Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Does Your iPhone Use As Much Electricity As A New Refrigerator? Not Even Close. | ThinkProgress

Does Your iPhone Use As Much Electricity As A New Refrigerator? Not Even Close. | ThinkProgress.

 

… And this is why I have advocated the widespread–global–use of handhelds to do more than complement but replace, whenever possible, desktops: They use less energy to make and run and their making uses far fewer resources. They also are likely to last longer.

What is needed to win arguments is empirical evidence knitted into a narrative that cannot be dismissed or exploited–a narrative that elucidates the ways that local markets can benefit by promoting this sort of platform. I don’t mean top-down industrial policy (IP) but the more effective sort described by Fred Block and others.

Entrepreneurs or the state: Innovation comes from public investment.

Entrepreneurs or the state: Innovation comes from public investment. – Slate Magazine.

I came across Mazzucato a while ago and what she and Fred Block (and other economists and even non-economists) argue fits what I and (many) others have long observed and noted: that government’s role in innovation investment has been deprecated and even obscured. Mazzucato’s new book, The Entrepreneurial State, expands on the subject. Mazzucato is a good writer and the book is interesting. It does the great service of unpacking (thoroughly undoing, actually) the persistent myth about innovation in tech: that it is all about individuals and sometimes, grudgingly, garage bands, working outside the destructive gravity of the government to come up with that something new. Of course there are brilliant individuals and of course many do new things on their own, in the isolation of their garage or apartment or cabin in the woods, that change the shape of the present and future. But that’s not the point of her or any rational examination. It is rather to examine the logistics of innovation so as to strengthen the likelihood of effective investment. And pretending that it’s all done in Libertarian isolation is not the way.

92,000 Dead in Mexico’s War on the Drug Cartels | Drug War 101

92,000 Dead in Mexico’s War on the Drug Cartels | Drug War 101.

 

A failed state? I mean Mexico. I’ve been wondering what even constitutes a successful state. During Calderon’s regime, especially in the last few years, Mexico’s GDP grew very quickly and there was a lot of foreign investment. Too obvious to write that the drug war provides the cover for a gross police state, including the supposedly rogue death squads and other paramilitary organizations…. (A police state of this magnitude serves to protect capital investment, such as factories and privileged retail areas.) Also, an incomplete summary and possibly misleading, as it would seem to suggest then that the drug gangs (they are not really cartels) represent the increasingly disenfranchised and generally poor/working class. But I would guess they do not and in fact do not “represent” any political body we normally would identify as a legitimate actor. But they are, in all likelihood, from what I’ve read, made up of the poor, disenfranchised.

 

Let’s fast forward and imagine that in a decade or so, this terrible nightmare of murder will have passed. What kind of public memory will be possible? Who will be held accountable? Even in Columbia, I don’t really see this: the claim is always that is over with, that the cocaine barons no longer represent a threat, they are no longer there. But  is that so?

Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis.

 

I’ve been following YV’s comments for some time, but usually via interviews and other accounts. I’d not subscribed to his blog. Now I have, and recommend it. I suppose that from my perspective, the disintegration and possibly savage destruction of the Eurozone is both affecting (in the human sense: to see the breadlines, for instance) and fascinating: how will the structures of power maintain themselves in the face of dissolution? Or, to put it otherwise: What will happen to capital in this erosive zone?

And, though the Eurozone crisis is particular to the zone, which is a Frankenstein monster stitched out of the cadaver’d parts of others to resemble something beautiful in the abstract, ugly in the flesh, nevertheless, it does suggest a future for other deep capital markets, especially those rooted in the foundry technologies arcing back to the 19th century.

But we are entering a new capitalization, with different models of making, distribution, selling. The question is: are they different enough? I’d say: not yet. Remember when the crisis first hit, the comforting notion was that the world was different now, for it was no longer the case that when the US sneezed–had a recession–the rest of the world caught cold. In fact, what really happened was that the novelty of this new recession simply proved that the driver for the global economy continues to be the potlach American consumer and the object of consumption the commodity, whatever it is, she desires.

I suspect that will change, and is changing. But slowly.

(Mind, I’m not opposed to consumer capitalism nor to commodities: I like those I have. But in the face of a world beyond the brink and in the face of the knowledge that my commodities equal somebody else’s certain misery and exploitation, and that situation has not gotten better over time…. well.)

 

Electric Cars for Rent Now: Lancé lundi à Paris, Autolib veut changer la route en ville, Actualités boursières

Lancé lundi à Paris, Autolib veut changer la route en ville, Actualités boursières.

My notion much earlier this year was not at all unlike this grand effort in Paris to make available electric cars in the manner of VeloLib: a citywide network of rental stations. Infrastructure would be implicitly taken care of, as each station would have charging facilities. And the cost of a vehicle would be immaterial, as one would pay, as one does now for AutoShare or Zip cars, per hour or so.

Paris, however, is a little unusual in two regards, at least. Its population density is high and for those living in the central arrondisements, car ownership is hardly obligatory. Of course, many other heavily developed European cities share these characteristics. But in North America, where car ownership is as much a badge of national identity as a means of transport (and a generation of right wing policies has made sure that there are few alternatives to cars in cities), making available electric cars for rent within urban centres is more of a challenge.

But not an insurmountable one by any means. Manhattan, for instance, resembles Paris in both regards, for instance, as do several other US cities (Chicago, Boston, SF come to mind). And here in Toronto, despite having some of the *worst* streets for cyclists (potholes, lousy visibility, no bike lanes, and a frequently hostile car traffic coming from the suburbs and grudging urban obligations), has its own bike rental system, Bixi. It also has ZipCars, AutoShare, and so on, as parking is both costly and hard to find.

Who would use these electric cars? For starters, all those who now rent hybrids for a few hours to go to the market, run errands, etc.–even go to the airport, say: cheaper than a limousine, it occurs to me (the public transportation, the subway/bus–you take the subway to the end of the line then wait for the ironically named “Rocket” to take you to the actual airport: a trip that takes me, coming from downtown, about an hour). Limos, taxis cost about 60 CAD. one way: a lot.

Besides the occasional if repeated errand, there are many other uses that come to mind. So it’s not that there would not be a market for this. It’s rather that the initial cost to set it up would probably be formidable. But here is where government help comes in. Our current mayor, Rob Ford, has gone on supporting cars over other modes of transport. This has not endeared him particularly among the inner parts of Toronto. But supporting a network of electric rental cars premised on the lines of ZipCar or AutoShare or the new Parisian model, would, in all likelihood, do a great deal to redeem not only Ford among the inner circles but also help with establishing a sustainable electric vehicle market. And given the way the world is going and given the dependencies of the Canadian, esp. the Ontario economy, on the US automobile manufacturing ecosystem (think Sword of Damocles), having such a solution, especially if the cars could be made here, mostly, would be not only a bold step in the right direction but a firm one that would benefit tens of thousands of people.

If only.

Gini coefficient – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gini coefficient – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

The Gini coefficient is worthwhile reviewing from time to time. That it’s not promoted more as a key measure of the state of society is a nice judgement on the state of society.

Data Furnaces Could Bring Heat to Homes – NYTimes.com

Data Furnaces Could Bring Heat to Homes – NYTimes.com.

It’s worth thinking about… especially if the server arrays are located, say, where the alternatives are much less desirable and where a high-bandwidth connection is much wanted.

Revealed: Secret world of global oil and mining giants: TBIJ

Revealed: Secret world of global oil and mining giants: TBIJ.

It’s rather worrisome. Transparency, accountability–not the same thing, but related–are important, especially when it comes to evaluating the economies of scale discussed in the article and when considering the nature of the goods being extracted: fossil fuels, necessary minerals and metals.  That is, those elements that form the basis for modern society and industry. If we, those who depend upon these things, are deprived of insight into this commodity industry so important to today, how can we, as a people governed by our peers, make reality-based decisions–let alone rational ones? The “secret jurisdictions”–places where corporate details can be kept secret–affect not only regions of extraction but the world at large. An analogy: the subprime mortgage mess worked for so long because it was shrouded in financial mystery and confusion; no one auditing it knew what was really going on, and the precise nature and value of the assets at stake–or, if they did, they did not let on. We continue to live with the consequences of this immense confusion.

Osborne signals U-turn on economy with growth plan – UK Politics, UK – The Independent

Osborne signals U-turn on economy with growth plan – UK Politics, UK – The Independent.

Finally, a move that seems to be in the right direction: Keynesian.