48 articles
  • The Moon Is Full of Money

    Capitalism in space.

  •  Kapitonov_HERO

    The Robot Economy Will Run on Blockchain

    What finance will look like when it is controlled by machines.

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    Bo Burnham and the Illusion of Meritocracy

    In a WTF with Marc Maron podcast episode from 2012, musical comedian Bo Burnham said his fortune felt unreal, as if his life were a futuristic VR game. “I could die, take off a helmet, and, look: It’s the Bo Burnham 2000. There’s a whole line of people crying waiting in line,” he told Maron. […]

  • CityCoin_HERO

    Why New York City Needs Its Own Cryptocurrency

    The case for making money local again.

  • DeDeo_HERO-F

    The Bitcoin Paradox

    Why cryptocurrency will always be political.

  • Venkat_HERO

    Is There an Ideal Amount of Income Inequality?

    A conversation with this month’s Ingenious, Venkat Venkatasubramanian.

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    Are You Downplaying Luck’s Role in Your Life?

    When we succeed, we often take that success, in retrospect, to be the result of suffering that liquid trinity of blood, sweat, and tears. Perhaps fortune favored you here and there but, by and large, it was your effort and talent—not contingency—that won the day. Nonsense, says Robert Frank, a professor of economics at Cornell […]

  • Brock_HERO2

    The Moon Is Full of Money

    Capitalism in space.

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    To Become a Better Investor, Think Like Darwin

    “It’s not surprising that the fight-or-flight response is not going to be the most helpful way to deal with a financial crash in the same way that it’s going to be helpful when you’re being attacked in a back alley. It’s because financial markets and financial threats are a relatively new phenomenon.”Photograph by Kenishirotie / […]

  • Why Cancer Drug Prices Keep Rising in the U.S.

    Inside the price tactics of the cancer industrial complex.

  • Levy_HERO

    Investing Is More Luck Than Talent

    The surprising message of the statistics of wealth distribution.

  • Henderson_HERO-F

    Don’t Tell Your Friends They’re Lucky

    Luck has a lot to do with success. We just don’t want to admit it.

  • Henderson_HERO

    Can Topology Prevent Another Financial Crash?

    New regulations are applying network science to restructure global finance.

  • Asteroid Mining_HERO

    Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth

    Space mining is no longer science fiction. By the 2020s, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries—for-profit space-mining companies cooperating with NASA—will be sending out swarms of tiny satellites to assess the composition of hurtling hunks of cosmic debris, identify the most lucrative ones, and harvest them. They’ve already developed prototype spacecraft to do the job. […]

  • Ball_HERO-F-3

    Describing People as Particles Isn’t Always a Bad Idea

    Using physics to describe social phenomena can work—if it’s the right physics.

  • bullbear

    A Real-Life Trader Talks About “The Big Short”

    After watching The Big Short, I felt I had a decent grasp on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. The film, which is being released across the United States today, is based on the book by Michael Lewis, and describes how a few prescient financiers bet against the debt bubble and made millions. Still, […]

  • Henderson_HERO.

    What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

    The 2008 financial crisis taught me about the illusion of control, and how to give it up.

  • Henderson_HERO.

    What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

    The 2008 financial crisis taught me about the illusion of control, and how to give it up.

  • blackfriday

    How Black Friday Got Its Name

    Shutterstock/PremiumVector As legend has it, it takes most of the year for a retail business to become profitable. After months of being “in the red,” in November they are finally “in the black.” This phrase has been used in this way since 1922. But why black? Darkness, and the color black, is typically associated with […]

  • Brodner_HERO-3

    Blowing Off the Grid

    Samsø runs on renewable energy—and makes money doing it.

  • MONIAC American machine diagram

    The Rube Goldberg Machine That Mastered Keynesian Economics

    While researching my soon-to-be-released biography on John Horton Conway, an iconoclastic and very influential mathematician at Princeton, I organized a research trip to his native England. We visited with Conway’s elder sister, Joan, in Liverpool, and convened a reunion at his alma mater, Cambridge. We met there with a few of his “sum chums,” his co-authors […]

  • Weatherall_HERO-1

    Why the Flash Crash Really Matters

    The debate about what caused the 2010 stock market Flash Crash is missing the point.

  • Dasgupta_BREAKER

    Nobody Knows the Real Price of a Forest—and That’s a Problem

    Sir Partha DasguptaJohn Steele Wealth itself is observable and objective, a measure a value. And something has value if it is desired. But isn’t desire inescapably subjective? If it is, how can economics determine wealth? Almost 250 years after Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, the answer to this question remains unclear. “These are still […]

  • Berreby_HERO

    Yes, You’re Irrational, and Yes, That’s OK

    The insight that will save you from being manipulated.

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    MRIs of Careful People Can Predict When Bubbles Will Pop

    r.classen via Shutterstock In the 1630s, Holland was gripped by the world’s only known case of “tulip mania.” The intensely colored flowers were already a luxury item before then, but their prices leaped when tulips with flame patterned petals hit the market, and they continued rocketing to previously incomprehensible levels. The price for a single […]

  • Dasgupta_HERO

    How To Price a Forest, and Other Economics Problems

    A Cambridge economist discusses wealth, health, and disaster.

  • Hanson_HERO

    Drowning in Light

    Technology has fed our addiction to light, and might help us end it.

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    How to Negotiate Like—or Against—a Pirate

    The full annual economic cost of naval piracy globally is estimated to be about $1.5 billion.

  • Wu_HERO

    Have Money, Won’t Travel

    Why do investors prefer to put their money to work at home?

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    The Mental Glitch That Makes Us Throw Good Money After Bad

    Luca Cerabona via Flickr You’ve been waiting for today for weeks. You paid more than you could really afford for tickets to a football game, and the day is finally here. But when you look outside your window early Sunday morning, you realize you’d rather not go. It’s snowing, it’s 20 degrees below zero, and […]

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    The Secret Life of Everything: Where Your Stuff Comes From

      At this stage of the early 21st century, when transparency has evolved from buzzword to business principle, when it’s possible to track anything just about anywhere, you might think it would be a simple matter to choose some everyday product—a cup of coffee, say, or a pen—and trace the paths taken by its parts […]

  • Bitcoin

    Bit by Bitcoin: Virtual Currency Looks a Little More Real

    Earlier this month the FBI arrested the alleged ringleader of Silk Road, an online bazaar that allowed users to buy and sell illegal drugs (among other things), ending its life on the Web—a life that was surprisingly long, considering what was going on there. At the time many people suspected this would have the domino […]

  • Ching_HERO

    Fame is Fortune in Sino-science

    In China, famous science pays like nowhere else.

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    Think You Know Science? Bet in the Nautilus Nobel Exchange

    For better or worse, the Nobel Prize is accepted by both society at large and a great many scientists—though they generally loath admit it—as the ultimate metric of success in the sciences. On the good side, the announcement of one of the science Nobels is a surefire mainstream news story dedicated to new, pathbreaking research; […]

  • bell curve

    The Marvelous, Bad Ideas That Are Worth $Billions

    It’s well-known that statistics is a deceptively difficult topic to understand—at least, it’s well-known among people who’ve had some training about those deceptive difficulties. One concept, though, that seems to penetrate the barriers to statistical understanding is the normal distribution, the standard bell curve. Even if people don’t have the mathematical language to describe it, […]

  • Ropeik_HERO_1280x376

    When Past Disasters Are Prologue

    Past disasters help us prepare—and make us pay attention.

  • Curry_HERO_1280x376

    The Box That Built the Modern World

    How shipping containers made distance irrelevant.

  • Curry_HERO_1280x376

    The Box That Built the Modern World

    How shipping containers made distance irrelevant.

  • Katz_HERO_1280x376

    A Seven-Month Wait for Lunch

    Why food aid needs to overhaul its delivery system.

  • Dawson_HERO_1280x376

    The Fast Food Fruit

    The banana’s journey from the plantation to you is one long science project.