A year ago, I described how the controversial and well-financed ride-hauling platform Uber pays economists with data and money to do Uber-related research. This research invariably leads to favourable results, which can be used to fend off criticism and regulation. One such study has now been ripped apart in the Industrial & Labor Relations Review (ILR), a top journal in labor-economics.
For international readers, I would like to summarize a piece on false economic research supporting tuition fees, which appeared in German in Handelsblatt on 19 February. As interesting as the fake research itself is the differing reactions of the two main channels, which had been used to publicize it: One was the prestigious Working Paper series of the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US The other was the well-read platform Vox (voxeu.org) of the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research.
Four years ago, I framed it as a question: “George Soros‘ INET: An institute to improve the world or a Trojan horse of the financial oligarchy?” Today I would not use a question mark any more.Frances Coppola came to a similiar conclusion after attending the big INET gathering in Edingburgh in October.
Ride-hailing platform operator Uber is often accused of undermining labour market regulations and of overpricing at times of peak demand by “surge pricing”. Uber defends itself against such accusations not only by using high-profile lobbyists, but also with the help of top-notch economists, who cooperate in exchange for exclusive data and lucrative consultancy assignments. Even reputable journals publish such sponsored analysis as if it were scholarly research.
How many companies have merged into corporate groups in Germany? We don’t know. The official figures are completely unconvincing. We have a Monopolies Commission which, together with the German Federal Statistical Office, has the legal mandate to monitor market concentration. Germany’s parliament wanted to ensure that the necessary information about the possible emergence of problematic market power is available, only to discover this no longer fits in with the neoliberal ideology inspired by the Chicago School, which has apparently become the ruling ideology at Germany’s Monopolies Commission.
Recently, California’s legislature decided that by 2022 the state’s minimum wage will rise to $15 from currently $10. A number of cities, including San Francisco, have already started hiking their own minimum wage. Thus, a Harvard-linked study of the effects of these regional minimum wage hikes on restaurant closures met with great media interest in California and beyond. The popular anarcho-finance website Zero Hedge titled “Harvard Shock Study”. Breitbart found its own anti-elite twist with the headline “Harvard Research: Minimum Wage Hikes Put Non-Elite Restaurants Out of Business”. We take a closer look at the findings of the study.
On Monday the World Bank made it official that Paul Romer will be the new chief economist. This nomination can be seen as a big step back toward the infamous Washington Consensus, which World Bank and IMF seemed to have left behind. This is true, even though Paul Romer has learned quite well to hide the market fundamentalist and anti-democratic nature of his pet idea – charter cities – behind a veil of compassionate wording.