Category: Economics


Absurdly Decadent Business Cards

I know you have to spend money to make money, but I don’t think these cards, at about £1,000 ($1,534) each, are a smart investment.

CDs and DVDs Not Worth Stealing

It seems that in Britain, burglars aren’t bothering to steal CDs and DVDs.  Why?

The reason is the falling value of physical media products. The average price of a CD album in Britain fell from £10.77 to £7.32 between 2001 and 2010, according to the BPI, a trade group—almost a halving, in real terms. And the dishonest get their music and films free, via the internet. DVDs are under pressure not just from piracy but also from video-on-demand services.

Instead they’re stealing computers, purses, jewelry, and anything else that has greater value.  Technology has disrupted traditional thievery as well.

How companies can save money and “go green(er)” by simply lowering the air conditioning in data centers.

AdBlock Plus to Allow Ads

In a strange turn-about, AdBlock Plus will now allow “acceptable ads.”  Why?

Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising that is considered not annoying. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable.

It’s an interesting idea.  It allows users to support their favorite sites, without having to deal with obnoxious advertisements.  This also encourages sites to only choose these acceptable or not-obnoxious ads.

(hat tip: Linear Fix)

Deadspin has an analysis of the NJ Nets’ books from 2003 to 2006 with some interesting tax law and business strategy aspects.  For instance, NBA teams are allowed to take depreciation on players as well as writing off their salaries.  This allows the teams to take a loss on taxes.  Then the teams can then take advantage of pass-through to apply their owners’ other businesses.

Teams can then use those losses to beg politicians for new stadiums and land deals that they otherwise couldn’t get.  Case in point, Bruce Ratner, who is building the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn:

[T]he best explanation for why a buccaneering real estate developer like Ratner might buy a middling franchise like the Nets in the first place. As Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes, explains: “If Ratner had gone to Brooklyn politicians and said, ‘Hey, I want to build offices and residential buildings on public land,’ they’d have hung up on him. But when he says, ‘I’m going to bring professional sports back to Brooklyn,’ suddenly here’s [Brooklyn Borough President] Marty Markowitz holding press conferences and sobbing about the Dodgers. [Buying the Nets] helped him get a foot in the door with Brooklyn politicians.”

An interesting and cynical look at the business of sports.

P is for Pandora

Pandora is “the first Silicon Valley consumer Internet company to join the exclusive one-letter stock ticker symbol club.

First, the triumph of private property in West Bengal, India:

The [Communist Party of India-Marxist] CPI-M won Bengali hearts and minds through “Operation Barga” in 1978 that awarded tenancy rights to poor sharecroppers (called “bargadars”) who tilled farms.  .  .  .

This was not full land reform, since the tenants did not gain ownership rights. Yet the Communists’ move to record and hand bargadars certificates of tenancy represented real progress. It expanded farm productivity, as well as sharecroppers’ freedom. Rights to tenancy also raised expectations of full property rights some day.  .  .  .

In truth, the Communists never planned to grant full property rights, and not just because it violated a fundamental tenet of their ideology. Operation Barga was designed to leave villagers politically beholden to the party. Awarding title, so a bargadar could one day sell his land and move on, would have defeated the strategy.  .  .  .

The combination of partial land reform and complete political control came back to haunt the Communists in the past decade. By 2001, the fruits of capitalism had started to become apparent, especially at the state level where chief ministers competed for investment and jobs.

As people began to see these fruits of private property, the power of the Communists declined and eventually they were defeated.  Private property allowed the people of West Bengal to succeed.

Second, the failure of Salamanca, NY:

In a valley that curves along the Allegheny River is a tract of land built on opportunity, greed and the bureaucratic nightmare of being one city in two nations.

According to state and local authorities, Salamanca is the only U.S. city on an Indian reservation.  .  .  .

Acts of Congress in 1875, 1890 and 1990 created a landlord-tenant relationship between the Seneca Nation and Salamanca’s homeowners and businesses.

Homeowners and businesses occupied their properties in accordance with a 99-year lease originally granted by the Seneca Nation in 1892. It expired on Feb. 19, 1991 .  .  .  15 property “owners” eventually were evicted by the Seneca Nation.

Today, shabbiness blankets what could be a quaint river town, a state park and a national forest. Garish “Nation-owned” cigarette outlets and gas stations produce a city drawn by Norman Rockwell but touched up by Jackson Pollock.  .   .  .

The result, in Salamanca as elsewhere, is sweeping, perhaps irreversible, economic and social devastation.

By contrast, here in the United States, the failure to enact private property reforms has seemingly doomed this unique city.

Sort of the end of an era, Jack Daniels is changing its label to make it easier to read.  The new label uses more empty space and eliminates the kitschy “Pop 361,” among other changes.

Star Trek Economics

This article gives an in-depth picture of the use of money in the Star Trek universe.  “Gene Roddenberry had a rule — one of those rules that the scriptwriters of Star Trek had to know and follow: in the Federation there is no money, period!”

Of course, money almost certainly has to exist.  Trade is frequently portrayed throughout the show, and real-life societies have failed to come up with a functioning money-free society.

Even in the future, in a time of plenty, the laws of economics continue to exist.

Organized criminal syndicates are rational actors too.  According to the New York Times, there have been a rash of truck hijackings where the cargo was… food.  They “stole six tractor-trailer loads of tomatoes and a truck full of cucumbers from Florida growers. They also stole a truckload of frozen meat. The total value of the illegal haul: about $300,000.”

With food prices on the rise due to, inter alia: a cold winter, increasing worldwide demand, and inflation, criminals have adapted to this increasingly profitable enterprise.

It was a very sophisticated operation, hitting trucks in different jurisdictions in short amounts of time.  Given the perishable nature of food (as compared to typical hijacking of trucks of cigarettes, electronics, clothes, etc.) indicates that they had a buyer and/or distribution network set up.

(hat tip: Grub Street NY, “Vegetable Bandits Are a Thing Now”)

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