The Gig Economy Data Hub

This looks interesting and useful.

The Gig Economy Data Hub aims to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of the gig economy.

The home page gets off to a great start:

A freelance graphic designer earns $25,000 for an ad campaign. A teacher drives for Uber on the weekends. An electrician owns and operates a successful small business. A stay-at-home mom sells Mary Kay cosmetics on Facebook. A recent immigrant cleans houses under the table. A retired woman knits hats to sell at craft fairs. What do these workers have in common?

There is more to what is currently called the gig economy than flavour-of-the-month media stories suggest.

The Data Hub is a collaboration between the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative and Cornell University’s ILR School. The data appears to be all US-focused, but the lessons and many of the findings will doubtless translate at least to the UK and possibly beyond.

 

Photo by Lucian Novosel on Unsplash

The Economist on the Conservative Party

From last week’s Economist, a thoughtful piece on the state of the Conservative party:

If it can keep its head, though, and bring off a Brexit that does not plunge the country into chaos or paupery, then its long habit of exercising power, its ruthlessness with its leaders and its ability to mix firmness with flexibility—qualities which have made the Conservative Party the democratic world’s most successful political machine—may yet see it through. And the intellectual skills of a rising generation—not something it has always been able to count on—may, if exercised to the full, allow not mere survival, but success.

Image: Getty Images

Reinventing Liberalism – The Economist

Last week’s Economist, on its 175th anniversary, has a ten-page essay on  Reinventing Liberalism for the 21st Century.

If, like me, you’ve sometimes struggled to join the dots between the classical liberalism of, say, John Stuart Mill and the snowflakey, leftish liberalism that seems to be growing in US, and now UK, universities, this is an essential read. It offers a history and diagnosis of what is wrong with liberalism today, the challenges that need to be addressed – immigration and refugees; the social contract; China, Trump and right wing populism in Europe – and a call to arms for radical, liberal changes.

Set your Sunday aside and read the full essay, here.

 

Image: The Economist

Financial independence in your 40s

Today’s Times has a piece on the so-called Fire (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement that, having taken off in North American is growing in the UK, too.

Here’s the magic formula:

The basic mathematics of Fire are that you need a net worth of 25 times your annual spending, invested sensibly in the stock market in low-cost tracker funds or in buy-to-let property.

Financial independence, whether you  choose to continue working or not, must represent true sovereignty. It’s therefore a worthy goal for the sovereign professional.
“If you can save 50 per cent of your take-home pay, it will take 19 years to go from broke to never needing to work again. If you can save 75 per cent, it will take seven to eight years.”
The basic requirements are a long-term focus and an ability for deferred gratification.
It reminds me of a great book, Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, which is well-worth a read.
Photo by Sonja Guina on Unsplash

Level playing fields and the realities of retail

Patrick Hoskings, Financial Editor at The Times, writes a rational and thoughtful column on the realities of British retail (free registration required, I think).

The unpalatable truth is that online retailers by and large are winning not because of their tax advantage but because they are producing a better service compared with many traditional shops. Technology has transformed the business of remote shopping. Buyers can glean far more product information and advice with a few clicks of the mouse or swipes of the phone than they ever garner from an assistant in a physical shop.

For some merchandise, the shop is fast becoming an absurd anachronism. The very idea that a business would still assemble a narrow range of products in a not very accessible room miles from the ultimate buyer’s home and put an under-trained and under-informed youngster in charge seems as quaint as a cash register with a bell that goes kerching.

Accompanying the ongoing Death of the High Street is a chorus of wailing for a level playing field. But, whenever people call for “fairness”, we need to check our objectivity.

In truth, we all vote with our wallets.

 

Photo by Alexandra Kirr on Unsplash … which I recognise as Daunt Books in Marylebone, London.

Hayek, Popper and Schumpeter – @TheEconomist on the Viennese economists

Three exiles from Vienna and their responses to totalitarianism.

Part of the Economist’s Schools Brief series, this is a great essay on the influential Viennese exiles.

Today the Austrians are as relevant as ever. Autocracy is hardening in China. Democracy is in retreat in Turkey, the Philippines and elsewhere. Populists stalk the Americas and Europe: in Vienna a party with fascist roots is in the ruling coalition. All three would have been perturbed by the decay of the public sphere in the West. Instead of a contest of ideas, there is the tribal outrage of social media, leftwing zealotry on America’s campuses and fearmongering and misinformation on the right.

Of no direct relevance, Vienna was recently ranked as the world’s most liveable city. It is certainly, beautiful, elegant and civilised.

And, of course it was the inspiration for a great song…

 

Image: National Portrait Gallery

Echoes through time: whoever offers to another a bargain

Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790), An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Too often, focus is on the [wicked] “self-love” rather than on the proper context.

 

Image: Shutterstock