The Best Business Reads of July
Each month, the editors of The Atlantic’s Business Channel share the most interesting pieces of journalism about money and economics from around the web.
This month’s picks include an investigation of Google’s influence on academic research; the ongoing tension between working Americans and those without jobs; extreme commutes; and a look at Texas as a proxy for America’s future in everything from voting to tax treatment to corporate power.
Brody Mullins and Jack Nicas | The Wall Street Journal
Over the past decade, Google has helped finance hundreds of research papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its market dominance, paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work, The Wall Street Journal found.
Some researchers share their papers before publication and let Google give suggestions, according to thousands of pages of emails obtained by the Journal in public-records requests of more than a dozen university professors. The professors don’t always reveal Google’s backing in their research, and few disclosed the financial ties in subsequent articles on the same or similar topics, the Journal found.
University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald pitched an idea on copyrights he thought would be useful to Google, and he received $18,830 to fund the work. The paper, published in 2012, didn’t mention his sponsor.
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Julie Turkewitz | The New York Times
R&R Market—the oldest business in Colorado, built by descendants of Spanish conquistadors in the oldest town in the state—is in danger, at the edge of closing just as rural groceries from Maine to California face similar threats to their existence.
“If that little store closes, it’s going to be catastrophic,” said Bob Rael, director of the economic development council in Costilla County, where San Luis is the seat. “Reality is going to set in. Who let this happen?”
Across the country, mom-and-pop markets are among the most endangered of small-town businesses, with competition from corporations and the hurdles of timeworn infrastructure pricing owners out. In Minnesota, 14 percent of nonmetropolitan groceries have closed since 2000. In Kansas, more than 20 percent of rural markets have disappeared in the past decade. Iowa lost half of its groceries between 1995 and 2005.
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Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk | Fast Company
A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64 percent of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55 percent. In Germany, a solid 77 percent are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.
Why do people feel this way? Probably not because they deny the abundant material benefits of modern life that many are able to enjoy. Or because they want to travel back in time and live …read more
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