News and Noteworthy this Week

Here are articles, blog-posts, podcasts, and other material recently released about issues dear to us.

From the Week of July 20 – July 26
1.Recommended reading in prep for Speaker on July 27th
- Impact investing on the cusp of mainstream wealth management
- An Open Letter to the Financial Services Industry From a Concerned Millennial

About Impact Banking (food for thought NOT endorsements)
- Ethical Banking
- Banktivism
Promoting and Directing Social, Political, Economic or Environmental Change through Banking
- Global Alliance for Banking on Values
- Mission Markets’s Research Platform (free to sign up)
- Is Targeting the Unbanked Trendy Now Among Big Banks?
Chase Pledges $30 MM to Help the Unbanked Build Credit and Assets
- The Overdraft Problem Is Really a Credit Problem
Consumers in need for credit are turning to overdraft because they lack better options.

2. In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates
Millions of Americans are receiving auto loans they cannot possibly afford, in a lending climate marked by some of the same lack of caution seen in the housing industry before its 2008 implosion.

3. Senate Inquiry Faults Hedge Funds’ Tax Strategy
Hedge funds have claimed billions of dollars in tax savings through complex financial structures created by Barclays and Deutsche Bank, according to the inquiry.

4. Dodd-Frank’s four years of doing nothing
Four years later, the too big to fail banks are still woefully undercapitalized. Says Bloomberg News.

5. Governor Andrew Cuomo kills corruption commission because it wanted to investigate corruption. Didn’t they realize they were just for show.
  
From the Week of July 13 – July 19
1. Chase Pledges $30 MM to Help the Unbanked Build Credit and Assets
- The Overdraft Problem Is Really a Credit Problem

2. Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures
Another company is moving its headquarters to Europe, in part to pay lower taxes. This time, it’s led by the daughter of a United States senator.

3. Britain Plans to Cap Charges on Payday Loans
The financial regulator called for a limit on interest and fees, including that the cost of any loan would not exceed the amount borrowed.

4. A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers
Unpredictable hours and on-call shifts have kindled a nationwide movement to give part-time workers more rights.

5. At NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Its Ex-C.E.O. Finds Lucrative Work
Despite retiring as president and chief executive, Dr. Herbert Pardes continues to earn millions as executive vice chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees.

6. Motivating Corporations to Do Good
Businesses once addressed the needs of workers and society, partly out of self-interest. Now the shareholder is king.

7. Did the Other Shoe Just Drop?
Big Banks Hit with Monster $250 Billion Lawsuit in Housing Crisis

8. Treasury Urges End to Foreign Tax Flights, Though Congress Is Unlikely to Act Soon 
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told Congress the Obama administration supports a quick fix to halt the trend of so-called inversions, in which American companies buy a smaller competitor and reincorporate overseas to save money on taxes.

9. Shunting the Homeless From Sight
A ruling sent an emphatic signal that the nation’s burgeoning homelessness problem cannot be dealt with by criminalizing behavior driven by the need to survive.

10. LeBron and Melo Have Nothing on Eric Cantor
Now the former House majority leader is looking for his own max deal.

11. A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers
“The actions reflect a growing national movement — fueled by women’s and labor groups —

12. Librarians lack Lebron’s pull as arena deal precedes cuts
Somehow, there is money for arenas and stadiums but not libraries, schools, hospitals. This is true in Brazil, Miami, Detroit …
From the Week of July 6 – July 12
1. Since we have a speaker during the regular meeting time we might only have time to talk afterwards about:
The Myth of America’s Golden Age.
What growing up in Gary, Indiana, taught me about inequality.

2. Exposing the False Economy of Offshoring (hat tip to Bruce)
Losing Sparta: The Bitter Truth Behind the Gospel of Productivity

3. We highly recommend the “ExtraEnvironmentalist” podcast. Notable recent on “Open Knowledge Society” Co-host Justin Richie will be a guest speaker at Alternative Banking in August (via Skype).

4. Hillary
- Wall Street gives millions to Hillary (for speaking fees, of course). She says “it is unproductive to villify the industry.” and, at a personal level at least, she is surely correct.
- Chelsea cashes in too.
- Planning ahead: Neo-cons toady to Hillary

5. Supermanagers and the social psychology of wealth
About the differences between the last, early-20th-century inequality peak and today. ie. the composition of wealth and income has changed: more of the income of the wealthy today comes from (ostensibly, at least) work.

6. A Senate committee just approved a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United
The proposal, sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), is intended to reverse recent Supreme Court rulings that have deregulated the campaign finance system, such as Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC. It would allow limits on outside spending in support of candidates.

 

From the Week of June 29 – July 5
1. The C.E.O. Is My Friend. So Back Off.
A study’s surprising finding: If company directors have disclosed that they’re friends with the chief executive, they’re even more likely to try to give him a bonus.

2. In Home Loans, Subprime Fades as a Dirty Word
Facing a tight credit market, homebuyers are turning to a safer version of the subprime mortgage, a culprit of the 2008 housing crash.

3. Secrecy of Dark Pools Can Blur Both Ways
The reason for creating dark pools was to protect large investors from predatory trading, but what seems to have escaped notice is that a lack of transparency is almost sure to invite abuses, Peter J. Henning writes in the White Collar Watch column.

4. Financial Markets
- Central Bankers, Worried About Bubbles, Rebuke Markets
In its annual report, the Bank for International Settlements expressed concern about investors driving up asset prices with little regard for the risks.
- Beyond Stagnation
Larry Summers, former economic adviser to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, laid out a decidedly pessimistic view of the U.S. economy.

5. Yes, if You Cut Taxes, You Get Less Tax Revenue
In 2012, Kansas passed a big and unusual tax cut in the name of small business. But now the state is grappling with a shortage in tax revenue that is straining its budget.

6. A Grieving Father Pulls a Thread That Unravels BNP’s Illegal Deals
A bus bombing two decades ago — and a father’s quest for justice — led U.S. authorities to build a case against BNP Paribas for transferring money to blacklisted countries.

7.  At Walgreen, Renouncing Corporate Citizenship
Walgreen’s chief, who said he was “proud of our Illinois heritage,” is considering a merger that would move its headquarters to Switzerland in a bid to decrease its tax bill.

8. In BNP Paribas Case, an Example of How Mighty the Dollar Is
Being the holder of the world’s reserve currency gives the United States surprising power over things that might seem unrelated to finance.

9. Mystery bidder wins auction of Silk Road’s nearly 30,000 bitcoin
US marshals do not release name of successful bidder as prominent contenders come forward and bitcoin prices rise

10. Conspiracy of the plutocrats: Secrets of the wealth-inequality explosion revealed
Piketty protégé Gabriel Zucman explains how the world’s wealthiest are scamming governments for trillions

11. Why We Might Be on the Verge of Another Financial Crash
As individual companies become more productive, the economy has remained stagnant because there is little demand for goods.

12. Worker-owner Cooperatives Taking Root in the US

13. The Myth of America’s Golden Age
What growing up in Gary, Indiana, taught me about inequality.

14. Moaning Moguls
Why are the super rich so angry?

15. Another Failure to Regulate Derivatives
The new S.E.C. rule does not protect Americans and the financial system from the ravages of unregulated derivatives trading.

16. China Takes Step Toward Freeing Currency from State Control
Beijing has let banks set their own exchange rates for the renminbi in over-the-counter transactions.

 

From the Week of June 22 – June 28
1. With Efforts to Buy Shire, AbbVie Tries to Join Rush to Go Abroad
An American drug company’s yet-unsuccessful attempts to purchase an Irish competitor make it the latest company to try to relocate through buyouts to a country with lower tax rates.

2. How Inherited Wealth Helps the Economy
When a family saves for future generations, it provides resources to finance capital investments, like the start-up of new businesses and the expansion of old ones.

3. An Employee Dies, and the Company Collects the Insurance
Many companies insure their employees’ lives with themselves as beneficiaries, a practice some deride as immoral. But companies say the policies, for which they get tax breaks, help them bolster pensions and health care.

4. House Resists S.E.C.’s Insider Trading Inquiry
Despite a law that makes members of Congress and their staff subject to insider trading laws, the House has shown little willingness to cooperate in an S.E.C. investigation, Peter J. Henning writes in the White Collar Watch column.

5. The Supreme Court Declines to Review Widely Opposed Ruling on Argentine Debt: Why?
The United States Supreme Court decided not to review a ruling whose effect is that Argentina must pay “holdout” creditors. But the ruling also has profound and disturbing implications for the functioning of the international financial system, and even the United States would most likely be adversely affected.

6. College liberals spurn $10M gift from Koch brothers
The CUNY college has turned down a $10 million grant offer from the Koch brothers, said business professor Mitchell Langbert — who called the decision by School of Business Dean William Hopkins a knee-jerk reaction to the mega-rich industrialists’ support of Republican causes.

7. The Capitol Since the Nineteenth Century: Political Polarization and Income Inequality in the United States
“polarization is strongly correlated with the extent of income inequality, but only weakly associated with the rate of economic growth.”

8. What if We Treated Labor Like a Startup?
We should move money toward innovation in the labor movement.

9. Barclays Faces NY Lawsuit Over Dark Pool and High-Frequency Trading
Eric T. Schneiderman filed civil fraud charges against the British bank, contending that it favored high frequency traders over other investors.

10. S.E.C. Stops Harvey, Ill., From Selling Municipal Bonds
Regulators say the City of Harvey sold $14 million in bonds under false pretenses since 2008 and was planning to bring more to market.

11. In Prisons, Sky-High Phone Rates and Money Transfer Fees
The jails and prisons get commissions from phone and financial companies, which then charge very high rates to inmates who have no other choices.

12.  Investors Who Bought Foreclosed Homes in Bulk Look to Cash In
Rising home prices and a declining supply of inexpensive foreclosed houses that do not require extensive repairs have led some investment companies to lock in profits by unloading homes to bigger competitors.

13. Inequality Is Not Inevitable
Inexorable laws of economics aren’t tearing us apart. Our policies are.

14. Is The Government Keeping You Poor? Russell Brand The Trews (E88 )
In this episode of The Trews Russel meets financial expert Max Keiser to get the truth behind loan company Wonga. / UK based … explains general concepts…Piketty is mentioned too.
Subscribe to Russel’s channel: http://tinyurl.com/opragcg

From the Week of June 14 – June 20
1. How America became uncompetitive and unequal

2. Ruling on Argentina’s debt may give creditors more power The US Supreme Court transfers even more power to the 0.01%

3. Pentagon Preparing for massive civil breakdown

4. True Cost of Hidden Money
It’s really worse than Piketty portrays

5. Bank Account Screening Tool Is Scrutinized as Excessive
New York’s attorney general is taking aim at databases that have been criticized for limiting access to banking services.

6. The Big Lobotomy It is not an accident that Congress is so dysfunctional. It is by design.

7. Pension Funds, Dancing a Two-Step With Ratings Firms
Some government pension funds are suing ratings agencies — but are still relying on them to grade investments.

8. Finding Shock Absorbers for Student Debt
How to insure against the risks of investing in a college education? Allow student loan payments to rise and fall with the borrower’s income.

9. Politics of Picketty
…or what he leaves out … was suggested as relevant for an ‘activist reading’…check it out.

10. Study Asserts Startling Numbers of Insider Trading Rogues
Two professors have evidence of what has long been suspected: Insider trading is common, arising from perhaps a quarter of all public company deals.

11. The 67 People As Wealthy As The World’s Poorest 3.5 Billion
Both groups have  $US 1.7 trillion. That’s $20 billion on average if you are in the first group, and $486 if you are in the second group.

12. New York Federal Reserve takes on key role in repo market
Decision to quadruple trading with government money market funds in the repurchase market a sign central bank engaging more directly with shadow banks.

13. Detroit Rolls Out New Model: A Hybrid Pension Plan
If it succeeds, the city’s cost-cutting hybrid pension plan could be a model for solving government budget crises across the country.

14. Ruling on Argentina Gives Investors an Upper Hand
The ruling made it far less likely that genuinely troubled countries will be able to restructure their debts and increased the power of investors to prevent needed restructurings.

 

From the Week of June 7 – June 13
1. NC House lawmakers file resolution calling for constitutional convention to overturn Citizens United

2. Newsweek is now owned by a Christian cult

3. The Ultimate Guide to Shutting Down Conservative Anti-Piketty Hysteria
“Capital in the 21st Century” has sent conservatives into a rage. Here’s how to debunk their favorite attacks.

4. Why you should root for the World Cup protesters
Fifa is the 1% of the global 1%, the apple of Thomas Piketty’s ire.

5. Remember the Problems With Mortgage Defaults? They’re Coming Back With Student Loans
Companies managing the loans have little incentive to devise forgiveness plans for borrowers who run into trouble.

6. Brokers Fight Rule to Favor Best Interests of Customers
The financial industry is fiercely fighting a change in a pension law that would require more finance professionals to act as fiduciaries for their customers.

7. Global Rules for Auditors? Don’t Hold Your Breath
Though a complete conversion to international rules by the United States is highly unlikely, it seems possible that some domestic companies will be allowed to convert to international rules if they wish.

8. How Obama Can Increase Taxes on Carried Interest
The White House has the legal authority to change the carried interest tax treatment of fund managers without consulting Congress, Victor Fleischer writes in the Standard Deduction column.

9. Reassessing Reversal of Adversary to S.E.C.
The Court of Appeals’ reversal of Judge Jed Rakoff’s decision to reject an S.E.C. deal with Citigroup has troubled many lawyers who specialize in securities law.

10. Cuomo Has Raised Millions Through Loophole He Pledged to Close
The governor has called for closing a gap in the state’s campaign finance laws, but he’s taken far more through the loophole than his predecessors, much of it from real estate developers.

11. Al Gore Tells Techpreneurs Some Truths They May Not Want to Hear About Inequality
“Democracy has been hacked by moneyed interests.”

12. CEO Pay and Income Inequality
- CEO Pay Continues to Rise as Typical Workers Are Paid Less
CEO compensation ratios: Between 20-to-1 in 1965, peaking at 383.4-to-1 in 2000, and was 295.9-to-1 in 2013.
Including Facebook, excluded from this data due to its outlier high compensation numbers, would bring the average CEO-to-worker compensation ratio to 510.7-to-1. (!!!)
- 8 Reasons Some CEOs Make 331 Times As Much As Their Employees
We all know income inequality is a major problem, but the reasons for it rarely break into the mainstream media.

From the Week of June 1 – June 6
1. Matt Stoller just came out with a long review of Timmy Geithner’s book: The Con Artist Wing of the Democratic Party. I like this because it explains some of the weird politics around, for example, the Mexican currency crisis that I only vaguely knew about.

2. New York Magazine has a long profile of Stevie Cohen of SAC Capital insider trading fame: The Taming of the Trading Monster.

3. The power of Google’s algorithms can make or break smaller websites: On the Future of Metafilter. See also How Google Is Killing The Best Site On The Internet.

4. There is no such thing as a slut.

 

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