Nudging doesn't give poor people retirement savings, it just makes them poorer

Nudging -- the idea that a well-designed "choice architecture" can help people make free choices that are better than the ones they would make without the nudge -- has a few well-publicized success stories: the cafeteria where frontloading veggies and other healthful options gets kids to choose carrots over pizza; and the employer-side deduction for retirement savings that gets employees to put aside a little more to retire on (this insight rates a Nobel-adjacent prize*!). Read the rest

Tiffany sold out of a ton of those laughable sterling silver "everyday objects"

Remember Tiffany's runup to Xmas with the $1000 tin can and the $9000 ball of yarn? It was a pretty shrewd bit of marketing. Read the rest

How depending on a platform is a ticket to financial ruin, and what to do about it

UC Berkeley economist J Bradford DeLong's wide-ranging Reinvent interview covers a lot of ground, but is especially fascinating on the long-term trajectory of small businesspeople who bet their commercial futures on platforms -- he uses Uber drivers as an example, but this has implications in lots of sectors. Read the rest

The NSA can't recruit or retain hackers because the pay sucks and the Agency is a bureaucratic mess

The Washington Post reports that the NSA "is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel" because of a mix of low-pay, uninspiring leaders, and a bureaucratic re-org that everyone hates. Read the rest

Crowdfunding Lupiga, a progressive, independent voice combating rising fascism in Croatia

Lupiga is a longrunning, much-loved independent news source in Croatia that is virtually single-handedly doing battle with the country's surging fascist movement; they're crowdfunding to continue operations. Read the rest

You absolutely must secure your home router and you probably can't

Lucian Constantin's Motherboard guide to protecting your home router is full of excellent, nearly impossible-to-follow advice that you should follow, but probably won't. Read the rest

For 20+ years, Japan's largest companies have been riddled with corruption and fraud

For months, Japan's much-vaunted manufacturing sector has been wracked by scandal after scandal, as the country's biggest corporations admit to decades of systematic fraud that started in the boardroom and went to the factory floor, with scandals hitting "Nissan Motor, Subaru, Toray Industries, Kobe Steel and Mitsubishi Materials" among others. Read the rest

The guy whose DRM for juice company cratered last year now sells "raw water" packed with all the microbes and amoebas you can stomach

The Juicero was a $400 "juicer" that squeezed packets of DRM-locked fruit pulp, an idea so perverse that it got honorable mention in DRM's worst moments of 2017, and inspired sighs of relief when the business cratered in 2017, as evidence of the fundamental soundness of human judgment in a year plagued by serious lapses in same. Read the rest

Big Weed: ten farms could supply all of America with marijuana

When Washington State legalized recreational marijuana three years ago, it created a licensing regime that was supposed to protect and encourage small growers, but the data shows that marijuana growing has consolidated into a few large suppliers, even as the price per gram has fallen -- and that the industry's embrace of exotic derivatives like edibles and concentrates is capital-intensive and inaccessible to small, independent providers. Read the rest

The internal economics of a popular Minecraft server are an object lesson in everything great and terrible about markets

Alice Maz was part of a small group of players who came to have near-total mastery over the internal economy of a popular Minecraft; Maz describes how her early fascination with the mechanics of complex multiplayer games carried over into an interest in economics and games, and that let her become a virtuoso player, and brilliant thinker, about games and economics. Read the rest

Hedge funds killed the newspaper industry, not the web

The web came of age with no-holds-barred finance capitalism, so it's hard to decide which of the last twenty years' worth of changes are the result of the tech industry, or of financialization, or a toxic mix of both. Read the rest

Uber's major shareholders just dumped a ton of stock for a lowball offer 30% under the current share price

Softbank's bid to buy Uber shares based on a valuation 30% lower than the company rated in its last round has been largely successful, with about 15-20% of shares changing hands at that price. Read the rest

Sonos and Bose speakers can be remotely taken over by hackers

Sonos and Bose speakers assume that any device on the same network segment can be trusted to send them audio without any further authentication; if these speakers are on a network whose owner has opened a hole in their firewalls (to run a game-server, say, or because another device on the network has been compromised), they can have data sent to them by anyone on the internet. Read the rest

Washington state says Comcast stole at least $73 million from subscribers over 5 years

Washington state is in the midst of suing Comcast over misselling of its "Service Protection Plan," a nearly useless insurance plan that was sold as a way to avoid having to pay fees for faults in your Comcast cable infrastructure. Read the rest

Surveillance advocate Eric Schmidt is stepping down as head of Google parent company Alphabet

Eric Schmidt, the ex-Sun CEO who came onboard at Google to be the "adult supervision" for the founders and who has repeatedly declared privacy dead and dismissed people who worried about surveillance business-models as unrealistic nutcases, is stepping down as head of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Read the rest

The final draft of the GOP tax plan transfers even more wealth to the 1%: now they get 83%

The GOP tax plan is a thousand-plus-page dog's breakfast of last-minute additions, giveaways, and complexity larded upon complexity, making it nearly impossible to parse out (so much for simplifying the tax code!), but the nonpartisan, Brookings-backed Tax Policy Center's new analysis goes a long way to untangling this ugly mess. Read the rest

Piketty and 100 researchers: inequality is getting worse, and will continue to worsen

The World Inequality Lab -- led by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty -- has published its 2018 World Inequality Report, summarizing the research of 100 academics around the world who investigate and document capital flows from 1980 onward. Read the rest

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