Illustrations by Istvan Banyai
Uncle Sam is losing the war in cyberspace. In the past few years, the defense secretary’s e-mail was hacked, the State Department lost terabytes of information, and both Homeland Security and NASA suffered serious foreign cyber attacks. But the most pressing threat is economic: foreign competitors are stealing billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. military technology and intellectual property.
—“Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency,” Center for Strategic and International Studies
Do you know what a megapixel is, or what horsepower measures? Consumers are irresistibly drawn to product specifications—from the “distortion rate” of a stereo to the calories in a snack—even when the numbers mean nothing to them. In fact, given a chance to directly experience competing products, buyers are still more likely to just pick the item with impressive-sounding features on the package, even if it’s more expensive.
—“Specification Seeking: How Product Specifications Influence Consumer Preference,” Journal of Consumer Research
One cure for a country beset by government bureaucracy and incompetence may be some old-fashioned corruption. In countries with robust institutions, corruption decreases efficiency. But in weak states, graft and bribes can “grease the wheels” by enabling intelligent investors to circumvent a crooked, incapable government and invest money directly in the private sector.