Economics

69 articles
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Money ≠ Happiness. QED.

The old axiom that more is better is no longer true.

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Multiplayer Game 'Eve Online' Cultivates a Most Devoted Following

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

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The Hells Angels' Devilish Business

How the biker gang makes money.

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The Supermarket of Struggling Artists

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

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Did Barack Obama Save Ohio?

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

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Who Wears the Pants in This Economy?

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

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Alan Greenspan on His Fed Legacy and the Economy

"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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The Economics of Serial Dating: A Case Study

What one woman spends in a year.

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The Tax Haven in the Heart of Britain

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

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Nickel and Dimed

On (not) getting by in America.

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A Brief History of Money

The evolution of currency as “a complete abstraction.”

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Getting Away with It

How Wall Street thoroughly dominated Obama’s economic policy.

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Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay

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

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Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit

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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Pressing On the Upward Way

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

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Word on the Suite

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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The Frequent Fliers Who Flew Too Much

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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In Nothing We Trust

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

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I Was a Teenage Gramlich

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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Flathead

Matt Taibbi on Thomas Friedman.

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Housed

A fiction writer buys and loses a house in Oakland.

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Buy the Right Thing

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

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Takeout Story

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

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White Collars Turn Blue

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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Anatomy of the Great Adderall Drought

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

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Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust

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

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Making It in America

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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What the Bagel Man Saw

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

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In Gold We Trust

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

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Now That the Factories Are Closed, It’s Tee Time in Benton Harbor, Mich.

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

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For families without options, that cheap motel may be their last resort

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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Letter from Dublin

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

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Homeless in America

A breakdown of the early 80s homeless epidemic.

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A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage

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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The King of Human Error

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 Shadow Superpower

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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American Everyman

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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The Non-Scenic Route to the Place We’re Going Anyway

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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Virtual Currency

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

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A Constant Feeling of Crisis

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

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On the Floor Laughing

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

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The Casino Next Door

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

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Why Is This Man Smiling?

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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How and (Why) Athletes Go Broke

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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The Serfs of Arkansas

Immigrant farmers are flocking to the poultry industry -- only to become 21st-century sharecroppers for companies like Tyson.
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How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street and the World Economy

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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Broke Town, U.S.A.

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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Twitter Was Act One

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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Business Is Booming

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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The Inequality That Matters

A primer on income inequality in America.

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The Education of David Stockman

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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The Geek-Kings of Smut

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

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When Irish Eyes Are Crying

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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The White House Looks for Work

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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Can Europe Be Saved?

How the dream of the Euro became a nightmare.

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To Have Is to Owe

An archaeology of debt.

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As Nations Age, a Chance for Younger Nations

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

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Penny Dreadful

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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The Great Divergence

A series on the growing income inequality gap in America.

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Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

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

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The Billion-Dollar Shack

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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Show Him the Money

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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Thoughts on Thailand

What exactly is going on politically in Thailand?

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The Economics of a P.O.W. Camp

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

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Building a Green Economy

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