America's $4.5 billion legal weed market surpasses these massive consumer markets

Legal marijuana comprises only about 10% of the total U.S. weed market, but it already eclipses total sales of foods like frozen pizza and services like music streaming, according to Alternet, who looks at other markets that will soon be dwarfed by weed sales. Read the rest

How Americans spend their money in the last 75 years

Compared to 75 years ago, Americans spend less on reading, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, and food. They spend more on education, entertainment, and transportation, but the real bank-breaker is how much more Americans spend on housing, even adjusted for inflation. Read the rest

US has $2 trillion sitting in banks - it needs to be invested or we risk a new depression

I'm at Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA today (I'm on staff) at the Positive Platform Design Jam, where we had Cornell historian Louis Hyman give a presentation called "Unnatural Capitalism: How the New Deal Reinvented Capitalism and Why We Need to Do It Again." You can watch a video recording of his talk here.

In his talk, Hyman explained why today's economic climate is like that of the Herbert Hoover era -- lots of money sitting in banks because investment was too risky and there weren't that many big things worth investing in. Hyman said depressions happen when investment fails to connect with new leading sectors. The FDR government made it easy for banks to invest in high-risk industries (by insuring the investments and giving investors tax breaks), which jumpstarted the economy. We need to get that money out of banks and into new technology, or we risk entering a new depression. Unfortunately, the federal government has cut science funding, and it's likely the new administration won't invest in basic science research, either.

Hyman said his only choice is to remain optimistic:

What happens if I'm not optimistic? Well, it's over. Then Marx was right. Profits go to zero, and all of this falls apart as the strongmen take everything away from you. Why am I doubling down on optimism? It's my only chance for survival. It's definitely your only chance for survival.
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Trump has never met or called his only Ph.D. economic advisor

UC Irvine economist Peter Navarro, a hand-picked Trump economic advisor: "Navarro has never met Trump in person. And as for speaking with him by phone, he acknowledges, 'I have never had the pleasure.'" Read the rest

California and New York raise state minimum wage to $15

California governor Jerry Brown today approved a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2022. The bill's enactment came within hours of a similar bill signing in New York by governor Andrew Cuomo.

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TPP is the 'worst trade deal ever,' Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, could be the worst trade agreement ever negotiated in history. In an interview with CBC News, he recommended that the government of Canada insist on reworking it.

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Douglas Rushkoff in conversation with Institute for the Future's Marina Gorbis

Last week, Boing Boing pals Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Marina Gorbis, executive director at Institute for the Future (where I'm a researcher), took the stage at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club to discuss why we've lost sight of the open Web and how the digital economy has gone terribly wrong. It was a fantastic freeform barrage of brilliant and witty criticism, insights, and ideas for rewriting the rules of this game that right now nobody can win.

Listen to it here!

Or download the podcast here.

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Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora": space is bigger than you think

Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora is the best book I read in 2015, and by "best" I mean, "most poetic" and "most thought provoking" and "most scientific," a triple-crown in science fiction that's practically unheard of. I wouldn't have believed it possible, even from Robinson, had I not read it for myself.

China state TV airs footage of detained reporter saying he regrets writing stock market story

China's state broadcast network today aired footage of Wang Xiaolu appearing to announce to the world that he solemnly regrets writing his influential story.

What does $60 trillion in debt look like?

There's about $60 trillion in public government debt worldwide, and the folks at Visual Capitalist created a chart to show proportions and debt-to-GDP ratio in one handy image.

About two dozen countries carry over 90% of the world's debt, with Japan and Greece having the worst debt-to-GDP ratios.

$60 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization Read the rest

U.S. home ownership rates drop to lowest level in 48 years

U.S. homeownership rate is 63.4%, the lowest since 1967. Bloomberg blames it on a combination of "stringent mortgage standards and wage growth that hasn’t kept up with surging home prices." As a result, rental vacancy rates a falling and rental rates are increasing. Read the rest

The high cost of being poor

An excerpt from Linda Tirado's 2014 book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America lays out some of the ways that being poor costs more than having a comfortable income -- it's more than having to pay for high daily rents in a motel because you can't afford first-and-last. Read the rest

GOP's not-so-secret weakness: unfairness

"A capital gains tax rate (making money off money) that is lower than the earned income rate (making money off work) is just not fair; bestowing that rate on hedge-fund managers through a specially designed loophole is just not fair" -Wick Allison, American Conservative, Nov 12, 2012. Read the rest

Princeton economists: democratic presidents are just "lucky"

It's well established that the US economy fares better when a democrat is president. Why is this? Read the rest

How good is your zip code?

The Washington Post reports on "super zips"--postcodes that rank highly for income and college education levels. A striking interactive map is included in the article, to show what money looks like from space. Read the rest

Employment advice for Millennials

Diesel Sweeties creator R. Stevens has some advice for Millennials who are having a hard time finding work in the modern economy. It's so simple!

Six Totally Easy Tips For Millennials To Get Ahead In Today’s Economy (via Wil Wheaton) Read the rest

UK sex-workers hit hard by recession

The Economist claims that prostitution in the UK has been hard-hit by the down economy, with men treating sex-for-money as a luxury lacking precedence behind rent, petrol and energy bills. At the same time, more women are reportedly engaging in sex-work, looking for money in an economy with high unemployment and inflation and contracting welfare and benefits. This increases competition for sex-work, driving prices down further. Some sex workers are dropping their prices, and one independent escort in the south of England says that she believes that prostitution can no longer serve as full-time employment adequate to covering all bills and expenses . Read the rest

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