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

Clicking "Buy now" doesn't "buy" anything, but people think it does

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In What We Buy When We "Buy Now", a paper forthcoming in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, respected copyright scholars Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle report on an experiment they set up to test what people clicking the "buy now" button on stores selling digital things (ebooks, games, music, videos, etc) think they get for their money -- it's not what they think. Read the rest

300 prominent economists call on world governments to end tax haven secrecy

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Oxfam has published an open letter signed by hundreds of respected economists, including Thomas Piketty, which describes tax havens as "serving no useful economic purpose." Read the rest

Conservative economics: what's happened to the UK economy after a year of Tory rule

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It's been a year since David Cameron's Tories took control of the UK Parliament with a majority that gave their free rein to govern UK, plc to their taste. Read the rest

2,000 US doctors endorse Sanders' single-payer healthcare proposal

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An editorial in The American Journal of Public Health, signed by 2,000 MDs, endorses Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" single-payer healthcare system. Read the rest

Data-driven look at America's brutal, racist debt-collection machine

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In 1996, New Jersey's courts heard 500 debt-collection cases; in 2008, they heard 140,000 cases, almost all against black people, almost all of whom were not represented by lawyers. The cases were filed by vulture capitalists who bought the debt for pennies on the dollar and employed "attorneys" who filed up to 1,000 cases a day, "reviewing" each one for about four seconds. Read the rest

The Gimmick Economy: how central banks pretend software isn't eating the world

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Mathematician/economist Eric R Weinstein is managing director of Thiel Capital, but that doesn't mean that he thinks capitalism has a future. Read the rest

Forget the one percent, it's the 0.1% who run the show

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The wealthiest one out of 1,000 US families -- the 0.1 percent -- comprise about 115,000 households whose net worth starts at $20M, and goes up and up from there, accounting for at least as much wealth as the poorest 90 percent of US households. Read the rest

Kindle Unlimited is being flooded with 3,000-page garbage books that suck money out of the system

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Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service allows subscribers to download as many books as they want, and then pays writers based on the number of their pages that readers have read. Read the rest

Competing construction companies stage a bulldozer fight in a busy street

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In this video, we see a rare bulldozer duel between construction rivals in Xingtang county, Hebei province. Read the rest

No, tax-havens aren't good for society (duh)

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As the Panama Papers story unfolds and we learn more about the systematic world-scale corruption of offshore tax-havens, the usual suspects have mounted a charm-offensive top defend anonymous offshore bank accounts as critical to democracy and a check against the rise of fascism (no, really). Read the rest

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