How to become a billionaire in a communist country
Many of the super-rich Chinese have gained in a system where there is a strong link between politics, business and corruption. It’s difficult to tell you exactly how many Chinese billionaires there are because they do not want to be found. Chinese billionaires must have political connections to keep their wealth safe, become politicians themselves or acquire foreign citizenships. For example, it is not very surprising that the Chinese parliament has 83 billionaires (comparatively the U.S. Congress has not a single billionaire). In essence, the Chinese claim of officially being a communist country is only half true. Politically, China is a one-party system that represents all the people, but economically it is rapidly moving away from Karl Marx’s ideal – capitalism is in fact alive and thriving.— How Communist Can China Be With All Those Billionaires?
Why hasn’t the internet increased our productivity?
For a time, the Labor Department’s productivity figures appeared to support the idea of an Internet-based productivity miracle. Between 1996 and 2000, output per hour in the non-farm business sector—the standard measure of labor productivity—grew at an annual rate of 2.75 per cent, well above the 1.5 per cent rate that was seen between 1973 and 1996. The difference between 1.5 per cent annual productivity growth and and 2.75 per cent growth is enormous. With 2.75 per cent growth (assuming higher productivity leads to higher wages) it takes about twenty-six years for living standards to double. With 1.5 per cent growth, it takes a lot longer—forty-eight years—for living standards to double …. Since the start of 2005, productivity growth has fallen all the way back to the levels seen before the Web was commercialized, and before smart phones were invented. During the eight years from 2005 to 2012, output per hour expanded at an annual rate of just 1.5 per cent—the same as it grew between 1973 and 1996. More recently, productivity growth has been lower still. In 2011, output per hour rose by a mere 0.6 per cent, according to the latest update from the Labor Department, and last year there was more of the same: an increase of just 0.7 per cent. In the last quarter of 2012, output per hour actually fell, at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent. Americans got less productive—or so the figures said.— WHAT HAPPENED TO THE INTERNET PRODUCTIVITY MIRACLE?
The credentialling arms race and why it’s leading to overeducated baristas
— Why a BA is Now a Ticket to A Job in a Coffee ShopSkilled workers with higher degrees are increasingly ending up in lower-skilled jobs that don’t really require a degree—and in the process, they’re pushing unskilled workers out of the labor force altogether.
The elimination of the high-wage, middle-skilled job and what it means for education
Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is being buried — made obsolete — faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education today, argues Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” — ready to add value to whatever they do. That is a tall task. I tracked Wagner down and asked him to elaborate. “Today,” he said via e-mail, “because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’”— Need a Job? Invent It
What would happen if the Fed raised interest rates right now?
— SHUT UP, SAVERS!What if the Fed did raise interest rates? It’s unlikely that savers would be better off in the long run, since the move would slow down the economy as a whole and perhaps even tip us back into recession. Most savers aren’t just savers, after all: they are also workers or homeowners or stock-market investors—groups that need a growing economy to prosper. Even people who live entirely off interest rely on economic growth. “There’s this myth that monetary policy is a zero-sum game,” Scott Sumner, an economist at Bentley University who has become an influential advocate for a more expansionary Fed policy, says. “But it’s perfectly possible that looser monetary policy could make both savers and borrowers better off. When the economy is weak, tight money makes the whole pie smaller. When the economy is robust, we get more output, which means more real income, and that usually means higher rates of return for investors.” Indeed, the biggest culprit when it comes to low interest rates isn’t the Fed: it’s the weak economy, which has held down the demand for credit and made us all risk-averse. That’s why interest rates are low across most of the developed world—even in countries where central bankers haven’t been buying up assets the way the Fed has.
In 2007, around 63 percent of lower-end IT jobs required four-year degrees. Now, 57 percent do. Non-retail sales positions—think insurance salespeople—have seen similar changes, with the share of those jobs requiring four-year degrees down from 63 to 56 percent. In addition, the share of these jobs asking for an associate’s degree or less has grown by 21 percent. Why Some Employers Are Lowering Their Standards
During much of the last decade, the U.S. economy did not look good compared to a lot of other countries.The situation has changed. The United States seems to be doing better than many other countries and could lead the rest of the world out of its current slump. The American Revival Is Underway
Is the economy strong enough to overcome the sequester?
At the end of 2012 the consensus among many economic forecasters was that the U.S. economy would experience sub-trend growth due to fiscal tightening from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and any spending associated cuts from a deal on the sequester. Flat fourth quarter GDP numbers appeared to confirm this view. Goldman Sachs referred to this headwind as a “hump” and that the U.S. economy would not move “over the hump” until late 2013 which would then lead to above-trend growth in 2014. There was little reason to dispute this view especially given the hit that consumer spending would have with the expiration of the payroll tax cut. However, as economic data began to trickle in during the first quarter the hit to consumption had yet to materialize. There was reason to be cautious because a month’s data does not make a trend but then data from February (Manufacturing ISM, monthly auto sales, retail sales, jobless claims, non-farm payrolls) came in above expectations and painted an overall picture that the economy may have moved past the “hump.” Estimates for first quarter GDP have now been raised from roughly 2% to 2.9%.— Take Off?
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