Friday Roundup: Seattle bans “rent bidding,” the benefits of big tech, CEO confidence falls, overestimated medical bankruptcy

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Geek Wire: Seattle bans rent bidding in latest attempt to keep disruptive tech from compounding housing crisis

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a one-year moratorium on sites that allow prospective tenants to bid on rental homes Monday.

Startups like Rentberry allow landlords to list rental units so that would-be tenants can offer higher or lower prices, based on what they would be willing to pay. The sites take a percentage of the difference. Operators of these rental auction sites claim supply and demand already affect rent prices and that their services just make the process more transparent.

But the City Council is concerned rent bidding could make it harder for low-income residents to afford homes.

Chief Executive: CEO confidence falls in March amid deep division over Trump’s tariff moves

The results of our March poll of U.S. CEOs finds confidence in future business conditions beginning to show signs of fatigue, with a rating of 7.17 out of ten. That’s a drop of nearly half a point since the beginning of 2018 and a return to levels not seen since last spring, before the possibility of passing a corporate tax cut and repatriation incentives began to gain traction…

Our polling finds CEOs deeply divided over president Trump’s most recent moves on trade, with about 52% saying they expect the tariffs to damage the U.S. economy in the short term, 24% saying they’ll be somewhat or very beneficial and just under 25% saying they won’t change anything.

Bloomberg (Strain column): Big tech may be monopolistic, but it’s good for consumers

“Big tech” is under increasing scrutiny. Tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are being accused of a wide variety of sins: promulgating fake news, stifling innovative competitors, and crushing mom-and-pop shops, to name a few. Some critics have gone so far as to call for these powerful companies to be converted into public utilities. Others want the government to use its antitrust powers to break up big tech.

This borders on the absurd…

In short, by the standards of consumer welfare — providing a variety of high-quality products, innovation, low prices — big tech is one of the best things to happen in the economy in decades.

Associated Press: Study: Medical bankruptcies may not be as common as thought

Hospitalizations cause only about 4 percent of personal bankruptcies among non-elderly U.S. adults, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine…

“What causes bankruptcies is still somewhat unknown, but it appears that medical expenses are responsible for a much smaller share of them than previously thought,” said co-author Raymond Kluender of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers also estimated that hospitalizations were responsible for only about 6 percent of bankruptcies among uninsured patients. They noted that hospitalization rates are lower in that patient group compared to the overall non-elderly population.

Seattle Times: Opportunity scholarships expanded to include technical and community colleges

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that makes a major change to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), a $200 million public-private scholarship fund that began in 2011 as a way to help low- and middle-income students earning bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and health care.

Under the change, Washington high-school grads will be able to get WSOS scholarships to help pay for short-term certificates and other professional technical degrees offered at the state’s community and technical colleges.

The scholarships might also be offered to adult students.