Economics

68 articles
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The growth of an immersive universe that is “part game and part soap opera and part shadow economy.”

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How the biker gang makes money.

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On the staff of a Trader Joe’s in New York City.

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The Buckeye State’s fortunes and the fight for credit.

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When jobs vanish, Southern men find new ways to contribute.

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"Before I met Ayn Rand, I was a logical positivist, and accordingly, I didn’t believe in absolutes, moral or otherwise. If I couldn’t prove a proposition with facts and figures, it was without merit. In the midst of a conversation, she said to me, “Do I understand the thrust of your position? You are not certain you exist?” I hesitated a moment, and I said, “I can’t be sure.” And she then said to me, “And who, by chance, is answering that question?” With that little exchange, she undermined the philosophical structure I had built for myself. "
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What one woman spends in a year.

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The history of the The City of London Corporation, a “prehistoric monster which had mysteriously survived into the modern world.”

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On (not) getting by in America.

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The evolution of currency as “a complete abstraction.”

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How Wall Street thoroughly dominated Obama’s economic policy.

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A look at Apple stores, where jobs are high stress, with low pay and little opportunity for advancement.

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How technological progress slowed from its 20th-century peak, why we’ve shifted from changing reality to simply simulating reality, and whether capitalism is the true culprit.

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A profile of life in Owsley County, one of the poorest in the country.

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With flash, hip-hop echoes rock’s golden age.

When rock was at its peak in 1972, Americans earning the equivalent of $1m a year took just over 1 per cent of national income. In 2010, this group’s share of national income had grown to almost 10 per cent. At the same time, the average tax paid by these top earners almost halved. The rise of Jay-Z’s “new black elite” reflects the growth in numbers of the super-wealthy. But the opulence that he and West flaunt also reflects the growing estrangement of those at the top from the rest.

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In the early ’90s, American Airlines began selling lifetime passes for unlimited first-class travel. It hasn’t worked out well for the airline.

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The infuriating tale of Muncie, Indiana: When public institutions fail.

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On competing in the High School Fed Challenge Championship as "Ed Gramlich":
A team of five students prepares and presents a 15-minute analysis of the US economy, recommends a course of action with respect to interest rates, and then withstands a 10-minute question-and-answer period from a panel of Federal Reserve economists. To prepare for the competition, students look at the same economic indicators and the same forces influencing the economy that our nation's economic leaders examine. And to lend extra verisimilitude to the whole proceeding, competitors are also advised, as we were, to act out the parts of real members of the Federal Open Market Committee.
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Matt Taibbi on Thomas Friedman.

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A fiction writer buys and loses a house in Oakland.

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On a press junket in Ecuador, the author investigates the ethics of shopping.

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A profile of the Bronx immigrant family on the other end of your Chinese takeout menu.

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People know Krugman these days as a feisty political polemicist, but back when he was less politically engaged he was absolutely one of the very finest popularizers of economic ideas ever. This piece is a wonderful, brief introduction to the fundamental economic forces driving the world and a lot of my current thinking is preoccupied with the questions it raises. Reading it again, I realized that a point I like to make about the elevator being a great mass transit technology is almost certainly something I subconsciously picked up here.

-M. Yglesias

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Last Fall, America’s favorite focus drug suddenly went into short supply.

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How an industry that couldn’t miss did just that.

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The story of Standard Motor Products, a 92-year-old family-run auto parts manufacturer, and the transformation of the U.S. manufacturing industry.

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Lessons learned about white-collar crime from an economist turned bagel salesman whose business relied entirely on the honor system.

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On switching to the gold standard and a trip to the Yukon to witness the modern gold rush.

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After decades of failed revitalization strategies, a town of 10,000 tries another.

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How the Mosley Motel, off U.S. 19 in Florida, became the temporary home to at least 27 families turned away from full shelters.

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A pub’s-eye view of Ireland’s recent run of leaders.

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A breakdown of the early 80s homeless epidemic.

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The absurd scale of McDonald’s’ economics suggests a company more like a commodity trader than a chain of restaurants.

At this volume, and with the impermanence of the sandwich, it only makes sense for McDonald’s to treat the sandwich as a sort of arbitrage strategy: at both ends of the product pipeline, you have a good being traded at such large volume that we might as well forget that one end of the pipeline is hogs and corn and the other end is a sandwich. McDonald’s likely doesn’t think in these terms, and neither should you.

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On a pair of Israeli psychologists who between 1971 and 1984 “published a series of quirky papers exploring the ways human judgment may be distorted when we are making decisions in conditions of uncertainty.”

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The world’s fastest growing economy isn’t China; it’s the “unheralded alternative economic universe of System D” aka the $10 trillion global black market.

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How Warren Buffett’s public image has aided his success.

As a successful investor, he merely moved markets; but as the charismatic, reassuring, quotable prototype of the honest capitalist (a sort of J. P. Morgan with a moral sense), he's capable of influencing elections, galvanizing rock-concert-size crowds, and in general defining how we Americans feel about the system that underlies our wealth.

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On the current state of the global economy and the inevitable decline of the U.K. and the U.S.:

A decade-long slowdown would accelerate this shift in global wealth and power and would be a grim thing to live through, but from a world-historical perspective it might not be a game-changer: it might just be the non-scenic route to the place we’re going anyway.

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On Bitcoin, the world’s first “decentralized digital currency.”

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What it means to be an entrepreneur in Argentina, where economic crashes are a way of life.

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A field trip to the video gamey world of the modern trader.

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How slot machines snuck into the mall, along with money laundering, bribery, shootouts, and billions in profits.

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At times, Mr. Hsieh comes across as an alien who has studied human beings in order to live among them.

A profile of the Zappos CEO.

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Five years after they leave the league, 60 percent of NBA players have nothing left. In the NFL, it’s closer to 80 percent after just two years. On the economics of professional sports.

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Immigrant farmers are flocking to the poultry industry -- only to become 21st-century sharecroppers for companies like Tyson.
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In the late ’80s, Lewis went to Japan to research a hypothetical: what would the economic fallout be if a major quake hit?

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On who will bear the burden of the financial crisis facing cities across America. “Will it be articulated in terms of bond defaults or larger kindergarten classes—or no kindergarten classes at all?”

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A profile of Jack Dorsey, co-founder (and displaced CEO) of Twitter. Dorsey’s latest venture, a mobile credit card system called Square that only officially launched in February 2011, already processes more than a million transactions per day.

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Relative to the total national income, American corporations are making more money than they have since 1947. The connection behind soaring profits and stagnant unemployment.

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A primer on income inequality in America.

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A newly minted, 34-year-old White House budget director gets a little too candid with a reporter profiling him during Ronald Reagan’s first year in office. Among Stockman’s many admissions: “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”

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On the group of friends who came to rule the bizarre, decreasingly lucrative world of Internet porn.

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How a nation went bankrupt. “Ireland’s regress is especially unsettling because of the questions it raises about Ireland’s former progress: even now no one is quite sure why the Irish suddenly did so well for themselves in the first place.”

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Obama’s presidency may well be defined by whether or not he can curb unemployment. Step One: find a decent idea.

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How the dream of the Euro became a nightmare.

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An archaeology of debt.

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The world’s population is rapidly getting older. How China and other countries stocked with young workers are taking advantage.

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Not only is the penny useless, it costs the U.S. Treasury $50 million per year. So why is it still around?

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A series on the growing income inequality gap in America.

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Riots in Athens, the shadowy Vatopaidi monastery, and a quarter million dollars in debt for every citizen. Welcome to Greece.

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A reporter heads to Nauru, a tiny island nation in the Pacific, to track down the hub of a worldwide money-laundering operation—a shack filled with computers, air-conditioners, and little else.

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A profile of Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the sixth-highest paid lobbyist in the country. Since Obama took office, Donohue has scared-up tens of millions in new donations.

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What exactly is going on politically in Thailand?

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A first person account of the cigarette based market for services and goods within a WWII P.O.W. camp.

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Paul Krugman breaks down the basics of climate change economics, from Arthur Cecil Pigou to Capitol Hill.