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atbradley : money   76

Stumbling and Mumbling: On commodification
Very broadly speaking, there are two types of commodification. One is endogenous such as in the case Harry is complaining of, whereby the media treat its subjects (in some cases with their cooperation) as commodities to be used to sell papers. Another example is when non-monetary motives such as professional pride are displaced by financial ones. Yet another is when internet companies such as Facebook and Google convert data about their customers into something they can sell to advertisers.

A second type of commodification occurs with state assistance. One huge way in which this occurred was through the privatization of land, via the dissolution of the monasteries and enclosure acts. These helped create not only markets in land, but also in labour (pdf) as peasant farmers were driven into the industrial labour force. This process is still going on. Other examples are: privatization and outsourcing; the imposition of tuition fees which have converted universities into commodities; copyright laws which allow capitalists to commoditize elements of music; and low state pensions which have given space to companies to sell over-priced private pension management. 
money  history  economics 
13 days ago by atbradley
How Your Digital Purchases Could Serve the Perfect Surveillance Network –
If you were a KGB agent in the heyday of Cold War surveillance, how would you design the perfect snooping system?

This system should gather good dirt on all people within the Soviet Union. We want to identify people and their habits to build behavioral profiles and keep tabs on their comings and goings. And it should it be as unobtrusive as possible; we wouldn't want the masses to start making a fuss about our valiant civic undertaking. What would you do?

This was the question posed to a group of academics attending a 1971 conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University. They had two days to dream up a perfectly evil surveillance architecture.

Their answer? "This group decided that if you wanted to build an unobtrusive system for surveillance, you couldn't do much better than an electronic funds transfer system."
money  credit 
6 weeks ago by atbradley
Middle Class Political Economist: Electrolux closing Memphis plant; Economic development malpractice leaves Tennesse holding the bag
I've been telling people for years that we need to explicitly include corporate rent-seeking into models of site-location decisions. Both Investment Incentives: Growing Use, Uncertain Benefits, Uneven Controls (2007: download here from the first link) and Investment Incentives and the Global Competition for Capital (Palgrave, 2011) make this case strongly. How else can we interpret Electrolux's behavior, squeezing every last dollar out of desperate governments near the height of the Great Recession, and demanding no clawbacks, except as a manifestation of rent-seeking? It's time to revise site-location theory to reflect this.
money  government  politics  business 
february 2019 by atbradley
Bitcoin, a commentary | LBO News from Doug Henwood
Mining requires enormous amounts of computing power. According to some estimates, bitcoin’s power use already may equal 3 million U.S. homes, topping the individual consumption of 159 countries. The bulk of this mining goes on in China, where most of the electricity comes from coal, so this is a dirty business. The number of bitcoin in circulation is supposed to top out at 21 million; we’re approaching 17 million now. As the limit is approached, the coin-creating algorithms get more difficult to solve, meaning more computing power is required, and more carbon is generated. Even the most seemingly immaterial of things often have deeply material roots.
money  economics 
january 2018 by atbradley
Dr. Keynes Was Right: Mine Is Longer Than Yours
... the CFPB noted that they're used especially by consumers with lower credit scores. The average credit score for buyers who take out six-year loans is 674. That's 39 points below the average for consumers who took five-year loans.
money  economics  cars 
november 2017 by atbradley
Moneyness: The evolution of the Federal Reserve's promises as recorded on their banknotes
With most of the government's parallel currencies retired, the promise to redeem Federal Reserve notes in lawful money probably seemed pointless, if not confusing. Thus it no longer shows up on bills, despite being still encoded in section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act. In 2017, you can bring your note to a Federal Reserve for redemption in lawful money, but they will only give you another Fed note in return. The category of lawful money is meaningless.
money  economics  history 
october 2017 by atbradley
Living off the people
FOR as long as there have been organised economies, people have been employed to look after the wealth of others. More than 4,000 years ago landowners in Akkad, an early Mesopotamian civilisation, hired local managers to look after their farms.
history  economics  money  books 
october 2017 by atbradley
Can you afford to retire?
Say you want to retire on £20,000 a year (not a fortune) and you are 65. The best annuity rate at the moment in the UK is just under 5.2% which means you would need a pot of £385,000 to afford this. But hold on a minute. That is a flat £20,000 which does not account for inflation; if prices rise at 3% a year, the value of that pension will halve by your 90th birthday. To get an income of £20,000 that is guaranteed to rise in line with prices, you would need a pot of £619,000. (For American readers, the dollar amounts won't be exactly the same, but they will be in the ballpark). 
finance  economics  retirement  money 
october 2017 by atbradley
Moneyness: You call that counterfeiting? This is counterfeiting!
Central bankers usually measure counterfeiting in parts per million, or PPM, the number of fakes detected in one year for every one million genuine notes in circulation. I've inserted a chart below, which comes from this Reserve Bank of Australia document. Canada, for instance, once had a much higher PPM (it even hit 450 back in 2004), but the Bank of Canada managed to bring this down to the low double digits by introducing new security features and, later, polymer notes.

Australia, the first nation to introduce polymer notes in the early 1990s, used to boast one of the lowest incidences of counterfeiting (below 5 PPM). Criminals are finally starting to make polymer fakes, perhaps because the RBA hasn't bothered to update the series for over two decades, giving plenty of time for counterfeiters to catch up.
september 2017 by atbradley
How rigged markets make the rich richer | LARS P. SYLL
Markets are never just given. Neither God nor nature hands us a worked-out set of rules determining the way property relations are defined, contracts are enforced, or macroeconomic policy is implemented. These matters are determined by policy choices. The elites have written these rules to redistribute income upward. Needless to say, they are not eager to have the rules rewritten — which means they also have no interest in even having them discussed.

But for progressive change to succeed, these rules must be addressed. While modest tweaks to tax and transfer policies can ameliorate the harm done by a regressive market structure, their effect will be limited. The complaint of conservatives — that tampering with market outcomes leads to inefficiencies and unintended outcomes — is largely correct, even if they may exaggerate the size of the distortions from policy interventions. Rather than tinker with badly designed rules, it is far more important to rewrite the rules so that markets lead to progressive and productive outcomes in which the benefits of economic growth and improving technology are broadly shared.
economics  money  finance 
august 2017 by atbradley
How One University Makes Transparent Pricing Work - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A number of colleges will hold students’ tuition steady for four years. Dayton went further. It got rid of fees. And rather than locking in the "sticker" price charged before financial aid is applied, it locks in each student’s after-aid "net" tuition — the amount they actually have to pay. That means Dayton is raising students’ grants and scholarships in step with their tuition — and will make up the difference if their federal or state grants dip, too. (Tuition does go up each year for full-pay students — a very small share of the university’s enrollment — by an amount that’s spelled out in advance.)
education  money  economics 
july 2017 by atbradley
What the top 1 percent makes in every state - The Washington Post
What EPI found is that income inequality is growing in every region of the country, with the top 1 percent of earners in Connecticut in 2012 making as much as 51 times what their fellow residents make, the widest such gap of any state. The gap was smallest that year in Hawaii, where the average income for the top slice of earners was still 14.6 times the average for the remaining 99 percent. In Washington, D.C., that multiple is 32.3.
money  economics  inequality 
july 2017 by atbradley
The Dumbest Business Idea Ever. The Myth of Maximizing Shareholder Value - Evonomics
Consider the example of the United States. The idea that corporations should be managed to maximize shareholder value has led over the past two decades to dramatic shifts in U.S. corporate law and practice. Executive compensation rules, governance practices, and federal securities laws, have all been “reformed” to give shareholders more influence over boards and to make managers more attentive to share price.2 The results are disappointing at best. Shareholders are suffering their worst investment returns since the Great Depression;3 the population of publicly-listed companies has declined by 40%;4 and the life expectancy of Fortune 500 firms has plunged from 75 years in the early 20th century to only 15 years today.5
money  economics 
june 2017 by atbradley
Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Let me be clear on the point I am making here: it is not that the lawful minimum wage necessarily ought to be raised. It is that business owners who complain about having to pay living wages frequently simply haven’t tried to pay living wages, and generally just mean that they are unwilling to sacrifice their own prosperity in order to properly compensate employees. $15 isn’t actually much. It doesn’t go very far. And if you are committed to paying it, you can usually find a way.
money  economics  business 
june 2017 by atbradley
Moneyness: An homage to the cheque (or check)
As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, in the U.S. the cheque's memo field is more than just a place for writing personal reminders. According to the law in certain states, when you disagree with your creditor about how much is owed—say the contractor who is building your deck has spent too much on materials—by writing out a cheque for less than the agreed amount and including "paid in full" in the memo line, the debt is extinguished the moment the contractor cashes it.  
june 2017 by atbradley
Carl Beijer: Capitalism protects bigots
By the way: wealth also means influence. It means that your personal bigotries infect everything you control - including, as Maher and Walsh demonstrate, giant media platforms that can broadcast racism to a mass audience. So perversely, the people who have the most control over our culture are the people who are least subject to liberal discourse discipline. In this way capitalism becomes a massive engine of pathology, endlessly generating and amplifying oppressive discourses that are insulated from social regulation. The paradigm example of this dynamic, of course, is Donald Trump - a deranged sociopath whose astronomical wealth lifts him above shame, criticism, persuasion, and social pressure of any kind. And who, through his astronomical wealth, has become one of the most influential voices in America.
politics  money  economics 
june 2017 by atbradley
Student Debt Bubble Sucks Even More Out of Economy and Ruins Lives, Yet Officials Keep Inflating It | naked capitalism
After a career in equities, having graduated the Dreamy Spires with significant not silly debt, I had the pleasure of interviewing lots of the best and brightest graduates from European and US universities. Finance was attracting far more than its deserved share of the intellectual pie in the 90’s and Noughties in particular; so at times it was distressing to meet outrageously talented young men and women wanting to genuflect at the altar of the $, instead of building the Flux Capacitor. But the greater take-away was how mediocre and homogenous most of the grads were becoming. It seemed the longer they had studied and deferred entry into the Great Unwashed, the more difficult it was to get anything original or genuine from them. Piles and piles of CV’s of the same guys and gals: straight A’s since emerging into the world, polyglots, founders of every financial and charitable university society you could dream up … but could they honestly answer a simple question like “Fidelity or Blackrock – Who has robbed widows and orphans of more?”. Hardly. In short, few of them qualified as the sort of person you would willingly invite to sit next to you for fifteen hours a day, doing battle with pesky clients and triumphing over greedy competitors. All these once-promising 22 to 24 year old’s had somehow been hard-wired by the same robot and worse, all were entitled. Probably fair enough as they had excelled at everything that had been asked of them up until meeting my colleagues and I on the trading floors. Contrast this to the very different experience of meeting visiting sixth formers from a variety of secondary schools that used to tour the bank and with some gentle prodding, light up the Q&A sessions at tour’s end, fizzing with enthusiasm and desire. Now THESE kids I would hire ahead of the blue-chipped grads, most days. They were raw material that could be worked with and shaped into weapons. It was patently clear that University was no longer adding the expected value to these candidates and in fact was becoming quite the reverse. 
education  debt  money 
april 2017 by atbradley
Carl Beijer: Demurrage and inequality: modern anthropology affirms another critique of capitalism
This point of anthropology touches on something deeper, Scheidel argues: "inequality and its persistence over time has been the result suitable [assets] are for passing on to others". If your wealth consists of something that can be endlessly hoarded, and even passed on to subsequent generations, then enduring inequality becomes possible; otherwise, being rich just means having a temporary windfall until your wealth inevitably goes away.
capitalism  inequality  anthropology  agriculture  currency  money 
march 2017 by atbradley
How We Can Save $17 Billion in Public Assistance—Annually - Talk Poverty
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that raising the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would lift wages for more than 35 million workers nationwide and generate about $17 billion annually in savings to government assistance programs.
work  money  economics 
march 2017 by atbradley
Sub-national currencies struggle to survive | The Economist
Local currencies face three hurdles. First, they are relatively illiquid,being accepted only at willing local businesses. They are, in effect, a form of self-imposed economic sanction, narrowing the range of choice for consumers and businesses. Second, local-currency schemes suffer from a trust deficit: they are not backed by the central bank, so holders do not want to risk having too much. Finally, having to deal with two parallel currencies imposes transaction costs—and those wanting to back local businesses can easily use the national currency.
january 2017 by atbradley
Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Yet as economists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis note, while the observation that capital confers power “may evoke the same degree of astonishment as the observation that dogs bark,” this truism is utterly unaccounted for by liberal political philosophy’s negative-liberty framework. Adding campaign expenditure restrictions, as American liberals propose, does little to alter this fundamentally naive assumption. Capitalism’s predation of democracy won’t let up because of a well-placed restriction on campaign giving.
money  politics  economics 
january 2017 by atbradley
Why a Novel Way to Pay for College Appeals to Conservatives - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Still, Mr. Holt, who identifies as a conservative, thinks that Democrats should take the idea seriously. His pitch? "These are far more protective to students than private student loans," he says. ISAs could be designed with clearer regulatory guidelines and better consumer protections than are the private loans that many students rely on today. With an ISA, Mr. Holt is fond of saying, students don’t know what their payments will be, but they know that they will be affordable. With a conventional private loan, payments are predictable, but students’ ability to make them is not.
education  economics  money 
december 2016 by atbradley
The $20 Principle | tressiemc
In my day, I have seen young women choose to drop a class because her boyfriend needs to use her car. The boyfriends almost always suck but they also give her $20 when she needs it most. This kind of resource navigation can lead to dysfunctional relationships but it can also be an important safety net for vulnerable women. If you delay your academic progress to keep the quasi-bad boyfriend because he might one day be the only one willing to give you $20 when you need it most, you’re making a very rational educational choice.
economics  academia  money  education 
november 2016 by atbradley
Moneyness: End of a stablecoin
Bitcoin has had another white knuckle year, rising from a low of $350 in January to a high of $780 in June. As I've said many times before, if crytpocurrency is going to make a genuine dent in the world monetary order, it'll only happen when its price isn't so volatile. And one of the best ways to smooth things out is by creating a stablecoin, specifically by choosing to peg a cryptocurrency to a popular existing medium of exchange like the U.S. dollar.

Stablecoin isn't just theoretical, a number of these tokens exist. They fail too. It's worth investigating the recent collapse of one the fledgling stablecoins, NuBits, to look for clues about the dangers and pitfalls of maintaining a stablecoin peg.
money  economics 
november 2016 by atbradley
Rent Seeking: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | Library of Economics and Liberty
Rent seeking” is one of the most important insights in the last fifty years of economics and, unfortunately, one of the most inappropriately labeled. Gordon Tullock originated the idea in 1967, and Anne Krueger introduced the label in 1974. The idea is simple but powerful. People are said to seek rents when they try to obtain benefits for themselves through the political arena. They typically do so by getting a subsidy for a good they produce or for being in a particular class of people, by getting a tariff on a good they produce, or by getting a special regulation that hampers their competitors. Elderly people, for example, often seek higher Social Security payments; steel producers often seek restrictions on imports of steel; and licensed electricians and doctors often lobby to keep regulations in place that restrict competition from unlicensed electricians or doctors.
rent  economics  money 
september 2016 by atbradley
Having Trouble Hiring? Try Paying More - Bloomberg View
A few years ago, I was trying to fill an opening in our New York office. I offered what I thought was a competitive salary for a junior position, including good benefits. No one seemed to fit the bill.

I mentioned this to a friend who had a lot more hiring experience. I showed him all the details: Fast-growing company, exciting work environment, lots of perks (window office, unlimited coffee). When it came to pay, he laughed at me. “You are trying to hire someone in a high-paying industry in the most competitive and expensive city in the country for that job,” he said. “Try raising your offer.”

We did, by 50 percent. Suddenly, we had lots of qualified applicants. 
economics  work  money 
september 2016 by atbradley
The reality of how money is created | LARS P. SYLL
Most of the money in circulation is created, not by the printing presses of the Bank of England, but by the commercial banks themselves: banks create money whenever they lend to someone in the economy or buy an asset from consumers. And in contrast to descriptions found in some textbooks, the Bank of England does not directly control the quantity of either base or broad money. The Bank of England is nevertheless still able to influence the amount of money in the economy. It does so in normal times by setting monetary policy — through the interest rate that it pays on reserves held by commercial banks with the Bank of England. More recently, though, with Bank Rate constrained by the effective lower bound, the Bank of England’s asset purchase programme has sought to raise the quantity of broad money in circulation. This in turn affects the prices and quantities of a range of assets in the economy, including money.
banking  money  economics 
august 2016 by atbradley
Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Captain America
"What? Of course they'd play up a Captain America story just before July 4."
patriotism  business  money 
july 2016 by atbradley
NAIRU — a harmful fairy tale
The NAIRU story has always had a very clear policy implication — attempts to promote full employment is doomed to fail, since governments and central banks can’t push unemployment below the critical NAIRU threshold without causing harmful runaway inflation.

Althouigh a lot of mainstream economists and politicians have a touching faith in the NAIRU fairy tale, it doesn’t hold water when scrutinized.

One of the main problems with NAIRU is that it is essentially a timeless long-run equilibrium attractor to which actual unemployment (allegedly) has to adjust. If that equilibrium is itself changing — and in ways that depend on the process of getting to the equilibrium — well, then we can’t really be sure what that equlibrium will be without contextualizing unemployment in real historical time. And when we do, we will see how seriously wrong we go if we omit demand from the analysis. Demand policy has long-run effects and matters also for structural unemployment — and governments and central banks can’t just look the other way and legitimize their passivity re unemployment by refering to NAIRU.
unemployment  money  economics 
june 2016 by atbradley
Moneyness: Yap stones and the myth of fiat money
At first glance, the large circular discs that circulated on the island of Yap in the South Pacific certainly seem quite odd. Too big to be easily transported, the stones are often seen in photos resting against their owner's houses. So much for velocity. Yap stones have been considered significant enough that they have become a recurring motif in monetary economics. Macroeconomics textbooks, including Baumol & Blinder, Miles & Scott (pdf), Stonecash/Gans/King/Mankiw, Williamson, and Taylor all have stories about Yap stone money.

Why this fascination? Part of it is probably due to the profession's obsession with the categorical divide between "money" and "non-money". In dividing the universe of goods into these two bins, only a few select goods end up in the money bin. That an object so odd and unwieldy as a three meter wide stone could join slim US dollar bills and easily portable silver coins in the category of money is pleasantly counterintuitive  – and economists love the counterintuitive. I'll talk about this divide and on which side to place Yap stones later (see part 3 below).

Another reason that Yap stones attract attention is their seeming "fiat" nature. In serving no useful purpose other than money, Yap stones seem to be historic ancestors to our modern "fiat" central bank money. I'll be discussing this idea in the current post.
money  economics  yap 
may 2016 by atbradley
The Stone Money of Yap: A Numismatic Survey
This synopsis of the history and role of rai or stone money of Yap within the culture of the islands has been drawn from the accounts of early travelers, anthropologists, and administrators in the Western Pacific. The descriptions, quarrying practices, and shipping methods of these stones are discussed, as well as some of the "myths" that have grown up around these large primitive media of exchange. Early and more recent "exchange values" of the stones are traced within the islands, as well as in the international numismatic world. The location and pertinent data of 149 pieces of stone money removed from Yap and now in public and private collections throughout the world are provided within the table for reference and comparison of sizes, dates and history of accession. Sixty-four stones are illustrated, providing one of the most thorough studies of Yapese rai now available.
money  anthropology  history 
may 2016 by atbradley
MacroMania: Evil is the root of all money
A lack of double coincidence is neither necessary or sufficient to explain the demand for money. Evil appears to be the root of all money. The sermon is now concluded!
money  economics 
may 2016 by atbradley
Moneyness: What makes medieval money different from modern money?
> Instead of having students scramble to finish a final exam and then bolt out the door, faculty members should end the semester with a memorable learning experience — an epic finale, Anthony Crider, an associate professor of physics at Elon University, wrote last year. Unlike a test, a "finale" can spark discussion and reflection afterward.
money  history  economics  atbcom 
may 2016 by atbradley
questionableadvice: ~ The Book of This and That,...
"The rich never feel so good as when they are speaking of their possessions as responsibilities."
history  books  money 
april 2016 by atbradley
It’s expensive to be poor | The Economist
Life is expensive for America’s poor, with financial services the primary culprit, something that also afflicts migrants sending money home (see article). Mr Martin at least has a bank account. Some 8% of American households—and nearly one in three whose income is less than $15,000 a year—do not (see chart). More than half of this group say banking is too expensive for them. Many cannot maintain the minimum balance necessary to avoid monthly fees; for others, the risk of being walloped with unexpected fees looms too large.
economics  poverty  money 
april 2016 by atbradley
Too much of a good thing | The Economist
Profits are an essential part of capitalism. They give investors a return, encourage innovation and signal where resources should be invested. Their accumulation allows investment in bold new ventures. Countries where profits are too low—Japan, for instance—can slip into morbid torpor. Firms that ignore profits, such as China’s state-run enterprises, lurch around like aimless zombies, as likely to destroy value as to create it.

But high profits across a whole economy can be a sign of sickness. They can signal the existence of firms more adept at siphoning wealth off than creating it afresh, such as those that exploit monopolies. If companies capture more profits than they can spend, it can lead to a shortfall of demand. This has been a pressing problem in America. It is not that firms are underinvesting by historical standards. Relative to assets, sales and GDP, the level of investment is pretty normal. But domestic cash flows are so high that they still have pots of cash left over after investment: about $800 billion a year.
money  business  economics  politics 
march 2016 by atbradley
Wage Theft by Employers is Costing U.S. Workers Billions of Dollars a Year | Economic Policy Institute
The extensive weekly minimum wage violations uncovered by the DOL study in California and New York alone amount to an estimated $1.6 billion–$2.5 billion over the course of a full year. Given that the combined population of California and New York is 18.5 percent of the U.S. total, it is reasonable to estimate that minimum wage violations nationwide amount to at least $8.6 billion a year, and as much as $13.8 billion a year. On the one hand, violations in these two states might be less frequent because the wage and hour enforcement effort in New York and California is greater than in most states and violations might be deterred (Florida, for example, does not have a state labor department). But on the other hand, their large immigrant populations might increase the prevalence of wage theft—the DOL study found that non-citizens were 1.6 to 3.1 times more likely to suffer from a minimum wage violation.
WageTheft  money  work  labor 
march 2016 by atbradley
Uptown top ranking: Worldwide cost of living survey | The Economist
2015 WAS a volatile year for living costs. Falling commodity prices, currency devaluations and geopolitical uncertainty all contributed to a relative decrease in the cost of living for a number of cities according to a bi-annual pricing index from the Economist Intelligence Unit aimed at expats and business travellers. But a strong dollar saw all 16 of the survey’s US cities move up the ranking by at least 15 places, and New York now features among the world’s ten most expensive cities for the first time in 14 years. Singapore retains the top spot but is 10% less expensive compared to New York than the previous year, while London has climbed six places to join four other European cities in the top ten.
money  cities 
march 2016 by atbradley
Europe’s Baller Bank Notes Are Fueling Terrorism | Foreign Policy
[THE MAGAZINE] Europe’s baller banknotes are fueling terrorism.
money  crime 
march 2016 by atbradley
Shake your money makers | The Economist
Under the existing system deposits sit on private banks’ balance-sheets. Under the proposed alternative (a variation on “narrow banking”), accounts would be transformed into something much closer to the safe-deposit boxes nestled in Swiss vaults. Customers would pay the banks a charge for storing their cash. Any loans banks make would have to be funded by shareholders or by borrowing of their own, not by deposits.
money  economics 
march 2016 by atbradley
Why the hidden internet can’t be a libertarian parad...
Like the pirate republics of the 18th century, this virtual underworld mingles liberty and vice. Law enforcement and copyright-protection groups such as the Digital Citizens’ Alliance in Washington, DC, prefer to emphasise the most sordid aspects of Tor’s hidden services – the sellers of drugs, weapons and child pornography. And yet the effort to create a hidden internet was driven by ideology as much as avarice. The network is used by dissidents as well as dope-peddlers. If you live under an authoritarian regime, Tor provides you with a ready-made technology for evading government controls on the internet. Even some of the seedier services trade on a certain idealism. Many libertarians believe that people should be able to buy and sell drugs without government interference, and hoped to build marketplaces to do just that, without violence and gang warfare.
bitcoin  libertarianism  money  politics 
february 2016 by atbradley
Bitcoins are a waste of energy - literally - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Vast amounts of electricity go into feeding the Bitcoin delusion. Fortunately, it's unlikely that the digital currency will survive long enough to generate the environmental disaster that would arise if it became a major part of the financial system, writes John Quiggin.
economics  bitcoin  currency  money 
february 2016 by atbradley
Q: When is a dollar pegged to gold not on a gold standard? A: From 1934-1971 — Crooked Timber
On this day, the first of February, in 1934, the New York Times carried Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation of a new gold value for the US dollar. Previously it had been worth 25 8/10 ounces of gold 9/10 fine; now it would be worth 15 5/21 ounces of gold 9/10 fine—or, as it is more commonly said, the dollar had been valued at $20.67 to an ounce of pure gold and now it would be $35 to an ounce of pure gold. But the US was not in 1934, nor would it ever again be, on a gold standard.
money  economics  us  history  gold 
february 2016 by atbradley
Countries' size scaled to amount of aid they receive from the United States.
internationalrelations  money  economics  foreignaid 
january 2016 by atbradley
The other paradox of thrift: Why low rates mean you need to save more | The Economist
A LOW interest rate policy is designed, in part, to make people save less and spend more. The problem is that this approach eventually hits a wall. That is because the biggest reason people need to save is to cover their retirement, when they need to convert their savings into an income. And then low rates have a perverse effect.
money  economics  retirement 
december 2015 by atbradley
Below the line | The Economist
Adam Smith might be alarmed at how Britain's government is redefining child poverty
poverty  money  wealth  economics 
december 2015 by atbradley
Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges - The Chronicle of Higher Education
These private-college presidents make the most as a percent of their universities' expenses:
academia  wealth  work  money 
december 2015 by atbradley
Frequently Asked Questions: On the Federal Reserve Board, monetary policy, and the proposed Full Employment Federal Reserve Act | Economic Policy Institute
1. Are poor retirees and savers harmed by low interest rates?

In general, no. Almost by definition, someone who is poor cannot be hurt much by low interest rates. If someone has $10,000 in savings, and gets near zero interest instead of the 2–3 percent they may have received in a more normal time, the loss comes to $200–$300 a year.
economics  money  banking 
december 2015 by atbradley
The Power of a Dollar | Jacobin
Microcredit protects and enriches a narrow global elite, while offloading risk onto the poor themselves.
money  banking  development  poverty 
november 2015 by atbradley
Even the Most Educated Workers Have Declining Wages | Economic Policy Institute
The figure below shows the most recent data on average hourly wages by education. Here we find reinforcing evidence that there is no sign of a technologically related demand for more-credentialed workers. The workers with the credential that should be in high demand—four-year college graduates—have not done that well, especially in the last year. In fact, among education categories, the greatest real wage losses between 2013 and 2014 were among those with a college or advanced degree. Workers with a four-year college degree saw their hourly wages fall 1.3 percent from 2013 to 2014, while those with an advanced degree saw an hourly wage decline of 2.2 percent. If demand for high-skilled workers were driving wage inequality, we would expect to see these workers’ wages increasing, or at the very least, falling less than their low-skilled counterparts.
work  education  money  economics 
october 2015 by atbradley
First, the projections cover ten years, a period when US GDP is expected to total $228 trillion. When you want to make a budget number sound gigantic, always be sure to use the ten-year projections. And always use dollar amounts, because they sound heftier than the more honest measure, percentages of GDP. Sounds like a lot, for sure. And that’s the point of these articles: scare people with big numbers, studiously avoiding context.
money  economics  politics 
september 2015 by atbradley
A new east Africa campaign | The Economist
Still, even the greatest gift can outlive its usefulness. M-Pesa’s success is in part due to what economists call a “network effect”—its utility grows the greater the proportion of the population that uses it. Network effects tend to lead to monopolies, and that is more or less what has happened. M-Pesa accounts for more than 95% of the mobile-money market in Kenya; and the popularity of the payments system has also helped Safaricom maintain its dominance in terms of calls and text messages.
economics  africa  money  networks 
september 2015 by atbradley
Neighborhood Starting To Get Too Safe For Family To Afford
CHICAGO—Explaining that the sense of unease she felt walking to and from her home had declined markedly over the years, Humboldt Park resident Kirsten Healy expressed her disappointment to reporters Thursday that her neighborhood was becoming too safe for her family to afford. “When we first moved in seven years ago, we didn’t even feel like we could leave the house after dark, which was great for a family on a limited budget,” said Healy, who noted that, given how little she lies awake these days worrying about a potential home invasion or assault, she can tell her family will soon be priced out of their apartment. “The way things are going, we won’t even feel unsafe walking the few blocks to the grocery store in a year or two—I just don’t think we have the kind of money for that. We’d love to stay here, but with our finances the way they are, the minute we stop needing the second bolt on the back door we’ll have no choice but to go out looking for a neighborhood that’s more terrifying.” At press time, the Healys breathed sighs of relief after hearing about a shooting that occurred just five blocks away.
rent  money  humor 
september 2015 by atbradley
Celebrity Pastors’ Walter White Problem | James Duncan | First Things
It’s the Walter White Problem. White couldn’t spend his fortune because it was dirty. Pastors can’t spend theirs because it’s holy.
religion  church  money 
september 2015 by atbradley
Who gets what? | The Economist
Critics reckon that the information will be expensive to collate (an unpersuasive argument) and unhelpful in identifying corporate excess (a more convincing one). An investment bank, where pay is generally high, may appear far more egalitarian than, say, a cleaning company with predominantly low-paid staff and a modestly-paid boss.
work  money  labor  economy 
august 2015 by atbradley
The cities where Americans are most likely to spend more than half of their paycheck on rent - The Washington Post
The cities where Americans are most likely to spend more than half of their paycheck on rent
rent  money  economics 
july 2015 by atbradley
Poor behaviour
Many of the insights of behavioural economics were based on studies of American university students and other privileged folk. But they apply with greater force to the poor—both the poor in rich countries and the more numerous inhabitants of developing ones. Behavioural economics therefore has profound implications for development. The new “World Development Report”, the flagship publication of the World Bank, considers them.
money  economics  poverty 
june 2015 by atbradley
Minimum wage naysayers, wrong about past increases, are wrong about L.A. too - LA Times
The minimum wage debate is like the one about climate change: It’s between those who are right, and those who have repeatedly been proved dead wrong, yet still refuse to concede.
work  labor  money 
may 2015 by atbradley
Tim Harford — Article — The pricing paradox: when diamonds aren’t on tap
The economist Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to describe situations where an object is attractive merely because it is expensive. The designer watch or car is valuable because, like a peacock’s tail, it is a credible indicator that you have resources to spare. What was the point of spending so much on that diamond engagement ring otherwise?
psychology  economics  animals  money 
march 2015 by atbradley
When Is the Best Time to List Your Home? | Zillow Blog
We also went one step further to determine the exact weeks you should list in different parts of the country. Turns out, the best time to list follows weather patterns. In markets with warm climates like Miami, the magic window starts now. But in places with harsh winters like Boston, waiting until mid- to late April is your best bet.

What’s so magical about the magic window? It’s when you’ll sell your home faster and for more money. The data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. That’s a national premium worth more than $4,000. And in hot markets like San Francisco, that could mean an extra $22,000 in your pocket!
realestate  money 
march 2015 by atbradley
Business as Usual | Jacobin
> Here we’re reminded of a Forbes piece that tells us “transparency and authenticity build a trusting relationship in which people are more likely to bring their full creativity, commitment, and motivation to work.” Management agreed that performers who are working for money are more likely to cause problems. Bosses everywhere no doubt find workers’ preoccupation with getting paid a terrible irritation.
work  labor  money  business  pornography 
february 2015 by atbradley
Hating Homeownership - Bloomberg View
"The mathematics is only a small part of homeownership, and when we forget that simple truism, we end up with problems like we had in the mid-2000s."
housing  economics  money  finance 
may 2014 by atbradley
When Kickstarter Investors Want Their Money Back
"When you fail on Kickstarter, it's a very public failure," says Quest. "It definitely derailed my career substantially. Your backers can give you massive support, but they can also tear you down if you fail."
kickstarter  crowdsourcing  money  business 
february 2014 by atbradley
This 4×6 index card has all the financial advice you’ll ever need
Think managing your finances has to be complicated? Wonkblog contributor (and UC Chicago social scientist) Harold Pollack doesn't. After a talk with personal finance expert Helaine Olen, Pollack managed to write down pretty much everything you need to know on a 4x6 index card. And it would probably fit on a 3x5 index card if you really crammed (that last point, for instance, is probably not strictly necessary for managing your money). He explains:
advice  finance  money 
september 2013 by atbradley
What Would Machiavelli Do? | Jacobin
That Republic, whose political existence is maintained uncorrupted, does not permit that any of its Citizens to be or live in the manner of a Gentleman, instead maintain among themselves a perfect equality, and are the greatest enemies of those Lords and Gentlemen who are in that province: and if, by chance, any should come into their hands, they kill them as being Princes of corruption and the cause of every trouble.
philosophy  economics  politics  money  wealth 
june 2013 by atbradley
Was “Cigarette-Money” in World War II POW Camps a Case of Commodity Money Origination? « naked capitalism
The traditional fairy tale goes something vaguely like this: once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a princess, some peasants, and perhaps also a frog. The princess wanted various commodities, such as a quality comb and some food to eat, and the peasants wanted locks of the princess’ hair (as well as various commodities produced by other peasants). The princess’ hair had many desirable properties. First, it was uniform; second, it was transportable; third, it was divisible; fourth, and perhaps most importantly, it was shiny. The princess, of course, as the issuer of the locks of hair, became very wealthy. And that is how we got castles and expensive towers. But eventually the princess could not re-grow locks of hair quickly enough to cut them and package them into a sufficient number of locks to meet demand from the peasants and the frog, and so everyone began using gold instead. And then everyone lived happily ever after – especially the princess, who was as we have mentioned very wealthy.
economics  money  debt 
april 2013 by atbradley
The world economy is not a tribute system
In a blogpost in July of last year, David Graeber talked about why he wrote Debt.

But in a way, Keith had it exactly right. The aim of the book was, indeed, to write the sort of book people don’t write any more: a big book, asking big questions, meant to be read widely and spark public debate, but at the same time, without any sacrifice of scholarly rigor. History will judge whether it’s still possible to pull this sort of thing off (let alone whether I’m the person who will be able to do it.)

He further advised that writers of such books should:

back up your statements with extensive, detailed references that actually do say what you think they say. Good scholarship is more appreciated by popular audiences than academic ones. This is a bit scandalous but I have found it to be true. I have about 100 pages of notes and bibliography in the book and non-academics commenting on the book rarely fail to note, approvingly, that I don’t ask anyone to take my word for what I say, but back up all my claims with numerous references. Some show signs of actually having checked a few to make sure I was on the level. It’s an interesting comment on academia that we almost never do this.

There’s a lot to like about Debt, but I don’t think that it delivers on this promise (or, at least, not on the scholarly rigor bit). Much of the specific historical discussion in the book is beyond my pay grade – while I’m interested in the discussion, and enjoyed Graeber’s reconceptualization, I can’t say that much about it. Hence, this response will focus on the stuff that I do know a little more about – today’s international political economy, and the relationship between money and military force within it.

The chapter that I like most in the book is the second chapter, which talks about how economists’ theories blind them to the realities of interactions in non-market economies. This chapter takes an epigraph from Mencken:

For every subtle and complicated question, there is a perfectly simple and straightforward answer, which is wrong.

and goes on to show how economists’ theories about truck and barter don’t describe the kinds of relationships that predominate in non-market economies, largely because economists haven’t bothered to familiarize themselves with how these societies work. Why is this relevant? Graeber himself uses an equally ‘simple and straightforward’ theory to explain the workings of the modern economy – the international debt economy depends on the willingness of the US military to strike fear and terror into the hearts of anyone impudent enough to try to repudiate their debts, or to challenge US seignorage through creating their own challenger reserve currency. The problem is that I don’t think that this theory is supported by the evidence, any more than economists’ beliefs about the ubiquity of barter is.

First though, more about the stuff I like. Chapter Two is a very nice statement of the substantivist position on how economies work, which has a lot in common (although the differences develop as the book continues) with the work of people like Karl Polanyi and Marshall Sahlins. This tradition of argument has both an empirical and a moral dimension. Empirically, it points to the viability of non-market forms of economic interaction. For long periods of history, the primary forms of economic exchange within societies have taken place via what Graeber calls communism (more or less diffuse reciprocity) or hierarchy. Morally, it suggests that something may go wrong when the third means of interaction, exchange, becomes dominant. Unlike communistic forms of exchange (which are embedded in complex social relations of reciprocity and mutual interaction and dependence), it can get out of control, becoming something that is strange, alien and quite unnatural. According to the substantivist account, we live in just such an unnatural world.

However, Graeber tells us, economists are systematically unable to discern this. They cannot see that there could be any form of economic life other than exchange. Hence, they project theories of exchange, with market-based rationalizing actors backwards into non-monetary economies. They believe (or affect to believe, anyway) that these societies work through some sort of truck and barter system, where I want e.g. a sack of potatoes for which I am prepared to swap a pair of shoes. This implies that such societies are horribly inefficient – one needs to find someone whose demand and offer are complementary to one’s own, or else put up with a lot of awkwardness, inconvenience and partial satisfaction. However, as Graeber argues, this is a projection, pure and simple. Bartering does not characterize how people in most non-market societies deal with each other (although it may play a limited role, especially in transactions between different societies). Instead, such societies have recourse to reciprocity, more or less diffuse, on the local level. People are willing to look after others’ needs, in the broad expectation that their own needs will be looked after in turn. Society runs on interlocking favors, which are not specific so that for every jot I give to x, I expect a corresponding tittle from her, but are generalized so that I do not expect exact equivalence, either from x or from someone else. None of this makes it into the econ textbooks.

Graeber’s statement of this case is not entirely original (as he says, he is summarizing a general state of knowledge within anthropology), but that is emphatically not a problem. Even if others have said similar things (at least at this level of generality), it hasn’t diffused into general consciousness. Each year, when I teach Polanyi to my graduate students in international relations, the most difficult thing for them to get is why he is so down on market interactions. Understanding this requires just the kind of background knowledge on anthropological debates that Graeber imparts. I do have some quibbles. Not all economists are ignorant of these debates (indeed, one could make a plausible case that one major strand of the new institutional economics is motivated by a desire to respond to substantivists and reframe their arguments in terms of economic efficiency). Nor is the fit between economic rationality and markets as mutually defining as Graeber presents it as being – just this morning, I got an automated alert about a new paper modeling the Kula ring as a game theoretic equilibrium. But these are quibbles – the Econ 101 view of the world, which is what Graeber is really interested in, and what influences the wider discourse of public debate, systematically fails to engage with these ideas.

Unfortunately, the closing chapter seems to me to be a reverse image of Chapter Two, exemplifying rather than correcting the theoretical faults that Graeber finds among economists. Here, my critique has a lot in common with Gabriel Rossman’s, but was arrived at independently – I suspect that a number of other readers will have had similar reactions. When Graeber starts talking about modern markets, he does so in terms that are startingly reminiscent of the economists whom he rightly disparages in Chapter Two. He takes a very simple theory of how things work – explaining the modern economy nearly entirely in terms of debt and monetary relations – and how these relations in turn rest on a mixture of propaganda and direct coercion. He then applies this theory in ways that not only don’t really come to terms with the existing literature, but don’t fit very well with the available evidence either. The standards of scholarly literature and backing up everything with substantial detailed references take second place to a sweeping narrative that looks to me to be full of holes.

This starts with Graeber’s particular take on the power relations underlying money and debt. Graeber is at pains throughout the book to stress the ways in which state coercion and market exchange fit together. This presumably has a lot to do with his anarchism. For Polanyi, the villain is long distance trading relations, while for Graeber it is the state (in a formulation which is somewhat reminiscent of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus and Repressive State Apparatus), which is the actor that keeps the corrupt system going through its ideological and coercive resources.

In fact, it could well be said that the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures. at its root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world – in response to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s – with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, flourish or propose alternatives; that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win. To do so requires creating a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police, various forms of private security firms and police and military intelligence apparatus, and propaganda engines of every conceivable variety, most of which do not attack alternatives directly so much as create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, and simple despair that renders any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.

On the one hand, this identifies something real. There is a narrow consensus, which sharply defines the things that can or cannot be spoken of by Serious People. Coercion is of course, an important element of how the system survives. But the language here suggests a seamlessness, and a level of shared intention and planning on the part of the “rulers of the world” who have “constructed” and “designed” this system that seems to me implausible. Many of the most important features of modern capitalism have less to do with conscious coordination than … [more]
debt  economics  money 
february 2012 by atbradley
pictures for sad children
"am i making one continuous mistake"
comic  humor  mistakes  money 
february 2012 by atbradley

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