Big Business Is Overcharging You $5,000 a Year – The New York Times

Figuring out why has become a core part of Philippon’s academic research, and he offers his answer in a fascinating new book, “The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets.” In one industry after another, he writes, a few companies have grown so large that they have the power to keep prices high and wages low. It’s great for those corporations — and bad for almost everyone else.

Many Americans have a choice between only two internet providers. The airline industry is dominated by four large carriers. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are growing ever larger. One or two hospital systems control many local markets. Home Depot and Lowe’s have displaced local hardware stores. Regional pharmacy chains like Eckerd and Happy Harry’s have been swallowed by national giants.

David Leonhardt, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/10/opinion/big-business-consumer-prices.html

Frank Bruni Interview with Errol Morris Regarding Steve Bannon Doc

The Devil in Steve Bannon
The celebrated filmmaker Errol Morris has a new documentary — and candid remarks — about Donald Trump’s dyspeptic strategist.

Do you think, a couple of years from now, Bannon’s going to be this very curious footnote, this sort of one-off? Or do you think we’re going to be reckoning with what he’s peddling and what he represents for a good, long while?

I have to distinguish what I hope for versus what I really think will happen. I hope all of this is a very bad memory soon: Trump, Bannon, national populism, etc. In one respect, I do agree with Bannon. And I told him so. I grew up in the ’50s. My mother was an elementary-school teacher. My father died when I was 2, and my mother brought up my brother and myself. She took care of everybody, having practically no money, no insurance money from my father’s death.

And I often think, could she have done that today? And the answer is no. I don’t think she could have. There is greater and greater inequality, economic inequality, income and otherwise, in the United States. And I think it’s a very, very bad thing. And I think Bannon is right — that it will have terrible consequences in the long run.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/opinion/errol-morris-steve-bannon.html

Low Wages in an Economic Boom Time

Today:
* 2.2 million working people are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or less.
* Approximately another 23 million people are paid between $7.25 and $11 an hour.
* Nearly half (42.4 percent) of working Americans make less than $15 per hour.

 

The productivity of American workers has roughly doubled since 1968 (the peak of the minimum wage in inflation-adjusted dollars), but workers making the minimum wage today make 25 percent less than they did in 1968, once adjusted to today’s dollars. Even though unemployment has dropped precipitously, sitting well below 5 percent for the last three years, it has not been until recently that wage increases for workers in lower-paying occupations have occurred.2 And much of that growth at the low end of the distribution has come from action on the minimum wage at not the federal level, but the state and local level.

Making the Economic Case for a $15 Minimum Wage
THE CENTURY FOUNDATION

Poverty and Shame

Adam Smith put his finger on the problem back in 1776. In The Wealth of Nations, he wrote: “A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessity of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt …”

At last, a sensible way to measure poverty, Tim Hartford, Financial Times

What struck him, even in the mid 1970s, was the effort that mothers, in particular, made to try to protect their children from feeling shame – to the extent that they would skip meals to buy clothes and toys for them. “Children as young as seven and eight soon learn strategies to persuade parents to buy them what they think they need,” says Walker.

What are the links between shame and poverty? Chris Arnot, The Guardian

More recently, this relational understanding of poverty has been championed by Amartya Sen who has argued that ‘the ability to go about without shame’ should be considered a basic capacity that should be incorporated into general conceptions of poverty.

https://gsdrc.org/publications/shame-self-esteem-and-poverty/

High cost of medication in the US, compared with other countries.

Dr. Robert Grant developed a treatment — a daily pill known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — that could stop the AIDS crisis. We look at why that hasn’t happened.

NY Times Daily podcast

Referring to Truvada, a drug used to reduce the transmission of HIV, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, pointed out that while it cost almost $2,000 in the US, it was available for just $8 in places such as Australia. In South Africa, it costs just $6.

 

Housing Construction Per Household

Home construction per household is now at its lowest levels in nearly six decades, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. This isn’t just a problem in San Francisco or New York, where home prices and rents have gone sky-high. It is also a problem in midsized, fast-growing cities farther inland, like Des Moines, Iowa; Durham, N.C.; and Boise, Idaho. In Boise, an analysis by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed there is a demand for more than 10 times the number of homes being built right now.

via NPR

Efficient Market Hypothesis

The efficient-market hypothesis (EMH) is a theory in financial economics that states that asset prices fully reflect all available information. A direct implication is that it is impossible to “beat the market” consistently on a risk-adjusted basis since market prices should only react to new information or changes in discount rates (the latter may be predictable or unpredictable).

The EMH was developed by Professor Eugene Fama who argued that stocks always trade at their fair value, making it impossible for investors to either purchase undervalued stocks or sell stocks for inflated prices. As such, it should be impossible to outperform the overall market through expert stock selection or market timing, and that the only way an investor can possibly obtain higher returns is by chance or by purchasing riskier investments.[1] His 2012 study with Kenneth French confirmed this view, showing that the distribution of abnormal returns of US mutual funds is very similar to what would be expected if no fund managers had any skill—a necessary condition for the EMH to hold.[2]

via Wikipedia