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Category: Regulation

Commodity Financialization (and Why It Matters)

In December 2018, a leading European bank sent its customers investing tips for the next year. To navigate “an increasingly challenging investment environment,” the bank advised, “The latter stages of the economic cycle have historically been one of the better times to invest in commodities. Overall demand tends to stay high while inventories run low.” Until recently, commodities interested mostly those who produced, traded, or consumed them…

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Corporate Power Beyond Lobbying

The biases that private interests can introduce into politics have always been a key concern for democratic theory. Lobbying in particular has come into the focus of social science research since the beginning of the twentieth century. After a century of study, there is a general consensus that the freedom of political participation creates an…

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China’s City Clusters: Pioneering Future Mega-Urban Governance

The coordination of development within city clusters in the Peo­ple’s Republic of China (PRC) is a striking case for organizing institutions, planning, infrastructure, and economic development across many local administrative boundaries in very large urban re­gions, some as large as European countries. To benefit from the many efficiencies that could be reaped from such coordination,…

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The Illusion of a “Marketplace of Ideas” and the Right to Truth

The traditional model of a “marketplace of ideas” was intended to justify freedom of speech in terms of its optimal outcome in the production of truth. But today our behavior on the internet, the main locus of the “marketplace of ideas,” is continuously monitored and processed through the analysis of big data. Complex algorithms categorize…

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How the Financial Crisis Did Not Change the World

The tenth anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis came and went with surprisingly little reflection. Adam Tooze’s Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World was perhaps the most celebrated attempt to analyze the crisis with the benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately, much of the book offers little more than a chronology of newspaper headlines, displaying superficial…

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Peter Thiel, Rachel Carson, and Regulatory Double Standards

Buried in the middle of a two-hour debate in 2014 on religion and modernity is a thought-provoking observation by Peter Thiel regarding technology and the modern economy. Instead of praising Silicon Valley for its tremendous digital inventiveness, Thiel criticized the technological advances of the last fifty years…

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Share Buybacks and the Contradictions of “Shareholder Capitalism”

In the jargon of finance, America is suffering from a capital allocation problem. The country seems incapable of making the necessary investments to fuel future productivity and growth, or to ensure widespread prosperity. At the government level, public spending on basic research and development as well as infrastructure investment has declined significantly over the past…

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“Getting Away with Murder”: Prescription Drug Coverage in America

Nine days before the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, Vice President Elect Mike Pence strode to the press conference podium. He reviewed the transition team’s progress in nominating cabinet secretaries, but quickly turned his attention to the “concerted effort . . . to delegitimize this election and to demean our incoming administration.” Although pledging his…

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The Economics—and Politics—of Broadband

Today it is hardly possible to imagine an internet without its biggest players. Google’s market share in search is somewhere between 70 percent and 90 percent (depending on whether services like YouTube and Google Maps are included). Facebook has more than two billion active users. Netflix alone is responsible for more than a third of…

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