News May 2014

From the Week of May 25 – May 31

*** Reading list for our special meeting at the Left Forum this Sunday, June 1st***:

1. The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is an absolute must read…not short.

2. Guilty and Charged: As Court Fees Rise, the Poor Are Paying the Price, a nationwide survey by NPR. 43 states charge people for their free attorney.

3. The Financial Crisis, Over and Already Forgotten. Unbelievable.

4. The Koch Brothers are fighting the Detroit bankruptcy deal. There’s also a Koch brothers action related to this.

5. Criminal charges for Credit Suisse but it doesn’t amount to much.

6. Piketty…the buzz
Piketty’s response to the FT article
The Economists FT Relied On For Its Thomas Piketty Takedown Don’t Buy It
Piketty’s Capital: An Economist’s Inequality Ideas Are All the Rage
Why Everyone Is Obsessed With This Academic Book on Economics

7. Fat-Cat Administrators at the Top 25
Higher executive pay at public universities pairs with raised tuition, fewer course offerings and an increase in miserably paid adjuncts.

8. When Hospital Systems Buy Health Insurers
Two businesses that have traditionally been separate, even adversarial, are starting to team up. It’s worth asking what the implications are.

9. Mayor de Blasio privately asks Working Families Party to back Gov. Cuomo for reelection


From the Week of May 18 – May 24
1. Occupy activist Cecily McMillan sentenced to three months in jail

2. Thanks to the Roberts Court, Corporations Have More Constitutional Rights Than Actual People

3.a) Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders The same story at colleges as with at corporations. As the CEO’s fate diverges from the underlings, bad things happen.
3.b) NYU Apologizes to Workers Abused on its Abu Dhabi Campus
Different place, same story.

4. The Case Against the Bernanke-Obama Financial Rescue Might better be titled “One of Many Arguments that the Bush-Obama-Paulson-Geithner-Bernanke Financial Bailout Failed Us”.

5. There are many things that should have been done differently, before, during and after the financial crisis. Here are some. Did the Bank Bailout Do Enough for the Country?

6. If it interferes with making profits, it must be false.
Science Standards Divide a State Built on Coal and Oil A divide between the pro-science and the anti-science.

7. If you thought debtor’s prisons no longer existed, think again.
As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying the Price or going to jail.

8. Medicine’s Top Earners Are Not the M.D.s
Overseeing the business of medicine is big business.

9. The Koch Brothers Kick Detroit While It’s Down
Americans for Prosperity wants to stop the deal that would help the city’s pensioners.

10. Swiss Prepare to Vote on World’s Highest Minimum Wage
The minimum would be set at $24.65 an hour in an effort to address inequalities.


From the Week of May 11 – May 17
1. Criminal charges for BNB and Credit Suisse…and waivers
2 Banking Giants Implore U.S. Authorities to Go Easy
BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse, facing the threat of criminal charges, made last-ditch appeals for leniency, according to people briefed on the matter.
Convicted of Felonies, Banks are allowed to stay in Business
Quelle Surprise (as Yves would say)… How being ‘too big’ is once again a reason for preferential treatment and crime without consequence undermining the law.
, but get outvoted.

2. Making Ends Meet at Walmart
In a rough year for many of its shoppers, adjusted financial results meant higher incentive pay for some of its executives.

3. Pope Renews Call for Wealth Redistribution As U.S. Religious Progressives Gain Ground
We’re starting to see some leaders like Pope Francis who are saying things out loud, and people are asking, ‘Is that progressive? Is that conservative?’ie. here the pope says: The Bible Demands The Redistribution Of Wealth … sooo ‘occupy!!!’

4. Announcing Cathy O’Neil’s Slate Money Podcast along with Felix Salmon, Jordan Weissmann. Great first show…subscribe to it to get the next ones!

5. How Student Debt may be Stunting the Economy
How higher student debt levels are a significant factor standing in the way of a stronger recovery.

6. Thomas Piketty and His Critics
Does the success of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” mean that the traditional Democratic economic agenda is dead?

7. Doubling Down on C.E.O. Pay
Chipotle’s pay packages and unusual co-chief executive arrangement are drawing scrutiny from investors who will vote on two measures at the annual meeting related to executive compensation.


From the Week of May 4 – May 10
1. OWS non-violent protester Cecily McMillan convicted. This is very disturbing and mirrors tactics to discourage public voices in countries that lack basic civil liberties. Sentencing is on May 19th.
Cecily McMillan’s guilty verdict reveals our mass acceptance of police violence
Justice for Cecily
– Contribute to Cecily McMillan’s defense fund

2. Nations (other than the US) look to a “wall Street” tax.

3. Greenlight Asked S.E.C. for Delay on Disclosure of Micron Stake
Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund headed by David Einhorn, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission in November for an extra seven days before reporting a huge stock buy.

4. Loans That Avoid Banks? Maybe Not
Peer-to-peer finance has a new swarm of lenders: some of the same kinds of big institutions it once shunned.

5. Piketty and ‘Das Kapital’
Piketty didn’t read ‘Das Kapital’
Capital Volume I, course by David Harvey free online

6. Hedge Fund Moguls’ Pay Has the 1% Looking Up
The 25 highest-earning hedge fund managers in the United States took home a total of $21.15 billion in compensation in 2013, according to an annual ranking.

7. Minimum wage:
a) Comedy Central holds a “debate’ on the Minimum Wage

b) A more serious, but very understandable, explanation of the economics Well worth the 10 minutes listening.

8. NYT: Regulator Suggests End to Banks’ Self-Grading

9. NYT: Commentary Lopsided Approach to Wall Street Fraud Undermines the Law


From the Week of April 26 – May 3

1. Piketty Reading List for Sunday, May 4th Meeting
a) Robert Solow’s review
b) Suresh Naidu’s notes on his panel discussion – Suresh will join us next Sunday for the discussion!
c) Another view from the Guardian
d) Michael Hudson’s interview (video) and also the transcript
e) Disorderly Conduct podcast discusses it, too

2. ..more on Inequality
– OECD: Top earners capturing growing share of total income in many countries
– HuffPo : If Congress Won’t Fight Income Inequality, Here Are 9 Ways You Can

3. Why haven’t there been more prosecutions of banksters?
a) By Jesse Eisinger (Last Week’s Speaker) Why Only One Top Banker Went to Jail for the Financial Crisis
The economic catastrophe of 2008 was the largest of its kind since the Depression. Who’s taking the fall?
b) From William Black (who was involved in prosecuting S&L CEOs after a previous bailout) A more cynical view It’s Good – no – Great to be the CEO Running a Huge Criminal Bank (hat tip to Michael and Naked Capitalism).

4. Two Giant Banks, Seen as Immune, Become Targets
Prosecutors are investigating Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters and BNP Paribas for helping blacklisted countries, seeking to criminally punish the banks without putting them out of business and damaging the economy.

5. Slow Going on Overhaul of Mortgage Finance
The Senate Banking Committee is drafting a bill that would dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and create a federal regulator called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation.

6. European Court Rejects British Challenge to Tax on Trading
The European Court of Justice said London could not block other European Union members from establishing a charge on share and bond purchases and on derivatives trades.

7. PAUL KRUGMAN BLOG: A Monetary Puzzle
Why do people think that it’s news that banks create money?

8. RETIREMENT RISKS: Is Your Pension Plan Stupid? Nebraska’s Isn’t
It’s common knowledge they are often underfunded. Less well known are that some have strange features that create perverse incentives.

9. Soured Mortgages Attract Institutional Dollars
As housing prices rise in many of the markets hurt most by the financial crisis, institutional investors are moving away from buying foreclosed homes and starting to buy troubled mortgages.

10. Yahoo Chief’s Pay Tied to Another Company’s Performance
Paydays like Marissa Mayer’s might illustrate that it is often good fortune rather than individual performance that accounts for the bulk of executive pay.

11. Regulator’s Report Discovers More Issues With Bank Foreclosure Practices
A new report from a banking regulator offers a snapshot of the morass of problems that mortgage holders who fell behind in payments experienced during the financial crisis.

12. Funds for Troubled Mortgages Are on the Rise
Distressed-mortgage funds are suddenly hot, but it is unclear whether the strategy of investing in delinquent home loans will live up to the marketing hype.

13. BofA – Ooooops!
Bank of America’s Bad Accounting
If a new accounting rule had been in effect, it appears that the bank could not have made the mistake that forced it to withdraw its capital plan.
Bank of America Finds a Mistake: $4 Billion Less Capital
After Bank of America reported its error, the the Federal Reserve required the bank to suspend a share buyback and a planned increase in its quarterly dividend.

14. Searching for Yield, at Almost Any Price
Investors are desperate for better returns on their investments, but are largely having to settle for lesser quality these days.

15. Campaign Finance – Contribute to eventually kill ‘Citizen United’ vs this is equivalent to the an arms race – raising even ‘bigger money in politics’ and drawing resources away from other efforts
The SuperPac to end all SuperPacs
Lawrence Lessig Starts a Super PAC

16. How did we get into this permanent war? An understated but powerful inquiry into how one sentence passed by Congress in grief and anger morphed into the legal justification for a perpetual war. Radio Lab “60 Words” and the article by Gregory Johnsen of BuzzFeed that inspired the show.

17. Alexis Goldstein and J.A. Myerson have a new “Disorderly Conduct” podcast.

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