Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Gimmick Economy and a Wide Ranging Interview with FT Alphaville's Izabella Kaminska

I've been waiting for Ms Kaminska to do at least a little victory lap after last week's London employment tribunal ruling in the two test cases that a couple of Uber's drivers were indeed employees.

I'm aware this thing is a long way from settled, appeals have already been filed, the ruling only applies to the two plaintiff drivers, no precedent outside the UK etc. but it is a big deal (and the ruling is a cracking good read) and it ties in perfectly to the fact Izabella was one of the only journos to focus on the shaky structure of the Ube's business model.

And in contrast to the more headline-making links that yours truly found giggle-worthy, stuff like:
UPDATED--"Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt On Journalists"
Or God View which they used to stalk their customers in real time as a party trick:
UPDATED--Here's the Real Problem With Uber: You Can't Trust Them
Or the time they tried to destroy the life and business of Sarah Lacy, founder and editor-in-chief of tech website Pando:
The moment I learned just how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women
Or the rather blunt:
 "Uber has an asshole problem"
That's not to say we didn't link to the financial stuff, it's sort of the raison d'ĂȘtre of the blog and we have a few hundred posts on Uber* but Izabella was out ahead on the unsustainability of the business should any of the moving parts, from the lobbying to the fundraising, to the lawfare, to the misclassification of the drivers to the affinity marketing crap including of cars and insurance, should the wheels come off any of those the whole enterprise is at risk.

So I thought she might write something on Uber at Alphaville that we could link to and do the acknowledgement above, but last week she only posted the follow-up, "Who really benefits from the growth of self-employment?", to Joseph Cotterill's "Uber in ‘minicab company’ shocker".
And this week, nada.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we posted "Anthropic Capitalism And The New Gimmick Economy" by one of the mathematicians-slash-economists working for Peter Thiel and I thought I would look him up and see what else he did. Before I got that far though I saw Cory Doctorow at boingboing had linked to the same piece we had but under the headline "The Gimmick Economy: how central banks pretend software isn't eating the world".

And that "Gimmick Economy... Central Banks" reminded me of an interview Izabella had done with the proprietor of the Macro and Other Market Musings blog, who, as a side gig teaches economics at Texas State. I had initially decided against linking to the interview because the sound levels were crappy for the first five or so minutes but after playing it again on Saturday I thought it covered so much ground that patient reader would be rewarded for putting up with the first few minutes.

Professor Beckworth sandwiches his talk with Izabella in-between ones with the BIS' Claudio Borio the previous week and former regional Fed head Narayana Kocherlakota the next. They are in good company.

From Macro and Other Market Musings:
My latest Macro Musings podcast is with Izabella Kaminska. Izabella is part of Financial Times Alphaville, where she has been since 2008. She has written extensively on monetary policy, fiscal policy, financial technology, and is key force behind the Financial Times Festival of Finance. As a longtime follower of her work, it was a real treat to have her on the show.

We started our conversation by talking about blockchain technology and its implications for the payment system. Izabella is not optimistic about blockchain's future and wonders whether it will fulfill the expectations and hopes many observers have set out for it.
Next, we move on to the topic of universal banking. This is the idea that a central bank would open its balance sheet to anyone, including households and non-financial businesses. Doing so would solve the bank run problem and reduce the probability of a financial crisis. There are already movements in that direction with introduction of the Fed's overnight reverse repo program (RRP)  and derivative houses opening accounts with the Chicago Fed. In the limit, universal banking would mean individuals could have personal checking accounts at the Fed. While this might solve the bank run problem, it would also mean a much larger government role in financial intermedation. We discuss why this would probably end very badly.
Izabella then discusses her take on unconventional monetary policy, especially the use negative interest rates....MORE

*If interested, here's the Google search of the blog: site:climateerinvest.blogspot.com uber