Welfare Slavery

Gombis ( The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God , 51-2)illustrates the way powers work by transcending individual choice and creating enslaving institutions by describing a discovery that he and his wife made when they began to work with the urban poor. Why do people remain in . . . . Continue Reading »

Gospel to the Poor

Francis’s exhortation has gotten attention from the press mainly because of its economic observations. But the starting point for those observations is evangelical: “To whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy . . . . Continue Reading »

Happy Workers

A lot of our happiness is outside our control, a University of Minnesota research project concludes. In that portion that we do control, four factors stand out: faith, family, community, and work. Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute finds the last the most surprising: “Popular . . . . Continue Reading »

Heavenly Merchandizing

Mark Valeri attends to minutiae as he examines the interaction between religion and commercial activity in early New England ( Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America ). He attends to “merchants accounts and ledgers, businesscorrespondence and personal letters, . . . . Continue Reading »

Papal Economics

Maciej Zieba’s PAPAL ECONOMICS: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate is a careful, informative study of Catholic social teaching as embodied in papal encyclicals. Though the book does briefly trace the history of Papal statements on democracy . . . . Continue Reading »

Hidden Economy

When Twitter went public recently, it was valued at $24 billion, with revenue of $535 million. 300 billion tweets have been sent since Twitter began, and that number increases by half a billion a day. What’s curious about this, James Surowieki writes in The New Yorker, is that Twitter uses . . . . Continue Reading »

New Corporatism

Nathan Heller explores the “new corporatism” touted by Apple, Google, Amazon and others in The New Yorker : These companies are “proud models of novel efficiency, and yet, in the same breath, they claim that efficiency isnt their real priority. Brad Stone says that Bezos touts his . . . . Continue Reading »

Social economy

I have many commendations, and one complaint/caveat about Charles Taylor’s discussion of the formation of an “economic” image of society in the early modern period ( A Secular Age , 176-84 ). Kudos for Taylor for his modification of the Weber thesis. Like Weber, he traces the rise . . . . Continue Reading »

Business of Breaking Bad

As “Breaking Bad” winds down, the Economist suggests that the show offers as much insight into business as a Harvard MBA at a fraction of the cost. What makes high-school-teacher-turned-meth-producer Walter White’s business successful? There are three ingredients: “The first . . . . Continue Reading »

Why firms?

Why the firm? Ronald Coase, a Nobel economist who died last week at the age of 102, was among the first to ask the question, in a 1937 article on the nature of the firm . His starting point was to notice the discrepancy between the way economic systems were described in theory and the reality of . . . . Continue Reading »