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How Iceland’s Rugged Viking Heritage Helped Salvage Its Ravaged Economy

By | May 23, 2017

What can we learn from the Vikings?
I usually write in this space about the economies of the Pacific Rim, and the lessons they hold for policymakers in the United States. But this year, Iceland, with its stunning beauty, is the place to go on vacation, and so I headed to the other side of the planet.
Settled by Vikings in the ninth century, Iceland was …

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An Overconfident Public Learns the Limits of Nate Silver, and Big Data, to Predict the Future

By | May 18, 2017

It’s dark outside and you’re bleary-eyed. You search for your phone and it reads 3:17 a.m. Your mind starts to wander: Why does my boss want to meet with me tomorrow? Did I forget to change the diaper on my baby and will I soon be awoken by crying and a wet bed? Will that fun, flirty date turn into something real?
You then use …

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Why Suckering Americans Is a Booming Business

By | May 17, 2017

American capitalism has always provided openings for hucksters and outright swindlers.
For centuries, this society has been especially receptive to economic innovation and the strategies of wealth-seeking that so often accompany it. Openness to new technologies and new ways of doing business exacerbates information gaps between sellers and buyers. Those gaps, along with the enthusiasm that comes with new products and investment vehicles, create …

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Trump Is Right That the System is “Rigged”—and He’s Stacking It More

By | May 16, 2017

Pundits nearly always attribute Donald Trump’s success to right-wing “populism.” This conclusion is dangerously misleading. Trump’s rise is rooted firmly in his ability to make an old-fashioned word—“rigged”—work in surprisingly fresh ways. Trump correctly diagnosed a feeling among working people that the system was rigged against them, and then leveraged that against his seemingly more sophisticated and better-funded opponents in both parties. That he went into …

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How Western Democracies, In the Kremlin’s Crosshair, Can Fight Back

By | May 11, 2017

The most dramatic development of France’s recent Presidential election was last Friday’s announcement by the Emmanuel Macron campaign that their email and account records had been the target of a massive hacking operation by foreign intelligence operatives. According to reports released in the week leading up to the election, responsibility for the attack lies with the same group that has been implicated in the hacking …

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Democracy Strikes out at Dodger Stadium

By | May 10, 2017

When Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley opened Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962, his ticket price structure was simple, straightforward, and inexpensive: $3.50 for box seats, $2.50 for reserved seats, and $1.50 for general admission and the outfield pavilions. That was for every home game, regardless of opponent—whether it was the hated San Francisco Giants, with whom the Dodgers were engaged in an epic …

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How California and Governor Warren Created a Road Map for America’s Interstate System

By | May 9, 2017

In June, Californians should be marking the 70th anniversary of the Collier-Burns Act. But you probably have never heard of it, even though Collier-Burns likely has an everyday impact on your life.
The Collier-Burns Act of 1947 created the California freeway system by substantially raising the gasoline and other motor vehicle taxes and earmarking the resulting revenues for highway construction. If you drive on freeways, …

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After That Infamous Video, Airlines Should Start Auctioning Spaces On Overbooked Flights

By | May 8, 2017

Last month, consumers around the world were disturbed by video showing a passenger being dragged off United Flight 3411 by at least three security guards.
I don’t need to add my opinion to the millions that have been expressed about the incident. But as a professor of operations management, I am interested in the fundamental economic problem that led to the confrontation caught on video: …

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A Getty Online Exhibition Reflects Splendor and Conflict in Visions of Ancient Palmyra

By | May 4, 2017

All places contain history; traces of the past that can be read, contextualized, interpreted, and, with some effort, crafted into knowledge. Some places are so rich in material and textual information that they become archives, deep resources that beseech the senses and necessitate generations of scientific and intellectual exploration.
The ancient caravan city of Palmyra, also known as Tadmor in Arabic, is one such place. …

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Tired of Working for Uncle Sam? Maybe You’ve Got “Ideological Whiplash”

By | May 3, 2017

“I want one day without a CNN alert that doesn’t scare the hell out of me,” quipped Cecily Strong in a recent SNL skit.
Don’t we all?
Many of us are struggling to manage our emotions since the inauguration, with collective exhaustion mounting. Sudden swings in policy, ranging from immigration to environmental regulation, have caused great emotional turmoil for many Americans watching from the sidelines, …