News Sep 2014

From the Week of September 21st – September 27th.

1. If we want a sustainable economy, “We’d better expand the realm of what we think is realistic.” Here is one vision. Mr. Soddy’s Ecological Economy

2. Our friends at Occupy the SEC have revamped their web site.

3. Occupy Central is a democracy movement in Hong Kong. They have adopted some of the principles of Occupy but focus is on political, not so much economic, equality.

4. Investors noticing that hedge funds do not deliver on their promises

5. Is rising inequality inevitable? No, it is a political choice.. Hat tip to Yves.

6. Wall St. Bankrolls Ex-Executive as He Sues Over A.I.G. Bailout

7. Advisors to retirement plans are not required actually to give good advice. That is, they don’t have to put the client’s interest first (so called “fiduciary duty”). They can recommend plans that they make large commissions on even if better choices are available as long as their advice is not terrible. Efforts to end this abuse have been moving very slowly but at least there may be some progress.

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 Form 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

4. Wall Street Swindled Local Governments, Too. Here’s How They Can Get Their Money Back.

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

7.[Against the Grain Radio podcast] Social Movements After Occupy, featuring Arun Gupta (and also covered in his article on same at Counter Punch). I know we don’t like it when the media refers to Occupy in the past tense, but this is a very astute critique of the climate march, crediting it as an overall good thing, but sharply castigating it for being so denuded as to avoid mentioning an enemy or in anyway connect climate change to economic dynamics.  Maybe we should attend the march with signs saying “It’s Finance Capitalism, Stupid.”

8. Good discussion of Detroit bankruptcy settlement. Bond insurer Syncora extracted more money from the people and retired employees of Detroit to allow it to emerge from bankruptcy. This is similar to the attempt to extort of money from Argentina by Paul Singer and Elliott Management.

9. Speaking of Argentina, here is the latest news. Citigroup Tells Appeals Court of Its Argentina Quandary

10. Failed Bank’s Broken Vows Mean Little. Court blocks effort to hold bank officers and directors responsible for ignoring regulators, violating the bank’s own rules.

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. 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 inequality. 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?

6. Preparing To Asset-Strip Local Government? The Fed’s Bizarre New Rules

7. Fed Proposes New Rule, and Wall St. Banks Feel the Pressure

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:

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.

11. Are Subprime Mortgages Coming Back?

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.

12. Dark Side of Private Equity

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.

2. Regulation.

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?

5. Secret Network Connects Harvard Money to Payday Loans

6. Fast Food Failure: How CEO-to-Worker Pay Disparity Undermines the Industry and the Overall Economy

7. Have we learned the lessons of 2008 and fixed the financial 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
Janet Yellen
Photo by John Locher, AP copied from The Guardian

9. One Reason Women Fare Worse in Negotiations? People Lie to Them.

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