Three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco's live music

Jamie Zawinski (previously), who owns San Francisco's amazing DNA Lounge venue, does a postmortem on the announcements from Slim's and the Great American Music Hall that they have "partnered" with Golden Voice, a division of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a $8 billion company that is the world's largest owner of sports teams and events; owns Coachella and ten other large festivals, and is in turned owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier. Read the rest

An interesting way in which money is totally broken

Calculating inflation, earning power, social progress, equality and inequality -- they all depend on being able to compare what used to be happening in our economy to what's happening now, and the way we do that is with money. Read the rest

After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

Leonardo Chiariglione is founder and chairman of the International Standards Organization's Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), whose standards have dominated video playback since the earliest days; MPEG's primary rival is the Alliance for Open Media, an ascendant open standards body that requires that members promise not to enforce patents that overlap with its standards, meaning that anyone can play back AOM video without paying rent to MPEG members. Read the rest

The Financial Times's 404 page is an ingenious, hilarious introduction to major concepts in economic theory

If you hit a dead link on the Financial Times' website, you get a 404 page that offers a series of funny possible explanations for the page's nonexistence, each corresponding to a different economic theory (like "monetarism," the "efficient markets hypothesis" and "trickle-down"), and many are linked to articles from the FT's archives that delve into the concept. Read the rest

The world's richest 2000 billionaires could wipe out extreme poverty with one seventh of what they gained last year

Oxfam's released its annual report on inequality, timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum, and unlike previous reports (which focused on attractive but misleading stats about the relative wealth of poor and rich people), the new one focuses on the growth in the fortunes of the world's richest people, a stat that is a much more reliable indicator of growing inequality. Read the rest

Bitcoin's high valuation has ruined it as a medium of exchange

Technological limitations in the design of the Bitcoin system means that the network only processes about seven transactions per second, unless you pay someone with a lot of compute-power to log your transaction, currently at the rate of about $20/transaction. Read the rest

Financial consultancy says that Bitcoin's value is speculative, and as a currency, it should be worth $810

Wall Street consultants Quinlan & Associates have published "Fool's Gold: Unearthing The World of Cryptocurrency," a $5000, 156-page report that predicts that Bitcoin will drop to $1800 by next December, and down to $810 by 2020 (it is currently trading in the $14,000 range). Read the rest

If you bought shares in all the companies Trump trashed since taking office, you beat the market

Barry Ritholz maintains two stock indices: the Oligarch Index contains "companies that Trump liked" in his public communications; the Drain the Swamp index has "companies that Trump trashed." Read the rest

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

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

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

California's record poverty and real-estate bubble are creating a "wheel-estate" boom of people with good jobs living in their cars

Extreme housing prices in California -- driven by a combination of speculation, favorable legal/tax positions for landlords, foreclosures after the 2008 crisis, and an unwillingness to build public housing -- has created vast homeless encampments, but there's a less visible side to the crisis: working people in "good jobs" who have to live in their cars. Read the rest

American inequality is unequally distributed, and got lumpier after the Great Recession

Since the Great Recession, the wealth gap between poor whites and poor blacks and Hispanics collapsed (all the poor people are living in similar poverty), but the wealth gap in the middle class grew: middle class blacks and Hispanics are worse off than middle class whites, a phenomenon that's increased since 2008/9. Read the rest

The majority of US workers live in "employment monopsonies" where there is little or no competition for workers

In Labor Market Concentration, a new working paper from economists at U Penn, U Navarra and the Roosevelt Institute, researchers analyze a large US government data-set to determine how many workers live in markets where there is effective only one or two employers, a situation called "monoposony" (when a single buyer has a monopoly). 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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