Why Amartya Sen remains the century’s great critic of capitalism


Every major work on material inequality in the 21st century owes a debt to Sen. But his own writings treat material inequality as though the moral frameworks and social relationships that mediate economic exchanges matter. Famine is the nadir of material deprivation. But it seldom occurs – Sen argues – for lack of food. To understand why a people goes hungry, look not for catastrophic crop failure; look rather for malfunctions of the moral economy that moderates competing demands upon a scarce commodity. Material inequality of the most egregious kind is the problem here. But piecemeal modifications to the machinery of production and distribution will not solve it. The relationships between different members of the economy must be put right. Only then will there be enough to go around.

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Tim Rogan — Aeon

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How Much Money Do People Have?


One of the key takeaways – MBAs have the highest net worth of all higher educational degrees, while doctors and dentists have the most cash (and debt).

On average, young professional men and women both have positive net worth. However, there is a large gap in net worth between men and women. Men have more than double the net worth of women, averaging $12,188 compared to the female average of $5,541.

Overall, men and women have similar cash balances: $9,512 for women and $9,565 for men. Women hold more money in their savings accounts than men, who keep more in their checking accounts. Are women more conservative with their cash?

The complete article


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What if you got $1,000 a month, just for being alive? I decided to find out.


Is a universal basic income going to be the next important goal for human civilization?

Why should only the lucky few have any choice but to do paid work? What is our infatuation with work, and why is it only paid work that seems to matter so much? What about unpaid work? Why is it considered valuable work worthy of pay when two people are paying each other to watch each other’s kids, but not valuable work when they’re each raising their own kids? If one concern is that people given basic incomes will work less, and another concern is that there will be half as many jobs due to automation, then everyone working half as much is exactly what we want so as to better share the available employment, isn’t it? Plus productivity tends to increase as hours worked decrease, so we’d accomplish more with less as well.

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Scott Santens — Basic Income

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Bitcoin: The Most Impressive Speculative Bubble In Modern History


Do you believe in Bitcoin’s future as the currency of choice?

The same technology that makes bitcoin secure as a means of exchange also makes it hideously inefficient compared to other payment technologies. But the more serious objection to bitcoin is that it enables criminals and terrorist organizations to move value around the world out of sight of national governments and law enforcement. Some nations that have already banned bitcoin include China, India, Sweden and Vietnam. So far none of the Anglo nations have been willing to prohibit this overt act of criminality – at least not yet.

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Christopher Whalen — The American Conservative

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The evolution of the Federal Reserve’s promises as recorded on their banknotes


Promises made on banknotes have changed over time. Interesting blog looking at these changes.

Most members of the public don’t know how the underlying monetary systems work, but they do see what is printed on its banknotes. To the public, the morphing set of promises on the face of a Federal Reserve note would have been one of the more visible manifestations of a shift from a mish mash of paper currencies issued by two different institutions and pegged to gold… to one single legal tender currency issued by the U.S.’s now-dominant monetary institution, the Fed—the Treasury receding into the background.

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JP Koning — Moneyness

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For the last time: Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves


We all hate taxes but they don’t pay for themselves. Or do they?

How do they come up with such optimistic numbers? Easy: by making optimistic assumptions. That, as former Obama economic advisers Larry Summers and Jason Furman point out, appears to be what they’re doing. They simply seem to assume the best and then say that if this scenario played out over the next 10 years — which it almost certainly wouldn’t — then these tax cuts really would add 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points to growth, which would cover $1 trillion lost in cuts. Although, as bad as that sounds, it’s actually even worse than that, since the Republican economists also seem to have misstated or misunderstood some of the studies that they claim show the economy would grow as much as they say.

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Matt O’Brien — The Washington Post

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The Simplicity Assumption


We tend to run away from complex solutions. We do assume that every problem does have a simple solution.

The Simplicity Assumption afflicts citizens of all political persuasions. I believe that it also afflicts economists, who take pride in what they regard as the power of simple models. Some prominent health economists have made the claim that “It’s the prices, stupid,” implying that reducing the cost of health care is merely a matter of negotiating more aggressively with health care providers.4 Others have claimed that government technocrats have the ability to devise compensation systems that will induce health care providers to improve the quality of their services.5

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Arnold Kling — Library of Economics & Liberty

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