10 Weekend Reads

That was some week! Pour yourself some slow brewed java, and kick back with our longer form weekend reads:

• The Machine that Changed the World: Computers and modern finance entered the world together (Economic Principals)
• The Market Impact of Passive Trading (Research Affiliates)
• Will Advances in Technology Create a Jobless Future? (MIT Technology Review)
• The abridged history of Disney, 2015–2040 AD (The Verge)
• The Donald Has Landed – Deal With It (Time)
• Stephen Colbert on Making The Late Show His Own (GQ)
• A Bank for People Who Hate Banks (Bloomberg)
• Will the Pope Change the Vatican? Or Will the Vatican Change the Pope? (Nat Geo)
• Just Below the Surface: Dubious wilderness, cutthroat business, and human casualties in the war over the fabled Californian Oyster. (Long Reads)
• Price for TSA’s failed body scanners: $160 million. How bad are the machines at catching threats? So bad that Sen. Ron Johnson suggests adding metal detectors. (Politico)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver.


Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. RW commented on Aug 22

    Is Government Debt Too Low?

    Government debt has skyrocketed since the financial crisis, and now tops 100% of GDP on average in rich countries. Is that too high? Oddly, it may not be high enough. ….

  2. RW commented on Aug 22

    Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the Lack of Profits

    Profits are independent of investment decisions, at least if a company is not engaged in accounting fraud. Amazon may have kept prices low to expand market share, thereby depriving itself of profits, but then it doesn’t have money to plow back either. It is very hard to make sense of the assertion that Amazon somehow doesn’t have profits because it is re-investing, although if it gets not very bright market actors to believe it, Amazon’s share price can continue to rise.

    It is also important to note the big handout that Amazon has relied upon from taxpayers. ….

  3. swag commented on Aug 22

    How Do We Get People to Care About Climate Change?

    “Since we have a pretty good understanding of the barriers, that is a good place to start. We need to flip the barriers over so they become successful strategies. Rather than something distant, communicators need to make climate change feel like something that is near, personal, and urgent. Rather than doom, we need to emphasize the opportunities that the crisis affords us.

    Climate change is an opportunity for economic development — an entire energy system has to be redesigned from the wastefulness of the previous century to a much smarter mode of doing things. It’s a great opportunity to improve global collaboration and knowledge sharing and to create a more just society. So climate change is a fantastic opportunity to encourage our global humanity to emerge. We need to be talking about this.”


    • DeDude commented on Aug 23

      Sorry Bill Moyers you are a wonderful human being, but also a little clueless. Things like “improve global collaboration” and “encourage our global humanity” is not going to sell with that crowd. I agree with the general strategic idea of playing on their playground. But it has to be with their rules. Yes there can be profits in alternative energy, but they will never just “forget” that it is also a direct threat to their carbon profits. The corporate GOPsters will always resist. But you may be able to sell alternative energy to their “freedom” loving poor white base. Unhooking from the utility company and becoming independent of society, with respect to energy, has a real strong appeal to those people. If it also can save them some money it will be an easy sell. That is how you get people moved into alternative energy even if they are ideologically against it.

  4. GeorgeBurnsWasRight commented on Aug 22

    Your graph of the Chinese labor force participation resembles that of the US. IMO this is a strong argument against most explanations I have read that try to explain the US decline on various government policies, since the actions of our government and the Chinese government have been very different.

  5. Jojo commented on Aug 22

    The Genesis Engine
    We now have the power to quickly and easily alter DNA. It could eliminate disease,. It could solve world hunger. It could provide unlimited energy. It could really get out of hand.

    By Amy Maxmen
    August 2015


  6. Jojo commented on Aug 22

    Great idea!
    This isn’t just a product
    It’s a social movement

    Our Product
    Sustainable and cost effective ecologically designed lamp powered by “tap water” and “table salt!”


  7. RW commented on Aug 22

    A fascinating read even if you don’t buy the story about leading lights of the freshwater economic school rejecting Keynesian theory because Bob Solow looked at them funny. Solow is an interesting figure in macroeconomics for a number of reasons but in this context he raises a point about debate that seems as important as it is neglected; it’s about priors viz

    …I tend to react to many situations by making jokes. …Sometimes I think it’s a flaw in my character, and I ought to fight it. But there’s another side too. Suppose someone sits down …and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon. Now, Bob Lucas and Tom Sargent like nothing better than to get drawn into technical discussions, because then you have tacitly gone along with their fundamental assumptions; your attention is attracted away from the basic weakness of the whole story. Since I find that fundamental framework ludicrous, I respond by treating it as ludicrous–that is, by laughing at it–so as not to fall into the trap of taking it seriously and passing on to matters of technique. (Solow, R. in Conversations with economists, 1984 p.146)

    NB: up until the Great Recession, Lucas and other devotees of neoclassical economics were probably quite convinced they’d had the last laugh on Solow but that’s all changed now.

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