Hubert Horan: Naked Capitalism – Your Guide to Money and Power

By Hubert Horan

I first started donating to Naked Capitalism 8-10 years ago when Yves’ reporting on the financial crisis clearly stood head and shoulders above other sources.

I became a monthly subscriber when I realized that Naked Capitalism offered far greater value than other sources of thoughtful commentary. So give via the Tip Jar, which tells you how to donate by check, credit, or debit card.

Yves and Lambert have maintained an extremely high standard of consistency and quality over many years. NC demonstrated that it could not only provide a dependable 365-days-a-year access to timely information about economic/business/financial issues, but it could also provide a steady stream of in-depth analysis of the underlying causes of those problems. Other sites have withered and failed because providing this dependable level of breadth, depth and quality requires enormous skill, dedication — and money. I hope you will join me in supporting Naked Capitalism financially.

Naked Capitalism’s special strength is that it has always recognized that it is impossible to understand economic/business/financial issues outside of a political power context. To break through the narratives used to mask the political dynamic, you need compelling evidence and analysis showing that the economic/business/financial claims have been falsely advertised. Again, the combination of daily news coverage (Links and Water Cooler) and in-depth articles is critical. Sites that try to do one or the other inevitably fail.

Very few people would notice (much less read) a lengthy, standalone article about the issues NC has covered, such as private equity, corporate governance, multilateral trade agreements, deregulation, inequality, the foreclosure crisis, pensions, or student loans. Aggregations of stories reported elsewhere are limited by the systemic failure to independently scrutinize the underlying economic evidence, the tendency to uncritically repeat corporate and ideological narratives, and the near-universal refusal to mention broader political power dynamics.

By doing both, Naked Capitalism helps its readers understand why seemingly obscure topics like trade dispute resolution mechanisms or the management of public pension funds reflect much broader, much more serious problems, and it helps its readers understand what’s important about today’s news stories. Again, this requires enormous skill, dedication, and money, and if you appreciate how unique and important this service is, I hope you’ll take the time to contribute to this fundraiser.

I knew that Naked Capitalism was an ideal outlet for my analysis of Uber’s impact on economic welfare. As with analysis of TIPP or CalPERS, a discussion of taxi industry competitive dynamics would normally make people’s eyes glaze over.

But like the other topics NC has covered, the Uber case directly illustrates much broader, much more serious problems.

The fundamental failure of capital markets to allocate resources to more productive uses

The widespread use of “tech industry innovation” as a catch-all justification of business models explicitly based on anti-competitive market power and where investor returns required massive wealth transfers from consumers and workers

The industrial-scale production of propaganda programs designed to prevent journalists and industry analysts from independently scrutinizing whether (in the case of Uber) it could actually produce taxi service as efficiently as existing competitors, or whether it would actually improve the quality of urban transport

The active complicity of the mainstream media in valorizing billionaires “disrupting” industries in pursuit of even greater wealth, while refusing to consider whether those investments were actually increasing overall economic welfare, and ignoring the massive overlaps between those investors and longstanding political/ideological movements fighting to eliminate all constraints on the freedom of capital accumulators

A number of people have asked me what I got paid for writing the Uber series. My reply is that I always saw the series as a way to partially repay Yves and Lambert for their incredible work over the years.

But if thousands of readers like you hadn’t supported the site financially, Naked Capitalism wouldn’t be here.

Support these efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000, via the Tip Jar, which tells you how to donate by check, credit, or debit card. And if you send a check, tell Yves at yves@nakedcapitalism. Put “Check is in the mail” in the subject line and tell her how much is en route so she can include your contribution in her running tally.

Please do what you can to help. And pass the popcorn on Uber.

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  1. DJG

    Thanks, Hubert Horan: Your four-part summation near the end of your post captures the spirit of the times. It is one of the reasons that your Uber series “resonated”–you made it obvious that Uber is just one among many.

  2. Phil in KC

    I am more likely to donate after having read this post. This is one of the best-informed sites I know of, and I value it. Time to ante up. Thanks, Mr. H!

  3. Tomonthebeach

    After about a year of daily visits, I subscribed. Horan touched on most of my motivating factors.

    Looking at the world through the eyes of economics rather than the eyes of psychology (my world) exposes new dimensions I had previously overlooked. I like that links represent diverse viewpoints, without losing coherence. Nearly all links are worth my time to read. I also like the fact that the majority of comments are complementary to the articles rather than the opinionated troll crap.

    If you are wavering, think about how much you pay for Cable TV, and then ask which investment is more informing.

  4. jerryb

    I am fairly new to Naked Capitalism and am very impressed with the writing. One of my interests is the increasing cost of living in the US. At 58 I am old enough to remember it was not that long ago that things were much cheaper. For example I remember when the Chevrolet Colorado pickup was a small pickup listed at around $20,000. Now the Colorado is huge and $40,000. New cars and trucks are one example. Healthcare is astronomical. In the metro/suburban areas of the cities housing is unaffordable. And college tuition is another area. I remember going to a state university in the late to mid 1980’s and full time tuition for a semester was $790. Something smells and my sense it is the capitalism on steriods, crony capitalism, and greed that is driving escalating costs.

    I am fond of a Marxian term called exchange value and I think much of the cost of living in the US is based on exchange value and overbloated prices that only the higher classes can afford. If we want healthcare costs to come down then everyone is going to have to take less, the doctors, the hospitals, the nurses, etc. But how can we expect people to take less to reduce the burden on others if to have a decent life in the US requires a salary of roughly $60,000. My wife and I recently went to Milwaukee Brewers baseball game and paid $70 a seat for first balcony seats. $70 for a baseball ticket??? They are out of their minds. I am hoping Yves and others will devote some time to educating why the US is so ungodly expensive. We need to return to a more modest standard of living. But I do not think that will happen. Robert Reich has a good term called Upward Predistribution. Keep up the Great Work

  5. Too Late For Nostalgia

    My check should be there by now. I consider it one of the best investments I have made so far this year.

    Thank You Hubert Horan for your great series on Uber. This was, without a doubt, one of the best pieces of financial reporting I have ever seen. Great investigative reporting backed up with hard facts placed squarely on the table. Fearless commentary and lots of it! I hope to read more of your fine work in the future.

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