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Modern economic insights

Rethinking Robin Hood and Taming Swarms

In his publication “Rethinking Robin Hood” Angus Deaton asks attention for the rising inequality in the west. He refers to a report by Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer, who found that “several million Americans – black, white, and Hispanic – now live in households with per capita income of less than $2 a day, essentially the same standard that the World Bank uses to define destitution-level poverty in India or Africa. Finding shelter in the United States on that income is so difficult that...


The purpose of IT

From productivity to transactivity

What is the purpose of IT?

In the economic perspective, IT is a general purpose technology. You can utilize it in many different productive settings. When I entered the IT field, thirty years ago, the buzz word was automation. And indeed, banks were automating their back offices. Today, we are developing and utilizing robots, and this too is automation.

In the nineteen eighties, the buzz word changed into information. Databases became the central elements of IT, and of firms. We understood...


Improvement, innovation or disruption?

A good question

When introducing tiny product improvements, large firms tend to call them "innovations". A lot of start-ups tend to call their new products "disruptive" innovations. Understandably, they all like to add a little bit more excitement and adventure to their work, but there are quite strict limits to the use of these terms.

According to the Business Dictionary, an innovation is "the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will...

Panda firms

Evolutionary perspective on economics

Panda firms are firms that cannot survive in the age of digitization, and seek protection.

The Giant Panda probably is the cutest animal on earth. Two years ago I visited the breeding center in Chengdu (China), and although the weather was not good at all, a lot of visitors were there (under umbrellas) to enjoy the comic actions of these animals. They really do nothing but fooling around in trees and eating bamboo shoots and leaves. They do not seem to care about their future. The Chinese...


A Red Queen concept

In his 2012 book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Taleb states that "robust" is not the opposite of "fragile". In his view, robust is only the neutral middle between fragile and antifragile. Fragile things are hurt or killed by abuse, ill-treatment or assault. Robust things can withstand such disorder, but do not gain from it. Only antifragile things do.

Though I do not really like the "anti" part in the name of this concept, I do like Taleb's organic thinking.



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