Showing posts from January, 2017

An Unequal World

Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who constitute the poorest half of people on this planet. A year ago, using similar data, 9 billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet. At the rate the super-rich is growing, the world may have its first trillionaire in 25 years . What is a trillion anyway? Well, assuming you spend a million dollars every day, you would have to be around for 2738 years to spend one trillion. In 25 years, the incomes of the rich have risen 182 times as much as the incomes of the poorest. If current trends continue, we would have to wait 170 years for women to earn the same as men. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 people on this planet still lives on less than $2 a day. A woman working 12 hours a day six days a week in a South Asian country earns less than $ 1 per hour. The CEO of the company that sells the finished product earns over $200 million a year . Just allow these figures to sink in for a

The Paradox of Choice

One of the key elements of democracies is competition. One of the key outcomes of competition is choice . Choice is supposed to afford the freedom that is at the heart of rational decision making. Or that is what Economics 101 would tell you. Now consider this. The average grocery store offers some 300 varieties of salad dressings. Are you sure that the one you had today, or yesterday, or last week, was indeed the best? How do you know? Have you tried all the 300? Or assume you want to build a stereo system that will provide you with endless hours of bliss. A well-stocked electronic components store can, in theory, allow you to build seven million varieties of stereo systems. How would you determine that the components that you choose would indeed provide the best possible sound? Choice is a fascinating subject to explore. In his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argued that more choices lead to more stress and thus are less helpful in making dec

The End of a Flat World?

Thomas Friedman wrote his best-selling book on a flat world in 2005. The caption below the title said "A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century." The book was a tour-de-force of the convergence of technology and communications, and the disappearance of physical borders. Given the instant fame and publicity that the book received, no one asked how one could write history looking forward. Just over a decade later, as we enter another year, the theory has come full circle. Today, more than ever before, we can say with certainty that the world is not flat, not just in the physical sense, but even as a metaphor. Of course, there were skeptics then as there are proponents today. Imagining that we live in a world where the factors of production have free mobility gives us a rare degree of comfort. Imagining otherwise can be worrying. Assume for a moment that the proposal to slash corporate taxes in the USA to 15% becomes a reality. That would make the USA the l