About Sean Wong-Westbrooke

Graduating IPE Major and Economics Minor with a passion for the unexpected ways economics factors into our lives and its relations with the politics of power. I like to write about stories that make me smile, shake my head, or rile me up.

Thesis Corner – Peter Henning

This edition of Thesis Corner focuses on Peter Henning’s research into China’s ongoing domestic and foreign economic development plans that has been dubbed in some circles, a “Beijing Consensus”. A little context is needed to understand the implications of the term “Beijing Consensus”. It is a direct reference to the economic policy plans the US built its economic aid, reform, and development plans in less developed countries around the world. The goal at hand was the promotion of neoliberal free market economies and aggregating US power and increasing the number of liberal democracies globally. Peter argues that examples can be Continue reading Thesis Corner – Peter Henning

Watchers on the Wall – The Costs and Benefits of Workplace Surveillance Tech

Is increased surveillance an appropriate method for increasing worker productivity? At what point can corporate investments begin to cut into productivity? There have been a collection of developments in workplace surveillance technology and methods that have caught the eye of worker’s rights groups. Recently, Amazon has developed a patent for surveillance band for warehouse workers that would monitor their arm movements to record inefficiencies. Whole Foods has introduced a new inventory management system that scores and ranks employees based on re-stocking efficiency. UPS has implanted sensors in delivery trucks to monitor exactly how long workers take to deliver packages to Continue reading Watchers on the Wall – The Costs and Benefits of Workplace Surveillance Tech

A Front-Row Seat to Chaos: The Story of MoviePass

(Art Credit in Citations) Last Summer I worked at a local movie theater and let me tell you, we hated MoviePass. Sure, it brought in revenue, but it was a lot more hassle than standard ticket sales. MoviePass is a movie subscription service and app that burst into prominence in late 2017 by offering essentially unlimited movies (one a day) at a price of $9.95/month that attracted 150,000 subscribers in two days after its announcement. By the end of the year there would over 1,000,000. And in April it had ballooned to 3,000,000. MoviePass became able to offer this deal Continue reading A Front-Row Seat to Chaos: The Story of MoviePass

The Anime Industry’s Link to Online Piracy

Sometimes legitimate businesses and industries arise from unusual practices, sometimes these practices are illegal. This is surprisingly the case for anime in the US, an industry which has become a global phenomenon in part due to the illegal and voluntary unpaid labor of digital pirates. It almost sounds romantic. Before legal streaming services became commonplace western fans would lament the low number of shows and films translated into English or sold internationally. Without many legal avenues available, fans took to illegally copying videos, translating the dialogue into their own subtitles, and distributing these videos for free on tapes and eventually Continue reading The Anime Industry’s Link to Online Piracy

Corpse Disposal and Anime Girls: Japan’s Market Responses to Aging, Loneliness, and Economic Downturn

Two unique services in Japan highlight the unexpected impacts of longevity in times of economic insecurity. A corpse disposal and home renovation service exclusively for the bodies of the elderly who died unnoticed and decomposed for extended periods. A virtual smart home assistant in the form of a cute girl who will affectionately text you throughout the day to play the role of someone waiting at home for you. Just what has brought people to be so lonely to be able to fade away en masse unnoticed or pursue alternative forms of social connection? Through technology and economic development humans Continue reading Corpse Disposal and Anime Girls: Japan’s Market Responses to Aging, Loneliness, and Economic Downturn

Amazon: “I am the law!” (in Seattle and D.C)

(Judge Dredd 1995) Rather than back down from the rising national and international antitrust scrutiny put upon Amazon for its continued acquisitions and online-sellers’ growing dependence on the site, the company is preparing for a long fight. Amazon’s in-house lobbyists hires have tripled in the last 3 years, an addition to the 13 lobbyist firms it employs. And while Amazon’s total lobbying amount of $14 Million lags behind Google’s $21 Million. Amazon’s rate of investment into lobbyists is growing far faster than any other tech company, at 460% since 2012. Amazon’s relationship with D.C has become very intense as the Continue reading Amazon: “I am the law!” (in Seattle and D.C)

Amazon.com Continues to Expand into Europe Amidst Business and Legal Difficulties

(Photo Made in Powerpoint) Amazon continues to dominate in the US with 50% of e-commerce going through its marketplace but, it is finding resistance abroad in Europe. The super-company retains 22% of Western Europe e-commerce and finds an even greater discrepancy between its clothing department with 35% of the US market and 8% in Europe. European companies have been successful in holding onto their market share through a combination of promoting their own online stores and producing high quality goods and customer service only single industry brick-and-mortar stores can provide. Amazon is not focusing on being a purveyor of specialty Continue reading Amazon.com Continues to Expand into Europe Amidst Business and Legal Difficulties

Amazon Terminates NY HQ2 Plan

Just today it was announced that Amazon has ended all plans to continue with developing its second headquarters (HQ2) campus in New York. After facing weeks of complaints and aggressive questioning from locals online, in public, and in-person the Mega-Corporation has decided the $3 billion in subsidies and access to New York’s rising tech industry are simply not worth the harassment. This is only the latest in the long saga that is the creation of Amazon’s HQ2 that began in late 2017 with the promise of 50,000 (wow!) new jobs and plans to spend $5 billion dollars on local construction Continue reading Amazon Terminates NY HQ2 Plan