Economy + Business

Can a future ban on gas-powered cars work? An economist explains
2021 Jan 05
California's proposition to halt the sale of gasoline-powered engines may be extreme. But could it work?
Can employers require workers to take the COVID-19 vaccine? 6 questions answered
2020 Dec 22
The federal agency in charge of enforcing discrimination laws in the workplace said 'yes,' but there are some important exceptions and limitations.
Why Facebook antitrust case relies so heavily on Mark Zuckerberg's emails
2020 Dec 18
While relying on internal documents can be controversial, Zuckerberg's emails are so detailed and specific that they're impossible to ignore.
US nonprofits raised $2.5 billion on Giving Tuesday in 2020
2020 Dec 17
Even after donors boosted their charitable giving at other times of the year, people donated 25% more than in 2019 through the annual campaign.
5 ways MacKenzie Scott’s $5.8 billion commitment to social and economic justice is a model for other donors
2020 Dec 16
By not attaching any strings to the money, championing representation and generally taking care to respect nonprofit leaders, she's following five best practices.
Americans aren't getting enough to eat during the coronavirus pandemic – here's what's happening in Los Angeles County
2020 Dec 16
Not having enough to eat is a major public health concern, not only because it causes hunger and distress, but also because it’s linked to poor nutrition and unstable diet patterns.
Companies accused of crimes get more digital privacy rights than people under new Trump policy
2020 Dec 16
A recent Labor Department memo urges agencies to avoid releasing press releases accusing companies of violating laws, to protect the companies' reputations. People are denied the same protections.
COVID-19 further exposes inequalities in the global financial system
2020 Dec 15
Global economic policy excludes low-income countries from the spending options that developed nations use to buffer their economies in times of crisis, and the pandemic has inflamed that inequality.
When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine? 5 questions parents are asking
2020 Dec 08
COVID-19 vaccine testing on children is just getting started, and only in adolescents.
Job policies that offer generous unemployment benefits create more happiness – for everyone
2020 Nov 06
Governments use a variety of labor market policies to support workers who lose their jobs – each with a different impact on a country's well-being.
California voters decide Uber and Lyft drivers are 'contractors' as gig workers continue search for a livable wage
2020 Nov 05
The debate over how to classify gig workers pits flexibility against the higher incomes and benefits that come with being classified as an employee.
Only the richest ancient Athenians paid taxes – and they bragged about it
2020 Nov 03
In ancient Athens, the richest people paid taxes to support what the residents considered the salvation of the city. These taxes earned them social and political clout more valuable than money.
Most surprising thing about a new report showing climate change imperils the US financial system is that the report even exists
2020 Oct 30
A diverse group of experts including representatives of oil companies and banks unanimously agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to the financial system.
Biden's climate change plans can quickly raise the bar, but can they be transformative?
2020 Nov 10
After four years of the US government undoing climate change policies and partnerships, a Biden administration has a chance to rebuild that leadership. But success will require more than quick wins.
Choosing health insurance is so complicated, 23% of workers with only two choices picked the worse one
2020 Nov 10
Often the main differences among plans involve a long list of varying deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses, which can be tough to analyze.
Why Republicans and others concerned about the economy have reason to celebrate Biden in the White House
2020 Nov 07
The US economy historically does better under Democratic presidents than Republicans, with far fewer months spent in recession
American timber industry crippled by double whammy of trade war and COVID-19
2020 Nov 16
Wood, a major export of the US, has taken a hit from international tariffs compounded by COVID-19.
Regulators can help clear the way for entrepreneurial energy companies to innovate
2020 Nov 16
A study points to one way to speed up adoption of innovations in clean energy technology – more flexibility among state regulators.
Segregation policies in federal government in early 20th century harmed Blacks for decades
2020 Nov 13
President Wilson sanctioned segregation policies more than a century ago by targeting Black civil service workers.
What's the gold standard, and why does the US benefit from a dollar that isn't tied to the value of a glittery hunk of metal?
2020 Nov 19
While Trump's nominee to join the Fed favors returning to the gold standard, an economist explains why the US and the rest of the world abandoned it in the first place.
Election spending in 2020 doubled to $14 billion – 3 takeaways from a campaign finance expert
2020 Nov 18
Millions of people gave money to Biden, Trump or both. What they get – or not – for their donations points to the real problems with America's system of campaign finance.
Why nursing home aides exposed to COVID-19 aren’t taking sick leave
2020 Nov 23
Over one-third of America’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home residents. Employee policies, particularly for low-paid aides, have sharply raised the risk.
How Biden might stimulate the sputtering US economy: 4 questions answered
2020 Nov 20
The Biden administration plans to push for a bold stimulus package to bolster the ailing American economy. An economist explains what he's up against.
Nonprofits are struggling to do more with less money, but donors and volunteers can help: 5 questions answered
2020 Nov 30
Nonprofits are being forced to do more with less money, which may force many of them to close within the next couple of years.
Why waiters give Black customers poor service
2020 Nov 30
It's long been known that Black patrons of bars and restaurants tend to get worse service than white customers. What's not been well understood is precisely why.
Janet Yellen and Kamala Harris keep shattering glass ceilings – but global elite boys club remains
2020 Nov 25
An analysis of 100 of the most powerful organizations in the world shows women are still struggling to penetrate the deepest corridors of power.
The Taliban are megarich – here's where they get the money they use to wage war in Afghanistan
2020 Dec 08
Because the Taliban's insurgency is so well financed, the Afghan government must spend enormous sums on war, too. A peace accord would free up funds for basic services, economic development and more.
Why Biden will find it hard to undo Trump's costly 'America first' trade policy
2020 Dec 04
President-elect Biden hopes to restore America's global leadership on issues like trade, but populists in both parties may make his job a lot harder.
How TikTok is upending workplace social media policies – and giving us rebel nurses and dancing cops
2020 Dec 03
Workers are increasingly making short videos of themselves on the job and posting them to TikTok, creating a new challenge for employers trying to police their behavior.
A better way for billionaires who want to make massive donations to benefit society
2020 Dec 02
Rather than pump money into a broken system, people like Jeff Bezos and Charles Koch could use their money to help fix it – by insulating politics from money.
Why we're so bad at counting the calories we eat, drink or burn
2020 Dec 10
People worried about gaining weight over the holidays may try to estimate how many calories are in the foods they put on their plates. But it's not as easy as it looks.
Workers are looking for direction from management – and any map is better than no map
2020 Dec 09
Although the end of the pandemic may be in sight, the costs of working remotely are growing. It's time companies had a plan – even if they aren't returning to the office any time soon.
The iconic American inventor is still a white male – and that's an obstacle to race and gender inclusion
2020 Dec 08
The story of invention in America typically features larger-than-life caricatures of white men like Thomas Edison while largely ignoring the contributions of women and people of color.
Why shielding businesses from coronavirus liability is a bad idea
2020 Dec 10
Congress and the White House are trying to wrap up negotiations on a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus bailout, but Senate Republican demands for a liability shield has been a key obstacle.
Sanders called JPMorgan's CEO America's 'biggest corporate socialist' – here's why he has a point
2020 Feb 06
In some ways, many of America's CEOs are like closet socialists whose corporations offer a working model for what a socialist United States could look like.
Democratic plans for raising taxes on the rich: A guide for the middle class
2020 Feb 07
Every Democratic presidential candidate plans to raise taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations, but they differ in how to get there.
Employment gaps cause career trouble, especially for former stay-at-home parents
2020 Feb 07
Stay-at-home parents have a hard time reentering the workforce after spending time away.
Real pay data show Trump's 'blue collar boom' is more of a bust for US workers, in 3 charts
2020 Feb 07
In his State of the Union address, Trump said workers are experiencing a boom in wages. The numbers say different.
3 ways coronavirus will affect the US economy – and 1 silver lining
2020 Feb 10
As the Fed warns of the risks posed by the new coronavirus, a supply chain expert explains how the outbreak could harm companies and the economy.
How the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will increase inequality
2020 Feb 11
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is the latest example of weakened enforcement of antitrust laws, which reduces competition and exacerbates already-record levels of inequality.
Transgender Americans are more likely to be unemployed and poor
2020 Feb 13
In a national survey, transgender individuals had worse employment outcomes, lower incomes and higher rates of poverty than cisgender people.
How to convince your loved ones to get the flu shot this year
2020 Feb 13
The flu shot is a bargain – and people are more likely to get it if they know that.
AI algorithms intended to root out welfare fraud often end up punishing the poor instead
2020 Feb 14
States are increasingly turning to machine learning and algorithms to detect fraud in food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare programs – despite little evidence of actual fraud.
Growing up in a banking desert can hurt your credit for the rest of your life
2020 Feb 19
Banking deserts make it harder for children and young adults to become financially literate, which leads to worse credit and a lifetime of disadvantage.
Coronavirus: We need to start preparing for the next viral outbreak now
2020 Feb 20
The tremendous costs of COVID-19 show why the world needs to do a better job preventing epidemics from occurring – or at least mitigate the impact.
Nondisclosure and secrecy laws protect Bloomberg – not the women who sued him
2020 Feb 20
Bloomberg released three women from their nondisclosure agreements after Sen. Warren challenged him on the topic at the Nevada Democratic debate.
Goldman Sachs' push for board diversity doesn't go far enough
2020 Feb 24
More women on corporate boards means more opportunities for women, and better performances by businesses.
Customers hate tipping before they're served – and asking makes them less likely to return
2020 Feb 25
How do you feel when your barista asks you for a tip before she makes your cappuccino?
A company's good deeds can make consumers think its products are safer
2020 Feb 26
New research shows that when companies do things like give to charity or reduce their carbon footprint, consumers perceive their products as less risky.
Supporting worker sleep is good for business
2020 Feb 26
The more businesses encourage their employees to sleep well, the better their employees perform.
A guerrilla-to-entrepreneur plan in Colombia leaves some new businesswomen isolated and at risk
2020 Feb 26
Small business grants are supposed to help Colombia's disarmed FARC fighters start new lives as entrepreneurs. But interviews with 12 female ex-insurgents suggests the government plan may fail women.
Stocks are plummeting – could coronavirus cause a recession?
2020 Feb 26
An economist explains how a virus like COVID-19 could disrupt the US economy – and why it's too soon to freak out just yet.
Don't fear a 'robot apocalypse' – tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid
2020 Feb 27
What's more, higher education holds the key to ensuring humans are equipped with the necessary skills to work alongside AI.
Scaling back SNAP for self-reliance clashes with the original goals of food stamps
2020 Feb 27
This pillar of the American safety net originated as a solution to the paradox of hunger in the midst of plenty.
Black women prefer hair products marketed with them in mind
2020 Feb 28
With the fairly recent launch of an ethnic corporate product line, Pantene's Gold Series Collection, are black women feeling the love?
Coronavirus: A simple way to keep workers – and the economy – from getting sick
2020 Mar 02
Unemployment insurance could soften the blow if the COVID-19 outbreak takes hold in the US. But the system currently isn't designed to help workers in a pandemic.
The sharing economy helps women find new economic opportunities in Jordan
2020 Mar 04
Research reveals a complicated relationship between surveillance and freedom, as surveillance activities allow for greater autonomy for women hoping to work in Jordan.
If you want to help after the Nashville tornadoes, give cash, not clothing and other stuff
2020 Mar 04
Donated goods often not only fail to help those in actual need but cause congestion, tie up resources and further hurt local economies.
The Fed's 'surprise' interest rate cut: 5 questions answered
2020 Mar 04
The Fed cut interest rates by half a percentage point in hopes of calming investors. A finance professor explains why it seems to have failed.
The dysfunctional debt ceiling and why we should kill it: 5 questions answered
2019 Jul 19
The US hit the debt ceiling in March and is expected to run out of ways to get around the new $22 trillion limit by September. An economist explains why the ceiling is a dysfunctional relic.
Voices from an age of uncertain work – Americans miss stability and a shared sense of purpose in their jobs
2019 Jul 19
A growing number of jobs are becoming less stable, with fewer benefits and stagnating wages. This is taking a significant toll on the psychological health of workers.
How immigrants give American companies a powerful boost against Chinese rivals
2019 Jul 19
While the US is a nation of immigrants, China is not. That's a huge competitive advantage when doing business in emerging markets.
The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient
2019 Jul 19
As the US prepares to replace NAFTA, a labor scholar who was critical of Perot but shared concerns about the deal revisits the claim that helped him become the most successful third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt.
Why states and cities should stop handing out billions in economic incentives to companies
2019 Jul 19
Recent scandals involve economic development programs in New Jersey and Maryland highlight their many flaws, including a lack of oversight and their ineffectiveness.
Selecting groceries ahead of time helps some shoppers make healthier choices
2019 Jul 19
A study found that grocery shoppers who could change their orders were more likely to swap produce for junk food than the other way around.
How Congress lost power over trade deals – and why some lawmakers want it back
2019 Jul 19
President Trump has unilaterally raised tariffs and sparked trade wars, all without consulting Congress. A century ago, the roles were reversed.
New York's new rental protections won't end the outsize influence of big developers who pay the city's bills
2019 Jul 19
New York City's municipal budget relies heavily on the property taxes of extremely high-value real estate. That drives gentrification and distorts local policy in other ways that hurt residents.
Amazon is turning 25 – here's a look back at how it changed the world
2019 Jul 19
On July 5, the online shopping powerhouse turns 25. A marketing professor looks back on how Amazon redefined retail for the world.
How America’s Founding Fathers felt about tariffs
2019 Jul 19
Arguments over Trump's tariffs and trade wars are just the latest salvo in a heated debate that has raged since the dawn of the American republic.
Thanks, 'Avengers: Endgame,' for reminding us why inflation matters
2019 Jul 19
It's why Marvel's effort to break the worldwide box office record is doomed, as an economist explains.
Men do see the mess – they just aren't judged for it the way women are
2019 Jul 19
Dirt blindness is used by some to excuse men for spending a third as much time as women cleaning. A new study shows it's a myth.
Male nonprofit CEOs earn more – but the problem runs deeper than a simple gender pay gap
2019 Jul 19
Approaching gender parity on the boards of big nonprofits might help narrow the pay gap among the sector's highest-paid leaders.
The US economy likely just entered its longest ever expansion – here's who's benefiting in 3 charts
2019 Jul 19
Most of the gains from the record economy went to those at the top, while everyone else saw much smaller gains – if any – in income and wealth.
A Trump-Xi trade deal would do little to fix the real problems US companies face in China
2019 Jul 19
Presidents Xi and Trump agreed to restart trade talks at the G-20, but even if a major deal is reached, US companies would still have a very hard time doing business in China.
Trademark scholar says FUCT's victory at Supreme Court is a win for free speech
2019 Jul 19
The high court struck down a ban on trademarking 'immoral' or 'scandalous' words and symbols. A trademark scholar explains why that's a good thing.
The guts of an Apple iPhone show exactly what Trump gets wrong about trade
2019 Jul 19
Trump believes the money Americans spend on Chinese imports like the iPhone goes straight into China's pockets. In reality, China gets very little value from it.
Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they're large
2019 Jul 19
US lawmakers and regulators are beginning to investigate big tech's growing power, but they need to look beyond size and into their very natures.
Corporate boards are supposed to oversee companies but often turn a blind eye
2019 Jul 19
The consequences for board members of corporations found to violate the law and ethical norms are rare and usually minor.
US poverty statistics ignore millions of struggling Americans
2019 Jul 19
In the US, poverty is measured by income level. But that measure misses many other aspects of poverty – like unemployment, poor health and a lack of health insurance.
Risk of shooting war with Iran grows after decades of economic warfare by the US
2019 Jul 19
Trump announced 'hard-hitting' new sanctions on Iran in response to the attack on a US drone. A peace studies scholar explains why sanctions rarely work.
Why Federal Reserve independence matters
2019 Jul 19
President Trump has discussed firing Fed Chair Jerome Powell over the central bank's interest rate policies. Research shows this kind of political meddling is usually bad for the economy.
Facebook claims Libra offers economic empowerment to billions – an economist is skeptical
2019 Jul 19
Facebook claims its new cryptocurrency will bring financial inclusion and opportunity to billions, pushing cash further to the fringes. Is that a good thing?
American giving lost some ground in 2018 amid tax changes and stock market losses
2019 Jul 19
Although far fewer Americans took the charitable deduction on their tax returns, giving stayed fairly steady, according to the annual Giving USA report.
Americans don't agree on whether the poor should chip in or do work in exchange for aid
2019 Jul 19
When asked to donate money they had earned through participating in a study, average people tended to choose the less onerous requirements rather than big ones.
Predicting the next stock market 'flash crash'
2019 May 22
Thanks to new trading technology, sudden steep falls may become more common. A new program uses the principles of fluid dynamics to try to predict crashes before they happen.
Why the IRS is legally required to give Congress Trump's tax returns – but probably won't
2019 May 22
While the Treasury secretary says House Democrats lack a 'legitimate' reason for demanding Trump's tax returns, a former IRS attorney explains that the law says otherwise.
Trump’s one-on-one approach to China has dangerous implications for global trade and world peace
2019 May 22
Trump's embrace of bilateralism in trade relations has pernicious long-term consequences, including ratcheting up the odds of violent conflict.
Should the NRA fear losing its 'nonprofit status'?
2019 May 22
More likely dangers include administrative hassles and fines.
3 ways $2 trillion for infrastructure can fight inequality too
2019 May 22
Just as America's highways, sewage systems and water pipes need fixing, so does the growing gap between rich and poor. Trump and the Democrats could use that money to address both.
Our smartphone addiction is killing us – can apps that limit screen time offer a lifeline?
2019 May 22
Software makers including Apple have been creating apps aimed at limiting how much time we spend using our smartphones. A behavioral scientist explains how – and whether – they work.
Data insecurity leads to economic injustice – and hits the pocketbooks of the poor most
2019 May 22
The drumbeat of data breaches and the growing problem of identity theft disproportionately harm low-income Americans.
At work, women and people of color still have not broken the glass ceiling
2019 May 22
White men have historically and disproportionately held official, managerial and professional occupations. But women and people of color are slowly gaining.
Uber drivers report 80-plus hour workweeks and a lot of waiting
2019 May 22
One of Uber's selling points is that a driver is always available to pick up a rider within minutes. But the drivers who make this possible aren't being compensated for the time they spend waiting.
Don't buy that Gucci knockoff: Your bargain benefits organized crime while endangering countless others
2019 May 22
The Trump administration recently announced a plan to curb counterfeiting on websites and at ports of entry. But what's missing is the role consumers play in supporting this criminal activity.
How your employer uses perks like wellness programs, phones and free food to control your life
2019 May 22
From Ford to Facebook, companies have long used benefits to mold employee behavior – even incentivizing the 'right' kind of lifestyle.
FUCT gets day in court as SCOTUS considers dropping slippery moral standard when granting trademarks
2019 May 22
A trademark law scholar explains why the impossible-to-apply standard, dating back to the early 20th century, is ineffective and needs to be abolished.
'You're unallocated!' and other BS companies use to obscure reality
2019 May 22
Companies often go out of their way to avoid clearly explaining actions like firing people or informing investors and others of bad news.
Why political meddling with central banks is a terrible idea – and the Federal Reserve is no exception
2019 May 22
President Trump has been attacking the Federal Reserve for months and appears intent on nominating political allies to its board. An economist explain what typically happens next.
Trump declares economic war on Cuba
2019 May 22
The Trump administration has declared the most severe new sanctions against Cuba since President John F. Kennedy imposed an economic embargo banning all trade with the communist island in 1962.
Retailers like Walmart are embracing robots – here's how workers can tell if they'll be replaced
2019 May 22
Two management experts devised a new way to predict whether your job is likely to get stolen by a robot – and what you can do about it.
What China wants: 3 things motivating China's position in trade negotiations with the US
2019 May 22
US-China relations are fast deteriorating, leading to fears that a ‘cold war’ may be brewing. A China expert explains what’s motivating its behavior.
Congress is considering privacy legislation – be afraid
2019 May 22
States like California have been at the forefront of privacy innovation in recent decades. A possible federal law could bring their experimentation to a halt, harming consumers.
How millennials are affecting the price of your home
2019 May 22
As millennials flock to certain parts of the US, home prices in those areas are surging.
Is Trump’s trade war saving American jobs – or killing them?
2019 May 22
Trump claims the tariffs he’s imposed on imports from China and elsewhere are saving US industries and jobs. The data offers a murkier picture.
China-US trade war heats up: 3 reasons it won't cool down anytime soon
2019 May 22
An economist explains why the US and Chinese governments are most likely to dig in their heels rather than find a compromise to end the costly trade conflict.
Demise of Walmart 'greeters' reveals shortcomings in the Americans with Disabilities Act
2019 May 22
Ambiguities in the Americans with Disabilities Act have allowed employers to sidestep a major component of the law: the requirement to provide workers with 'reasonable accommodations.'
Women entrepreneurs thrive managing talented teams and balancing many investors
2019 May 22
New research suggests women-led startups can experience more rapid employment growth than those run by men in certain scenarios.
Uber drivers strike and the future of labor: 4 essential reads
2019 May 22
The Uber driver walkout raises questions about how workers can fight for better pay and benefits in the age of the gig economy – a topic frequently on the minds of Conversation scholars.
How Uber and other digital platforms could trick us using behavioral science – unless we act fast
2019 May 22
Uber's IPO will value the company at more than $80 billion, yet the data it collects on its users may be worth even more – and creates the potential for dangerous manipulation.