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Brutal Economics of Cable TV

The success of The Walking Dead, paradoxically, has left the network with an unusual dilemma. Like the executives of Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, AMC is facing an existential question: How do I grow my business without sacrificing who I am? The Zombies at AMC’s Doorstep. TL;DR version: How AMC Explains the Brutal Economics of Cable Television
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 29, 2011 - 83 comments

Psychological Costs of War

New working paper by three economists estimates the psychological costs of war at between $1.5 and $2.7 billion. [more inside]
posted by scunning on May 28, 2011 - 10 comments

What is the economic value of the internet?

The McKinsey Global Institute has published "Internet Matters: The Net's sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity" [70 Page PDF or just the Summary]. "On average, the Internet contributes 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil... For governments, investments in infrastructure, human capital, financial capital and business environment conditions will help strengthen their Internet supply domestic ecosystems." Found on Marginal Revolution where Tyler Cowen has a few interesting comments.
posted by Blake on May 26, 2011 - 8 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

smaller companies are using robots

Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 20, 2011 - 52 comments

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency. Trading at eight dollars this week—and being used to pay for everything from freelance programming jobs to magic mushrooms—it has been described as “the most dangerous open-source project ever created” and “an unambiguous challenge to the government monopoly on the power to print money.” Estimated at over 20 petaFLOPS the Bitcoin network is currently the fastest virtual supercomputer in the world. [more inside]
posted by howlingmonkey on May 18, 2011 - 296 comments

I drank your milkshake

PBS's excellent weekly news magazine, Need to Know, explains why European broadband speeds are racing ahead of the USA. Britain now has 400 broadband suppliers with service available for as little as $6/month. Bonus: Harvard's Berkman Center reports on broadband supply trends around the world.
posted by anigbrowl on May 13, 2011 - 53 comments

how to organize society

-A parable for the world economy
-The economics of a parable, explained
-The Mauritius Miracle
posted by kliuless on May 12, 2011 - 9 comments

Koch exerts deep influence with endowed positions

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university. [more inside]
posted by foggy out there now on May 10, 2011 - 97 comments

Grouponomics

The Sharing Economy (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 5, 2011 - 12 comments

speculative, but instructive, economics

In a pinch, upgrade the humans or redistribute the robots - "[S]uppose [as a factory owner] I replace all my workers with machines... This squeeze has many implications, one of them being that here is an important sector of the economy in which more or less all the gains accrue to the owners of capital and more or less none to the working class..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 1, 2011 - 98 comments

The economics of Death Star planet destruction.

Furthermore, let’s remember that Alderaan isn’t gone. It’s just blown up. Suddenly all the metallic elements that were languishing away in the planetary core are floating around in the void, ripe for the plucking. And anyone who can plausibly claim to have owned them is dead. You can build a lot of Death Stars with that much tungsten. Well, not even a lot—but maybe one.
The Overthinking It Think Tank takes a look at “the economic calculus behind the Empire’s tactic of A) building a Death Star, B) intimidating planets into submission with the threat of destruction, and C) actually carrying through with said destruction if the planet doesn’t comply.” [more inside]
posted by kipmanley on Apr 29, 2011 - 78 comments

When are Krugman and Mankiw just going to make out already, jeez

Keynes v. Hayek Rap Battle: Round 2 (SLYT, about 10 mins) EconStories revives the econ beef to end all beefs. Previously. [more inside]
posted by dismas on Apr 28, 2011 - 32 comments

Tax Facts Hardly Anyone Knows

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 18, 2011 - 191 comments

brittle efficiency and shallow triumphalism

Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
posted by kliuless on Apr 17, 2011 - 93 comments

The Free-Banking vs. Central-Banking Debate

Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2011 - 47 comments

The State of White America

In a lecture entitled The State of White America Charles Murray, a W. H. Brady Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of the controversial The Bell Curve, details the thesis of his upcoming book Coming Apart: Over the last half century, the United States has developed a new lower class and a new upper class that are different in kind from anything America has ever known. The second contention of the book is that the divergence of America into these separate classes, if it continues, will end what has made America America. [more inside]
posted by ob1quixote on Apr 12, 2011 - 76 comments

The One Percent Nation

Joseph Stiglitz in May's Vanity Fair ; Inequality: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret. (via)
posted by adamvasco on Apr 6, 2011 - 85 comments

We have to wean fish off water

"The paper puts forward a small but novel idea of how we can cut down the incidence of bribery. There are different kinds of bribes and what this paper is concerned with are bribes that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. I shall call these 'harassment bribes'. Suppose an income tax refund is held back from a taxpayer till he pays some cash to the officer. Suppose government allots subsidized land to a person but when the person goes to get her paperwork done and receive documents for this land, she is asked to pay a hefty bribe. These are all illustrations of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society. The central message of this paper is that we should declare the act of giving a bribe in all such cases as legitimate activity [PDF]. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state." [more inside]
posted by vidur on Mar 31, 2011 - 37 comments

You have put me in here a cub, but I will come out roaring like a lion, and I will make all hell howl! - Carry A. Nation

For the good of the nation, you won't be able to drink your favoured beer. At least, if the collection of middlemen monopolies called America's Beer Distributors and their lobby have much to say about it. [more inside]
posted by converge on Mar 31, 2011 - 67 comments

Why Not a Negative Income Tax?

Why Not a Negative Income Tax? "What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? [Nobel-prize winning economist Milton] Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT."
posted by shivohum on Mar 14, 2011 - 106 comments

Read the Classics: "Top Twenty" isn't quite "Truest Twenty," but....

Via the Economist: the top twenty papers from 100 years of the American Economic Review. (This post is mostly pdfs.) [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 10, 2011 - 28 comments

The Economic Super-Cycle

We've had 2 economic super-cycles before. One from 1870 to 1913. Another from the end of World War II until 1973. Now we may be in the midst of another, this time the cycle is all about the emerging consumer class in Asia. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 3, 2011 - 49 comments

A turning point in economic development?

"Towards a Sustainable Global Golden Age" (four youtube links) is a talk by Carlota Perez comparing the current revolution in information and communications technologies (ICT) to four prior technological revolutions. She argues that each revolution has started with a long phase of experimentation driven by finance, which leads to a financial bubble and subsequent crash. The short phase of recovery from the crash is followed by a long phase of consolidation driven by concrete productivity gains and government policy. She believes that NASDAQ was the crash in the ICT revolution, and that we are still in the recovery phase, partly because cheap oil and manufacturing labor facilitated a reemphasis on unskilled-labor- and energy-intensive means of production. She speculates on what may come out of the consolidation phase she hopes we're now entering. [more inside]
posted by Coventry on Mar 3, 2011 - 4 comments

Neoclassical economics, j'accuse

"Adbusters invites economics students around the world... to join the fight to revamp Econ 101 curriculums and challenge the endemic myopia of their tenured neoclassical profs." The gist of the Kick It Over Manifesto is largely environmental.
posted by gusandrews on Feb 28, 2011 - 68 comments

Social Calculation and Coordination Problems

Trust, Coordination Technology* & The Experience Economy - "It could be that the nature of technological change isn't causing the slowdown** but a shift in values.*** It could be that in an industrial economy people develop a materialist mind-set and believe that improving their income is the same thing as improving their quality of life. But in an affluent information-driven world, people embrace the postmaterialist mind-set. They realize they can improve their quality of life without actually producing more wealth." (via mr) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 28, 2011 - 46 comments

Welcome to the 21st century, Australian economy.

The Australian Government has committed to a price on carbon from 1 July 2012, prior to a likely full emissions trading scheme within three to five years. The Opposition are outraged, predicting a people's revolt. This should clearly define the next election.
posted by wilful on Feb 24, 2011 - 102 comments

Direct investment for homelessness?

Homelessness: Cutting out the middle men (Economist) "The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them". [more inside]
posted by asymptotic on Feb 18, 2011 - 64 comments

“For a good blow job, a man will do just about anything. What can I do with that knowledge? I have no idea.”

How Tech Tools Transformed New York's Sex Trade is an article by Sudhir Venkatesh demonstrating the results from a survey of 290 sex workers in New York about financial matters. Venkatesh and Stephen Leavitt did a similar study in Chicago, posted to Metafilter previously. More information about Venkatesh's research on sex work on his website.
posted by lunit on Feb 9, 2011 - 37 comments

Empire! An Al Jazeera Series

The show Empire on Al Jazeera collects experts on various subjects and holds a roundtable discussion. This week was Obama 2.0, on the President's first two years, with focus on foreign policy. Guests this week are Ralph Nader, Roger Hodge, Stefan Halper, and As'ad Abu Khalil. Earlier weeks include: [more inside]
posted by Glibpaxman on Feb 6, 2011 - 20 comments

Twenty reasons why it's kicking off everywhere

"We've had revolution in Tunisia, Egypt's Mubarak is teetering; in Yemen, Jordan and Syria suddenly protests have appeared. In Ireland young techno-savvy professionals are agitating for a "Second Republic"; in France the youth from banlieues battled police on the streets to defend the retirement rights of 60-year olds; in Greece striking and rioting have become a national pastime. And in Britain we've had riots and student occupations that changed the political mood. What's going on? What's the wider social dynamic?"
posted by doobiedoo on Feb 6, 2011 - 111 comments

How to Tax the Rich

Scott Adams suggests that if we assume that the solution to our fiscal problems is increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, perhaps we should figure out how to make the taxation amenable to them... [more inside]
posted by bpm140 on Jan 30, 2011 - 223 comments

The Case of the Missing o.b. Tampons

Over Christmas, Johnson & Johnson decided to stop carrying their popular brand of o.b. tampons. This elicited an immediate and frenzied response from women who used the product. Told that their tampon of choice was permanently discontinued, ladies took to eBay and other outlets to get the last few boxes. In a turnaround, however, J&J is now claiming they were experiencing a "temporary supply interruption". To everyone's relief, the product will soon be back in stores.
posted by reenum on Jan 27, 2011 - 83 comments

"The people who are constantly exasperated about the perfidy and sheer irrationality of the other side is the team that is in fact ill-informed."

Endogenize Ideology: Steve Waldman on the interplay between policy decisions and public opinion, in response to Krugman.
posted by Jpfed on Jan 21, 2011 - 14 comments

A little apple pie goes a long way

Hu Jintao, premier of China, is in the middle of his first state visit to the US, whose pomp and circumstance reflects China's growing economic stature and role in world affairs. Due to the linguistic and political differences between the US and China, few Americans know very much about Hu. Many of them will have had their first real look at him during an extended and surprisngly candid joint press conference held with President Obama and lasting well over an hour - something which never happens in China. Fears (or possibly hopes) of a trade war between the US and China a year ago have faded, and instead a trade deal involving $45 billion of American exports was announced, to mixed reactions. He was received less kindly by Congress, whose members expressed disquiet about everything from trade deficits to human rights and whose leaders declined to discuss matters over dinner - perhaps because they did not wish to be lost in the high-powered crowd of attendees. [more inside]
posted by anigbrowl on Jan 20, 2011 - 59 comments

If It Were My Home

If It Were My Home lets you see in what ways your life might be different if you lived in another country.
posted by empath on Jan 19, 2011 - 33 comments

Paul Seabright on The Imaginot Line

Why we're still fighting yesterday's economic war Above all, like historians assessing the Maginot Line, we must avoid comforting ourselves with the judgment that the [financial] system's architects were naive and that therefore we might hope to do much better. Far more important is to be aware that defenses are vulnerable precisely where they are strongest and to be prepared to respond creatively and calmly when they fail, as they surely will again.
posted by Philosopher's Beard on Jan 17, 2011 - 19 comments

What's the problem?

Interview with Gary Gorton (pdf) - Fascinating look at private institutional bank money creation (really) and subsequent run on the shadow banking system that hearkens back to the late-19th century banking crises with securitization playing the role of checking before the advent of deposit insurance. "Gorton is a lucid narrator of a complex tale." (via via)
posted by kliuless on Jan 14, 2011 - 10 comments

Honey buns sweeten life for Florida prisoners

Meet the new form of prison currency: Honey buns.
posted by reenum on Jan 10, 2011 - 56 comments

Scarcity - "More noms plz."

The concept of "Nom Nom Nom" is central to EcoNomNomNomics.
posted by Phire on Jan 9, 2011 - 26 comments

Diss capital

Paul Mason interviews Karl Marx
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 9, 2011 - 30 comments

Down and Out on $250,000 a Year

This is not satire. This appears to be a completely serious attempt to justify the extension of the Bush tax cuts by showing a "typical" family of 4 with no debt (other than a mortgage) struggling to get by on a quarter of a million dollars a year. They clearly can't afford to pay a couple thousand more in taxes. They can barely afford to send the kids to summer camp as it is.
posted by COD on Jan 5, 2011 - 314 comments

The Luxury Prime

"The rich are different than you and me." A new study out of the Harvard Business School suggests that frequent use of luxury goods and services may encourage a narrower, more self-interested view of the world. Here's a link to the report itself. (Achtung! it's a PDF.)
posted by saulgoodman on Jan 5, 2011 - 72 comments

Unlocking money in pre-IPO companies

Employed by a startup? Working long hours for little pay but lots of stock options? When your company goes public you can finally realise the value of your options but what if the IPO is delayed or never happens? [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jan 3, 2011 - 32 comments

So that recession is over - really?

According to The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the US recession which started in December 2007 actually ended in June 2009. But unemployment (not to be confused with under-employment), always considered to be a lagging indicator, has continued to rise. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Dec 29, 2010 - 19 comments

I got what you want and you got what I want lets trade!

Low on money, don't despair, before money there was barter and you can still barter! Bartering for space. Bartering for the use of a car. Bartering food for pints of beer. Bartering books you've read for books you haven't read. Bartering gifts you don't want for gifts you do want. Bartering for dental care. Bartering for baby sitters time. Bartering time on your couch for time on someone else's couch. Bartering time in your home for time in someone else's home. Bartering your UK Council flat for someone else's council flat. Time as a currency alternative. Time banks, bartering your free time for time money. A list of 101 US based timebanks. A timebank in New York. Timebanking in The UK. A bartering exchange. Another bartering exchange. And another bartering exchange.Yet another bartering exchange. A UK based bartering exchange. Obligatory tale of serial bartering: a paperclip for a house. Lest you think bartering is for small transactions only, China barters infrastructure for $9B worth of copper. All the BarterNews you'll need to keep abreast of the fast moving world of barter!
posted by Mutant on Dec 26, 2010 - 22 comments

The Effect of Legalized Same-Sex Unions on Divorce, Marriage and STI Risk Behaviors

A new working paper entitled "The Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Public Health and Welfare" by economists Hugo Mialon, Andrew Francis and Handie Peng at Emory University finds that same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays and increased the MSM syphilis rate, perhaps by making monogamy less common. The authors also find that same-sex marriage bans tended to reduce tolerance for cohabiting sex, as well as reduced abortion and teen pregnancy, although these effects on teen pregnancy appeared to be very short-lived. They ultimately find no consistent evidence that same-sex marriage bans had any effect on marriage or divorce. A link to the paper can be found here, and a link to their legal appendix here. [more inside]
posted by scunning on Dec 23, 2010 - 38 comments

These astroturf libertarians are the real threat to internet democracy

Right Wing astroturfing A non-scientific analysis of the patterns in forum board discussions on a variety of topics. The gist: discussions of issues in which there's money at stake (like climate change, public health and corporate tax avoidance) are often characterised by amazing levels of abuse and disruption by rightwing libertarians who are pro-corporate, anti-tax, anti-regulation. Discussions of issues in which there's little money at stake tend to be a lot more civilised than debates about issues where companies stand to lose or gain billions.
posted by novenator on Dec 20, 2010 - 79 comments

The hollowing out of the countryside

Burial & Flight I BEGAN THIS SERIES TEN YEARS AGO in rural Kenya. When I started photographing, I thought I was working on a localized story about how HIV was destroying African society. Over the years, as I broadened my travels to China and Mexico, I began to see similarities in the composition of villages wherever I went. Only later did I fully realize that the quiet moments I documented in the African bush, Mexican plains, and majestic Chinese mountains represented small pieces of a great shift.
posted by metagnathous on Dec 17, 2010 - 5 comments

Irreducible Human Dignity

Need a little political philosophy? Why not try this conversation on economics, the human person and democracy between conservative Catholic legal scholar Robert George and the always fascinating African-American studies professor and philosopher Cornel West? [more inside]
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Dec 15, 2010 - 8 comments

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