Tag Archives: economy

David Graeber: “Spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded”

As anyone who’s ever had a 9-to-5 job knows, the thing everyone hates the most is having to look busy, even once you’ve finished a job, just to make the boss happy, because it’s “his time” and you have no business lounging around even if there’s nothing you really need to be doing. Now it’s almost as if that kind of business is the most valued form of work, because it’s pure work, work unpolluted by any possible sort of gratification, even that gratification that comes out of knowing you’re actually doing something. And every time there’s some kind of crisis, it intensifies. We’re told, oh no! We’re all going to have to work harder. And since the amount of things that actually need doing remain about the same, there’s an additional hypertrophy of bullshit.

more on salon.com.

Interview with one of the initiators of the Occupy movement. Work, leisure and why the American working class still votes right.

British immigration: You’re welcome

But if our leaders were wrong a decade ago about the number of Poles and other east Europeans who would come to Britain, they are more wrong now about their effect on the country. Politicians claim they are a burden on public services already stretched thin by austerity. Nonsense: being young and able-bodied, they don’t use them much. And because they contribute more to the Treasury in taxes than they take out in benefits and services—about 35% more, according to a plausible estimate—they save our schools and hospitals from deeper cuts. They don’t depress wages much, and mostly among other immigrant workers. They make our economy bigger, lowering our debt-to-GDP ratio. If you are even remotely like them, you will be an economic boon.

more on economist.com.

The Economist goes against the current popular opinion in Britain and encourages more immigration to the country.

Lexington: The American Dream, RIP?

It describes a future largely stripped of middling jobs and broad prosperity. An elite 10-15% of Americans will have the brains and self-discipline to master tomorrow’s technology and extract profit from it, he speculates. They will enjoy great wealth and stimulating lives. Others will endure stagnant or even falling wages, as employers measure their output with “oppressive precision”. Some will thrive as service-providers to the rich. A few will claw their way into the elite (cheap online education will be a great leveller), bolstering the idea of a “hyper-meritocracy” at work: this “will make it easier to ignore those left behind”.

more on economist.com.

An idea for a series of bestselling books: take cyberpunk novels of William Gibson from 1980s and rewrite them as non-fiction set in the present or near future.

Northern lights

Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.

more on economist.com.

Nordic model is not necessary such a welfare state as it is typically thought to be.

How a clever player with a “useless” item almost took down EVE Online’s entire economy

No one knew what was going on, but the market was obviously being manipulated in some way. They put their full-time economists on the job to try to figure out what the hell was going on. “So we’ve now had to go and fix that. Our players are devious, and they will find ways to mess with our systems, and we’ll often have no idea,” Lander said. They finally had to close the loophole, much to the dismay of the characters who were quickly getting rich by blowing up ships with nearly worthless items.

The story makes me wonder how much different from virtual currencies are the “real” ones like dollars or euros. Not much, I’m afraid.

HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering

State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.

While a fine of $1.92 billion is something to be reckon with, the company will not face criminal charges as it could undermine the financial system. In other words: the company is too be big to indict.

If that doesn’t sound horrifying, then I don’t know what does.

French taxes: Adieu Obélix

Amid the acrimony, the underlying problem has got lost. France’s tax take, of 44% of GDP, is ten points above the OECD average. Mr Hollande has not only brought in a new 75% top income-tax rate, on top of the wealth tax, but is taxing investment income so heavily that some are getting negative returns. The best defence of Mr Depardieu is his own: “Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love for life, I am a free man.

Just today Hollande’s publicity stunt was overturned by the French Constitutional Council. I wonder if it will make the millionaires come back.

Also, it’s the first ever news from France that made it to this blog.

Is apathy the new Black Death?

People in Spain (and Italy and other Southern European countries) are firmly rooted with their families. That is nice and all but when everything comes crashing down where you currently are, you have to be able to leave. It is a globalized world, there is work, education, opportunities in other places and you have to seize them. Young people (esp. men) live with their parents at least until after graduation sometimes until well into their 30s. [2] has some really current numbers: 51% of students in Spain and 73%(!) in Italy still live with their parents. This is fully unheard of for people in Germany or the UK for example where it is only 24% and even much less in Scandinavia with Denmark being the absolute extreme with 4%. Everybody in these places longs to move out at 18 directly after school. If you do not have the money, you work while being in university and relinquish other amenities first. On a side note: As a man you are zero boyfriend material there if you still live with your mother.
more on quora.com

A perspective on the crisis, from Spain.

The American economy: Comeback kid

Nonetheless, in the past three years that repair has proceeded fast. America’s houses are now among the world’s most undervalued: 19% below fair value, according to our house-price index. And because the Treasury and other regulators, unlike their euro-zone counterparts, chose to confront the rot in their financial system quickly, American banks have had to write off debts and raise equity faster than their peers. (Citigroup alone has flushed through some $143 billion of loan losses; no euro-zone bank has set aside more than $30 billion.) American capital ratios are among the world’s highest. And consumers have cut back, too: debts are now 114% of income.

Yes, 114% is actually good, it’s down from 133% in 2007.

The Downside of Liberty

People on the political right have blamed the late ’60s for what they loathe about contemporary life — anything-goes sexuality, cultural coarseness, multiculturalism. And people on the left buy into that, seeing only the ’60s legacies of freedom that they define as progress. But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967. Thanks to the ’60s, we are all shamelessly selfish.
more on nytimes.com

Interesting perspective on the common origin of modern social and economical individualism.