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Direct: The Problem of Middlemen

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Highlights

  • Today, we live in a middleman economy, whose contours, perils β€” and delights β€” are laid out in clear, easy-to-understand terms in Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source, the book debut of Kathryn Judge, a Columbia law prof who specializes in finance law.
  • Some intermediation is necessary, but too much intermediation is bad β€” even catastrophic. From food poisoning scares to the Great Financial Crisis, from supply chain shocks to the PPE shortage of the early pandemic, we keep learning that long, complex supply chains work well, but fail catastrophically.
  • Beyond that, Judge offers specific checklists of advice for us as members of our communities and people of our world β€” rules of thumb like seeking out shorter supply chains, going direct when possible (but not when it’s impossible), using the fees skimmed by each layer of middlemen as a measure of how important it is to watch what they’re doing (and get rid of them, if possible), and find ways to build direct, non-market, personal relations with others.
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