Here are articles, blog-posts, podcasts, and other material recently released about issues dear to us.
From the Week of September 14th – September 20th.
1. Anything but 9 to 5. This is the article that came-up in our discussion of scheduling issues at Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. It is from mid-August, but well worth reading.
2. Fast Food Workers and a new for of labor activism. This fairly long piece from the New Yorker also got mentioned. It came out about a week ago and has been getting a lot of attention. It is one of the more positive things you will find written in mainstream media about new labor activity.
3. Alternative Banking member Marni weighs in on the present and future of Occupy. Not Quiet on the Democratic Front: Why Occupy Still Matters on 3rd Anniversary
5. Justice Department may finally be interested in prosecuting bankers. Justice Department Urges Banks to Implicate Employees We hope the follow through (though, alas, so much is past the statute of limitations,
6. Federal Judge rules that regulators are allowed to regulate. Let’s hope it stands up on appeal. Federal Judge Upholds U.S. Effort to Regulate Overseas Trading
Not proposed as discussion topics, Alt-B and friends in the press:
Alternative Banking Group, or at least Cathy, discussed in a highfalutin academic journal (but I’m too cheap to pay $14 to read it). Maybe Cathy can get us a samizdat copy.
Here’s Who To Thank For Our National Obsession With Inequality. I would question their use of “obsession”. We aren’t obsessed with inequaity. We still aren’t concerned enough but OWS and Piketty are helping. In any event, Occupy the SEC got a nice shout-out.
From the Week of September 7th – September 13th
1. China’s Yellow River Under Threat Just the beginning of a water crisis in China and around the world.
2. Some Retail Workers Find Better Deals With Unions Hourly workers often face unpredictable schedules and fluctuating hours each week, but at a Macy’s in Manhattan, a union has made a difference.
3. How Are American Families Doing? A Guided Tour of Our Financial Well-Being You’ll be shocked to learn that a new report says the only people the recovery is helping are those already well off.
3 a. If you are black, the story is much worse.Race and the Wealth Gap.
4. Do fast-food strikes actually work? Yes! Evidence shows that the fast-food strikes are working not just to increase wages, but to reinvent unions and bolster long-dwindling membership
5. Arrests Form Financial Bedrock Across St. Louis County Towns Why raise taxes when government can fund itself the off backs of the poor and powerless?
8. Detroit is likely to emerge from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, public pensions and public services have suffered greatly in the process. This article is a good example of how unnecessarily complex municipal financing has become and the resultant damage.
9. Bank of England issues a report on digital currencies (two actually). It does NOT say that:
- Bitcoin Could Be Huge (Business Insider)
- Bitcoin could pose threat to financial stability of UK (Guardian)
- It’a a bank killer (Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch)
- Bitcoin could transform stock markets (cnbc)
- Bitcoin Is Evil (see below)
The Bank of England did not say any of those things unless you interpret “could” to mean “very very unlikely but not impossible”.
What it did say was that the underlying technology (called “blockchain” or “distributed ledgers”) has potentially useful financial applications that could become very important.
Note: Paul Krugman did say “Bitcoin Is Evil“
10. Senior bank exec pleads guilty to fraud during the financial crisis. Of course, it isn’t a megabank executive. Sorry to get your hopes up.
11a. Stressed Borrowers Rattle Resurgent Sub-prime Lending Industry
A rise in defaults indicates that borrowers with low credit scores may be stretched to the breaking point, which could affect consumer spending and the overall economy.
13. Student Loan Debt Burdens More Than Just Young People An estimated two million Americans age 60 and older who are in debt from unpaid student loans.
From the Week of August 31st – Sept. 6th
1. Money intended for distressed homeowners going to plug state budget deficits.
- Rare bright spot Regulators Propose Rule to Reduce Risk of Derivatives. Unfortunately, the industry will have their say and the final rule, if any, is likely to be much weaker.
- This is what it looks like after lobbying. Credit Rating reform comes up short.
3. Money and politics:
4. Wall Street firms buying distressed homes: Another Shadow in Ferguson as Outside Firms Buy and Rent Out Distressed Homes. Is this bad?
7. Have we learned the lessons of 2008 and fixed the financial system?
- We’ve fixed some obvious flaws Liquidity for Banks, This Time Defined
- But overall, no Financial reform: Call to arms “Post-crisis efforts to bolster economies and create safer banks have only preserved a flawed system”
There may be a pay wall to access (or at least a need to register). Here are some quotes
- “A ‘new orthodoxy’ replaced the old one that died in the Great Recession. But it is merely a chastened version of the old.”
- “We need to be substantially more radical than we have dared to be hitherto.”
- “Holding much higher capital would limit the implicit subsidy to ‘too big to fail’ banks and reduce the need for complex rules. It would also lower the likelihood of panics.”
8. The Ultimate Stimulus Billionaires and concubines: The Jackson Hole Symposium gathers economists far away from civilization while others write satires about recession and sex
Photo by John Locher, AP copied from The Guardian
From the Week of August 24th – August 30th
1. Follow-up on Nafeez Ahmed’s talk last Sunday.
- Recent articles from Nafeez on Occupy.com Exposed: Pentagon Funds New Data-Mining Tools To Track and Kill Activists, Parts I – IV
- How DoD flawed algorithms are the basis for drone ‘Kill List': Interview with Nafeez Ahmed 13 minute video in case you, like me, haven’t yet gotten around to reading his 4-part articles
- Related (and somewhat old) news on US Terrorist Watch List which has over 1 million people (perhaps including you)
- A recording of Nafeez’s Alternative Banking talk is available, email Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org to be shared on the google drive doc.
2. Good discussion of inadequacies of Bank of America settlement and the failure to hold megabanks accountable. One of the fascinating things was how even the bank apologist on the program said some damning things including “I don’t think there is any amount the banks could pay that would make up for the damage they have done to the economy.” even while suggesting the settlement was a good thing.
6. Latest on corporate taxes
- Burger King is the latest potential “tax dodger”
- Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow
7. Nothing is outside the realm of the market Fantasy Football, Stock-Market Edition
From the Week of August 17th – August 23rd
1. We are excited about our upcoming speaker Nafeez Ahmed. Sunday 2-3 PM.
To prepare you might read his recent article Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown or visit his Guardian page
2. This video is also must-watch for preparation for Ahmed’s talk, or just awareness of the state of the US today. .Spot-on summary of the entire situation in Ferguson, MO and militarization of U.S. police forces.Hat tip, Natasha
4. Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost
Workforce Investment Act Leaves Many Jobless and in Debt.
5. The supposed watch-dog admits to covering up wrong-doing, not uncovering it.
Bank Overseer PwC Faces Penalty and Sidelining of Regulatory Consulting Unit
Self-regulation is a contradiction. PwC was paid by the banks to oversee them. Inevitably, they pussyfooted around. But, while PwC has been sanctioned, the inadequate system is still in place. So nothing will change.
6. Ananya Roy discusses poverty. “She is amazing”. Hat tip to Tamir.
8. When is $17 billion, not $17 billion?
From the Week of August 10th – August 16th
1. Jargon in finance
Money Talks Learning the Language of Finance. Jargon can be used to intimidate or confuse and enable Wall Street to get what it wants. Hat Tip to Slate Money podcast.
2. Frightening but true Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more.
Hat tip to Mathbabe blog
3. The “playing field” is not level.
- Is a Hard Life Inherited?
- Concerns About New Part-Time Work Trends and Proposed Remedies plus an appalling illustration of just how insensitive free market advocates can be.
- Working Anything but 9 to 5 Heart-wrenching story about what life is like for part-time workers.
4. Sentencing by the Numbers. “Smarter” sentencing is not a step forward.
5. Too Big to Regulate The Fed and FDIC have found the megabanks living wills “inadequate”. If they can’t write acceptable ones, the law says they should be forced to shrink.
6. Two development projects threaten the Grand Canyon
Buried in the “proposals is the belief that a tiny circle of entrepreneurs has a right to profit at the expense of everyone else by destroying a piece of the commonwealth”.
7. Big Bond Insurer Syncora Files Objection to Detroit’s Bankruptcy Plan. Syncora claims that retirees are getting too much. But, state law said retirees should be paid in full. So, they are getting too little.
A related older story Megabanks Aid in Payday Loans Banned by States”
Executives of the payday loans companies have been personally indicted. What will it take to see prosecutions of the megabanks’ execs?
9.We don’t need benevolent CEOs. We need an economic system that works for us
10. Argentina Defies Contempt Threat from US Judge in Debt Default. Maybe if Argentina incorporated they would have free speech rights.
15. Traders Profit as Power Grid Is Overworked Taking a page from Enron’s playbook. But this time they will probably get away with it.
From the Week of August 3rd – August 9th
1. Plug for last week’s speaker
Last week, we had a great talk with Justin Richie, host of the ExtraEnvironmentalist podcast. Episode #77 is particularly relevant to Alternative Banking’s work.
2. Focusing on G.M. Unit, U.S. Starts Civil Inquiry of Subprime Car Lending
Federal prosecutors have begun a civil investigation of the subprime auto lending practices of General Motors and other companies, focusing on the packaging and selling of questionable loans to investors.
3. Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households
The FED provides a snapshot of the self-perceived financial and economic well-being of U.S which even includes data on student debt.
4. A New Report Argues Inequality Is Causing Slower Growth. Here’s Why It Matters.
A new report says inequality is causing slower growth. It is not a novel conclusion. The surprise is the source: Standard & Poor’s.
5. Federal Reserve and F.D.I.C. Fault Big Banks’ ‘Living Wills’
The Federal Reserve and the F.D.I.C. criticized plans that big banks had prepared for winding themselves down in a controlled fashion.
6. Bank of America Nears $17 Billion Settlement Over Mortgages
Bank of America and the Justice Department have reached a tentative deal to settle an investigation into the sale of toxic mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, according to people briefed on the matter.
7. How to fix corporate taxes?
Companies are getting better and better at avoiding taxes. What should we do?
a. The Muddled Road to Overhauling Corporate Taxes
Most everyone agrees the corporate tax system is badly broken, but the debate over companies moving overseas shows how hard it will be to make changes.
b. The Tax Dodge Goes On
The ideal solution would be for all countries to agree to end the advantages.
c. Or perhaps, we should scrap corporate taxes and tax the 0.1%.
Yes, I know it seems crazy but corporate taxes get passed on to consumers and workers. If we really want to tax the 0.1%, we need higher capital gains rates, we need to tax dividends at least as much as earned income (right now it’s taxed about half as much) and a wealth tax would be good, too. All of these are way more effective than a corporate tax, even if we could actually enforce it.
8. Why Is the Economy Still Weak? Blame These Five Sectors
The U.S. is still producing around $800 billion a year less in goods and services than it would if it the economy were at full health.
9. ‘Responsible capitalism’ is nonsense – the left must offer a real alternative
Democracy is reduced to “showbiz, a game, who is up and who is down”, and deserves to be discussed.
10. Sick of this market-driven world? You should be
The self-serving con of neoliberalism is that it has eroded the human values the market was supposed to emancipate
11. Big Banks Still a Risk
A new study that assessed the value to banks of the implied guarantee by taxpayers raised more questions than it answered.
12. McDonald’s franchisee says the company told her “just pay your employees less”
First Person: Meet the franchise owner taking on McDonald’s
13. Wall Street Frets That You’re Getting Paid Too Much
Wall Street money managers are worried about two things: that they won’t get paid enough and that ordinary Americans will get paid too much.
14. How Obama Can Stop Corporate Expatriations, for Now
The Treasury Department has tools at its disposal to reduce the incentives for companies to give up United States citizenship.
15. 3 Private Equity Firms Agree to Settle Lawsuit on Collusion
K.K.R., Blackstone and TPG agreed to pay $325 million to settle claims that they drove down the prices of corporate takeover targets. The lone holdout is the Carlyle Group.
From the Week of July 27th – August 2nd
1. One extremely rich American trumps 41 million Argentines.
This is a great example of what is wrong with the world today. That, and the fact that so few people seem outraged.
– CNBC Q&A
– Argentina Finds Relentless Foe in Paul Singer’s Hedge Fund
- The Justice of Argentina’s Default
- Argentina Default Is Ruled a Credit Event for Swaps
2. Corporate Artful Dodgers
A loophole so big whole companies can slip through.
3. Drug Maker Hospira and France’s Danone in Talks on $5 Billion Inversion Deal
If completed, the deal could be considered a “spinversion,” in which a foreign company spins off a unit to an American buyer that then reincorporates overseas.
4. Whether ‘Sophisticated’ Clients of Wall Street Can Also Get Duped
Wall Street firms accused of fraud often use the “sophisticated client” defense, arguing that their customers would not have been misled by slick marketing, Peter J. Henning writes in the White Collar Watch column.
5. Banks Cash In on Inversion Deals Intended to Elude Taxes
Wall Street banks are estimated to have collected, or will soon collect, nearly $1 billion in fees over the last three years advising and persuading American companies to move the address of their headquarters abroad.
6. McDonald’s Ruling Could Open Door for Unions
If upheld, the decision by the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel could upend employment practices in the fast-food industry and invite unionization.
7. Why Can’t the Banking Industry Solve Its Ethics Problems?
Scandals keep occurring, even after the financial crisis, raising the uncomfortable possibility that the industry is fundamentally flawed.
8. Fast-Food Workers Intensify Fight for $15 an Hour
About 1,200 workers from around the country gathered in Illinois at an event largely underwritten by the Service Employees International Union, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is dubious of the union’s intentions.
9. Bank of England Sets Tough Rules for Banker Bonuses
The new bonus rules will allow banks with headquarters or subsidiaries in England to claw back for up to seven years bonuses paid to bankers who engage in wrongdoing.
10. Union Limits and Voter ID Rule Upheld in Wisconsin
In two major rulings, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a divisive state law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.
11. Big Banks and Treasury See Positive Signs in Report on Financial Industry
A new report issued by the Government Accountability Office sought to answer whether big banks still enjoy an effective subsidy because of implied government support.