Americans Own Less Stuff, and That’s Reason to Be Nervous

Silicon Valley has morphed and commercialized the term “sharing”. You aren’t “sharing” when you use Uber or AirBnB; you aren’t pooling resources when you use Netflix or Amazon Books. You’re renting. You’re renting from a centralized company which outsources the generation of actual value to others, and pays them as little as possible. You aren’t shifting your dependence from yourself to a community, but from yourself to a company that wants nothing more than to make money.

I might add that Silicon Valley et al has not simply cleverly redefined the meaning of ’sharing’ to cover their rental practices, but even the meaning of community has been totally warped out of shape. A community used to be a group of geographically proximate people whose collective survival depended on getting over their sometimes conflicting mutual interests and opinions in order to survive; now we use the term ’community’ to cover collections of isolated loners who are on average many hundreds of kilometres apart but are united by a common and often generally speaking controversial opinion that puts them at odds with their actual neighbours. The Information Superhighway was meant to usher in the Global Village but instead it begat a landscape of virtual ghettoes.

a16z Podcast: An Economics Take on the Sharing Economy

Disconnect between GDP and progress.  The Sharing economy could trigger the shift away from GDP

  1. There’s a lot of value from psychological progress: consumer surplus.  GDP doesn’t measure that.
  2. Distribution: it’s not measuring inequality
  3. Other quality of life measures: work-life balance, flexibility, other opportunities

Impacts of Sharing Economies

  1. Increasing through efficiencies
  2. Greater variety leads to increased consumption
  3. Shifting from employees: providers of labor, to owners of means of production: could decrease inequality.
  4. We may lose economies of scale, but we will regain.

Transitions to firm-market hybrids