Reminder: if you have one penny, your net worth is equal to the combined wealth of the world's poorest 40%

Every year, Oxfam publishes a headline number about global wealth inequality that takes this form: "The richest X people own more than the poorest Y billion people on Earth" (some examples: 2014, 2016, 2017, UK edition). Read the rest

America's gargantuan new corporate landlords evict the shit out of Americans

The housing recovery has been famously uneven, in every way: for one thing, it's allowed hedge-fund and publicly listed landlords to acquire a greater proportion of America's housing stock than ever, even as mass foreclosures created a new class of desperate tenants who pay rent to these corporate giants, who charge higher rents than ever. Read the rest

Wells Fargo just hit with another massive fraud scandal, but thankfully Donald Trump owes them a lot of money

Wells Fargo didn't merely open 2,000,000 fraudulent accounts and bill its customers for them; it also tricked its customers into signing up for insurance policies, at mass-scale. Read the rest

Giving companies more money (loans, tax-breaks) only increases investor payouts, not expansion

Before the deregulation bonanza of the 1980s, corporations were expected to use debt and the public markets as the capital of last resort: they would pay "normal" dividends, then use the left over money to increase pay and fund expansion; but after the birth of "shareholder management," companies have acted like homeowners before the financial crisis: borrowing heavily to pay investors, at the expense of expansion and wages -- but unlike homeowners, corporate management gets to duck the bill when it comes due. Read the rest

Chinese real estate bubble is "biggest in history"

Wang Jianlin made billions speculating on Chinese real-estate; now that he's diversified into buying Hollywood movie studios and chains of movie theaters, the richest man in China is prepared to say what many have known: the Chinese property market is a huge, deadly bubble that's ripe to burst. Read the rest

Support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's action against predatory payday lenders

The predatory payday lending industry -- "'legalized loan sharks collect 75 percent of their fees from people stuck in more than 10 loans a year by charging 300 percent APR" -- is lobbying hard to kill the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed "debt trap" rule, "that would require lenders to determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans and cut off repeated debit attempts that rack up fees and make it harder for consumers to get out of debt." Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?) Weapons of Math Destruction.

John Oliver buys and forgives $15M in medical debt, illustrates horrors of America's debt-collectors

John Oliver now holds the American record for largest single giveaway in history, doubling Oprah's "you get a car!" record -- but Oliver did it by forming a debt-collection agency and buying up the debt of Americans who'd defaulted on the sky-high expenses from life-threatening illnesses, then forgiving the debts. Read the rest

Chelsea Clinton's husband shuts down vulture fund after losing 90% of his investors' money

Chelsea Clinton's husband Marc Mezvinsky is a Goldman Sachs alumnus; in 2014, he founded Hellenic Opportunity, a hedge fund that raised $25M to bet on distressed assets from Greece's collapsed economy, wagering that the country's investors would force it to make deeper cuts to finance payments on the debts. Read the rest

Data-driven look at America's brutal, racist debt-collection machine

In 1996, New Jersey's courts heard 500 debt-collection cases; in 2008, they heard 140,000 cases, almost all against black people, almost all of whom were not represented by lawyers. The cases were filed by vulture capitalists who bought the debt for pennies on the dollar and employed "attorneys" who filed up to 1,000 cases a day, "reviewing" each one for about four seconds. Read the rest

High tech/high debt: the feudal future of technology makes us all into lesser lessors

Sarah Jeong continues her excellent series of critical perspectives on technology with a piece on the way that technology is being used to let computers control their users, on behalf of the corporations who make and sell these tools. Read the rest

Shanghai law uses credit scores to enforce filial piety

Multiple generations of one-child policies have left China with a calamitous demographic crunch: a system that formerly relied upon large cohorts of descendants to care for their elders is now finding itself top-heavy with ever-longer-lived pensioners relying on dwindling cohorts of working-age descendants who have all but abandoned the Confucionist virtue of filial piety.

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A cashless society as a tool for censorship and social control

The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest

Judge says Citibank's law-school loan isn't "student debt" and can be discharged in bankruptcy

The most toxic debt in America is student debt: your student loans (originated by universities, backed by the federal government, and handed off to banks, who securitize them) are subject to virtually unlimited (and uncontestable) penalties and fees, and are immune to bankruptcy, and are the only form of debt that can be taken out of your Social Security. Read the rest

Cuba's free med schools are the meritocratic institutions that America's private system can't match

The median parental income of the parents of new med school students in America is $100,000 -- twice the national average. In Cuba, America's brilliant, working class med students pay nothing -- free tuition, lodging and meals -- and they come home to America and provide front-line medical services to families who are frozen out of the US system, in which debt-saddled doctors opt for lucrative specialties instead of family medicine. Read the rest

Student loan garnisheeing topped $176M in three months

The latest figures on government-backed student loans are in, and with them, the news that the US government took $176 million out of ex-students paychecks and Social Security in the last three months of 2015. Read the rest

Some future for you: the radical rise of hope in the UK

David "Utopia of Rules" Graeber (previously) is in magnificent full throat in a long essay in the Baffler about the long-overdue threat to UK's greatest export: security for the world's ultra-wealthy arising from the complete defeat of the working class. Read the rest

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