U.S. budget deficit now $739 Billion, despite GOP promises and Trump tariffs

38.8% more than the same period a year ago

Inequality makes a nation poorer

Responding to Professor Sir Angus Deaton’s report into the causes of inequality, economics writer Chris Dillow provides an excellent list of eight ways in which unequal societies sacrifice overall economic growth and national prosperity to preserve the fortunes of their elites. Read the rest

Report from the Fed reveals that "economic growth" is a highly localized phenomena, masking widespread financial desperation

Trump likes to boast about economic growth, and while many have pointed out that many of the policies that produced the rosy figures are leftovers from Obama's policies, it's also important to note that the "growth" is highly localized, with aggregated national figures hiding the incredible economic desperation in the poorest parts of America. Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "a failed ideology" and sketches out a "progressive capitalism" to replace it

Joe Stiglitz (previously) holds a Nobel Prize in Economics (not an actual Nobel Prize), and has been an outspoken critic of the rigged economy and austerity. Read the rest

Gabriel Zucman: the Piketty-trained "wealth detective" who catalogued the secret fortunes of the super-rich and figured out how to tax them

Bloomberg's Ben Steverman offers a long and exciting profile of Gabriel Zucman (previously), a protege of Thomas Piketty (Zucman was one of the researchers on Piketty's blockbuster Capital in the 21st Century) who has gone on to a career at UC Berkeley, where he's done incredibly innovative blockbuster work of his own, particularly on estimating the true scale of the wealth gap in the USA and worldwide. Read the rest

AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

Trump's stealth attack on Social Security: "Chained CPI"

Trump was elected by old white people who are certain they'll be dead before climate change renders the planet uninhabitable, but who are also seriously invested in continuing to receive Social Security benefits, which is why Trump repeatedly promised to protect Social Security during the 2016 presidential race. Read the rest

Watch: Tim Wu debates trustbusting with Tyler Cowen, who just wrote "a love letter" to Big Business

Competition scholar Tim Wu (previously) is one of the most cogent, accessible voices in the antitrust debate; his recent book on the subject is a must-read; this week, he debated George Mason University scholar Tyler Cowen, proprietor of Marginal Revolution and one of the leading voices for the expansion of unfettered, unregulated capitalism -- he's the face of the notorious Mercatus Center, where rich donors choose the faculty and out pop arguments against universal health care and Net Neutrality. Read the rest

Buried in Uber's IPO, an aggressive plan to destroy all public transit

Uber is a wildly unprofitable company with no conceivable path to profitability in any universe, under any circumstances, but the company's founders and early investors (having already taken massive write-downs on their investments) are hoping to get at least some of their money back through the time-honored "greater fool" methodology. Specifically, they're floating the company on the stock market and hoping that naive investors hoping to wring above-inflation gains out of their 401(k)s and avoid being made into dog-food in their old age (we're waaaaay past the era in which impoverished old people get to eat dog-food) take their shares off their hands. Read the rest

In 2008 "synthetic CDOs" destroyed the global economy, and now they're back

"Collateralized Debt Obligations" (CDOs) are a financial derivative that is a kind of bond that pays out based on revenue generated by a pool of assets: for example, a giant hedge fund might buy thousands of homes whose owners went bankrupt and suffered through foreclosure, and then rent them out at the highest possible rent with the least possible maintenance, and this generates thousands of revenue streams. Small slices of the revenue streams from many properties are pooled together into individual CDOs and these are sold to investors: when you buy one of these, you get a little bit of the rent from each of the tenants in the hedge-fund's holdings (other assets can be pooled together too, like payments on car loans, student loans, etc etc). Read the rest

Chinese urbanization has left 25 million vacant homes in rural villages

China is undergoing the largest real-estate bubble in history, and things keep getting weirder and weirder, with the specter of a burst bubble looming overall. Read the rest

IPOs have sent Uber and Lyft fares skyrocketing, while driver pay plummets

The public markets are hungry: as Uber and Lyft look to IPOs to let their investors -- who have been subsidizing 40-50% of every ride -- redeem their shares through sales to the public capital markets, the companies are desperate for ways to reduce their unprofitability and increase those share prices. Read the rest

Brexit is cratering London house prices

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' latest UK house price survey blames Brexit for continued declines in property prices in London and the southeast, "the worst slump since the financial crisis," with far more supply than demand. (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

The strange tale of Runescape's Communist republic

In 2007, a group of players in Runescape -- once billed as the world's most-played massively multiplayer game -- declared a Communist republic on Gielinor's Server 32, amid a revolution that saw 5,000 characters killed off in the fighting. Read the rest

Millennials are killing McMansions

It all seemed so innocent when architecture grad student Kate Wagner started pushing her charming brand of millennial snark on us with her acerbic critiques of gaudy, poorly executed monster homes, but architecture is no laughing matter. Read the rest

China's "pawn shops" have loaned $43B, mostly secured by real-estate

In reports of China's looming debt crisis, it's common to see references to the "shadow finance" or "shadow banking" system, but it's not always clear what these terms mean. Read the rest

A thorough defense of Modern Monetary Theory

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" -- Gandhi's aphorism neatly describes the trajectory to date of Modern Monetary Theory, the latest incarnation of "chartalism," which holds that money comes into existence through government spending, and is taken out of circulation when the government taxes it back -- which means that without government deficit spending, there is no money, and which also means that the government doesn't have to fund its operations through taxes, but rather, it can issue as much currency as it needs to operate, within limits. Read the rest

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