Once upon a time, there was a country where bankers disappeared. The bankers, fed up with regulation, dissatisfaction, and downright hostility, decided to unleash the planet-destroying superweapon in their arsenal: they went on strike, not once, but three times.
Here’s what orthodox economics would have predicted for a country without banks: A collapse in the money supply, a credit crunch, a trade implosion, mass unemployment, an atomized GDP, and the gears of industry and commerce grinding to a crashing halt. Imagine all the veins in your body suddenly shrinking and collapsing — Avada Kedavra!! — and you might begin to see how economists conceive of banking shutdowns.
This is no fairy tale, so we don’t have to imagine what happened next. And what did come next was something really, really interesting — and just a little bit awesome. Instead of Ragnarok ripping prosperity to shreds, the economy continued to grow. Though the money supply did contract sharply, neither trade, commerce, nor industry came to a grinding halt.
How? People created their own currencies, to substitute for the collapsing money supply. They kept using checks to pay one another, but then, people’s checks began trading within communities. Here’s how Antoin Murphy, one of the few scholars to have studied these strikes, which took place in the 1970s, describes it: "a highly personalized credit system without any definite time horizon for the eventual clearance of debits and credits substituted for the existing institutionalized banking system."
Perhaps the most shocking thing about recent events was not how rapidly the big Wall Street firms got into trouble but how quickly they returned to profitability and lavished big rewards on themselves. Last year, Goldman Sachs paid more than sixteen billion dollars in compensation, and Morgan Stanley paid out more than fourteen billion dollars. Neither came up with any spectacular new investments or produced anything of tangible value, which leads to the question: When it comes to pay, is there something unique about the financial industry?
Thomas Philippon, an economist at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, thinks there is. After studying the large pay differential between financial-sector employees and people in other industries with similar levels of education and experience, he and a colleague, Ariell Reshef of the University of Virginia, concluded that some of it could be explained by growing demand for financial services from technology companies and baby boomers. But Philippon and Reshef determined that up to half of the pay premium was due to something much simpler: people in the financial sector are overpaid. “In most industries, when people are paid too much their firms go bankrupt, and they are no longer paid too much,” he told me. “The exception is when people are paid too much and their firms don’t go broke. That is the finance industry.”
Investment bankers have come in for more abuse – not over their bonuses this time but for allegedly driving up the price of Christmas turkeys.
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A man was rushed to hospital when a bizarre sex game went wrong leaving him with six toy horses stuck up his arse. Doctors described his condition as stable.
An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned President Barack Obama’s eligibility to be commander in chief was sentenced by a jury Thursday to six months in a military prison and dismissal from the Army.
You know, if I were President, I might be tempted to hand out a pardon to see if he objects to it, because obviously if I am not legally qualified to be President, the pardon is of no legal effect.
The secret agreement means taxpayers are paying to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the U.S. now says is torture. The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defense.
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World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.
I’m going to wait to hear what Glenn Beck has to say about this before deciding whether it’s true.
Fox News is a business model. The goal of Fox News is not to inform or misinform – it is to attract viewers in order to sell advertising. It is not so much a “propaganda machine” as it is a mirror reflecting the views of its audience. Rupert Murdoch feeds his audience “information” that pleases their world view and makes them feel good about themselves so they tune in.
“[W]hether or not the defendant believed the goods were authentic is irrelevant to the question of trade mark infringement”
There’s only one way to avoid this risk: never buy anything with a Nike logo ever again.
Fuck you, BMW.
In a statement dictated to his mother from his jail cell Assange said “we now know that Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and others are instruments of US foreign policy”, referring to the way in which these large companies had decided not to provide service to Wikileaks.
But nobody who has observed the growth of the internet could have been surprised by this.
Tim Wu and Jack Goldsmith wrote about this back in 2006 in their excellent book Who Rules the Internet, where they pointed out that government will always go after gatekeepers and choke points in their attempts to regulate online activity.
In that same year, Visa and Mastercard refused to pass funds to the Russian music download site allofmp3.com, even though the site was legal within Russia, but that attracted little attention because it was about cheap music and not freedom of expression.
Now we face a different sort of conflict, and it appears to be one that will shape the political landscape for years to come.
Until recently, retailers could reasonably assume that if they just lured shoppers to stores with enticing specials, the customers could be coaxed into buying more profitable stuff, too.
Now, marketers must contend with shoppers who can use their smartphones inside stores to check whether the specials are really so special, and if the rest of the merchandise is reasonably priced.
"The retailer’s advantage has been eroded," says Greg Girard of consultancy IDC Retail Insights, which recently found that roughly 45% of customers with smartphones had used them to perform due diligence on a store’s prices. "The four walls of the store have become porous."
Some of the most vulnerable merchants: sellers of branded, big-ticket items like electronics and appliances, which often prompt buyers to comparison shop. Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics chain, said Tuesday that it may lose market share this year, a downward trend that some analysts are attributing in part to pressure from price comparison apps. And don’t get me started on HDMI cable prices.
Boo hoo, poor retailers.
You want your free market, you got it. Now deal with it.
and to preempt a few comments – yes, plenty or retailers provide service on top of selling stuff, and even if it’s in the form of a knowledgeable sales droid to help you comparison shop this development may hurt the consumer. But here’s the thing. Consumers didn’t start this ball rolling. The big-box price-is-everything guys did. (Sam Walton’s motto was “Stack it high and sell it cheap”.) They drove prices down and sent the jobs away. They hammered the small local retailers. They hammered the vendors. They hammered the manufacturers. Now most people have less to spend, and every penny counts. Corporations have ruthlessly looked out for # 1, and now consumers are doing the same.
Rooster Teeth’s Immersion is like Mythbusters for video games, and isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions: What is it like to drive a real world car from a game’s 3rd person perspective? Do the clothes worn by women in Japanese fighting games offer any protection whatsoever? What is it like to be Mario in a outside version of a side-scrolling platform game?. Finally, would Xbox Live-style trash talk would distract a real Special Operations soldier?. [˙ǝdou˙pɹɐɥ oslɐ ˙uoıʇɔǝʇoɹd ou ˙pɹɐɥ sʇı :sɹǝʍsuɐ]