Author: Michael Collins

Michael Collins
Michael Collins

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Recent and archived work by Michael Collins for The Bull:

Targeted online ads are the success of ‘surveillance capitalism’

But display ads face privacy and regulatory challenges that reduce their effectiveness. In 2007, Jonathan Trenn of the US bought a diamond ring from Overstock.com so as to propose to his girlfriend in a few months’ time on New Year’s Eve. Within hours of buying the ring, Trenn received a “shocking call” from a friend…

Scarcity becomes common

The impediments to supply are likely to last and disrupt growth and provoke inflation. Abbott Nutrition, which controls 48% of the US$2.1 billion US infant-formula market, in February recalled three product categories and closed a plant in Michigan after four babies who had consumed its powdered milk became sick with life-threatening bacterial infections even though…

Record high inflation could trigger a fresh eurozone financial crisis

Any crunch would centre on Italy, have no obvious solution and remind that the euro’s frailties are unaddressed. Italy’s 66th post-war government collapsed in January 2021 when Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was forced to resign after former premier Matteo Renzi removed his minor Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition. President Sergio Mattarella encouraged the…

Superbugs are outsmarting antibiotics

A market failure means pharmaceutical companies are failing to address the threat. In 1938, Ernst Chain, a German-born biochemist working at Oxford University, found an article on penicillin written nine years earlier by UK bacteriologist Alexander Fleming. In 1928, by fluke, Fleming noticed a zone around an invading fungus on an agar plate in which…

Powell seeking immaculate disinflation

His problem? Monetary policy is ill-suited to fight inflation arising from supply constraints. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared on March 3 before the Senate Banking Committee and vowed the US central bank would quell inflation running at four-decade highs. “We are going to use our tools,” he said. Then came a pointed question. Would…

Central banks are going green to questionable avail while stirring risks

A loss of autonomy to fight inflation is just one of the dangers. Finland’s forests, which cover more than 70% of the country, are the subject of a continent-wide debate on how to halve EU carbon emissions by 2030. Policymakers, environmentalists, companies and the public are arguing over whether the forests should remain untouched, and…

Another era of quantitative tightening beckons

The first one fizzled. Can asset-selling – aka money destroying – help fight inflation? Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria may have devastated parts of the US in 2017 but the Janet Yellen-led Federal Reserve was determined to persist with an unprecedented way to tighten monetary policy. The central bank in October that year commenced selling…

The pandemic has changed the future of work

Remote work is ensconced. A ‘Great Resignation’ is underway in the US. Neither might last. On 8 January 2020, a 61-year-old woman from Wuhan landed in Thailand’s capital Bangkok. Within five days, she became the first recorded case of covid-19 outside China. On February 20, the mayor of Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, became the…

How high can government debt-to-GDP ratios soar?

Somewhere a ceiling exists. Trouble is brewing, especially in the eurozone and emerging countries. The ‘IMF crisis’ is judged the worst event to have hit South Korea since the civil war of 1950-53. The rest of the world knows this financial upheaval as the ‘Asia crisis’ of 1997. The mismatch is because South Koreans, perhaps…

What the NFT is the metaverse?

The touted ‘embodied internet’ might take a while to arrive and could underwhelm, even with Big Tech support. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are ownership proof on blockchain technology of the original version of something digital, be that art, characters, tweets, videos or something else. People are paying millions for an exclusive claim on unique digital…