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Is There a Bond Bubble?

“The debt market is broadcasting a dangerous message,” writes William Cohan in the New York Times. “Examples of mispriced risk are strewn across the financial landscape.” Quantitative easing supported cheap corporate debt which spurred recovery from the financial crisis, but what’s the mechanism for reverting to the norm? Cohan suggests it could happen through a combination of banks tightening lending standards, investors being more discerning, and regulators exercising vigilance. Or another financial crisis.

Can We Save Retirement?

"The social policy story of the past generation is the shift of economic risk from government and employers onto workers and their families,” Yale’s Jacob Hacker writes in Politico. Few workers have enough retirement savings, and proposed solutions “mostly look like Band-Aids. Save more! Tweak 401(k)s! Instead, what’s needed is a fundamental rebalancing of risk.” Hacker’s solution: Social Security Plus, which would make the 401(k) universal and convert the savings into a lifetime annuity upon retirement.

A World of Walls?

Do things have to get worse for the globalists to get better for everyone else? Key institutions—particularly business and government—advocated for and benefited from globalism, but too many people haven’t seen the upside, according to Ian Bremmer. “For the last several decades, on pretty much every front, these institutions have not delivered on issues that matter to the average person.” He sees the nationalist and populist movements as just the beginning of a reset. “It’s pretty clear that the closed-border view is winning.”

The Impact of Automation

Automation is poised to deliver a deep economic disruption lasting decades and taking millions of jobs, according to a recent batch of studies. Axios offers this historical context. “It took about six decades for U.S. wages to recover after the first industrial age automation of the 1810s. And the agriculture-to-industrial shift of the 20th century lasted four decades.” While the economy will eventually rebalance and create new jobs, they may not be good ones: “Wages for most jobs may be too low to sustain a middle-class lifestyle.”

A Tale of 50 Healthcare Insurance Marketplaces

A natural experiment? A chaotic hodgepodge? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in the U.S. healthcare insurance market. Some states are rebuilding the policy bulwarks of the semi-dismantled Obamacare. Some states are stripping it further. The New York Times has an overview.

Yale SOM’s Fiona Scott Morton proposes an option for Connecticut that might work elsewhere, too.

Can Businesses Do Healthcare Better?

Last month Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announced plans to create an in-house healthcare service to provide their 1.2 million total employees with “simplified, high-quality, and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.” Apple has made a stealth launch of what’s believed to be a similar endeavor. Quartz wonders whether these companies are “growing as impatient as their employees with the state of American healthcare” and simply aiming to control costs—or if these services are intended to allow them to test health products and services that will eventually be sold to the rest of us. 

Whom Do We Trust?

“The United States is enduring an unprecedented crisis of trust,” writes Richard Edelman, summarizing the results of this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer. “The root cause of this fall is the lack of objective facts and rational discourse.” However, trust in one group has inched up: employers. “There’s an interest for businesses to solve larger problems for society,” says Kim Hart of Axios.

What's the government worth?

"Government shutdown follies feed an ideologically loaded narrative that government is hopelessly incompetent and can never be counted on to do much that is useful,” writes Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. Despite the recent kerfuffle, Dionne argues that the public sector is critical and competent. As evidence he points to an underappreciated government success in “keeping capitalism from flying off the rails.”

Is There an App for Ending Poverty?

Can Silicon Valley deal with society’s intractable problems? Apps and other tech tools can be invaluable to low-income populations, yet existing business models have produced little innovation. Fast Company examines startups breaking Silicon Valley’s rules to do better fighting poverty.

Understanding Economic Inequality

We’re thinking about economic inequality all wrong, says Nobel-laureate Angus Deaton. Economic inequality emerges from both positive processes, like innovation and invention, and negative ones, like monopolistic behavior and badly designed policies. “Inequality is not the same thing as unfairness; and, to my mind, it is the latter that has incited so much political turmoil in the rich world today,” Deaton told Quartz.