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You must be THIS TALL to file a W-2

Economists Matthew Weinzierl (HBS) and Gregory Mankiw (Harvard) make a utilitarian case for a height tax. [more inside]
posted by Kadin2048 on Jun 24, 2009 - 123 comments

What Would It Look Like?

The Global Oneness Project is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world. They travel the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jun 18, 2009 - 9 comments

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Home taping didn’t kill music, says Ben Goldacre - but where did all the money go?
posted by Artw on Jun 11, 2009 - 168 comments

Isla del encanto?

With all the dust that's been* riled up by Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (previously), everyone is suddenly taking an interest in Puerto Rico. A basic question that may come up is why we're there in the first place. Understanding that, we can see how the complicated relationship has played out between Puerto Rico, the US, and, most recently, the United Nations. Although the UN has urged the US to take steps towards establishing Puerto Rico's sovereignty, referendums held on the island have overwhelmingly preferred the status quo and the US has been indifferent at best. But independence activists, after a twenty-year decline, may be on the rise. The island's current governor, Luis Fortuño, is pro-statehood. But the whole issue has taken a back seat since plans have been made to fire 30,000 government workers, privatize some public services, and sell some the the government's US$3.2 billion debt. [more inside]
posted by krikkit261 on Jun 10, 2009 - 26 comments

Building repairs must make up something like 90% of the economy in comic book universes

Ecocomics: Where Graphic Art Meets Dismal Science. With such entries as "Superman, New Krypton, and Labor Unions" and "The Construction Industry in Comics."
posted by dersins on May 28, 2009 - 26 comments

"There needs to be a general acceptance that the current model has failed."

It's Finished is a witty and erudite essay by MeFi lurker John Lanchester in The London Review of Books on how completely and utterly screwed the British economy is. In the process of laying out his case Lanchester touches on varied issues, such Scottish banknotes, why Alan Hollinghurst's phrase "tremendous, Basil Fawltyish lengths" is applicable to the reaction by the US and UK governments to the banking meltdown, the value destruction of corporate mergers, the invention of modern accounting, and why no one really knows how large a share of the failed banks is owned by governments.
posted by Kattullus on May 26, 2009 - 35 comments

Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong

Prelude to Federation - Like a neocolonial SEZ (or TAZ) Paul Romer, not to be confused with David, posits "less developed countries contract with capitalist nations to set up Hong Kong's for them... that we rethink sovereignty (respect borders, but maybe import administrative control); rethink citizenship (support residency, but maybe import voice in political affairs); and rethink scale (instead of focusing on nations, focus on cities—on city states like Hong Kong and Singapore)." cf. neocameralism [1, 2, 3] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 21, 2009 - 16 comments

Beanie Madoffs

Revisit the Beanie Baby Bubble with Les & Sue Fox's 1998 bestseller The Beanie Baby Handbook. [via]
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 15, 2009 - 55 comments

Why the US won't see hyperinflation

The Bulls vs. Bears? The incessant back and forth between equity market longs and shorts is well known to most retail investors via a variety of distribution channels; financial television, the print media, online news. But the really big market battle, one with the potential to impact the entire US economy, happens, as is usual in finance, just out of sight of retail eyes ... [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 13, 2009 - 24 comments

Theory versus Statistics, Financial Economics Edition.

Theory versus Statistics, Financial Economics Edition. "You can almost here the lament of this quant that the real math theory has been dead since 1980, and that it has all been applied and statistics ever since. It’s like Fischer Black was Kool Herc and Myron Scholes was Afrika Bambaataa, and they’d all go plug in their computers into lamp posts and do martingale representations in the streets and at house parties. And, of course, it was all ruined in 1979 when it went commercial." A response to The Last Temptation of Risk by Barry Eichengreen.
posted by chunking express on May 4, 2009 - 8 comments

A Banking System We Can Trust

Limited Purpose Banking -- for lending, investing, etc. -- Turn all financial firms into mutual funds: "All mutual funds would break the buck with one exception: cash mutual funds. These funds would strictly hold cash and be valued at $1 per share. Owners of these funds would write checks against their balances and never have to worry about a bank run. Fractional reserve banking and the FDIC would be history." [previously] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 3, 2009 - 15 comments

"They frankly own the place"

The second most powerful United States Senator admits, "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Apr 30, 2009 - 55 comments

The Adaptive Value of Human Institutions:* Building a Better (Secular) 'Religion'

Keynes & Marx thought "that productivity would grow sufficiently to allow our needs to be met with very little labour," and that humankind's biggest preoccupation in the future would be leading lives of comfortable (or comparative) leisure. Obviously, that has not yet come to pass. But why?** Yochai Benkler (previously), for one, is working on it... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 25, 2009 - 37 comments

The Copper Standard

The new monetary standard: Copper.
posted by bigmusic on Apr 19, 2009 - 51 comments

Austrian school do it better

The Austrian school of economics try to explain what's wrong with our money.
posted by - on Apr 18, 2009 - 83 comments

The guy who called it

[MLYT] Peter Schiff gives a talk to the Western Regional Mortgage Bankers Association, describing exactly the ongoing economic meltdown. (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). The catch? The talk was given in 2006. Listening to his bullish counterpart in parts 6-8 is a real scream. [more inside]
posted by valkyryn on Apr 16, 2009 - 23 comments

These bankers are Hoares

The separation of the ownership of a business from its management is one of the defining characteristics of the modern capitalist system. But ongoing failures of corporate governance, particularly in banking, have called into question these structures. Is there a better way? Secretive UK private bank C. Hoare & Co. has a solution that works for those customers it chooses to accept. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Apr 13, 2009 - 51 comments

The market - conducting 'experiments' with real money

A philosophy professor takes on the financial system. Or perhaps that should read - a philosophy professor's take on the financial system. Daniel Cloud, teacher of philosophy at Princeton University and a founding partner in two hedge funds, makes the case in a recent opinion piece that "... complicated explanations about derivatives, regulatory failure, and so on are beside the point. ... The truth is that ... models are most useful when they are little known or not universally believed. They progressively lose their predictive value as we all accept and begin to bet on them."
posted by woodblock100 on Apr 1, 2009 - 28 comments

Renewing the economics of theatre

The recession has hit the theatre world (and the arts scene in general) very hard - but some argue that theatre practitioners aren't doing themselves any favours when seeking funding. The main question insufficiently addressed is "who is the funding for?" - hint: it's not about you. Approaching theatre as a product isn't working, not when MFA acting programs don't often allow its graduates to earn enough to earn back their debt. So now the question is: how can the economics of theatre be changed?
posted by divabat on Mar 29, 2009 - 60 comments

If FAS 157 started it will FAS 140 will keep the party going?

The Fed's Public Private Partnership Program, promises to clear down as much as $1T worth of "legacy assets" from banks balance sheets. Globally, equity markets responded positively. But what about assets held off balance sheet? [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Mar 27, 2009 - 27 comments

What the FEC couldn't figure out

Matt Taibbifilter: Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer! This week's MeFi stories have generally failed to explain the reasoning that caused the recession, even though Jon Stewart was basically on the mark. Now, Rolling Stone's only reporter lays it all out The Big Takeover, a typical combination of zealous snark and the overlooked, damning facts needed to clear up a ridiculously complicated story.
posted by shii on Mar 20, 2009 - 111 comments

Asymmetrical Information and Hooker-nomics.

Asymmetrical Information and Hooker-nomics.
posted by chunking express on Mar 16, 2009 - 63 comments

The Great Divide

British academics Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett believe they've discovered the underlying cause of all modern society's ills: inequality. In their book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, they explain how health and social problems follow a strikingly similar pattern, being closely correlated with income distribution (pdf). To spread the word, they've founded The Equality Trust
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth on Mar 15, 2009 - 99 comments

Wasting Away in Hooverville

Quit Lying About Roosevelt! "Amity Shlaes, the GOP's Great Depression philosopher-queen, couldn't be more dangerously wrong." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 9, 2009 - 36 comments

To everything there is a season and this is true of Economics

Everybody knows the economy and thus the markets move in cycles. Economic expansion naturally leads to contraction, driven by credit and business cycles. But are economic booms followed by busts inevitable? [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Mar 6, 2009 - 32 comments

The Axis of Upheaval

The Axis of Upheaval: A special report on the coming age of instability.
posted by homunculus on Feb 21, 2009 - 61 comments

Brother can you spare a jet?

With orders for new aircraft down, the private jet industry is launching a PR onslaught and a website to counter all the bad press surrounding greedy executives flying private jets. Lo and behold, two financial columnists expressed strikingly similar views on the subject. Members of Congress, who love to catch a ride home on a contributor's private plane, are helping out too.
posted by up in the old hotel on Feb 18, 2009 - 48 comments

Prescient Economist: Housing Crash Result of Government Incentives

Peter Wallison, an economist who arguably predicted the housing crash and bailout in 1999 explains his current views on the crash: "Other players...played a part" but "...government policy over many years--particularly the use of the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to distort the housing credit system-- underlies the current crisis."
posted by shivohum on Feb 11, 2009 - 98 comments

Chavez' Venezuela At 10 Years

Just ahead of a re-election referendum in Venezuela (scheduled for February 15), The Chávez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators [PDF][Via]
posted by Rykey on Feb 10, 2009 - 26 comments

Cost of a dozen eggs: $5.29

Evolution of the household 1950s to today, with values adjusted for inflation. (via Geek Press)
posted by caddis on Feb 10, 2009 - 49 comments

Staring into the abyss

$550 Billion Disappeared in "Electronic Run On the Banks" (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Feb 9, 2009 - 49 comments

"...And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

Picture a three-guy trading floor. They would call a carrier,... [and] manually move trunks in and out of route by issuing SQL commands against the Veraz's Oracle database.... Let me write that out for you: One ass-hat residential customer with a 20yo telephone with four extra buttons did thirty million dollars in damages in less than one night. Anyways, that's how the company went bankrupt... and about 6000 or so people ... all got laid off.
posted by orthogonality on Feb 9, 2009 - 97 comments

alternative currencies

Hard up for cash? Roll your own :P [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 8, 2009 - 36 comments

Obama FAIL?

The Bad Bank Assets Proposal: Even Worse Than You Imagined -- the administration appears intent on building another black swan. This is political capitalism. [via]
posted by kliuless on Feb 4, 2009 - 103 comments

Duffonomics

Playboy has hired Duff McKagan to write a weekly finance column. His mission? 1) To educate. 2) To bring down The Man. [via Fimoculous]
posted by not_on_display on Feb 3, 2009 - 32 comments

Paging Mr. Dickens...

When welfare benefits the rich, and starves the poor: Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years. [more inside]
posted by dejah420 on Feb 2, 2009 - 68 comments

Deals of the Day

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank gave a bank, whose capital ratio equaled only 1.88% of assets at the bank, versus a desired level of about 6%, TARP money after heavy lobbying. Frank inserted into the bill a provision to give special consideration to banks that had less than $1 billion of assets, had been well-capitalized as of June 30, served low- and moderate-income areas, and had taken a capital hit in the federal seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (WSJ link) [more inside]
posted by SeizeTheDay on Jan 22, 2009 - 92 comments

De la démocratie en Singapore

Economist Bryan Caplan is author of the best contemporary critique of democracy and democraticness (previously), and therefore the person I'd most like to visit Singapore and share his thoughts. He recently took a trip to this quasi-democracy lauded for both its pro-growth policies and its strong, competent government (and criticized for its repression and its draconian penal code). The trip to what is in some ways an economist's utopia allowed Caplan to think about the implications of his own writings, and the validity of Churchill's dictum on democracy. Here's what he had to say: [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Jan 19, 2009 - 19 comments

Randolph and Mortimer have moved on from FCOJ.

Was market speculation behind this year's rise in crude oil prices? Earlier this year, prices topped $100/bbl, the highest seen since the oil crisis of the late 70s/early 80s. By July 2008, the price of crude oil reached a record high of $144/bbl, costing US consumers between $4-$5 per gallon at the pump. [more inside]
posted by elizardbits on Jan 13, 2009 - 29 comments

ARR! "dramatic action" ahoy :P

President Obama's plan for American Recovery and Reinvestment [pdf] might be thought of as TARP round two [1,2] -- instead of hiding the bodies, this one's preparing the ground for a big tent or the economic equivalent of war. There are critics and detractors (cramdown nation ;) left and right, natch, but also conservative supporters and progressive defenders to save or create three four million jobs; hooray! [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 11, 2009 - 51 comments

The Deaccessioning Debate

In these difficult economic times, what's a museum to do? Is an art collection a financial asset or a trust to be held in perpetuity? These questions are being raised by The National Academy in New York's recent sale (or "deaccessioning" in museum lingo) of two important paintings for $15 million to shore up its finances, first reported by Lee Rosenbaum's ArtsJournal blog. The museum's director told The New York Times that it was the only way for the 183-year-old academy, which runs a chronic operating deficit, to survive. The Association of Art Museum Directors censured the Academy and called on its members to suspend any loans of art to the institution. New York lawyer Donn Zaretzky's ArtLaw Blog has become ground zero for a fascinating debate involving art critics, museum directors, financial bloggers and others.
posted by up in the old hotel on Jan 7, 2009 - 40 comments

All predictions are wrong. Or are they?

Every year the Strategy Team at Saxo Bank, a Danish virtual bank, publishes a list of ten black swan class market events. Some of the more dramatic possibilities Saxo advance for 2009: crude trading down to $25 a barrel causing severe social unrest in Iran, the S&P 500 falling to 500, Chinese GDP approaching zero and several member states dropping the Euro. The complete 2009 list is here and for completeness their 2008 [ .pdf ] , 2007 [ .pdf ] and 2006 lists [ .pdf ] are also available. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jan 7, 2009 - 32 comments

The bubble to end all bubbles?

The cover of a major financial publication warns: If you're holding U.S. Treasuries, GET OUT NOW! [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Jan 5, 2009 - 74 comments

Why Wall Street Always Blows It

Why Wall Street Always Blows It, and why we're always to blame, as told by banished securities analyst Henry Blodget.
posted by SeizeTheDay on Dec 30, 2008 - 37 comments

The Price of Anarchy

Braess' paradox and the price of anarchy [PDF]: "We had three tunnels in the city and one needed to be shut down. Bizarrely, we found that car volumes dropped. ... We discovered it was a case of Braess' paradox, which says that by taking away space in an urban area you can actually increase the flow of traffic, and, by implication, by adding extra capacity to a road network you can reduce overall performance." [more inside]
posted by parudox on Dec 27, 2008 - 15 comments

Why I Hate Christmas

"Modern Christmas is like primitive Keynesianism, a short-run-oriented economic experiment that has been tried and found wanting." Economist James S. Henry weighs in on "Why the Grinch has it right."
posted by nasreddin on Dec 24, 2008 - 58 comments

Just how long can that tail be?

10 out of 13 million tracks available for purchase online didn't sell a single copy. Jut how Long can that Tail be, after all? Is the length of the tail mentioned in the article down to piracy or the state of the music industry as a whole? Is it possible to make a profit or break even on a niche website based on sales alone, and not on advertising revenue?
posted by Grrlscout on Dec 23, 2008 - 56 comments

Blow-by-blow of Wachovia's Demise

A blow-by-blow analysis of Wachovia's demise, as told by the bank's local paper, The Charlotte Observer.
posted by SeizeTheDay on Dec 21, 2008 - 16 comments

The Grand Experiment

History Repeats Itself in Different Hues -- a readable Q&A data dump comparing the economics and policy responses of 1990s Japan and current events
posted by troy on Dec 19, 2008 - 6 comments

your leisure is my pleasure

Idle Theory: Life Does The Least
posted by kliuless on Dec 6, 2008 - 28 comments

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