Energy, Climate, New Economic Thinking​

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Why the low carbon transition may be much cheaper than models predict

To achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, global energy systems must undergo a wholesale switch to low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies. However, many models used to chart this transition imply that there are benefits in delaying investment in these technologies, waiting instead for R&D to drive down costs over time. Our new paper in Environmental Research Letters draws on evidence from more than 200 journal articles and concludes that policies promoting such “induced innovation” have been a clear factor behind the remarkable success of low-carbon technologies. Carbon Brief

Powell’s Econ 101: Jobs not inflation. And forget about the money supply

Toss out the college textbooks, because the world has changed. The unemployment rate? Forget it. The Fed only cares about the number of people working and how to get it higher, not an age-old statistic that, for all its familiarity, overlooks a key group, namely those who stopped looking for work during the pandemic and need to be brought back. Inflation? Not a problem anytime soon. Queried by Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner about the need to make “a sizeable investment” in U.S. infrastructure, Powell set aside classic concerns of hefty government borrowing driving up prices and responded “this is

New Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has advice for Texas — and for the oil industry

Jennifer Granholm, who was confirmed as secretary of energy by the Senate on Thursday, takes over a department with a $35 billion budget for an administration that has enthusiastically promoted the further development of clean energy. Even as the Senate vote was tallied, state legislators in Texas were holding hearings on the colossal power failures there of the week before. In a Friday interview with The Washington Post, Granholm had some advice for Texas. But with General Motors vowing to build only electric vehicles by 2035, the former governor of Michigan comes to office on the cusp of national transition.

Designed to Deceive: Do These People Look Real to You?

There are now businesses that sell fake people. On the website Generated.Photos, you can buy a “unique, worry-free” fake person for $2.99, or 1,000 people for $1,000. If you just need a couple of fake people — for characters in a video game, or to make your company website appear more diverse — you can get their photos for free on ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. New York Times

Watch: How banks move dirty money around the world

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists‘ 2020 investigation, FinCEN Files, shows how big banks have profited from serving shadowy characters even after authorities fined them for earlier failures. ICIJ

Who owns the web’s data?

The fightback against Big Tech’s feudal lords has begun. The use of data, after all, is now the world’s biggest business. Some $1.4trn of the combined $1.9trn market value of Alphabet (the owner of Google) and Facebook, comes from users’ data and the firms’ mining of it, after stripping out the value of their cash, physical and intangible assets, and accumulated research and development. The Economist

Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos

An inside look at how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos built one of the largest and most influential economic forces in the world — and the cost of Amazon’s convenience. Jeff Bezos is not only the richest man in the world, he has built a business that is without precedent in the history of American capitalism. His power to shape everything from the future of work to the future of commerce to the future of technology is unrivaled. Youtube