobbyists everywhere." Read the rest

Taxi medallion markets collapse across America

Uber may be rapacious, exploitative corporate scum, but they're knocking the bottom out of one of the most corrupt "markets" in the country. Read the rest

British austerity: a failed experiment abandoned by the rest of the world

Writing in the Guardian, Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman analyses the last five years of British austerity, using other developed nations in the EU and elsewhere as a benchmark for the growth we could have had -- it's not a pretty picture. Read the rest

Privilege: you're probably not the one percent

If you live near a Whole Foods, if you don't have a relative in jail, if you don't know anyone on meth, you're not in the one percent. Read the rest

Welfare encourages entrepreneurship

Conservatives wring their hands at the "moral hazard" of letting people earn without working, but clever, long-running empirical research projects show that people who fear starvation and medical bankruptcy don't quit their jobs and start new business. Read the rest

Paddy Hirsch for St. Paddy's day

The internet is aflood with gratuitous St. Paddy's Irish-ness, so why fight it? My favorite Irishman, who knows where the pots of gold are, is Paddy Hirsch, Senior Producer of Marketplace Radio, by American Public Media. Hirsch is not only the author of the very accessible book, Man vs Markets, Economics Explained, Plain and Simple, he also hosts a series of explainer videos on his YouTube channel.

Like your favorite teacher, he can teach about the complicated levers of our everyday economy, without you feeling like a dunce. He describes the bad news and hard choices of our time with a winking sense of humor, funny doodles, and a winning Irish brogue. He knows his stuff.

It's like sitting down with your smarter friend and learning things you probably ought to know. He refers to himself as "your mate Paddy Hirsch," and typically signs off his discussions of often sour-tasting topics like dark pools, toxic assets and quantitative easing with some reference to grabbing a drink, just like you would with your mate. Read the rest

Piketty on the pointless cruelty of European austerity

The economist says that the US's post-crisis job creation record and the EU's lagging record demonstrates that austerity cripples recoveries. Read the rest

IT feudalism: the surveillance state and wealth gaps

My latest Guardian column examines the relationship between technology, surveillance and wealth disparity -- specifically the way that cheap mass surveillance makes it possible to sustain more unequal societies because it makes it cheaper to find and catch the dissidents who foment rebellion over the creation of hereditary elites. Read the rest

Read Dickens with the prices adjusted for inflation

So many times I'm reading a Victorian plot that revolves around some gentry fop handing a scullery boy a sum of 100 half-whatevers. And I’m left wondering: is that a staggeringly large amount of money or an insultingly small one?

Historical Currency Conversions is a tool for finding the current value of historical currency. Type in an amount you see in a book and it spits out: “100 guineas in 1850 had the same buying power as 14647.25 current dollars.” Sure there are socioeconomic challenges to comparing 1850 London with current times, but you get in the ballpark enough to move on with your book. Read the rest

Greece's new finance minister used to be Valve's games economist

Yanis Varoufakis used to manage in-game economies in games like Counter-Strike; now he's finance minister for a Greek government that has set its sights on reforming the entire basis of austerity and debt service in the Eurozone. Read the rest

Pacific Edge, the most uplifting novel in my library

This utopian story, about a world where people live together without the need for extreme haves and have-nots, is available as a DRM-free audiobook

Thomas Piketty turns down the Legion of Honor

"I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honourable." Read the rest

Busting Sex Workers' Clients Increases Demand

Economist Charles Hill argues attempting to reduce the demand for sex services will backfire, increasing its supply and harming sex workers, free agents and coerced alike.

Why you're so busy

The Economist's feature on time-poverty is an absolute must-read, explaining the multi-factorial nature of the modern time crunch, which combines the equivalence of time and money (leading to leisure hours that are as crammed as possible in order to maximize their value), the precarity of the American workplace (meaning that affluent workers work longer hours), and the pace of electronically mediated communications (which makes any kind of refractory pause feel like a wasteful and dull eternity). Read the rest

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