Category Archives: Econ & Money

Soon We’re All (Economic) Robots

Uber 2.0: Human Self-Driving Cars on Stratechery by Ben Thompson is the most interesting thing I’ve read about Uber in some time. Maybe ever.

Posted in So-called Sharing Economy | Leave a comment

Something-ization of Society Continues (Luxe)


Should I call this phenomenon “Uberization” or “TaskRabbitization”? The first is catchier, the second maybe more accurate. Whatever it is, it’s deeply classist and to some apparently devilishly useful.

Also, I note the existence of an AirBnB web aesthetic developing here, in which certain kinds of companies have these scary good graphics — with no visible lines separating text from the fills-most-of-your-monitor video. And the videos depict somewhat-nicer-than-normal people using the stuff they are pushing. Spooky. And runs on a pretty long loop.

Posted in Econ & Money, So-called Sharing Economy | Leave a comment

Sounds Familiar?

reserve-armyBrad DeLong reprints this chart from Elise Gould, Prime-Age Employment-to-Population Ratio Remains Terribly Depressed. He also quotes the explanation,

The green circle shows the slow climb as the recovery began to take hold…. Then, early this year, the EPOP stalled out (see the red circled region)…. July’s rate of 77.1 percent is still below the last two troughs.

Isn’t this econo-speak for what someone — what was his name? — used to call the “reserve army of the unemployed”?

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

‘Interocular Trauma Econometrics’


Daniel Davis notes that “[t]he sort of thing that generates the difficult cases for liberal political philosophy – increases in inequality which nevertheless benefited the worst-off, which would have showed up as a southwest-to-northeast upward slope – never happened.”

The other things that jump out is that Callaghan made people more equal while somewhat benefiting the poorest. And Thatcher made things much less equal while not benefiting the poor at all. And her recasting of Britain into a much-less-equal society sure has endured through every government since. Blair increased the incomes of the poorest, but didn’t lay a glove on inequality.

Chart created by Tom Forth.

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

This Graph Should be on T-Shirts


Source: Fig. A of Lawrence Mishel, The Wedges Between Productivity And Median Compensation Growth. (Spotted via emptywheel.)

Note that the data represents growth of real hourly compensation for production/nonsupervisory workers vs. productivity, 1948-2011. These workers represent more then 80% of the labor force; the productivity number is for the entire economy. I do not think anyone serious would argue that the lion’s share of productivity gains were achieved only by supervisory and highly-paid workers. If there has been such a revolution in CEO skills, it has certainly been well hidden. (Note that if much of the gain is due to capital, or changes in technology, there is no reason why it should not be shared any less equally among workers as it had in the past).

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

NYT Upshot Agrees

Euro Crisis: The Greek Deal Is a Disaster for Greece, and Maybe for Europe:

On Monday, there was yet another deal. But this time it is one that pushes Greece into the abyss, even if financial markets don’t acknowledge it just yet and even if what happens next is deeply uncertain.

…Just a week ago, its voters overwhelmingly rejected a bailout offer that was less punitive than the one its leaders just accepted.

Yet the deal that Greek leaders and their creditors reached Monday morning after a brutal series of overnight talks promise to deepen political and economic strains in a country already in depression.

And this, oh yes this:

France “won” in the sense that the unraveling of the eurozone did not happen on July 13, 2015. But it came at the cost of policies that make it less likely that will be the case one, six, or 12 months from now.

If this counts as a victory for the European project, it is hard to imagine what a defeat would look like.

Why are the financial markets up on this? Gangrene is better than amputation? Why should the stock markets be happy that bond vultures were (temporarily) saved at the expense of the real economy?

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | 1 Comment

The Bonds of July

The sources of the Europe/Greek disaster are plain, and quickly seen in these two short posts:

Kevin Drum, Europe’s Message to Greece: Don’t Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out, summarizes just how much Germany et al have demanded of Greece, including this excellent quote from that bastion of anarcho-liberalism, the Wall Street Journal:

Sunday’s statement on Greece by eurozone finance ministers will go down as one of the most brutal diplomatic démarches in the history of the European Union, a bloc built to foster peace and harmony that is now publicly threatening one of its own with ruination unless it surrenders.

….The other 18 euro members were late Sunday pushing Greece to implement all of the austerity measures and broader economic overhauls its voters have twice rejected—in elections in January and in a referendum on July 5—not in return for new rescue loans, but as a precondition for even talking about them.

Not that there isn’t plenty of blame to go round to the Greek side also, as Yves Smith reminds us in “Greece Brought a Latte to a Gunfight”:

Yanis appears to have assumed that he could grasp the European light on the hill and persuade with elegant reason all of Europe to embrace enlightened super-national consciousness. He’s been genteelly sipping lattes at a gunfight and by doing so has played right into realist German hands by destroying his country’s economy as an example to all other European ‘dead beats’.

There is nothing new here. Yanis has simply been outplayed. When it was elected, Syriza either had to sign up to new terms of austerity or immediately leave the euro. It’s stylish five month congress with Europe has ruined its economy to no purpose of its own given it will either now buckle under to even deeper austerity or will still be forced out of the euro, taking its economy from wrecked to destroyed.

As for me, either Europe will provide subsidies under the table and quickly (unlikely!) or I still say that Grexit is coming.

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | Leave a comment