In modern culture, there are people at the height of their health and strength who shy away from contact with those who are frail, vulnerable and close to mortality; such people might think that by living that way, they are staying vibrantly alive, but really they are spiritually dead.
What is more, a minimum wage is not free. Someone must pay. The common refrain that companies will shoulder the burden is the product of hope rather than evidence. If the cost is passed on to consumers, the minimum wage turns into a subsidy funded by a sales tax?a revenue-raiser that, again, falls heavily on the poor.
By moving towards sharply higher minimum wages, policymakers are accelerating into a fog. Little is known about the long-run effects of modest minimum wages. And nobody knows what big rises will do, at any time horizon. It is reckless to assume that because low minimum wages have seemed harmless, much larger ones must be, too. One danger is that a high minimum wage will push some workers out of the labour force for good. A building worker who loses his job in a recession can expect to find a new one when the economy picks up. A cashier with few skills who, following the introduction of a high minimum wage, becomes permanently more expensive than a self-service checkout machine will have no such luck.
The British government?s defence of its new policy?that a strong economy will generate enough jobs to replace those lost to a higher minimum wage?is disingenuous: the jobs are still lost. That is why Milton Friedman described minimum wages as a form of discrimination against the low-skilled.
Startups used to face difficult choices about when to invest in large and lumpy assets such as property and computer systems. Today they can expand very fast by buying in services as and when they need them. They can incorporate online for a few hundred dollars, raise money from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, hire programmers from Upwork, rent computer-processing power from Amazon, find manufacturers on Alibaba, arrange payments systems at Square, and immediately set about conquering the world.
In a sense, searching for a mate is not so different from hunting for a job. Jobs, like prospective partners, have their strengths and weaknesses, which makes finding the right one a matter of complicated trade-offs. Such exchanges are different from other transactions, in that both parties must be enthusiastic about the match for it to happen. A supermarket, in contrast, does not particularly care whose wallet it is draining, nor does the power company agonize about whether a customer is worthy of its watts.
No one disputes that the European Union has a ?democratic deficit?: a lack of direct accountability to voters. Citizens are often unaware of how the commission and the European Parliament function, or of which groupings their parties belong to. But that is largely because making things simpler would require pooling politics in one European arena, and the politicians and citizens of different European countries do not want to do that.
There is no common European people to act as the subject of democratic politics, and different nations do not trust each other enough to create one...Eurosceptics have a valid case against the EU, but not because its leaders are ?unelected bureaucrats?. Rather, its bureaucrats are too insulated from democracy, and its democracy is not functioning well enough without a common demos to make it work.
Employers may struggle to tell which job candidates are best. Mr Spence showed that top workers might signal their talents to firms by collecting gongs, like college degrees. Crucially, this only works if the signal is credible: if low-productivity workers found it easy to get a degree, then they could masquerade as clever types.
Signalling helps explain what happened when Washington and those other states stopped firms from obtaining job-applicants? credit scores. Credit history is a credible signal: it is hard to fake, and, presumably, those with good credit scores are more likely to make good employees than those who default on their debts. Messrs Clifford and Shoag found that when firms could no longer access credit scores, they put more weight on other signals, like education and experience. Because these are rarer among disadvantaged groups, it became harder, not easier, for them to convince employers of their worth.
Signalling explains all kinds of behavior...The car insurer must offer two deals, making sure that each attracts only the customers it is designed for. The trick is to offer one pricey full-insurance deal, and an alternative cheap option with a sizable deductible. Risky drivers will balk at the deductible, knowing that there is a good chance they will end up paying it when they claim. They will fork out for expensive coverage instead. Safe drivers will tolerate the high deductible and pay a lower price for what coverage they do get.
Adverse selection has a cousin. Insurers have long known that people who buy insurance are more likely to take risks. Someone with home insurance will check their smoke alarms less often; health insurance encourages unhealthy eating and drinking. Economists first cottoned on to this phenomenon of ?moral hazard? when Kenneth Arrow wrote about it in 1963.
So, another option is to pay ?efficiency wages?. Mr Stiglitz and Carl Shapiro, another economist, showed that firms might pay premium wages to make employees value their jobs more highly. This, in turn, would make them less likely to shirk their responsibilities, because they would lose more if they were caught and got fired. That insight helps to explain a fundamental puzzle in economics: when workers are unemployed but want jobs, why don?t wages fall until someone is willing to hire them? An answer is that above-market wages act as a carrot, the resulting unemployment, a stick.
Chernobyl is also a monument to the extinction of Soviet civilisation. As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, reflected years later, the meltdown, ?even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.? It was a catalyst for glasnost, the opening-up of the Soviet media, which exposed the flaws of the Soviet system and set off the chain reaction that led to its ultimate destruction.
Mr Nadella wants LinkedIn to become the place to go for news and other details about people?s work lives, but firms are unlikely to want to give their employees more of an excuse to spend time on social media. Some bosses regard LinkedIn with hostility because it makes money from recruiters out to poach their staff. They will not want to let LinkedIn further embed itself at their companies. Already some large firms block or restrict access to LinkedIn on their networks. Users may also grow uncomfortable if Microsoft deploys their data elsewhere and could stop using the service. Mr Nadella has acknowledged they will have to treat what they know about users ?tastefully?.
Israel has never used its reactors for generating electricity. Along with America, Russia and China, Israel is one of the few countries believed to have mastered the nuclear ?triad?. It can deliver nuclear weapons as bombs dropped from an aircraft, as warheads on a land-launched missile (since the 1970s) and on missiles fired from submarines.
Nuclear experts estimate that Israel has between 80 and 200 warheads, more than enough to deter would-be attackers. The dilemma facing Israel is whether to close the ageing reactor that helped build them. If it does, it would be unlikely to get the materials needed to build a new one, since it has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which came into force in 1970.
For nearly six decades, Israel?s policy of ?nuclear opacity? has served it well. Its Arab neighbors are convinced it is a nuclear power, but Israel clings to the ambiguous formulation that it ?will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region?, neither acknowledging nor denying its capabilities. With powerful neighbors still openly advocating its destruction, the Jewish state will keep its doomsday weapons.
Mr Nadella has suggested that with LinkedIn, Microsoft will become the platform for managing workers? personal details from around the web. He also promises that Microsoft will become better at predicting what information users might find useful, suggesting news articles related to a project someone is working on or recommending a friend of a friend online who might be able to help an employee with a task at work. In this vision, LinkedIn?s ?newsfeed? will become a focus for information-sharing at the office.
The transformative power of smartphones comes from their size and connectivity. Size makes them the first truly personal computers. The phone takes the processing power of yesterday?s supercomputers?even the most basic model has access to more number--crunching capacity than NASA had when it put men on the Moon in 1969 - and applies it to ordinary human interactions.
The same phones that allow governments to spy on their citizens also record the brutality of officials and spread information and dissenting opinions. They feed the demand for autonomy and help protest movements to coalesce. A device that hands so much power to the individual has the potential to challenge authoritarianism.
Smartphones are digital census- takers, creating a more detailed view of society than has ever existed before and doing so in real time. Governed by suitable regulations, anonymised personal data can be used, among many other things, to optimise traffic flows, prevent crime and fight epidemics.
As traditionally minded religions go, the Mormons bring a certain subtlety to their dealings with other faiths. They are relatively adept at showing sensitivity to the concerns of others but also quietly firm in sticking to their own beliefs and practices. The fact that they have strong and recent memories of being a marginal, persecuted faith probably helps.
Opponents of privacy legislation have long argued that the imposition of rules would keep technology companies from innovating. Yet as trust leaches out of the system, innovation is likely to suffer. If consumers fret about what smartphone apps may do with their data, fewer new offerings will take off?especially in artificial intelligence.
Criminals were among the earliest adopters of digital currencies. Regulation could help smoke them out by extending existing anti-money-laundering rules into the crypto-sphere (see article). The obvious targets are the exchanges where ordinary money is swapped for crypto and vice versa. Regulators should demand that these exchanges apply similar standards to those of banks. These include requiring identification from all customers and keeping a record of unusual transactions.
For Facebook to change in any meaningful way, Congress will have to change too. One of the most stunning revelations of the highly choreographed hearings was not anything Mr Zuckerberg said, but how little America?s politicians seemed to know about Facebook and the way the world of digital communications operates. There is little hope for smart regulation that will protect users? privacy until the people who would draft laws understand the ecosystem they need to tame.
As well as 22 pairs of matched chromosomes, female humans have two X chromosomes. Males have one X and a smaller Y. From this follow hormonal differences that shape female and male bodies, with most of the work done in the womb and during puberty. By every physical criterion?chromosomes, genitals, blood hormones, appearance?most people can easily be classified as one or the other.
...perhaps unsurprisingly for a state seen as a Petri dish for socially liberal policy, California?s new regulations are notably progressive. For a start, they allow residents convicted of drug offences that would not be crimes under the new order to have their records expunged.
Perhaps the best way of understanding bitcoin is through a model of how bubbles operate. The classic model, developed by Hyman Minsky and elaborated by Charles Kindleberger, a historian who studied bubbles, has five stages: displacement, boom, euphoria, financial distress and revulsion. The displacement is some technological development that can be used to justify a ?new era??railways, canals, the internet or blockchain. A boom then occurs and drags in more and more investors; at some stage, we reach euphoria, where the boom is widely known to the public and there is talk about those who made millions from the trade...In the euphoria stage, people buy because others are buying and because they anticipate being able to sell quickly at a higher price. For a while, this trend is self-reinforcing. At some stage, however, doubts set in; some people decide to take their profits while they can... In the euphoria stage, people buy because others are buying and because they anticipate being able to sell quickly at a higher price. For a while, this trend is self-reinforcing. At some stage, however, doubts set in; some people decide to take their profits while they can.
The rise of fake news and spread of filter bubbles, where people see their pre-conceptions reinforced online, have probably disillusioned many voters. Facebook has had a hand in spreading misinformation, terrorism and ethnic violence around the world. But it has also spurred civil engagement.
Whatever mothers do, it seems, they are expected to feel guilty about it. They also face a wage penalty as soon as they give birth. This is largely because mothers choose to work fewer hours, or in lower-paid but more child-friendly jobs, or not at all when their children are very young.
In a nutshell, Mr Christensen?s insight was that it is not stupidity that prevents great firms from foreseeing disruption but rather their supreme rationality. They do ?the right thing?, focusing on better products for their best and most profitable clients, often to the point of over-engineering (how many Mach and Fusion blades does a chin need?). But that is ?the wrong thing? if it blinds them to the threat from poorly capitalised upstarts offering cheaper stuff in markets too obscure to worry about. Such threats can swiftly turn existential if the rivals move upmarket and go for the jugular.
At least half of cross-border trade invoices are in dollars. That is five times America?s share of world goods imports, and three times its share of exports. The dollar is the preferred currency of central banks and capital markets, accounting for close to two-thirds of global securities issuance and foreign-exchange reserves. The world?s financial rhythm is American: when interest rates move or risk appetite on Wall Street shifts, global markets respond. The world?s financial plumbing has Uncle Sam?s imprint on it, too. Most international transactions are ultimately cleared in dollars through New York by American ?correspondent? banks.
All around the world, autocrats and would-be autocrats spy an unprecedented opportunity. Covid-19 is an emergency like no other. Governments need extra tools to cope with it. No fewer than 84 have enacted emergency laws vesting extra powers in the executive. In some cases these powers are necessary to fight the pandemic and will be relinquished when it is over. But in many cases they are not, and won?t be. The places most at risk are those where democracy?s roots are shallow and institutional checks are weak.
Fighting the virus requires finding out who is infected, tracing their contacts and quarantining them. That means more invasions of privacy than people would accept in normal times. Democracies with proper safeguards, like South Korea or Norway, will probably not abuse this power much. Regimes like China?s and Russia?s are eagerly deploying high-tech kit to snoop on practically everyone, and they are not alone.
Sam spade, the detective in ?The Maltese Falcon?, a crime novel by Dashiell Hammett, recounts a story of a missing-person case. Flitcraft, an everyman, is nearly killed by a falling beam. Confronted with the randomness of life, he decides?randomly?to vanish. After drifting for years, he settles into a new life much like his old one: marriage, kids, and golf at four. ?He adjusted himself to beams falling,? says Spade. ?And when no more of them fell, he adjusted himself to them not falling.?
Leaders like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King used vigorous protest and relentless argument to push society towards their vision of equality of opportunity and equality before the law. Most Americans still hew to that classical liberal ideal, as do many of those who marched with justified anger over the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis. But a dangerous rival approach has emerged from American universities. It rejects the liberal notion of progress. It defines everyone by their race, and every action as racist or anti-racist. It is not yet dominant, but it is dynamic and it is spreading out of the academy into newsrooms and boardrooms. If it supplants liberal values, then intimidation will chill open debate and sow division to the disadvantage of all, black and white.
Twitter is essentially a modern-day ?Speakers? Corner?, where anyone can hold forth and others can talk back. Social-media scholars refer to it as a one-to-many broadcast network. Facebook is at its core a one-to-one or one-to-a-few network, replicating social relationships of the sort between friends, family or colleagues. The difference may seem subtle, but it has several implications for the two firms? businesses. For starters, Facebook is able to gather more data about its users because they are more engaged with other users. This makes it easier to target ads. Facebook also benefits from stronger ?network effects?, meaning that each additional subscriber makes the service more useful for others, which attracts more subscribers, and so on. Twitter cannot rely on such a turbocharged engine of growth: while having friends is a human need, maintaining a soapbox is non-essential even for the world?s extroverts.
At first blush, Twitter and Facebook look similar. Each is a social network, connecting users online and presenting them with content in a ?feed?, a never-ending list of posts, pictures and videos of pets. Each makes money by selling advertising, and thus has an interest in using every trick to attract users? attention. And each employs gobbets of data gleaned from users? behavior to allow advertisers to hit targets precisely, for which they pay handsomely.
...in 2019 Facebook boasted nine times the users, 21 times the revenue and 12 times the profit of Twitter (see table). More importantly, the strong network effects are a prime asset that Facebook has defended vigorously: it has spent vast sums on buying firms it considers likely future competitors, such as Instagram, acquired in 2012 for $1bn, and WhatsApp, for which it paid $19bn in 2014.
...the pandemic has been a boon for many tech firms. The five big platforms?Alphabet?s Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft?have thrived as self-isolating consumers spend more time and money online, and firms splash out on cloud-computing services to enable remote working.
The simplest, rules-based way to take advantage of lower stock prices is portfolio rebalancing. An investor who holds a portfolio split 50-50 or 60-40 between shares and bonds sells the bonds that have gone up in price, as interest rates fall, to buy shares that have fallen in price, and are now cheaper. She does this once a month or once a quarter to keep the weights constant. A bolder group of investors keeps cash in reserve so they can take advantage of bargain prices when the markets have turned away from risky shares. ?There is a point when I say `this is getting interesting?,? says one investor. The threshold for ?interesting? is a fall of at least 20%. For deep-value investors, it might be 40%.
The history of modern computing is a constant struggle between decentralisers and recentralisers. In the 1980s the shift from mainframes to personal computers gave more power to individual users. Then Microsoft clawed back some of that power around its proprietary operating system. More recently, open-source software, which users can download for nothing and adapt to their needs, took over from proprietary programs in parts of the industry?only to be reappropriated by giant technology firms to run their mobile operating systems (as Google does with Android) or cloud-computing data centres (including those operated by Amazon, Microsoft and Google).
One worry is the lack of an external anchor of value. Cryptocurrencies are no different from the dollar, in that they rely on people having a shared expectation of their utility. However, conventional money is also backed by states with a monopoly on force and central banks that are lenders of last resort. Without these, DeFi will be vulnerable to panics. Contract enforcement outside the virtual world is also a concern. A blockchain contract may say you own a house but only the police can enforce an eviction.
And the absence of cash constraints can spoil a promising startup. If it blows a lot of money on marketing, the resulting growth can distract the founders from underlying faults with the product. Telling a good story is vital in the startup business. But there is a danger in believing your own fairy tales.
The secret to showing appreciation is that scarcity matters. It should involve effort: a handwritten note is better than an email, which is better than an algorithm. It should feel personal, not part of a scheme cooked up by the human-resources department. And it should be sufficiently rare to register as meaningful; thanking everyone for everything turns gratitude into a commodity. In other words, appreciation is not a big-data project. Individual managers can harness the power of small gestures to make a real difference to their teams.
One of the attractions of the workplace is that it is a place where there is a shared endeavour. That endeavour is called ?work?. You need to be friendly to be a good colleague, but you don?t need to be friends. You need to be capable of empathy, but you don?t need to constantly emote. You have to turn up, try hard and play your part. You have to bring your role self.
In the 1990s economic historians started talking about ?general-purpose technologies? as key factors driving long-term productivity growth. Key attributes of these gpts were held to include rapid improvement in the core technology, broad applicability across sectors and spillover?the stimulation of new innovations in associated products, services and business practices. Think printing presses, steam engines and electric motors. The new models? achievements have made ai look a lot more like a gpt than it used to.