Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail, has published a new book that looks at something of interest to Consumerist: the trend of content and services to slide toward free, especially in the digital world. It’s pretty light reading and an interesting look at economics in the digital marketplace in particular—and for now, at least, it’s available in multiple formats for free.
The next time you apply for a credit card, your credit report and income will be only a part of the criteria used to determine your creditworthiness. For that matter, as long as you have the card, what you use it for will be noted and added to a growing set of data that makes up your psychological profile, which will then be referred to every time the bank deals with your or reevaluates your risk as a customer.
Vanity Fair’s April cover story is on Iceland’s banking massacre — detailing how the the tiny, well-to-do country committed “one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history.”
Utah, that’s which state! Or so says Harvard researcher Ben Edelman, who “analyzed subscriber data from an unnamed ‘top 10 seller of online adult entertainment.’” When comparing broadband subscribers, Utah comes in first with an average of 5.47 per 1000. In second place is Alaska with just over 5.03 per 1000, and coming in third is Mississippi.
Yes, we’re saying the “D” word. Now that we’ve officially entered a recession — it’s time to wonder if we’re in a depression. We’d love to be able to give you a yes or no answer, but according to Marketplace’s personal finance guy, Chris Farrell, nobody agrees about what makes a depression different from a recession.
Here’s a grim economics lesson: In Alabama, there’s a law that allows the Sheriff to keep any money that’s left over after feeding the prisoners in the county jail. Can you guess what the result of this conflict of interest might be?
Want to know where your fifties go when you fill up your car with gas? GOOD’s latest chart breaks down the assorted costs, and compares them with other places around the globe. You can grab a free printed copy at any Starbucks, or go here to check it out in bright RGB goodness.
R. Preston McAfee, a Cal Tech economics professor, is annoyed at how overpriced textbooks are. “‘The person who pays for the book, the parent or the student, doesn’t choose it,’ he said. ‘There is this sort of creep. It’s always O.K. to add $5.’” To fight back, he’s foregone the potential six-figure advance traditional publishing would have granted, and published his textbook online for free.
Here’s an interesting experiment. This website is trying to use Flickr to explore the relative value of $5 around the world. They’re asking you to take pictures of things that cost 5 bucks and submit them to their Flickr pool, (or email them).
The Mexican restaurant chain Chachos is now charging a 7.5% inflation surcharge on all meals with cheese. Skyrocketing commodity prices present restaurants with a menu of unappetizing choices: raise prices, levy surcharges, reduce portions? How would you like your inflation served? Vote in our poll, after the jump.
Sears is pretty desperate for that stimulus check money. They’re offering a 10% bonus to anyone who converts their stimulus check into a Sears Gift Card.
Wal-Mart's Katrina Heroism: "Above All, Do The Right Thing," CEO Told Managers Before Katrina Struck
A paper written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist (we’re still not quite sure what that means, other than it’s considered slightly controversial), recounts Wal-Mart’s relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina (PDF) and points out that private businesses, along with the Coast Guard, did far more than any “official” government agency in providing immediate, on-the-ground assistance to victims. His argument is that something as complex as a relief effort is more efficient when it’s decentralized and involves private businesses. Horwitz has also, separately, supported the idea that Wal-Mart should win the Nobel Peace Price. Hey, we told you his school of economics was controversial.
The Freakonomics blog says we’re in a recession. Who the hell are we to argue? [Freakonomics]
Y’all really don’t have good feelings about the economy, according to the Consumer Confidence Index which dropped to 75 this month from 87.3 in January. That’s the lowest it’s been since the 64.8 of Feb ’03, just before the US invaded Iraq. Furthemore, the “expectations for th next six months index” dropped to 57.9 from 69.3 in January. It might be a good time to start eating less so your stomach shrinks in preparation for the lean times.
The average age of new car buyers in January 2007 was 43. In January 2008, it was 48. This suggests that as the economy tightens, younger car buyers are staying out of the new car market. [Kicking Tires]