Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 and thereafter enjoyed the best per-capita GDP growth in the region

In 1948, Costa Rica weathered a civil war, and in 1949, they abolished their military. Since then, Costa Rica has emerged as the Central American success story, more politically stable and richer than its neighbors. Read the rest

The Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator: a text adventure that pits monster-slaying against austerity

In the Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator, you are placed in charge of the budget for an organisation whose mission is "defending the United Kingdom from paranormal threats. Vampire covens, stray werewolves, pixie swarms, cultists with funny robes and impractical daggers, unlicensed hauntings, and more obscure matters" -- but you are British, and that means your boss is a government minister who insists that you make headline-grabbing "swingeing cuts" every year. Read the rest

Obamacare study: 25% decline in home delinquencies among newly insured poor people

Poor people were not the primary target of Obamacare; as a group, their care is more likely to be "non-compensated" (trips to the emergency room while classed as "indigent" and unable to pay), so insurance shouldn't make a big difference to them, right? Read the rest

Incredibly detailed technical guide to camgirling is a mix of advanced retail psychology and advice on performing emotional labor

Aella was a top-earning, top-ranked camgirl who performed sex shows over the internet for money, using the popular Myfreecams platform; she quit a year ago, and has written an incredibly detailed, soup-to-nuts primer on getting started camgirling, though she warns that some of her advice is out of date. Read the rest

Princeton's interdisciplinary Center for Information Technology Policy is seeking visiting scholars

Are you a PhD with interest in "the intersection of digital technology and public life, including experts in computer science, sociology, economics, law, political science, public policy, information studies, communication, and other related disciplines?" Princeton's CITP has three open job postings for 10-month residences starting Sept 1, 2019. Read the rest

Yanis Varoufakis on capitalism's incompatibility with democracy

It's a not-very-well-kept secret that elements of the libertarian right believe that democracy is incompatible with capitalism (tldr: if majorities get to vote, they'll vote to tax rich minorities and since rich people are in the minority they'll always lose that vote); and as this persuasive and fascinating lecture and Q&A with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (previously) shows, the feeling is mutual. Read the rest

Economists reverse claims that $15 Seattle minimum wage hurt workers, admit it was largely beneficial

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours -- the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples of how "liberal policies" hurt the workers they are meant to help. Read the rest

All the economists who told the FTC we shouldn't break up Big Tech are paid by Big Tech

From the Open Markets Institute's Mat Stoller and Austin Frederick, who analyzed the FTC's panel, "The Current Economic Understanding of Multi-Sided Platforms," in which economic experts told the regulator that Big Tech's monopoly power just isn't a problem: "every single economist testifying on the issue of corporate concentration derived income, directly or indirectly, from large corporations. Beyond that, the hearing itself was held at the Antonin Scalia Law School, which is financed by Google and Amazon." Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz on how the US economy became a "rigged, inherited plutocracy" and how to fix it

Writing in Scientific American (!), Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph E Stiglitz (previously) describes the US economy as an "inherited plutocracy" that's "rigged" to shift an ever-greater share of the national wealth to the very richest people: Stiglitz blames the rigging on Ronald Reagan's dismantling of antitrust enforcement, inheritance tax, and other progressive measures 40 years ago -- and says that the orthodox economic apologists for economists who attribute inequality to globalism or other factors are wrong and unsupported by evidence. Read the rest

Climate change will make beer much more expensive

Over the next century, higher temperatures and an increased number of droughts will hit the global barley supply, pushing beer prices way up. University of East Anglia economist Dabo Guan and his colleagues developed multiple scenarios based on several climate and economic models. Nature:

The researchers then simulated the effect of these droughts and heat waves on barley production by using software to model crop growth and yield on the basis of weather and other variables.

They found that, globally, this extreme weather would reduce barley yield by between 3% and 17%. Some countries fared better than others: tropical areas such as Central and South America were hit badly, but crop yields actually increased in certain temperate areas, including northern China and the United States. Some areas of those countries saw yield increases of up to 90% — but this was not enough to offset the global decrease.

Finally, Guan and his colleagues fed these changes in barley yield into an existing economic model that can account for changes in supply and demand in the global market. This enabled them to look at how reduced barley production would affect pricing and consumption of beer in countries, as well as trade between nations.

In the worst-case scenario, the reduced barley supply worldwide would result in a 16% decrease in global beer consumption in the years of extreme-weather events. Prices would, on average, double...

One goal of the research, Guan says, was to make tangible how "climate change will impact people’s lifestyle... Read the rest

Capitalism is self-annihilating, not self-perpetuating

Umair Haque (previously) is on fire: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism? "You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic. These are different forms of freedom from capitalism. Maybe on Mars, we can build a better world. Maybe through ideas and philanthropy, we can solve the problems that corporations can’t. All the capitalists I see are trying to win freedom from capitalism, in one way or another. Aren’t they?" (via Kottke) Read the rest

Large scale psych study identifies "homo economicus" as the source of all evil in the world

A German-Danish study of more than 2,500 people, published in the APA's Psychological Review, investigates the correlates of the "dark traits" in human personality ("egoism, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, spitefulness" and more) seeking the underlying "tendency" that they all share. Read the rest

All levels of UK government have been paralysed by Brexit

The British government has been immobilised by Brexit preparations: hundreds of millions of pounds paid by insurers to the government to rebuild from flooding are sitting idle in savings accounts because no one can spare the time to spend them; ministers won't schedule out-of-London meetings because being away during a key vote would endanger the whisper-thin Tory majority; UK workforce productivity has fallen off a cliff while workers struggle to make preparations for the uncertain future; the government is incapable of legislating because the whole calendar is filled with Brexit bills; junior ministers are barely showing up for work because they don't believe they'll have careers after Brexit; the NHS's overriding priority is Brexit preparation -- everything, from top to bottom, is crumbling. Read the rest

Modern Monetary Theory: why government spending isn't like household checkbooks

You know the drill: someone proposes something utterly commonsense, that has been done all over the world (say, universal healthcare) and the next thing you know, someone's shown up to shout "Who will pay for it?!" Read the rest

Research shows that patent examiners are more likely to grant patents to companies they later work for

In their National Bureau of Economic Research working paper From Revolving Doors to Regulatory Capture? Evidence from Patent Examiners (Sci-Hub Mirror), Business School profs Haris Tabakovic (Harvard) and Thomas Wollmann (Chicago) show that patent examiners are more likely to grant patents for companies that they subequently go to work for; they also go easier on patents applied for by companies associated with their alma maters (where they have more connections and will find it easier to get a job after their turn in government service). Read the rest

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the collapse of 2008 and things are much, much worse

Nobody covered the Wall Street collapse, bailout, and corrupt resurgence better than Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, from giving Goldman Sachs its unforgettable epithet to covering the hearings on the bailouts to documenting the foreclosure mills, to deep dives into the sweetheart deals the banks got; to the revolving door between finance regulators and the finance sector to the rise of Occupy; to the consolidation of financial primacy after the collapse; to the double-standard for criminal justice revealed by the collapse; to the frauds that surfaced after the crash; to the tiny bright spots where bankers were brought to justice; all capped by an incandescent, outstanding book about the crisis and the systematic racial and economic justice it revealed. Read the rest

How much would universal health care really cost?

The Koch-backed Mercatus Institute was humiliated last month when it published a scare story claiming that American couldn't afford the $32.6 trillion cost of universal health care for the next decade, a number that seems huge until you realize that the cost of privatized US health care over the same period will be $2 trillion higher. Read the rest

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