Posts tagged 'Abundance'

The great American make-work programme

People enjoy work. Even those who don’t enjoy what they do enjoy the feeling of agency and being able to provide for others. For a world to work where a universal basic income accounts for the bulk of the consumer spending for many people, something else needs to account for the social side of work. It is disappointing to think that we’d have to create make-work for people, but it may be the hard truth.

–Ryan Avent, September 6, 2016

Disappointing indeed, but the reality is rich countries have been dealing with this problem for decades. A staggering 96 per cent of America’s net job growth since 1990 has come from sectors known to have low productivity (construction, retail, bars, restaurants, and other low-paying services were responsible for 46 percentage points of total growth) and sectors where low productivity is merely suspected in the absence of competition and proper measurement techniques (healthcare, education, government, and finance explain the remaining 50 percentage points):

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The new Hanseatica, now with robot dogs

So, Apple has taken advantage of the drop in Swiss funding costs to issue SFr1.25bn of bonds.

A no-brainer funding opportunity for Apple? Or…, alternatively, a sign of things to come: corporates replacing petrodollar and sweatdollar sovereigns as the key accumulators of trade surpluses in the global economy, and issuing debt in a bid to sterilise the effects of too much liquidity on capex they can’t control?

If it’s the latter, we should beware of Andrew Keen’s concerns about the perils of a winner-takes-all tech economy, where a handful of geeks inadvertently become the new masters of the universe, thanks to their cunning monetisation of things Tim-Berners-Lee-types would never have dreamed of rationing to the great tech-ignorant. We’ve dubbed it Silicon Valley’s “god complex” before. Read more

Standing on the shoulders of cryptocurrency giants

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, the LA-based man that Newsweek alleged on Thursday was the probable creator of the Bitcoin protocol, denied all involved in an AP interview — but the plot continues to thicken.

As the International Business Times reports on Friday, an online chat account associated with the email featured in the original Bitcoin white paper has become active again.

Surprise, surprise — the user is claiming that the man featured in the Newsweek article is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

At this stage, one has to ask what’s really preventing the real Satoshi from revealing his true identity and claiming his fortune? (And there are reports that the bitcoins associated with Satoshi are already on the move on Friday.) Read more

On what really is different this time around

Paul Krugman says it himself: it’s the similarities between our time and other economic periods that often offer the best insight. But he’s currently in Paris thinking deep Parisienne style thoughts, which might explain the following…

There are, as he notes, some important distinctions to be made this time around, not least globalisation’s impact on the role of intangible rents.

Consequently, we may be living in an economy in which profits no longer remotely resemble a “natural” aspect of the economy. They are, one might say, somewhat synthetic. Read more

Counterintuitive insights that are only now making the mainstream now

We just saw this post from Pragmatic Capitalism’s Cullen Roche on the supply of assets.

It offers a nice chart showing net issuance of “safe” assets, from Citi’s research team:

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Magnus, on spending our way out of the Mumps

According to George Magnus of UBS, most of the western world has now been struck down by “most unusual monetary policies” or ‘Mumps’ for short. And — contrary to popular belief — the disease is being underpinned not by western profligacy but possibly the very phenomenon. Too much thrift. The want and need for too many savings in an economy that demands spending on available capacity and goods today — a theme also actively being explored by Paul Krugman as part of his anti-austerity reasoning. Read more

Towards a steady-state economy?

An ever larger number of voices (FT Alphaville included) are exploring alternative theories to explain our current crisis, many of which focus on the role of technology, productivity and sustainability.

One conclusion is that society (or at least one part of it) is finally experiencing what has long been theorised about as the steady-state economy. Read more

The negative fear bubble

Some wise words from John Kemp at Reuters on Tuesday, now contemplating the side-effects of the bubble in fear:

It is the importance of non-rational motivations that explains why Keynes placed so much emphasis on “animal spirits” or the state of investors’ and entrepreneurs’ expectations. By sapping that willingness to shoulder a degree of incalculable uncertainty, the bubble in fear destroys the vital process by which economies form capital, grow and generate employment.

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The collective good of demand needs YOU!

From HSBC’s Global Macro Economics team on Thursday:

Matters are being made worse because the world’s savers would rather buy Treasuries than global goods.

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On abundance, post-scarcity and leisure

Robert and Edward Skidelsky, emeritus professor of political economy at the University of Warwick and lecturer on moral and political philosophy at the University of Exeter respectively, have penned what FT Alphaville feels is a must read essay on the impact of abundance and post-scarcity dynamics on price stability and the nature of labour, and work itself.

Entitled “In Praise of Leisure“, it picks up beautifully from where our own “Beyond Scarcity” series left off, echoing many of the same points. Read more

Redefining labour

This is the third installment in FT Alphaville’s “Beyond Scarcity” series, a somewhat radical look at the impact of technological progress and efficiency on the volume of goods and services being produced by the system, asking whether “abundance” could now be a key determinant of deflationary forces in the western world.

On top of this, we have considered the role played by “artificial scarcity”, whether imposed wittingly or unwittingly by industry participants as a counterweight to such deflation, and to what degree such measures could now be running into scalability issues. In short, whether there is a limit to how much artificial scarcity private organisations can impose to counteract deflationary forces of abundance, without experiencing diminishing returns. Read more

The end of artificial scarcity

With so much doom and gloom about, we’d like to take you on a trip through the looking glass to a world where the future is bright, not bleak. Optimistic, not pessimistic. Hopeful, not dismal.

And we mean that in the context of today’s data. Not in some parallel-universe that doesn’t exist. Read more

The parable of water

Presenting an economic journey in felt, looking at whether the system’s ails have more to do with an abundance of goods than a shortage of credit because of the system’s technological advances and efficiencies. Move ahead to slide 20 for a snapshot of where we *think* we are today.

1) The water source. Read more