President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy by Andrew Ross Sorkin [The New York Times] Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory. [more inside]
TV's Dwindling Middle Class [SLNYT] Now on TV, no matter your actual job, almost everybody belongs to the same generic, vaguely upper-class class. [more inside]
A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.
My Year in Startup Hell. Dogs roam HubSpot’s hallways, because like the kindergarten decor, dogs have become de rigueur for tech startups. At noon, Zack tells me, a group of bros meets in the lobby on the second floor to do push-ups together... On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand. Later I will learn (from Penny, the receptionist, who is a fantastic source of gossip) that at one point things got so out of hand that management had to send out a memo. “It’s the people from sales,” Penny tells me. “They’re disgusting.” [more inside]
"For over a decade, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University's design-build program in a tiny town in West Alabama, have worked on a nearly impossible problem. How do you design a home that someone living below the poverty line can afford, but that anyone would want—while also providing a living wage for the local construction team that builds it?" Now Rural Studio has a prototype it's trying to bring to market, and it's hitting its biggest challenge yet: how to fit its small, efficient, inexpensive houses into an infrastructure that has no place for them.
Despite the name games, airline food hasn't changed much. Economy class meals still come in a wrapper, and business or first-class meals come with real cutlery. This list shows the sometimes striking difference between what the different classes eat.
25 years ago, Paul M. Romer's oft-cited article: "Endogenous Technological Change" (pdf) was published in The Journal of Political Economy. In it, he tried to explain how technological progress and knowledge creation affected the dynamics of growth. Romer’s model (pdf) became the "primary engine that fueled a decade-long re-examination of long-term growth in economics." This past October, Dr. Romer posted 7 follow-up blog entries to his historic paper, in order to 'revisit the basics,' starting with: Nonrival Goods After 25 Years. [more inside]
This weekend, New York City hosted the 24th Annual Outsider Art Fair. Director Rebecca Hoffman shares some highlights, the New York Times provides an overview, and Bloomberg Business considers whether Outsider Art has gone mainstream. Meanwhile, a Christie's Ousider Art auction the same weekend brought in over 1.5 million dollars. [h/t]
How the “sharing economy” has turned San Francisco into a dystopia for the working class. Oh, Canada! I’m writing you from Berkeley, California to warn you about this thing called “the sharing economy.” Since no one is really sharing anything, many of us prefer the term “the exploitation economy,” but due to its prevalence many in the Bay Area simply think of it as “the economy.” Whatever you want to call it, the basic idea is that customers can outsource all the work or chores they don’t want to do to somebody else in their area. [more inside]
A Darth Vader waffle maker? You really shouldn’t have…by David Mitchell [The Guardian]
“Star Wars, it turns out, is the most ambitious, enterprising and impressive exercise in the marketing of crap ever conceived by man. Crap, that is, apart from the toys. I have to make an exception for the toys because, as a child, I was an enthusiastic collector of Star Wars figures and spaceships. [...] But, toys aside, it really is crap. Anyone who enjoys their Stormtrooper single duvet cover set more than watching The Empire Strikes Back is a very odd person indeed – and unlikely ever to be in the market for a Stormtrooper double duvet cover set. These are all things that you either don’t need at all or you’d be slightly better off with a non-Star Wars version. And I say that as someone whose wife once gave him an R2-D2 eggcup as a present. Because if you love eggs, and you love Star Wars… you’ll still, in general, find yourself using a normal egg cup.”
The year 2050 is right around the corner, and yet it is hard to imagine the sweeping changes the world will confront by then. In a multimedia series, The Wall Street Journal helps readers envision how we will work, how we will age and how we will live. [more inside]
By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. - A historic deal has been struck in Paris to reduce carbon emissions and reduce global warming, with a ceiling of 2 degrees centigrade and a goal of 1.5C. 2015 has been the hottest year on record.
Tonight at 9 EST Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will come together for a debate in Iowa at Drake University. [more inside]
Rising deaths among white middle-aged Americans could exceed AIDS toll in US A sharp rise in death rates among white middle-aged Americans has claimed nearly as many lives in the past 15 years as the spread of Aids in the US, researchers have said. The alarming trend, overlooked until now, has hit less-educated 45- to 54-year-olds the hardest, with no other groups in the US as affected and no similar declines seen in other rich countries. [more inside]
The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp: What the future of low-wage work really looks like. "In the years since Amazon became the symbol of the online retail economy, horror stories have periodically emerged about the conditions at its warehouses—workers faced with near-impossible targets, people dropping on the job from heat or extreme fatigue. This isn’t one of those stories." (SLHuffPost)
On Friday, South African university students achieved a historic victory; after a week's protest they ensured there would be no fee increases at universities in 2016. This has been led by women. [more inside]
In a week when China's troubled economy and plunging stock market have made headlines worldwide, the Globe and Mail probes one of hidden causes of the difficulty the country faces in transitioning to a modern consumer economy: The Ant Tribe, the middle class Chinese who are literally being driven underground. [more inside]
In a five-part series, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Said examines Airbnb’s impact in San Francisco. (Previously) [more inside]
Bitcoin is unsustainable Bitcoin's power usage per transaction isn't remotely sustainable as a wholesale replacement for the conventional financial system. [more inside]
Krugman battles the Austerians. A little light infotainment for those becoming increasingly frustrated at the counterproductive policies pushed by partisan economists and more disturbingly by whole governments. [more inside]
Aspirational parents condemn their children to a desperate joyless life From infancy to employment, this is a life-denying, love-denying mindset, informed not by joy or contentment, but by an ambition that is both desperate and pointless, for it cannot compensate: childhood, family life, the joys of summer, meaningful and productive work, a sense of arrival, living in the moment.
Several recent developments reveal how political and institutional fragmentation in the United States has produced self-inflicted wounds for the U.S. abroad. In all of these instances, America’s ability to exercise economic power in the world has been deliberately curtailed through decisions made unilaterally in Washington by American political leaders.
Disruption’s Tragic Flaw The case of Uber shows why European companies should not follow the example of their American competitors too closely. It pays to take the needs of customers and contractors into account.
Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger" sold for a record-breaking $179,365,000 yesterday at a Christie's auction in New York. [more inside]
BBC: "Huang's new project is based on a similar idea - this time, he asked people to display everything they've ever bought online. The results are a testament to the overwhelming popularity of online shopping, particularly China's most popular internet shopping platform, Taobao." [more inside]
They are designed to disinfect us of our fragility. To cleanse us of our flaws. To disinfect us of weakness. Love, grace, mercy, longing, forgiveness, passion, truth, nobility, dreams. Their objective is to stamp all that out; to eradicate it; to erase it. To replace it with calculation, ruthlessness, self-concern; gluttony; cruelty; anxiety, despair. By using the most sophisticated technology ever made to subjugate, oppress, and goad us into being little torturers ourselves. Our economy doesn't make stuff anymore. So what does it make?
A short history of gaming in Brazil: "To understand the history of gaming in Brazil dear reader, you must know a little bit about our political and economic history ... In 1991, a small publisher by the name of GSA published a roleplaying game called Tagmar [translation], often lauded as the first Brazilian RPG. ... They also released Desafio dos Bandeirantes, a game set in 17th century colonial Brazil using regional folklore instead of European myths, and a sci-fi game, Millenia [translation] ... In February 1994, the Brazilian authorities set in motion a major economic plan that invigorated the Brazilian economy for the first time since 1973. By March, the currency stabilized enough to assure the population (and companies) that their money would be worth the same by the end of the week ... The happy result for gamers was that companies started buying game licenses right and left." Via. See also History of Brazilian RPGs, History of Brazilian RPG magazines, Role-playing games in education in Brazil: how we do it [PDF], and President Cardoso reflects on Brazil and sociology.
Youe life time earnings and something you probably do not want to hear. People projected to earn the median amount will see their earnings grow 38 percent from the time they're 25 to when they turn 55; those in the 95th percentile will see their earnings grow 230 percent over the same period; and those in the 99th percentile will see their earnings grow 1,450 percent. That may seem obvious—those at the top of the wealth differential were probably propelled there by astronomical earnings growth, not a streak of flat earnings. The Fed report, however, points out that the steepest pay increases happen early. "Across the board, the bulk of earnings growth happens during the first decade," Fortunately for me mine took the upward swing after 23 years of employment. There is still hope.
Step Aside from US Centric. Eurocentric and Step into Global Debt. 2007 revisited That's the warning today from McKinsey & Co.'s research division which estimates that since 2007, the IOUs of governments, companies, households and financial firms in 47 countries has grown by $57 trillion to $199 trillion, a rise equivalent to 17 percentage points of gross domestic product. While not as big a gain as the 23 point surge in debt witnessed in the seven years before the financial crisis, the new data make a mockery of the hope that the turmoil and subsequent global recession would put the globe on a more sustainable path. This is not new but it is troublesome--particularly the concern that neither austerity nor growth will solve this.
Some statistics and maps about jobs in "Advanced Industries", defined as industries that employ a higher percentage of STEM workers than the national average of all industries and R&D spending per worker above the 80th percentile of industries.
"Tangerine Tycoon is a realistic tangerine economy simulator. Get your hands on quadrillions of tangerines by harvesting, gambling or trading them on the stock market. Most likely a combination of all 3. They say money is the root of all evil but surely tangerines can't do any harm." [more inside]
"What Obama would say at the State of the Union if he were being brutally honest": They do it because that's how the game works. They do it because the rules are you line up in front of the other team and then you hit them as hard as you can. They do it because, for one side to win, the other has to lose. And they do it because, if they don't do it, they're off the team. Football has no place for conscientious objectors. [more inside]
A Mexican restaurant has started a Sunday brunch to expand its revenues beyond dinner. A Mercedes dealer, anticipating reduced demand, is prepared to emphasize repairs and sales of used cars. And people are cutting back at home, rethinking their vacation plans and cutting the hours of their housemaids and gardeners.
In Texas, they're hunkering down for the Oil Bust.
In Texas, they're hunkering down for the Oil Bust.
The Ghost Stores of Walmart. "The biggest downside to a Walmart opening up in your community is that after all the protests, the negotiations, and, almost inevitably, the acceptance, the retail giant might just break its lease, pack up shop, and move a mile down the road. The process starts all over again, and Walmart’s giant, hard-won original behemoth of a structure sits abandoned, looming over its increasingly frustrated neighbours."
As the West African Ebola epidemic stretches into its 10th month: researchers have identified the likely cause of the initial outbreak: a young boy playing with bats in a village in Guinea. The NY Times considers how the opportunity to contain the epidemic was missed and the effects of Ebola on West African economies. Vanity Fair takes a look at the failure to contain the disease within Guinea, Frontline goes to "Ground Zero" in Guinea, and searches for a missing Ebola patient. Meanwhile, West Africans welcomed Christmas (previously) and the New Year. Africa Stop Ebola!
Communes still thrive decades after the '60s, but economy is a bummer, man Communes or intentional communities, as their proponents prefer are still going strong but even utopias are struggling to face dystopian economies previous post about international communities in general
"Childcare providers’ wage growth was lower than the growth in wages paid to fast food workers. They were consistently in the bottom second or third percentile in salary rankings, sharing that status with parking lot attendants, laundry workers, fast food employees, and bartenders. Perhaps most strikingly, the people who care for our youngest children earn less than those who care for animals in zoos or homes."