LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Much has changed in the 20 years since Scott McNealy dismissed complaints about the nascent Big Brothers of internet commerce. For example, in the European Union it now takes several extra keystrokes to locate the quote from the chief executive of then-Big Tech firm Sun Microsystems, and to officially abandon that little bit of internet privacy.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - “The Defects of an University Education, and its Unsuitableness to a Commercial People” is a little-known work by the Scottish minister William Thom published in 1762, before his compatriot Adam Smith founded modern economics with his “The Wealth of Nations”. Today’s commercial peoples, though, could do with more of something like what his country’s universities were doling out in Thom’s time.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Stocks might not be expensive by some standards. It is, after all, impossible to calculate the objective present value of a financial asset with an unknown future cash flow in an unpredictable world. However, equities are unquestionably expensive in the only way that can be counted: relative to the past.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Joseph Stiglitz does what he does very well. The veteran progressive economist’s latest book provides a solid agenda for traditional centre-left American reformers. However, “People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent” may not be radical enough for today’s challenges.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Equity investors concerned only about the short term can rejoice. Corporate profitability remains on an upward trend in developed economies. Everyone else should be worried by the cause: winner-takes-most dynamics.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Until this week, few were keen to pay for keeping Notre-Dame de Paris safe and sound. The French government did not want to cough up the 150 million euros needed for maintenance, and the Catholic archdiocese had other priorities. Repairs were underway, but the funding was uncertain.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - A total hip replacement is an excellent opportunity to put economic theory to a medical test. As the codeine wore off after my successful operation last week, I pondered the validity of some long-standing economic theories. What follows are four lessons I learned from my three days at The Manor Hospital in Oxford, a small private facility where the UK’s National Health Service sent me for this very common surgery.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Here is something a senior Boeing executive almost certainly never said: “You know how important it is to keep up with Airbus. We’ll have to move fast, even if that means taking a few chances on safety.”
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - When Goldman Sachs goes on the defensive, someone must be attacking with force. The Wall Street firm just published research that tries to clear up some negative “misperceptions” about corporate share repurchases. For many critics of contemporary capitalism, stock buybacks have become emblematic of a corrupt system. As far as this particular practice goes, the critics have a good case.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - MMT may be on the road to economic respectability. However, most established economists are still not impressed by so-called modern monetary theory. A to-and-fro debate has erupted between Stephanie Kelton of Stony Brook University, an MMT proponent, and Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner and “conventional Keynesian”.