Read on the street 23 November 2019

Good morning,

Yesterday, I learnt a new turn of phrase, though I don’t think I’ll have much use for it in the short term: “post-economic”. It’s what Silicon Valley folk call those who will never need to consider their finances again, as in “I’m totally post-economic since I sold my start-up to Twitter and moved in with Elon.” And as the real world cries of “It’s not fair!” get lost in the onslaught of Christmas and election fever, I offer you up some more distraction I hope will leave you with something else to think about during your weekend.

Why don’t rich people just stop working?

The simple answer to this is that they can’t. And given the global share of capital owned by the one per centers is currently at its greatest ever level, and is set to increase, it might be useful to keep a closer eye on the mindsets of the super rich. Excessive wealth – rather ironically, it turns out – comes at a cost. Those at the top are, by definition, isolated, and are becoming increasingly anxious as a result of their never-ending quest for more dosh. Boohoo.

Read in The New York Times.

The millennial urban lifestyle is about to get more expensive

As for the rest of us, having guzzled on discount Deliveroos or taken cheap Uber rides home for more than a decade, an almighty hangover now beckons. This year’s string of botched tech start-up IPOs has shown the dual subsidy funding models to be fundamentally flawed and in order to keep afloat, consumers are going to have to fork out with higher prices. Just as it did after the last dot-com boom, unit economics is about to have its revenge.

Read in The Atlantic.

The Disney+ hack shows why you need to up your password game

Disney's new subscription service (Disney+), which signed up 10 million customers on the first day it launched, has already suffered its first hack. And yet, it was Disney’s customers, not its systems, that were compromised. Thanks to a technique called “credential stuffing”, hackers can simply cross-reference stolen passwords across a database of users, and once they find a match, they stay put until moved along by a password reset. The lesson of this sorry saga? Use different passwords for different sites, and change them often, folks!

Read on

Jio giveth India its data revolution. Now Jio taketh away?

Following a statement this week that Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecoms firm, will increase its tariffs, rock-bottom prices for internet in the Indian subcontinent will soon be a thing of the past. But what does that mean for consumers in other emerging markets who only recently secured internet access – and all its associated freedoms, including access to financial services – for the first time? What does it mean for those 400 million Indians who have not yet benefited from the technology boom? As growth in access to 4G stalls, so too might the potential good it does in the world.

Read on Quartz India.

How long can leaderless movements last?

In Hong Kong, Chile, Iraq and Lebanon, the ‘leaderless protest’ is on the rise. They have created a headache for authorities, sure, but also for the movements themselves. Just like Occupy Wall Street, their strength, and weakness, is in their anonymity – how can you stop them, if you don’t know who to target? And for the protestors, how can you win, if you can’t trust who to follow?

Read in The Atlantic.

Emmanuel Macron warns Europe: NATO is becoming brain-dead

Back to the trust issue again here, as Macron asks, what’s the point in NATO if you can’t trust its members to honour their agreements?It’s a question crudely put, but in asking it, the French president has signalled a shift in the tectonic plates of Western geopolitics that will be on a scale we have not seen in our lifetimes. In its place, Macron demands that the EU make plans for a formal, funded European army. He’s setting the scene for some theatre in 2020 regardless of what happens in the White House.

Read in The Economist.

The extraordinary impeachment testimony of Fiona Hill

Thursday gave us by far the most thoughtful, forthright and well expressed testimony in the US presidential impeachment inquiry to date. From who? Fiona Hill - a US citizen since 2002, she was born to a working class family in Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, England, and until recently, served as US National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia. Over the course of her testimony she systematically debunked much of what the Republicans had purported previously and she declared that suggestions Ukraine had acted against the US during the 2016 Election were a “fictional narrative that has been perpetrated by the Russian security services themselves.” Often bogged down as they are by legalese and point scoring it is rare in political trials to sit up and feel proud of the people holding high office. Thanks Fiona.

Read in The New Yorker.


Written by Harriet Moll, Creative Director