Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Podcasts with Pikkety

Thomas Pikkety’s book “Capital in the 21st. century” seems to be the must-read of the moment. It is central to the raging discussion about in-equality, and amazingly, the current top seller on Amazon.
However, it is also 700 pages long.
I’ve only found a few podcasts with Pikkety:
This is a 50 minute presentation, which give a good introduction to his core concepts.

This is a 40 minute video-interview with Huffington Post:

Among Pikkety’s main points are that the main factor determining the degree of in-equality is the ratio of income from capital vs. the overall rate of economic growth in society.
The larger the returns on capital are, the more those that have wealth already, will gain relative to those that get their income from wages.

At the moment, there is confluence of several trends, which are driving in-equality to levels that are as bad as in the 1920ies:
Financial services and stock markets are producing an ever-larger share of all the economic growth – but mainly to those that have the capital to invest. Automation and advanced technology makes income from capital intense industries more important, while labour intensive sectors contribute less. Growth in the economy that is based on wages is stagnant.
Furthermore, the demographic trend towards a falling population means that inheritance becomes more important, since the wealth of a person is divided among fewer children. Also, lower population growth or declining populations causes lower overall economic growth in society.

Pikkety believes the polarization will grow further, and he believes that it is de-stabilizing. He says that some inequality is good, but beyond a certain point, it’s simply excessive. The solution he proposes is a sharply progressive tax on property.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The sharing economy should be renamed

I'm all for the sharing economy. I am sure that mobilizing idle resources and sharing them is a way to create more value for less. But parts of the sharing economy is rapidly moving away from the local, person-to-person exchange with an emphasis on the social value of interaction. Instead, some services are becoming billion dollar companies, which happen to operate platforms for sharing, but are driven with a much stronger emphasis or even a starting point in accumulating money.

I think that coordinating exchanges is a perfectly valid business model, but the ideological facade is starting to look a bit deceptive. My inner cynic rises when I see videos like this one, from - it's pretty thick, IMHO:

I am not alone in feeling that the "sharing" part of this new economy might be a misleading word. Personally, I prefer the "We-economy" or "The participatory economy".
Tom Slee, a Canadian blogger, regularly writes scathing posts describing what he sees as the hypocrisy and even sinister aspects of the sharing economy.
The tone is a bit harsh, but I'm with him for long stretches:
Check his post: Why the sharing economy isn't
or: Some obvious things about internet reputation systems