Category Archives: Economics

Front Cover Views: The Economist – July 24, 2021

Analysis: How Landfills Make Millions From Trash

In 2019, the North American waste management market reached $208 billion. Thanks to advancements in modern chemistry and support from municipal governments, landfills have seen astonishing financial success in recent years. Private companies like Waste Management and Republic Services now own a majority of landfills across the U.S., their stocks outperforming the market every year since 2014. So how exactly are landfills turning a profit out of garbage and just how much money can be made? Watch the video to find out.

Views: Is U.S. Healthcare System Broken? (Harvard)

Here’s a question that’s been on my mind and perhaps yours: Is the US healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes to all.

Below are 10 of the most convincing arguments I’ve heard that our system needs a major overhaul. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, an entire industry has evolved in the US just to help people navigate the maddeningly complex task of choosing a health insurance plan.

The cost is enormous

  • High cost, not highest quality. Despite spending far more on healthcare than other high-income nations, the US scores poorly on many key health measures, including life expectancy, preventable hospital admissions, suicide, and maternal mortality. And for all that expense, satisfaction with the current healthcare system is relatively low in the US.
  • Financial burden. High costs combined with high numbers of underinsured or uninsured means many people risk bankruptcy if they develop a serious illness. Prices vary widely, and it’s nearly impossible to compare the quality or cost of your healthcare options — or even to know how big a bill to expect. And even when you ask lots of questions ahead of time and stick with recommended doctors in your health insurance network, you may still wind up getting a surprise bill. My neighbor did after knee surgery: even though the hospital and his surgeon were in his insurance network, the anesthesiologist was not.

Access is uneven

  • Health insurance tied to employment. During World War II, healthcare was offered as a way to attract workers since employers had few other options. Few people had private insurance then, but now a layoff can jeopardize your access to healthcare.
  • Healthcare disparities. The current US healthcare system has a cruel tendency to delay or deny high-quality care to those who are most in need of it but can least afford its high cost. This contributes to avoidable healthcare disparities for people of color and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Health insurers may discourage care to hold down costs. Many health insurance companies restrict expensive medications, tests, and other services by declining coverage until forms are filled out to justify the service to the insurer. True, this can prevent unnecessary expense to the healthcare system — and to the insurance company. Yet it also discourages care deemed appropriate by your physician.

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Podcast: World Economy Fault Lines, Afghanistan Abandoned, Publishing

A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, the new fault lines in the world economy, the catastrophic consequences of America abandoning Afghanistan (10:28) and how Mills & Boon, a famed publisher of romantic novels, wants to diversify its hero base (17:30)

Finance: Why The Fed Will Create A Digital Dollar

The Federal Reserve is trying to figure out how to keep cash relevant in a cashless world. It’s considering digitizing the U.S. dollar, giving people money they can access on their phone and bypassing electronic payments that can be slow and costly for businesses. Illustration: Jacob Reynolds/WSJ

Economics: Is Inflation Making A Comeback? (WSJ)

Recently, the U.S. inflation rate reached a 13-year high, triggering a debate about whether the country is entering an inflationary period similar to the 1970s. WSJ’s Jon Hilsenrath looks at what consumers can expect next. Photo: Alexander Hotz

Money & Investments: Bitcoin – Explained (Video)

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies set out to upend the financial order and replace conventional money. Bitcoin has certainly disrupted the global financial system, but can it ever live up to the hype? Read our latest report on cryptocurrency: https://econ.st/3wnYfRr