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

Trump made history: introducing tax cuts made him LESS popular

Politicians love introducing tax-cuts, because they're reliable vote-getters, even if they're structured to blow up later by giving massive breaks to the super-rich and more modest breaks to middle-class voters, resulting in mounting deficits and eventual service cuts. Read the rest

Signs that China's real-estate bubble will burst and take the economy with it

China's real-estate bubble is the largest in human history, and despite years of warning signs, it has grown and grown, spilling over into the rest of the world. Read the rest

Thomas Piketty explains how Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax is American as apple pie

Last month, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren proposed an annual tax on the largest fortunes in America, with some of the cash generated by the tax being funneled into the IRS to catch dodgers who move or hide their money to escape the tax. Read the rest

Bill Gates debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'tax the rich' policy

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made some comments this week on the 'tax the rich' ideas making the rounds in America.

Taxing the rich is fine, he said in an interview with The Verge, and "more progressive" taxes on the ultra rich are okay.

Gates then went on to characterize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an 'extreme' politician who is missing the point by focusing on targeting high income brackets. Read the rest

If you work for a living, America taxes you at double the rate of wealthy investors with "unearned income"

Starting in the early 1990s with a Democratic Congress (and continued by other congresses, Republican and Democrat, since), the rate of tax on "passive, unearned income" has been in decline, but someone has to pay to keep Uncle Sam's lights on, so the tax on workers' wages have diverged, until today, when the tax bite out of a worker's wage is double the tax taken on wealthy investor with the same amount in "passive income." Read the rest

The Curse of Bigness: Tim Wu channels Brandeis on Big Tech (and Big Everything Else)

Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality" but the way he got there was through antitrust and competition scholarship: in his latest book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, Wu takes a sprightly-yet-maddening tour through the history of competition policy in the USA, which has its origins in curbing the near-limitless power of the robber barons in the name of creating a pluralistic, open society where anyone could participate, only to have this vision perverted by extremists from the Chicago School, who sold (with the help of wealthy backers) a wholly fictional version of what Congress intended with its antitrust rules. According to Chicago's version of things, the only thing antitrust should concern itself with is the highly technical and speculative question of "consumer harm" (in the form of higher prices) and not competition itself. Read the rest

Rethinking Capitalism: like the Feynman lectures but for economics

From 1961-1963 Richard Feynman -- one of the preeminent physicsts of his day -- taught an undergraduate class in physics at Cal Tech, a gig that was nominally well below his paygrade, and gave such a virtuoso performance that "They Feynman Lectures" have gone down in the annals of physics history as some of the best introductory material on physics in existence. Read the rest

Canada's housing market is slowly but surely imploding, and Canadians are more exposed than the US was in 2008

After 20 years of unprecedented lows, Canada's central bank is gradually raising rates; this, combined with strict rules on new loans, empty house taxes in overheated cities like Vancouver, and mandatory ownership disclosures (which keep money launderers out of the market) are depressing the Canadian housing market, and the prognosis is not good. Read the rest

Trustbusting is now a bipartisan issue

Ronald Reagan may be sainted by the right, but 2018 was the year conservatives broke with his slavish, simpleminded adherence to the Chicago School antitrust theory that says that governments should only regulate monopolies when they give rise to higher consumer prices -- it's also the year the right realized that extreme market concentration in the tech sector could lead to a future in which conspiracy theorists, Nazis, "white identity enthusiasts," and crank misogynists might find themselves with nowhere to talk and be heard by others. Read the rest

Regulating Airbnb drives down local rents (as well as house prices)

Airbnb has led to much of the rental housing stock in some of the world's most expensive cities being turned into unlicensed hotel rooms, driving up both rents and house prices even further. Read the rest

Calculating Facebook's value by figuring out how much you'd have to pay users to quit

A group of academics from economics, business, and policy schools at Kenyon, MSU, Susquehanna and Tufts performed a series of ingenious experiments to determine how much typical Facebook users value the service, by getting experimental subjects to participate in sealed-bid auctions for payments in exchange for quitting the service. Read the rest

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

More posts