A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week: Xi Jinping’s campaign against China’s capitalist excesses, how to revive Britain’s stockmarket (10:11), and electric motor city (18:33).
From a The Architectural Review online article (April 9, 2020):
The sleep industry caters to a working consumer’s wish to sleep less, yet sleep more productively, and accommodates transnational industry which has joined the state as a custodian of biopolitics. Jonathan Crary’s 24/7 spells out in detail how the state and a capitalist economy are encroaching stupendously on the private sphere, in which sleep was one of the last vestiges of unfettered time.
About 15 years ago, someone calculated the financial loss US companies incurred through workers’ illicit practice of sleeping on the job. Indeed, the trope of the lazy sleeper is an old one, resignified at present in our more than callous attitude towards the homeless, whose sleeping bodies punctuate many a journey to and from work.
Even in this most passive stance – someone simply disregarding normative codes and regulations by giving in to a physical need – sleep seems suspiciously subversive. Less an act than a way of being, the sleeper, by sleeping when and where it is not condoned, challenges everyone else, who is doing/working/functioning/functionalised. Contrary to the tree falling in the forest, the sleeper in the workplace or in public space affects and thus ever so slightly transforms those around them.
In this much-anticipated book, a leading economist argues that many key problems of the American economy are due not to the flaws of capitalism or the inevitabilities of globalization but to the concentration of corporate power. By lobbying against competition, the biggest firms drive profits higher while depressing wages and limiting opportunities for investment, innovation, and growth.
Why are cell-phone plans so much more expensive in the United States than in Europe? It seems a simple question. But the search for an answer took Thomas Philippon on an unexpected journey through some of the most complex and hotly debated issues in modern economics. Ultimately he reached his surprising conclusion: American markets, once a model for the world, are giving up on healthy competition. Sector after economic sector is more concentrated than it was twenty years ago, dominated by fewer and bigger players who lobby politicians aggressively to protect and expand their profit margins. Across the country, this drives up prices while driving down investment, productivity, growth, and wages, resulting in more inequality. Meanwhile, Europe―long dismissed for competitive sclerosis and weak antitrust―is beating America at its own game.
Philippon, one of the world’s leading economists, did not expect these conclusions in the age of Silicon Valley start-ups and millennial millionaires. But the data from his cutting-edge research proved undeniable. In this compelling tale of economic detective work, we follow him as he works out the basic facts and consequences of industry concentration in the U.S. and Europe, shows how lobbying and campaign contributions have defanged antitrust regulators, and considers what all this means for free trade, technology, and innovation. For the sake of ordinary Americans, he concludes, government needs to return to what it once did best: keeping the playing field level for competition. It’s time to make American markets great―and free―again.
From a Harvard Gazette online article:
“When you live paycheck to paycheck, there are times you fall behind. There was a healthy dose of fear, but I knew that my business would grow if I kept pushing.” Getting an M.B.A. felt superfluous. “I would rather be paid to learn,” he said. “There’s not a lot you can learn in an M.B.A. program that you can’t learn online or through other mechanisms. I’m not a big fan of taking those years and spending money that you could put to better use.”
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban discusses value of real-world education, Trump, Warren, and sexual harassment on his NBA team.
(The) former high-tech executive and celebrity entrepreneur… may be one of the few people who can get away with telling a packed auditorium of Harvard Business School (HBS) students that getting an M.B.A. is a “mistake these days” — and get a round of applause in response.