Thursday, November 16, 2023

Seeing like a Bank

WaPo Op-Ed: It’s Good to Remember — We Are All On Borrowed Time

Doctors Complete First Successful Face and Whole-Eye Transplant Scientific American

Harry Truman said this about politicians who get rich

CIA-Connected Private Equity to Buy Italy’s Critical Communications Infrastructure

Telecom Italia’s downfall over the past thirty years mirrors the disa

Seeing like a Bank

Bits About Money – Patrick McKenzie The New York Times recently ran a piece on a purported sudden spate of banks closing customer accounts. Little of it is surprising if you have read previous issuesof Bits about Money. 

The reported anecdotal user experiences have a common theme to them. Banks frequently present to their users as notably disorganized, discombobulated institutions. This is an alarming and surprising fact for the parts of society that are supposed to accurately keep track of all of the money. Why does this happen? Why does it happen across issues as diverse as bank-initiated account closures, credit card or Zelle fraud, debit card reissuance, and mortgage foreclosures? 

Why does it happen in such a similar fashion across many institutions, of all sizes, who exist in vicious competition with each other and who know their customers hate this? Banks are extremely good at tracking one kind of truth, ledgers. 

They are extremely bad at tracking certain other forms of truth, for structural reasons. In pathological cases, which are extremely uncommon relative to all banking activity but which nonetheless happen every day and which will impact some people extremely disproportionately, the bank will appear to lack object permanence. 

Every interaction of the user with it feels like being Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: the people you’re talking to remember literally nothing of what they’ve promised before, what you’ve told them, and the months or years of history that lead to this moment. How did we end up here?…”

Grand Princess cruise ship hit by double Covid and gastro outbreaks docks in AdelaideGuardian

The Scandal That Never Happened ProPublica

Pilot shortage spurs six-figure bonus offers and poaching of personnel Marketplace. Something seems to be affecting the labor market, but what? ‘TIs a mystery!

Real Estate Helped Drive Wealth Gains during the Pandemic Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

The significant health benefits of walking backwardCNN

Why the fairies disappeared Unherd

Climate data can save lives. Most countries can’t access it.

Grist: “Earth just experienced one of its hottest, and most damaging, periods on record. Heat waves in the United States, Europe, and China; catastrophic flooding in IndiaBrazilHong Kong, and Libya; and outbreaks of malaria, dengue, and other mosquito-borne illnesses across southern Asia claimed tens of thousands of lives. 

The vast majority of these deaths could have been averted with the right safeguards in place. The World Meteorological Organization, or WMO, published a reportlast week that shows just 11 percent of countries have the full arsenal of tools required to save lives as the impacts of climate change — including deadly weather events, infectious diseases, and respiratory illnesses like asthma — become more extreme. 

The United Nations climate agency predicts that significant natural disasters will hit the planet 560 times per year by the end of this decade. What’s more, countries that lack early warning systems, such as extreme heat alerts, will see eight times more climate-related deaths than countries that are better prepared. By midcentury, some 50 percent of these deaths will take place in Africa, a continent that is responsible for around 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions each year…”