Category Archives: Media

Lessons from Europe’s Fight Against Russian Disinformation

By Dana Priest – For Normunds Mežviets, Latvia’s news media is just as important as the country’s energy supply.

If Russia were to impede the flow of natural gas to the Baltic nations, their economies would tumble, which is the reason that Lithuania built a floating liquefied-natural-gas terminal off its coast, in 2014, and recently signed its first deal to buy natural gas from the United States.

Viewing the professional media as a strategic asset, the pipeline through which credible information travels, had never occurred to me in my thirty-five years as a reporter. But it is certainly the view of authoritarian governments and those transitioning to authoritarianism.

In every nation on Earth where the government is moving from a participatory to an authoritarian form of rule, seizing the information pipeline is a prerequisite for staying in power. As a strategic asset, the media in these countries serve the national interests as defined by their rulers.

Should professional journalism in the United States be considered a strategic asset, too?

Perhaps that is why the Founders gave the unkempt, sometimes inaccurate news industry special protections against government interference, under the First Amendment. more> https://goo.gl/29wkD2

The new astrology

BOOK REVIEW

The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat, Author: lan Jay Levinovitz.
Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth, Author: Paul Romer.
The Rhetoric of Economics, Author: Deirdre N McCloskey.
Economics as Religion, Author: Robert H Nelson.
Astral Science in Early Imperial China, Author: Daniel P Morgan.
Book of Documents, Author: king Yao.

By lan Jay Levinovitz – Unlike engineers and chemists, economists cannot point to concrete objects – cell phones, plastic – to justify the high valuation of their discipline. Nor, in the case of financial economics and macroeconomics, can they point to the predictive power of their theories.

In the hypothetical worlds of rational markets, where much of economic theory is set, perhaps. But real-world history tells a different story, of mathematical models masquerading as science and a public eager to buy them, mistaking elegant equations for empirical accuracy.

The notion that an entire culture – not just a few eccentric financiers – could be bewitched by empty, extravagant theories might seem absurd. How could all those people, all that math, be mistaken?

This was my own feeling as I began investigating mathiness and the shaky foundations of modern economic science. Yet, as a scholar of Chinese religion, it struck me that I’d seen this kind of mistake before, in ancient Chinese attitudes towards the astral sciences.

Back then, governments invested incredible amounts of money in mathematical models of the stars. more> https://goo.gl/tYDpbv

The Fall of the Deal-Maker

By Kenneth T. Walsh – America’s polarization and political dysfunction have become structural, built into the system as never before. President Donald Trump didn’t create the situation in which the country finds itself, increasingly divided into irreconcilable camps, but Trump is intensifying the hard feelings all around. And things are getting worse.

Trump has suffered a huge blow to his reputation as a deal-maker.

The billionaire real-estate developer pledged during the campaign to use his deal-making skills to outsmart and overpower the power structure in Washington and force the elites bend to his will. It isn’t happening. And he has little of consequence to show legislatively for his first six months in office, aside from winning Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

One of Trump’s problems is that he can’t keep from tripping over himself. When things seem to be going his way, he unleashes angry and off-message comments on Twitter, and he appears to be a bully, an undisciplined braggart and a nasty politician who strikes many as unlikable.

Washington insiders generally say he would be better off staying on message – talking about his steps to improve the economy, cut regulations, stimulate the business sector, reduce the size and cost of government, and attack the status quo in Washington. more> https://goo.gl/njA1P1

Republicans Aren’t Turning on Trump—They’re Turning on Each Other

By Molly Ball – The House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders.

Everyone is always mad at the Freedom Caucus. Divisions between Republican factions are nothing new; nor is friction between the House and Senate. In an oft-repeated fable, a new Republican member of Congress, eager to go after the “enemy” Democrats, is corrected by an old bull: “The Democrats are the opposition,” he says. “The Senate is the enemy.”

Still, some wonder whether the current sniping isn’t better directed to Pennsylvania Avenue, where the scandal-mired president creates new headaches with every passing day.

A House Republican staffer described the fractious mood on Capitol Hill as “Republican-on-Republican violence.” As for why lawmakers don’t train their ire on the real root of their problems, the staffer shrugged: “Maybe it’s just easier to attack people without 13 million Twitter followers.” more> https://goo.gl/UEe8ja

Why Every Leader Needs to Be Obsessed With Technology

By Lisa Kay Solomon – Digitization has moved beyond music and entertainment, and now many big retailers operating physical stores are struggling to stay relevant. Meanwhile, the pace of change is accelerating, and new potentially disruptive technologies are on the horizon.

More than ever, leaders need to develop a strong understanding of and perspective on technology. They need to survey new innovations, forecast their pace, gauge the implications, and adopt new tools and strategy to change course as an industry shifts, not after it’s shifted.

Nurturing curiosity is the first step to understanding technological change.

Becoming more technologically minded takes discipline and focus as well as unstructured time to explore the non-obvious connections between what is right in front of us and what might be. It requires a commitment to ongoing learning and discovery.

Whatever your strategy, the goal should be to develop a healthy obsession with technology. more> https://goo.gl/2ETU3m

Why New York Is Just an Average City

By Geoffrey West – The ubiquitous use of per capita indicators for ranking and comparing cities is particularly egregious because it implicitly assumes that the baseline, or null hypothesis, for any urban characteristic is that it scales linearly with population size.

In other words, it presumes that an idealized city is just the linear sum of the activities of all of its citizens, thereby ignoring its most essential feature and the very point of its existence, namely, that it is a collective emergent agglomeration resulting from nonlinear social and organizational interactions.

Cities are quintessentially complex adaptive systems and, as such, are significantly more than just the simple linear sum of their individual components and constituents, whether buildings, roads, people, or money.

There is an approximately 15 percent increase in all socioeconomic activity with every doubling of the population size, which happens almost independently of administrators, politicians, planners, history, geographical location, and culture. more> https://goo.gl/8NZ5Rq

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

BOOK REVIEW

The Divide: A Brief History of Global Inequality and Its Solutions, Author: Jason Hickel.

By Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk – A full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way?

It’s because they realize—either consciously or at some gut level—that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

That’s what capitalism is, at its root.

What might a better world look like? There are a million ideas out there. We can start by changing how we understand and measure progress.

We can change that.

People want health care and education to be social goods, not market commodities, so we can choose to put public goods back in public hands. People want the fruits of production and the yields of our generous planet to benefit everyone, rather than being siphoned up by the super-rich, so we can change tax laws and introduce potentially transformative measures like a universal basic income. more> https://goo.gl/ntiMQr

The New Normal: Radical Inequality, Suffocating Debt, and Growing Job Uncertainty

By Servaas Storm – The U.S. economy is suffering from two interrelated diseases: the secular stagnation of its potential growth, and the polarization of jobs and incomes. The two disorders have a common root in the demand shortfall, originating from the ‘unbalanced’ growth between technologically ‘dynamic’ and ‘stagnant’ sectors, which—crucially—is bringing down potential growth.

The key mechanism is just this: rising real wages, as during the period 1948-1972, provide an incentive for firms to invest in labor-saving machinery and productivity growth will surge as a result; but when labor is cheap, as during most of the period 1972-2015, businesses have little incentive to invest in the modernization of their capital stock and productivity growth falters as a consequence.

Financial globalization, in addition, enabled the rich to have their cake (profits) and eat it (by channeling them to offshore tax havens or into derivative financial instruments). In this way, trade and financial globalization have been essential building blocks of the dual economy. more> https://goo.gl/5EFndw

The economy is more a messy, fractal living thing than a machine

BOOK REVIEW

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence, Author: George Zarkadakis.

By George Zarkadakis – Mainstream economics is built on the premise that the economy is a machine-like system operating at equilibrium. According to this idea, individual actors – such as companies, government departments and consumers – behave in a rational way.

Ever since the invention of the assembly line, corporations have been like medieval cities: building walls around themselves and then trading with other ‘cities’ and consumers.

The so-called ‘gig economy’ is only the beginning of a profound economic, social and political transformation. For the moment, these new ways of working are still controlled by old-style businesses models – platforms that essentially sell ‘trust’ via reviews and verification, or by plugging into existing financial and legal systems.

Blockchain technologies promise to replace these trusted third parties with a huge digital record book, spreading out organically across a network of computers that grows and changes but can’t be meddled with.

By getting rid of middlemen, they’re likely to radically reduce transaction costs, and accelerate the mixing of many different actors in the new economy who have been freed from the grip of leaders or institutions. more> https://goo.gl/Gs6f4B

Updates from Chicago Booth

How to split equity without drawing blood
By Mike Moyer – We live in a world where entrepreneurs and early-stage company participants get taken advantage of so frequently that we hardly notice. Bad equity deals are the rule, not the exception. Fairness is rare.

The intent for fairness is there in the way equity is split among business partners, but the practice of fairness is not. This is a correctable problem.

When a person contributes to a start-up company and does not get paid for her contribution, she is putting her contribution at risk with the hopes of getting a future reward. And, while the timing and the amount of the future reward is unknowable, the amount of the contributions at risk is knowable. It is equal to the fair market value of the contributions.

Because it’s impossible to know when or even if the rewards will ever come, we can never know how much people must put at risk to get the rewards. Every contribution, therefore, is essentially a bet on the future of the company, and nobody knows when the betting will end. more> https://goo.gl/F3ELyY

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