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The Rise Of The “Sharing Economy” Spells Further Declines In Manufacturing Employment

Article by Matthew Yglesias.
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Danielle Sacks has a great article in Fast Company about firms that use information technology to promote “sharing” of physical goods. Some firms, like ZipCar, are sort of explicitly oriented around this sharing idea. Others, like AirBnB present themselves more as peer-to-peer rentals. But I would actually even include a straightforward hub-and-spoke rental operation like Netflix under this heading. The point is that a traditional ownership model entails the average middle class person massively over-investing in physical goods that are idle the overwhelming majority of the time. In an excellent post jumping off Sacks’ article, Dave Roberts notes that “the average power drill is used 15 minutes over its lifetime.” (see also Rachel Botsman’s TED talk).

With improved information technology, we can better coordinate the allocation of where stuff is at any given time, which means there’s less need for excess stuff just lying around.

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