Monday, August 01, 2016

Waste, waste, waste » TripleCrisis

Waste, waste, waste » TripleCrisis: "Bill, as mentioned, describes the phenomenon of `Schumpeterian Waste’: or the waste in terms of resources that arises from the fact that some failure of firms is necessary for the proper functioning of capitalist dynamics. As his introduction puts it: “economic growth has been driven by successive processes of trial and error and error and error: upstream exercises in research and invention, and downstream experiments in exploiting the new economic space opened by innovation. Each of these activities necessarily generates much waste along the way: dead-end research programs, useless inventions and failed commercial ventures.” Bill suggests that there needs to be a break from concerns about financial returns and investment (thereby necessitating a role for government) in order for this to work effectively."

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

HSBC Currency Traders Got Greedy on Christmas

HSBC Currency Traders Got Greedy on Christmas - Bloomberg View: "More generally, there is a reason that "insider trading" isn't really a thing in the FX world. These guys trade pounds all day. They know that their clients are buying and selling pounds. If they were restricted from trading any time they knew that there might be a big client trade in the next week, they could never trade. Front-running a live order is bad, but just buying pounds when you know a client might later want to buy pounds seems ... inevitable? "

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brexit and the power of wishful thinking

In Brexit and the power of wishful thinking Tim Harford talks about predicting the future.  There are at least two interesting aspects:

1) Behavioral biases that make this more difficult.

"The first is that wishful thinking is surprisingly powerful. A few years ago, the economist Guy Mayraz conducted a simple experiment at Oxford university’s Centre for Experimental Social Science. Mayraz ran sessions in which the participants were shown 90 days of “wheat prices” (actually based on historical price data) and asked to predict the price of wheat on the 100th day. In addition to being paid for accurate forecasts, half the experimental subjects were told they were “bakers”, who would profit if the price of wheat fell, and half were “farmers”, who would make money if the price of wheat rose."
2) The use of scenario planning:

"It’s time for more serious scenario thinking about the UK’s future in Europe. Because scenarios are persuasive stories, they can help us face up to uncomfortable prospects and think clearly about possibilities we would rather ignore. And because scenarios contradict each other, they force us to acknowledge that, in the end, we cannot actually see into the future. As a result, we move from a sterile question to a fertile one — from “What will happen?” to “What will we do if it does?”"

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why Land May Not Be the Smartest Place to Put Your Nest Egg - The New York Times

Why Land May Not Be the Smartest Place to Put Your Nest Egg - The New York Times: "A more extreme outcome is also quite plausible. In a hundred years, we might even see much of our former farmland converted back to wildlife preserves. In fact, it’s far from inconceivable that the real price of land could be even lower than it is right now."

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Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: What's wrong with Airbnb?

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: What's wrong with Airbnb?: "Airbnb undermines the distinction between short-term, "hotel", accommodation and and long-term, "apartment" accommodation. Some people seem to figure this is a bad thing. New York State legislators, for example, have passed legislation imposing heavy fines on anyone listing their entire apartment on Airbnb or a similar service. But what – if anything – is wrong with what Airbnb is doing?"

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Friday, July 08, 2016

Why Traders Have Lost Their Touch

Why Traders Have Lost Their Touch - Bloomberg View: "Trading can be broken down into a few fairly simple strategies. Flow trading entails taking positions on the back of customer orders. Buying-and-selling patterns create opportunities for traders to exploit small price changes. Large, dominant dealers that participate in a high proportion of activity are especially well-positioned to benefit"

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Monday, June 06, 2016

How do you mine Bitcoin – and is it still worth it?

How do you mine Bitcoin – and is it still worth it?: "There are alternatives to Bitcoin, such as Litecoin or Quarkcoin. Yet these alternative forms of digital money are becoming increasingly competitive as well. And as they evolve and become more competitively turbulent, the rewards diminish as well.. If you are just starting out as a potential miner, you stand a better chance going for one of these newer alternatives."

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Business Strategy and evolution

Really lovely post from Stumbling and Mumbling that links the mico aspect of firm strategy with the more macro elements of the business cycle.

"It’s not just change in the environment over time that can lead to maladaption, corporate death and downturns. A similar problem occurs when businessmen move from one environment to another. For example, the market in sportswear selected in favour of Mike Ashley’s ruthless cost-cutting. But that strategy when applied to Newcastle United proved less successful*. Or to take a more outlandish example, the market selects in favour of property developers who “restructure” their debts and dodge taxes. But it’s not so clear that such strategies are a good way of handling the government’s finances."
I would like to emphasis this link between some of the inefficiencies at the micro level and their implications at the marco sphere more fully, just as the new economic thinking takes issues like political power and distributions and uses them to enhance understanding of some micro interactions.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

‘Blockchain could be totally transformative for fund industry’ —

FT reports survey that suggests that ‘Blockchain could be totally transformative for fund industry’:

"According to a survey of 125 asset management professionals across fund houses, custodian banks and consultancies, blockchain is expected to be a very disruptive force within the fund industry.

Asked which areas of financial technology will have the biggest impact on the fund industry, 42 per cent of those polled listed blockchain, while 43 per cent nominated big-data analytics, where large sets of information are analysed to uncover market trends or other useful information.

In contrast, only a fifth listed robo-advisers, which provide automated online investment services."

Investors fear a summer of discontent —

Investors fear a summer of discontent — "“Sell in May and go away” is one of the most overused clichés in markets commentary. But, like so many clichés, it contains a kernel of truth — and investors are right to be nervous ahead of this summer."

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Friday, May 20, 2016

EU referendum: “remain” on course for clear victory – The Politics Counter

EU referendum: “remain” on course for clear victory – The Politics Counter assess the EU polls and the discrepancy between the telephone polls and those conducted on line. There is a good discussion of polling issues.

"The reason why our leading polling companies are so good, so often is that they go to great lengths to make their samples match the country’s population – by age, gender, region, social class, past vote and so on. Usually this process generates accurate results. But sometimes it doesn’t, either because the silent, unpolled, majority, differs from the poll-friendly minority in some way that is not captured even by the smartest demographic sampling – or because of “mode effects”, in which the way a poll is conducted prompts some respondents to conceal their true feelings."

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Get Ready for High-Frequency Lawyers - Bloomberg View

Get Ready for High-Frequency Lawyers - Bloomberg View: Machine-driven optimisation.

"Picture supply chains managed by algorithms, with purchasing contracts adjusted at high frequencies in response to constant flows of data about sales, shipping times, manufacturing costs, and so on. Imagine demand shifting back and forth across continents at close to the speed of light, switching small-batch production and shipping orders from one bidder to the next. Instead of high-frequency traders, imagine high-frequency lawyers, adjusting contracts to reward contractors appropriately for tiny improvements in efficiency, using sophisticated statistical analysis to figure out whether performance is being driven by outside conditions or by the contractor’s skill and effort. Of course, in this sci-fi vision, the contractor will also be a robot, using equally sophisticated procedures to optimize its payment relative to its cost."

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Discussion of economic research methods

Equitable Growth in Conversation: An interview with David Card and Alan Krueger - Equitable Growth: "avid Card: There are several origin stories that meet sometime in the late ’80s, I would say, in Princeton. One part of the origin story would be Bob LaLonde’s paper on evaluating the evaluation methodologies. So, in the 1970s, if you were taking a class in labor economics, you would spend a huge amount of time going through the modeling section and the econometric method. And ordinarily, you wouldn’t even talk about the tables. No one would even really think of that as the important part of the paper. The important part of the paper was laying out exactly what the method was.

But there was an underlying current of how believable are these estimates, what exactly are we missing. And some of that came to the fore in LaLonde’s paper."

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How Argentina Settled a Billion-Dollar Debt Dispute With Hedge Funds - The New York Times

How Argentina Settled a Billion-Dollar Debt Dispute With Hedge Funds - The New York Times: "In a hotel conference room, a top Argentine politician drank coffee with two hedge fund executives — a meeting that was nothing short of remarkable after more than a decade of bitter legal skirmishes between Argentina and a group of disgruntled debt holders who at one point seized an Argentine Navy ship. The previous Buenos Aires government reviled the hedge funds as “vultures.”"

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Technology: Breaking the law —

Machines beats the lawyers. looks at the scope for uberisation of the law:

"Over a decade ago, a group of US academics set up a contest: humans against the machine. Each side would attempt to predict the decisions of the US Supreme Court in the 2002 term. A group of experts used their knowledge of the law and of the justices’ behaviour to forecast the outcomes. The researchers fed data from 628 cases into their computer model. The results were startling. The experts’ correctly predicted 59.1 per cent of the court’s decisions, but the model got 75 per cent of them right."

Friday, April 01, 2016

The welfare state is a piggy bank for life —

The welfare state is a piggy bank for life — "Third, in the course of adult life, only 7 per cent of individuals receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes, even though 36 per cent of people receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes in any given year."

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leave the bubble before it bursts

In “Brazil in Drag”: Hyman Minsky on Donald Trump, J.W. Mason says,

 "The trick to making money in an asset bubble is to cash out before it pops. Doing this by selling at the peak is hard; you have to time it just right. It’s easier and much more reliable to cash out the capital gains as they accrue; that just requires some way of moving them to a different legal entity. The precedent for Trump, in this reading, would be the utility holding companies that played such a big part in the stock market boom of the 1920s and were such a big target for regulation in the 1930s. Another parallel would be today’s private equity funds. To the extent that the funds cash out via so-called “dividend recapitalization” (special dividends paid by the acquired company to the PE fund) rather than eventual resale, an acquired company that doesn’t end in bankruptcy is money left on the table. It’s interesting, in this context, to think about Romney and Trump as successive Republican nominees: They may embody different cultural stereotypes (prissy Mormon patriarch vs womanizing New York vulgarian) but fundamentally they are in the same business of financial value extraction.

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Why Are Big Banks Offering Less Liquidity To Bond Markets?

Forbes asks Why Big Banks Offering Less Liquidity To Bond Markets? and finds that this is the result of the need to put aside the same capital for repo as for another other assets.

 "The “rent” for the balance sheet space associated with a given trade is the cost to bank shareholders when bringing the trade onto the bank’s balance sheet, above and beyond the mark-to-market profit on the trade. The main source of this cost is “debt overhang.” When a bank finances the purchase of an asset, it effectively transfers some of the value of the asset to its legacy creditors, who now have more backing for their debt claims. Similarly, when a bank issues equity in order to meet a higher regulatory capital requirement for a new position, thus making its balance sheet safer, creditors benefit from a transfer of wealth through the increased safety of their claim. For a trade to be viable, its mark-to-market profit must exceed the associated wealth transfer to creditors. Debt overhang is smaller for more highly capitalized banks, giving them an important advantage in competing for trades."

The profit required for the capital employed makes market less attractive for banks and increased the cost of funds (even when colleralised).

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Andrew Gelman: The problems with p-values are not just with p-values

The problems with p-values are not just with p-values:

Andrew Gelman says:

"Ultimately the problem is not with p-values but with null-hypothesis significance testing, that parody of falsificationism in which straw-man null hypothesis A is rejected and this is taken as evidence in favor of preferred alternative B (see Gelman, 2014). Whenever this sort of reasoning is being done, the problems discussed above will arise. Confidence intervals, credible intervals, Bayes factors, cross-validation: you name the method, it can and will be twisted, even if inadvertently, to create the appearance of strong evidence where none exists.

What, then, can and should be done? I agree with the ASA statement’s final paragraph, which emphasizes the importance of design, understanding, and context—and I would also add measurement to that list."
He concludes that there are two issues:  taking dataset and the statistical method as given, rather than these being part of the process of analyis; seeing statistics as a process that translates random nature into certainty.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

What should be included in "good practices" for Tikz 101

Beamer - What should be included in "good practices" for Tikz 101:  Stefan Kottwitz

"Use styles. Whenever you have color, shape, fonts, alignment, define a TikZ style for it and use it. Don't apply such formatting details to nodes or edges, apply the style. A single point for consistent customizing.

Inherit styles. Start with a base node style (font family, base color), define styles which use base styles and add size or color or alignment - no repetitions, single points for global changes.

Use macros. Have consistent TikZ commands or command sequences, which can be reused and changed.

Use constants. For every value needed, such as distances, declare a constant via \def or a TikZ length command, so you can use it repeatedly and adjust it at a single source code position to customize a whole drawing or a lot of drawings.

Use relative positions. So you can change a reference coordinate, and all other positions will be automatically adjusted.

Let TikZ calculate for you. Once certain points such as corners are defined, use TikZ syntax to define a relative positions such as middle points and intersection points. Let TikZ do the geometry for you. If you change the reference points or image size, all will automatically adjust.

Name everything. Especially in non-trivial drawings, edges between named coordinates are much clearer to read than using coordinate numbers everywhere.

Use scopes. Don't repeat things - if you cannot apply a bunch of properties via styles, use a scope to apply settings to a whole area of a drawing. Also here, it's easy to change that part at a single position.

Use loops. If you need to repeat things, benefit from the power of TikZ \foreach loops to reduce the amount of repeated code.

Don't nest TikZ pictures. There is always another way to do it."

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The death and rebirth of the stock exchange —

The death and rebirth of the stock exchange — "The clue as to why the London Stock Exchange has risen sevenfold in value in the past seven years is not contained in its name. The best days of being a stock exchange are in the past, when they were near-monopolies owned by market-making members and could easily make money. That was long ago."

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Hedge funds seek refuge

Hedge funds seek refuge from unfair European regulations — "Why did Brussels indulge in such a great act of displacement activity? One hedge consultant received the explanation from a Belgian MEP. “It is simple,” he said. “If you are in a bar and a fight breaks out, you do not hit the person who started the fight but the person you have always wanted to hit.” This would be funny if it was not serious. Nobody feels sorry for hedge funds but the reason the EU’s institutions left banks alone for so long is more worrisome."

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Switching from C++ to R - limitations/applications - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange

Development - Switching from C++ to R - limitations/applications - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange: "I've only recently begun exploring and learning R (especially since Dirk recommended RStudio and a lot of people in here speak highly of R). I'm rather C(++) oriented, so it got me thinking - what are the limitations of R, in particular in terms of performance?"

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Proof that no trading system always wins

mathematics - Proof that no trading system always wins - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange: "This doesn't really suffice as an existence proof, but you can start with a series of mathematical results collectively known as no free lunch theorems. The linked paper proves the average performance of any optimization algorithm over arbitrary problem domains is independent of the algorithm. That is, no single algorithm can ever be better than others on any problem, meaning optimal performance over any single problem domain requires some level of domain knowledge, and knowledge has to be learned. Learning requires inference."

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Monday, February 08, 2016

yield curve - Is trading mean reversion of small principal components of prices profitable? - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange

yield curve - Is trading mean reversion of small principal components of prices profitable? - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange: "PCA is most commonly used for structuring so-called "butterfly trades." In this, you're neutralizing the first two PCs (level and slope) and trade on the third PC (curvature). For example, after running a PCA on 2y, 5y, and 10y yields, you may conclude that 5y yields are too high relative to 2- and 10-year yields (i.e., 5-year bonds are "cheap"). In this case, you'd buy 5-year bonds, while simultaneously shorting 2- and 10-year bonds. PCA comes into play, because for each unit of 5-year bonds, you have to choose appropriate units of 2- and 10-year bonds ("risk weights") so that the the first two principal components are neutralized, allowing you to trade any abnormalities in the third principle component"

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Monday, January 25, 2016

New ways of diversifying

The FT uses a Healthy eating analogy to discuss the new ways of trying to diversify risk. This involves the use of factor rather than diversification through assets and countries:
  1. Volatility (traditional volatility)
  2. Momentum (buying of winners)
  3. Quality (strong balance sheet firms)
  4. Value (cheap investments)
  5. Yield (high income)
  6. Growth (high earnings growth)
  7. Size (Small companies do better)
There are also bond factors
  1. Duration (sensitivity to  rate changes)
  2. Curve (maturity and return)
  3. Volatility (sensitivity to foreign exchange movements)
  4. Spread (credit risk)
These  move beyond value and growth or carry and momentum. Though all asset classes may fall in crisis, the value drivers tend to find more diverse performance. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bear territory: Avoid urge to flee —

Bear territory: Avoid urge to flee.  Some interesting research from the, but not, as they say because it shines light on technical analysis, which it does not, but because it illuminates the risk of overs-shooting:

"According to those fonts of wisdom the technical analysts, the FTSE 100 and Nikkei 225 indices both on Wednesday slipped into bear market territory, as defined by a 20 per cent fall from an earlier peak. To normal ears, this sounds like a sell signal."

This is consistent with the herding that Olivier Blanchard has been speaking about earlier in the week.

Passive investors are good corporate stewards

Passive investors are good corporate stewards —  Passive investment not so passive.

 "Worries that passive management is inhibiting price discovery will continue. But this research is a very promising sign that when investors entrust their money to passive fund managers, their interests are indeed being represented aggressively with company managements."

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Poor white deaths

Following on from the Case and Deaton identification of increased death rates for middle age non-Hispanic whites, Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Auerbach identify the increase in the average age of the cohort as being the main cause of this trend (rather than the more satisfying work-life experience of the group as was commonly inferred from the data).  Even more intriguing, adjusting for gender and state, it appears that souther women are the dying at a more rapid pace that in the past.  The clear pictures of this change are here. :

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blanchard: oil and China

Oliver Blanchard takes a look at the effect of China and oil prices on the stock market:  While the fall in oil prices has traditionally been a positive for the oil consumers like the US, the US has a much larger role in the new environment.  The effect of bad loans to fracking companies combines with what Paul Krugman has suggested are the non-linear effects of oil price declines.  

"Take the oil price explanation. It is even more puzzling. Traditionally, it was taken for granted that a decrease in the price of oil was good news for oil importing countries such as the United States. Consumers, with more money to spend, would increase consumption, and increase output. Energy using firms, with lower cost of production, would increase investment. We learned in the last year that, in the short run, the adverse effect on investment on energy producing firms could come quickly and temporarily slow down the effect, but this surely does not undo the general conclusion. Yet the headlines are now about low oil prices leading to low stock prices. I can think of two potential explanations, neither of them convincing."
The momentum behind selling from China have been is also an issue for Blanchard.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Japan: Deflated generation -

Japan: Deflated generation - "This year’s celebrants, born in 1995 and 1996, are the first to have spent their entire journey to adulthood in an economy of mostly falling consumer prices. Their lives have been so infused by the phenomenon that several say deflation, one of the main obstacles to growth through the 2000s, has evolved into a source of low-level apprehension that limits ambition."

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

John Maynard Keynes: Great Economist, Terrible Currency Trader - The New York Times

John Maynard Keynes: Great Economist, Terrible Currency Trader - The New York Times:

"“Keynes’s experience shows how difficult currency speculation is,” Mr. Chambers said. “He was trading his own money and he understood what he was doing. He was able to absorb losses. Some hedge funds are trying to do this stuff and live hand-to-mouth on a quarter-to-quarter basis, and that’s really difficult to do.  Keynes was also an active investor in the stock market, and in the 1920s tried to time stock picks. But his returns were low, and he took a big hit in the market crash of 1929."

Some argue that the long-term equity investment was driven by inside-information that he received from his contacts in government and business. That may be unfair.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Streetwise Professor » Spoof Me Once, Shame on You: Spoof Me Twice, Shame on Me

Streetwise Professor » Spoof Me Once, Shame on You: Spoof Me Twice, Shame on Me: "I’ve often written that HFT firms are the best able to detect spoofers, and to take preventative measures (which reduce the profitability of spoofing, and hence its prevalence). The whole business of HFT is extracting signals from orders and order flow, and trading accordingly. Spoofing is based on manipulating the order flow–in essence, injecting noise into it. HFT firms evaluate their executions, and attempt to identify patterns that predict both winning and losing trades. If spoofers systematically impose losses on HFT firms, eventually the latter will figure it out."

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Monday, January 04, 2016

The Rise and Fall of American Growth | The Enlightened Economist

The Rise and Fall of American Growth | The Enlightened Economist: "There are three sections: the first covers 1870 to 1940; the second 1940-2015; the third is about the sources of growth and why it was fastest from the 1920s to 1950s (this is just about the US so this is earlier than European readers would recognise as the peak growth era) – and is slowing now. The final chapters are a kind of crescendo, for the whole book is organised to support Gordon’s well known thesis that the days of miracle and wonder, the rapid growth era of the early to mid-20th century, is long gone, and slower growth lies ahead of us. "

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Stack Exchange and replication

Some links to site with replication code of financial papers? - Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange: Mostly this is about replication rather than providing code. There is an project in economics to promote replication.

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America by Michaelangelo Matos – review | Books | The Guardian

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America:

"The meat of his thesis is that the medium is the message. As he puts it: “The rise of the US rave scene and the rise of the internet, besides being concurrent, mirrored one another in many ways. Both mixed rhetorical utopianism with insider snobbery ... As a style whose digital nature was encoded into its very name, techno is the music of early adopters.”"

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The end of capitalism has begun

The end of capitalism has begun | Books | The Guardian:

 "New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself."

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