Should We Regulate Big Tech?

By Luigi Zingales – Re-Blogged From Imprimis & Hillsdale College

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the invention of the automobile liberated individuals from the yoke of distance. While people could travel before the invention and widespread use of the automobile, they were bound in their daily lives by the limited distance horses could cover. Railroads alleviated but did not eliminate those restrictions—movement was confined by the location of railroad tracks and by train schedules. It was only the automobile that gave individuals the freedom to move at their own leisure.

A century after the invention of the automobile, the invention of the smartphone triggered a similar revolution. And while history never repeats itself, sometimes it rhymes, and these rhymes can help us understand the present.

Before the smartphone, people were tethered to their landlines. In the 1990s, the proliferation of mobile phones and increased access to the Internet greatly expanded our freedom to communicate and our access to information. But it was the introduction of the smartphone in 2007, coupled with mobile communication and the Internet, that brought unprecedented access to information to the Western world and to a significant portion of the developing world.

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In Defense of the Electric Car – Part 1

[Full disclosure: I own an electric car, and I think they are useful for city transportation. However, having owned one for a decade, I can say that it hasn’t been practical or cost-effective. John Hardy believes they are the future, I’ll let you, the reader, decide. – Anthony Watts]

By John Hardy – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

Preamble

In the West, almost all climate change activists consider Electric Vehicles (EVs) important because they are believed to emit less CO2 per mile. In contrast, many (but not all) climate sceptics consider them a waste of space because they regard them as a solution to a non-problem: they believe that all that EVs are good for is virtue signalling.

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Is India The New China?

By Frank Holmes – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

A “slow-growth trap.” That’s how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) described the global economy last week in its latest Global Economic Outlook. The group sees world GDP advancing only 3 percent in 2016, the same as last year with a slight bump up to 3.3 percent in 2017.

Catherine Mann, the OECD’s chief economist, urged policymakers around the world to prioritize structural reforms that “enhance market competition, innovation and dynamism,” as monetary policy has been used alone as the main tool for far too long. The longer the global economy remains in this “slow-growth trap,” Mann said, the harder it will become to revive market forces.

This is precisely in-line with what I, and many of my colleagues, have stressed for months now.

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Tesla’s “Success,” a Great Example of How Government Regulations Manipulate Markets

  • ElonTesla

Government rules enable Tesla to profit from public choices NOT to purchase its vehicles

voltThe American consumer is resistant to marketing aimed at selling them electric and hybrid vehicles. For the first quarter of 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Chevrolet sold 1,874 Volts—its electric car introduced in 2010 with “high expectations.” That number might not sound so bad, until you read on to discover that it is equivalent to the number of Silverado pick-up trucks sold in one day. 
In another report, the WSJ states: “Through June, the market share in the U.S. for hybrid electric cars such as the Toyota Prius and C-Max and for electric vehicles such as the Leaf accounted for 2.8% of industry sales. That is down from 3.6% through the same period in 2014. Volumes of those vehicles fell 22% while overall industry volumes rose, according to researcher Edmunds.com.”
“Recent sales data show that consumers don’t want electric cars,” proclaims Investor’s Business Daily. “And these pitiful electric-car sales,” it adds, “mind you, come despite the very generous $7,500 federal tax credit, along with various state incentives—Illinois offers rebates up to $4,000.”
Manufacturers are slashing prices, offering low-priced leases, and 0% financing. Despite the deals, dealers view selling the existing leafbatteryelectric vehicle inventory as a “challenge.” But selling a used electric car, like Nissan’s Leaf, is even harder. The WSJ reports: “Uused sed Leafs aren’t attracting much demand.” Though Nissan offers leaseholders $4,000 in incentives to buy the used model they are driving, drivers are not snapping up the opportunity. When the leases expire there is little market for the cars and dealers are returning them to the manufacturer. 
While demand for electric vehicles has dropped, contrary to logic, investment in them hasn’t. Earlier this year, USA Today said: “Automakers have already invested billions to offer a wide spectrum of vehicle choices and improve fuel efficiency with turbocharged engines, batteries and electric motors, multi-gear transmissions, more aerodynamic designs, and lighter materials. Companies have also spent heavily to market eco-friendly vehicles and have no plans to stop developing them.”
“Why,” you might ask, “don’t manufacturers focus on building the cars consumers want?” The answer: Government regulations in the form of the CAFE Standard. The CAFE — the Corporate Average Fuel Economy — is the measure manufacturers must meet to sell cars in the U.S. 
CAFEFirst enacted by Congress in 1975, the idea was to reduce energy use, thus preventing an over-dependence on foreign oil and improving national security. In 2009, under the Obama Administration, the program morphed to include a higher focus on tailpipe emissions with a two-stage implementation process. Phase One demands a 23% improvement in pollution standards and a CAFE target of 34.1 miles per gallon (MPG) by model-year 2016. Phase two calls for a further increase of roughly 35% in pollution standards, equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. 
While the exact calculations are complicated, these standards are not meant to be met by each vehicle, but by the entire fleet produced by each manufacturer. So a company that makes small, fuel-efficient cars, such has Honda, easily meets the requirements. While a company like Chrysler, known for its Ram trucks and American muscle cars, faces an uphill climb. In fact, it is the CAFE Standards that made the Chrysler/Fiat marriage attractive, as the Fiat fleet includes a 40-MPG car. It is also what makes the Volt a good option for Chevy.
Manufacturers who don’t comply with the regulations face fines—or they can buy credits. Either way the costs ultimately get passed on to the consumer who dares to purchase a vehicle based on his or her personal preference rather than the fuel-efficient vehicles the government wants automakers to produce. 
These government regulations manipulate the markets and make winners and losers that would not be the case if we had a true free market. 
Interesting stories emerge. 
One is Ferrari, which by the nature of the car cannot meet the U.S. government regulations. As one report on the topic declared: “Ferraris are beautiful. They are fast. They are nimble. And they are thirsty.” The hybrid LaFerrari gets 14 MPG. 
Most readers are not likely to buy one of the 499 LaFerrari cars built, but its story is illustrative of the market manipulation. lAfERRARI
Since 1969 Ferrari has been part of the Fiat family, but that will soon change as Ferrari is being spun off to make it an independent automaker. While the sale is reportedly being done “to finance expansion plans,” it will remove the gas-guzzler from the Fiat Chrysler fleet—making meeting CAFE easier. Yet, earlier this year, CEO Sergio Marchionne said: “The U.S. auto industry should ask the U.S. government to push back fuel economy targets.”
While an independent Ferrari will have challenges meeting CAFE without Fiat to help create an acceptable average, another single focused manufacturer meets the requirements handily—so well, in fact, it has credits to sell. I am talking about Tesla, the car company that the Environmental Protection Agency smiles upon because it produces only electric cars. 
Most U.S. car companies—like Fiat Chrysler—want the federal fuel economy mandates to be watered down. Tesla wants the targets to be tougher.
Companies—like Ferrari—that don’t meet the fleet standards can purchase compliance credits. CNN Money reported: “Since Tesla sells nothing but electric cars, it is rolling in the credits and is one of the few sellers.” The Los Angeles Times( LATsays: “Since 2008, the company has earned more than $534 million from the sale of environmental credits.” It adds: “Tesla has created a brisk market in credits, selling to automakers that either don’t produce electric cars or have made a strategic decision to buy credits and cap their own sales of such vehicles.”
JUNKYARDBut it is not just Ferrari that will have trouble meeting the 2025 standard. According to the LAT, Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers—which represents companies like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and others—said: “While consumers have more choices than ever in energy-efficient automobiles, if they don’t buy them in large volumes, we fall short.” 
The American car-buying public is resistant to doing what the government wants them to do,  yet Tesla continues making a car that few can afford and that many of those who can don’t like.  On October 20 Consumer Reports pulled its “recommendation” of the Tesla Model S after owners complained about a “range of issues.”  Still, Tesla is receiving a huge windfall from its competitors while the standards drive up costs for consumers.
Addressing the 54.5-MPG for the 2025 model year, Marchionne said: “There is not a single carmaker that cannot make the 54 number. The question is, at what price?”

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The War on Cars Is a War on Workers and the Poor

By Gary Galles – Re-Blogged From Mises.org

A just-released poll of Los Angeles residents found that 55 percent of respondents indicated their greatest concern was “traffic and congestion,” far ahead of “personal safety” — the next highest area of concern — at 35 percent. So if their city government was working in their best interests, it would be doing something about automobile congestion.

It is. Unfortunately, it will make things worse.

Los Angeles’s recently adopted Mobility Plan 2035 would replace auto lanes in America’s congestion capital with bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, despite heightening congestion for the vast majority who will continue to drive. Even the City’s Environmental Impact Report admitted “unavoidable significant adverse impacts” on congestion, doubling the number of heavily congested (graded F) intersections to 36 percent during evening rush hours.

Driving Saves Time and Offers More Opportunity

Such an effort to ration driving by worsening gridlock purgatory begs asking a central, but largely ignored, question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling, and mass transit — supposedly improving their quality of life — attract so few away from driving?

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