High finance is wrecking the economy and the planet—but it won’t reform itself


In a special edition of the Financial Times, with a dramatic cover wrap which was virtually blank but for the giant words “Capitalism: Time for a Reset,” its economics doyen Martin Wolf went out of his way to define it for readers, guessing they too had to be enlightened. In an essay which bemoaned stagnant wages and productivity, inadequate competition, and rampant inequality, he explained that rentier capitalism “means an economy in which market and political power allows privileged individuals and businesses to extract a great deal of such rent from everybody else.” The half-forgotten term is as old as Adam Smith, who first defined rentiers as capitalists who were able “to reap where they never sowed.”

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Ann Pettifor — Prospect

The lessons of Stephen Schwarzman, boss of Blackstone


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In this age, we look up to billionaires. Well, another of those writing about how he became what he became.

Mr Schwarzman has little time in the book for the little guy. Other financiers wring their hands over the wealth gap between bosses and workers. Not him. He was a rare executive in America’s Business Roundtable not to sign a charter last month calling for an end to the shareholder-led model of capitalism. His private life appears to be one of lavish parties and glamorous schmoozing. Acknowledgments in the book stretch to 14 pages and he name-drops five American presidents, four French ones and China’s Xi Jinping.

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The Economist

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China Experiments with a New Kind of Megalopolis


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Trust China to do the most bold things.

Chen Yalei, the financial broker, says Beijing is making a kind of offer to the cities in the Greater Bay Area that they simply can’t refuse. “Of course, there will be major shifts and, of course, some of these cities will lose importance while others gain ground.” But, he adds, at least for the time being, Hong Kong will remain indispensable, as the financial center of the Pearl River Delta and as China’s gateway to the world.

And afterwards? “The reformer Deng Xiaoping created a monument to himself in Shenzhen, and for his successor, Jiang Zemin, it was in Shanghai ” says Chen Yalei. “The Greater Bay Area is the project that President Xi Jinping intends to be remembered by in the history books.”

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Bernhard Zand — Spiegel Online

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Doctors aghast at Groupon deals for medical care


With AFP Story by Fabienne Faur: Lifesty

The sad state of medicine.

The deals—which have actually been around for years—cover things like elective medical services, dental work, eye care, and preventative scans, such as mammograms. They’re often used by people who do not have health insurance or have limited coverage. Still, some insured patients turn to them for cost-saving deals, more pricing transparency, and control over their healthcare bills. Without the coupons, the same services provided by some hospitals and providers can have wildly varied pricing, which can be nearly impossible to estimate in advance.

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Beth Mole — Ars Technica

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The Billionaires and The Guru: How a Family Burned Through $2 Billion


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But they also said it would be “untrue” to suggest that the guru was a cause of their group’s financial troubles. “Malvinder and Shivinder are unequivocal about this: Mr. Dhillon is their spiritual Master,” the brothers wrote. “He has only ever acted out of love and has only ever had their best interests at heart.”

They’re less generous to another follower of the spiritual group, Sunil Godhwani, whom they say was appointed to lead Religare at Dhillon’s recommendation. They say Godhwani was also in charge of their holding company, RHC Holding Pvt., and often took decisions without informing them. They say he was the architect of the financial structures, including the loans to the Dhillon family and companies, that led to their financial troubles.

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Ari Altstedter — Bloomberg

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The Podcast Business Model


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Is Luminary going to be Netflix of podcast?

This is a natural evolution of the podcast model. Podcasts began as free content for, you guessed it, iPods. The idea is that the content could be ‘cast’ to the ‘pod.’ In fact, today, podcasts may be the only linguistic use of the ‘pod’ term left (well if you don’t count Tide). Those podcasts then got ads and then it turned out that the ads were effective which was great news for startups like Gimlet that had built themselves off a long tradition in audio content, including innovative ads, brought about by This American Life.  (Gimlet was recently acquired by Spotify for a purported $200m).

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Joshua Gans — Digitopoly

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The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America


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Have you wondered what life would be like for a Facebook or YouTube moderator?

It’s a place where, in stark contrast to the perks lavished on Facebook employees, team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break; where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers; where people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave; and where the counseling that Cognizant offers them ends the moment they quit — or are simply let go.

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Casey Newton — The Verge

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