Is Amazon Going Brick & Mortar? You Heard it Here First! (UPDATED)

Update: Four days after I published this post, the Financial Times reported that Jeff Bezos was considering opening “Apple store-style” outlets. Amazon may be the quintessential online retailer – but with the looming expiration of its sales tax advantage, Amazon is already planning to open opening warehouse locations in its largest sales regions. I believe the ...

Why We Can’t Actually Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time

When it comes to how we spend our time, Americans are a walking paradox. On the one hand, we value choice. From the professions we choose to the myriad work arrangements we increasingly allow in our workplaces, Americans like to think that ours is a nation where getting ‘er done is that much more important ...

What Does it Mean, Mathematically, When we Say That Markets are Efficient? Part Two of an Ongoing Series about Finance

It’s tough to be informed citizen in America without hearing, on regular basis, about how markets are efficient. Indeed, when we go about our day to day affairs, the implications of this efficiency come up in various small ways. We see apartment prices move up and down (and up again) in tandem across the city, ...

Obama may have lost the first debate – but the Left still won. Here’s why.

In your lifetime, you’re likely to see a handful of seismic shifts in what constitutes the center of American politics. At last week’s debate, we may have seen the third such shift in so many decades. America saw it once in the wake of the Civil Rights era in the 60’s and 70’s, as Martin ...

What is Finance? Part One of an Ongoing Series about Finance

For many, finance is about money. However, to think of that way is missing a key ingredient: time. Finance is about moving money across time. Usually, the money is moving from either the future to the present, or from present to the future. Because people prefer to have things today rather than tomorrow, this means ...

No, Apple is not worth more than Poland. Here’s why.

Every time Apple stock reaches a new high, journalists love to report on how the firm is now worth more InsertYourFavoriteBigThingHere. Even CNN recently got in on the act, reporting earlier this year that Apple was now worth more than all of Poland. What made the story stick that it seems, in a hand-wavy sort ...

The Missing Internet Bump: 2 Reasons Markets have Flatlined since the Introduction of the Internet – and Why We Should Seriously be Hoping One of those Reasons is Wrong.

The consumer Internet has changed almost everything. Thanks to wireless broadband has made answers to virtually every question available with a touch and a swipe. Cloud computing has allowed entrepreneurs everywhere to set up servers and store terabytes of user information with nothing more than a web-based login. And e-mail and its successors have made ...

Steve Jobs and the Economics Behind a Cult of Personality

The recent unveiling of the iPad 3 confirms a view that I’ve held privately for a long time now: without Steve Jobs, Apple is having trouble innovating. And the reason lies in a curious but lasting truth about dictatorships and political economy. To understand, we have to travel back in time – the 1950’s – ...

Economists and Race – An Issue Worth Discussing

Are economists as rational and intellectually progressive as they would like to imagine themselves to be? Let me begin by saying that, in recent decades, economists have done a commendable job of systematically and thoroughly dismantling what bigots might term a "rational basis for racism." From labor economics to econometrics, economists across disciplines have made ...

On Responsibility, Taxes, and the Interconnected Web that makes up the United States

Not often in politics do we have the privilege of viewing two competing political philosophies, side-by-side, in a span of days. And yet, there it was, in just last week. On Thursday, President Obama – for what seems like the first time in his presidency – ended a much-heralded speech on jobs with a rejoinder ...