Economics @ ITT

What If Black America Were a Country?

Posted in economics by ittecon on October 14, 2014

If black America were a nation-state, how would it stack up against other countries? How would it fare on standard measures of national power and weakness?

via What If Black America Were a Country? – The Atlantic.

Advertisements

Conspicuous Consumption: A(nother) Cautionary Tale

Posted in economics, environment by ittecon on January 27, 2014

Unfettered capitalism is a road to extinction, and, sadly, not just a metaphor.

At first the frenetic pace of the killing didn’t matter: there were so many seals.  On one island alone, Amasa Delano estimated, there were “two to three millions of them” when New Englanders first arrived to make “a business of killing seals.”“If many of them were killed in a night,” wrote one observer, “they would not be missed in the morning.”  It did indeed seem as if you could kill every one in sight one day, then start afresh the next.  Within just a few years, though, Amasa and his fellow sealers had taken so many seal skins to China that Canton’s warehouses couldn’t hold them.  They began to pile up on the docks, rotting in the rain, and their market price crashed.

To make up the margin, sealers further accelerated the pace of the killing — until there was nothing left to kill.  In this way, oversupply and extinction went hand in hand.  In the process, cooperation among sealers gave way to bloody battles over thinning rookeries.  Previously, it only took a few weeks and a handful of men to fill a ship’s hold with skins.  As those rookeries began to disappear, however, more and more men were needed to find and kill the required number of seals and they were often left on desolate islands for two- or three-year stretches, living alone in miserable huts in dreary weather, wondering if their ships were ever going to return for them.

“On island after island, coast after coast,” one historian wrote, “the seals had been destroyed to the last available pup, on the supposition that if sealer Tom did not kill every seal in sight, sealer Dick or sealer Harry would not be so squeamish.”  By 1804, on the very island where Amasa estimated that there had been millions of seals, there were more sailors than prey.  Two years later, there were no seals at all.

via Noam Chomsky is right: It’s the so-called serious who devastate the planet and cause the wars – Salon.com.

We’re Addicted to Economic Growth and It Will Be the Death of Us

Posted in economics by ittecon on October 7, 2013

I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow were going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I wont go for that.

via Were Addicted to Economic Growth and It Will Be the Death of Us | Alternet.

Crack Addicts Make Surprisingly Rational Decisions

Posted in economics by ittecon on September 18, 2013

And now for something completely different. File this under Economics of Crime or The Marketing of Poor Social Policy.

“There is a belief, for example, that crack cocaine is so addictive it only took one hit to get hooked, and that it is impossible to use heroin without becoming addicted,” he said. “There was another belief that methamphetamine users are cognitively impaired. All of these are myths that have have been perpetuated primarily by law enforcement, and law enforcement deals with a limited, select group of people—people who are, in many cases, behaving badly.”

Hart’s work to understand addiction and addicts tackles common misconceptions about several forms of drug addiction and addicts. He conducted similar studies around methamphetamine addicts in the past, as the Times article points out, and “found that when he raised the alternative reward to $20, every single addict, of meth and crack alike, chose the cash. They knew they wouldn’t receive it until the experiment ended weeks later, but they were still willing to pass up an immediate high.”

via Crack Addicts Make Surprisingly Rational Decisions, Fascinating Study Reveals | Alternet.

A Free (Rigged) Market is Good for Everyone Except 99% of Americans

Posted in economics by ittecon on September 16, 2013

A nice piece by Paul Buchheit.

Free-market libertarians go to outrageous exremes to convince themselves and others of the infallibility of the market. Even when opposing evidence smacks them in the face, they conjure up sound bites that seem vaguely convincing but are in reality meaningless. Here are some examples.

via A Free Rigged Market is Good for Everyone Except 99% of Americans.

State of Innovation: Busting the Private-Sector Myth

Posted in economics by ittecon on September 2, 2013

IMAGES of tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are continually thrown at us by politicians, economists and the media. The message is that innovation is best left in the hands of these individuals and the wider private sector, and that the state – bureaucratic and sluggish – should keep out. A telling 2012 article in The Economist claimed that, to be innovative, governments must “stick to the basics” such as spending on infrastructure, education and skills, leaving the rest to the revolutionary garage tinkerers.

Yet it is ideology, not evidence, that fuels this image. A quick look at the pioneering technologies of the past century points to the state, not the private sector, as the most decisive player in the game.

via State of innovation: Busting the private-sector myth – opinion – 26 August 2013 – New Scientist.

China’s American Bailout?

Posted in economics by ittecon on August 26, 2013

The twenty-first-century economy has thus far been shaped by capital flows from China to the United States – a pattern that has suppressed global interest rates, helped to reflate the developed world’s leverage bubble, and, through its impact on the currency market, fueled China’s meteoric rise. But these were no ordinary capital flows. Rather than being driven by direct or portfolio investment, they came primarily from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), as it amassed $3.5 trillion in foreign reserves – largely US Treasury securities.

via China’s American Bailout? by Alexander Friedman – Project Syndicate.

Chomsky: The US Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy

Posted in economics by ittecon on August 19, 2013

The role of the PR industry in elections is explicitly to undermine the school-child version of democracy. What you learn in school is that democracies are based on informed voters making rational decisions. All you have to do is take a look at an electoral campaign run by the PR industry and see that the purpose is to create uninformed voters who will make irrational decisions. For the PR industry that’s a very easy transition from their primary function. Their primary function is commercial advertising. Commercial advertising is designed to undermine markets. If you took an economics course you learned that markets are based on informed consumers making rational choices. If you turn on the TV set, you see that ads are designed to create irrational, uninformed consumers making irrational choices. The whole purpose is to undermine markets in the technical sense.

via Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy — www.salon.com — Readability.

The Revolving Door of Wall Street

Posted in economics by ittecon on July 24, 2013

When he left his role as Wall Street’s top federal enforcer, Robert S. Khuzami began a long courtship with a who’s who of the legal world.

The calls rolled in from financial giants like Visa and Bridgewater, and from white-shoe law firms, like WilmerHale. Some offered outsize paydays, others promised an office not only in New York but also in Washington, where his family lives. They all wanted the benefit of his experience as a terrorism prosecutor and enforcement chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Six months later, lawyers briefed on the matter say, Mr. Khuzami has accepted a job that pays more than $5 million a year at Kirkland & Ellis, one of the nation’s biggest corporate law firms. In doing so, he is following the quintessential Washington script: an influential government insider becoming a paid advocate for industries he once policed.

via A Legal Bane of Wall Street Switches Sides – NYTimes.com.

Putting China’s Low Household Consumption in Perspective

Posted in economics, International Economics by ittecon on July 22, 2013

It is widely known that China needs to rebalance its economy to rely more on consumption, but the extent of China’s imbalance between consumption and investment is not fully appreciated.  Comparisons to other emerging markets and countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Korea that pioneered the East Asian growth model show that China’s low levels of consumption are unparalleled.

via Putting China’s Low Household Consumption in Perspective | NewAmerica.net.

 

This is an article from 2011, but it was mentioned by Paul Krugman’s latest post.