CategoryEconomics

Emergent Fraud

Halfway through reading The Big Short, I’m stuck wondering how after trillions of dollars of damage to the financial system, not only did no one go to jail, but no one was even brought in front of a jury. I think I figured out why. To explain, I have to go back to Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s core argument is that the amazingly efficient system later dubbed Capitalism...

How to collect taxes, without omission

More and more of my work with startups is over in the so-called emerging markets. These are countries not known for being well run nor known for have an efficient and successful way of collecting taxes. That said, a lot of taxes go unpaid here in the U.S. too. One lesson on how to fix this problem comes from Taiwan, one of the Asian Tigers, four success stories in global economics that will...

Don’t Believe Every Economist

One of my hobbies is reading books on economics. (People do call me Luni after all). What I’ve learned from all this reading is that some economists can explain how an economy actually works, but have very odd, very wrong ideas on how should work. Case in point today is The Production of Money by Ann Pettifor. The book explains how central banks don’t actually print money, that...

Trade Treaties with Multinational Corporations

As the USMCA grinds its way toward replacing NAFTA, it is time to question whether the problems with NAFTA and WTO and TPP are due to the fact that the participants in those treaties are countries instead of companies? The idea of trade treaties with companies is one I had never heard of or considered, but an idea that popped out as an off hand comment at an unrelated meeting a few weeks ago, and...

Eating Tomorrow

A few weeks ago there was a talk on Agroecology by Timothy A. Wise. That term is widely used outside the U.S. for what we’d call sustainable or restorative agriculture. That part of the talk was good, but far more interesting were the stories from the book which the talk summarized, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. The author traveled the...

Deficits and the Money Markets

What are the negative consequences of large government deficits? Often the “aha moments” of understanding economics come in the midst of reading articles in The Economist. Not usually from the actual words, but from some fact coupled with flashbacks of learnings from all the books I’ve been reading. The latest of those was from an article in the November 2nd magazine, talking...

Boomerang, by Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is the author of The Big Short and a rare storyteller who can convey complex economic topics as stories with interesting characters and plots. Boomerang tells stories in and around the financial meltdown (a.k.a. Panic) of 2008-2009, but for Americans these are mostly the far less discussed stories of Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany. The fact that Iceland was able (within a...

Decimalization

Have I mentioned I love a good assumption? Have I mentioned my fascination with norms that were normal for our grandparents which seem totally odd today? Did you think 29 knuts in one sickle, and 17 sickles in a galleon was making fun of non-metric countries? Nope! It was making fund of pre-decimal British pounds, shillings, and pence. Note too this video is from 1970, not 1870 or 1670. In 1969...

Worthless Currency

From all my readings of the history of currencies, I felt the need to create a my own collection of worthless paper currencies. The first of these are on their way now, but in the meantime, I came across a website selling souvenir Zero Euro bills, and what better way to begin this collection than with a paper bill commemorating Euro’s most famous anti-Capitalist economist, Karl Marx. You...

What is Money (currency)?

A good question recently came up on Quora: What is the concept of currency? How am I simply able to buy things and services with just a piece of paper? You have an item or provide a service someone else wants. They give you a token in return. You have needs for other items and services. Those providers accept your token. Each token represents historic effort. The harder it was to produce or...

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