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The Geography of Business

Many observers have tried to identify the qualities that have allowed some tech clusters to thrive while others sputter out. The MIT Technology Review offers a take on the history of Silicon Valley and the keys to its unparalleled 50 years as an innovation hub.

Yale's Olav Sorensen has carried out an extended research project on the geography of business. In one paper, he found that startups survive longer and generate more profits if they are based in entrepreneurs’ home region. The results showed the effect is as powerful as previous experience in the industry.

Fake It Till You Make It

Copying is bad, right? Typically, knockoffs are seen as a drag on innovation, but is there a more complex dynamic at work both for brands and economies? Writing in Foreign Affairs, Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman argue for a nuanced view, using examples from contemporary China and from the United States during its own period as an emerging economy.

How big data shapes hiring at Google

What's the role of Big Data in managing a company? Laszlo Bock '99, senior vice president for people operations at Google, explains how data has shaped the company's process for hiring and managing people. "One of the applications of Big Data is giving people the facts, and getting them to understand that their own decision-making is not perfect. And that in itself causes them to change their behavior," Bock told the New York Times.

Laszlo Bock talked with Yale Insights about the importance of continuous learning, self-awareness, and humility.

Saving energy is great. But how much is actually possible?

The Washington Post's Wonkblog looks at how efforts to increase energy efficiency can run into complex challenges in the real world. "One recent study of Mexico, for instance, found that a government program to help people to upgrade their refrigerators with energy-saving models really did curtail electricity use. However, a similar program for air conditioners had the opposite effect—when people got sleeker A/C units, they used them more often, and energy use went up." In a recent

Classroom Insights video, Yale Law Professor Douglas Kysar emphasized the importance of building institutions "commensurate with the scale of the problem" to fight climate change—rather than relying on individuals to make different choices.

Rock and Roll, Economics, and Rebuilding the Middle Class

Alan Krueger, chairman of the council of economic advisers, used a speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to show how pervasive the "winner-take-all" economy has become—in both the music business and the broader society. He noted that "the share of concert revenue taken home by the top 1% of performers has more than doubled, rising from 26 percent in 1982 to 56% in 2003. The top 5% take home almost 90% of all concert revenues." Krueger went on to argue for an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down.

More on the economic consequences of inequality: "Is economic inequality too big a risk?" with Yale's Robert Shiller and Jacob Hacker.

Could one Walmart's low wages cost taxpayers $900,000 per year?

Responding to "One Walmart's Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find" in the Huffington Post, Senior Associate Dean David Bach noted, "Walmart is rightfully held up in strategy classes as an example of 'cost leadership' but there is a question whether society pays a high price for Walmart's low prices in terms of externalities. Healthcare costs borne by the public are Exhibit A in this respect."

Are U.S. investors missing out in Africa?

Are U.S. investors missing out in Africa? During a summit marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union, Secretary of State John Kerry urged U.S. businesses to invest in Africa. While acknowledging stability and security issues on the continent, he noted that Russia, Brazil, and China are increasingly important players in the growing economies there. More from NPR.

Donald Gips '89, former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, made a similar point in conversation with Yale Insights. "The risks are large," he said, "but the opportunities are huge and they need investment." Beyond the chance for significant returns, Gips said that engagement by U.S. investors in Africa can drive good business practices, transparency, and reduced corruption there.

Why public companies should have public tax returns

Who should pay for government? In 1952, the corporate tax provided 32% of federal tax revenue; today the number is at 8.9%. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is currently looking at the tactics that Apple uses to minimize its tax bill. More from Felix Salmon of Reuters.

What can the U.S. learn from retirement systems around the world?

The U.S. faces deep challenges in its retirement system, including projected shortfalls in Social Security and a $1 trillion dollar gap in public pension programs.

A recent article in the New York Times looked at how other countries’ retirement systems might provide tips for strengthening the U.S. system. However, the variation in retirement systems from country to country can also be seen as a reflection of cultural differences which make it hard to import ideas.

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