The rich get richer, the poor get poorer

The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870-2015 asks (and answers):

What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns?

And what’s key here is that if the rate of return is greater than the growth of the economy, inequality is exacerbated. Findings: over the past 150 years, the rate of return has been double the economic growth.

A global map of travel time to cities

A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015:

Our results highlight disparities in accessibility relative to wealth as 50.9% of individuals living in low-income settings (concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa) reside within an hour of a city compared to 90.7% of individuals in high-income settings. By further triangulating this map against socioeconomic datasets, we demonstrate how access to urban centres stratifies the economic, educational, and health status of humanity.

Overhauling economics

From Aeon: a proposal to rethink economics in the same way as quantum physics. Seems wonky and only merely intentionally provocative at first glance but the idea has some merit. It has to do with the nature of transactions, i.e., the exchange of money, being closer to quantum interactions.

The most basic insight of quantum physics was that matter or energy does not move continuously, but is transmitted in discrete, sudden jumps. Money, of course, is the same – there isn’t a little needle showing the money draining out of your account when you make a payment, it just goes in a single step. And as a Bank of England paper noted in 2015, one reason the money-creation process is hard to accommodate in traditional models is that it works ‘instantaneously and discontinuously’ (their emphasis) rather like the creation of quantum particles out of the void.

The most interesting takeaway, however: on current models, economists don’t think about money!

Economists, it seems, think about money less than most people do: as Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, observed in 2001: ‘Most economists hold conversations in which the word “money” hardly appears at all.’

Narco-Dollars: how the drug trade fueled the 90s stock market boom

Fascinating read on how narco-dollars are tied to the larger economy of the United States. Basically, given the amounts involved, there’s no way to launder the money without going through the stock market. The kicker is that if drugs were legalized, it would also purportedly cause a drop in investments.