Watch debt grow in real time at the US Debt Clock


The politics escape me, but I'm fascinated by the US Debt Clock, a website covered in real-time tickers and counters purporting to show all of the unpleasant statistics piling up in America.

They also have a World Debt Clock for all your international inchoate anxiety needs. Read the rest

Predatory lenders trick Google into serving ads to desperate, broke searchers


Google bans ads by predatory lenders who promise foreclosure prevention and high-rate short-term loans, but they do allow payday loan ads; when you search for "need rent money fast," the predatory lenders target you with payday loan ads that collect your information and turn it into a lead for a high-pressure sales-call from one of Google's shitlisted usurers. Read the rest

Universities' tax-exempt giga-endowments spend more on hedge fund managers than on education

Growing wealth disparity has produced a new financial hyper-elite who make eight-figure donations to major universities, who hand that money back over to more finance titans in the form of special commissions that are taxed at a ridiculously low rate (making more zillionaire donors). Read the rest

What does $60 trillion in debt look like?


There's about $60 trillion in public government debt worldwide, and the folks at Visual Capitalist created a chart to show proportions and debt-to-GDP ratio in one handy image.

About two dozen countries carry over 90% of the world's debt, with Japan and Greece having the worst debt-to-GDP ratios.

$60 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization Read the rest

Figuring out Greece

This helped: Three Things To Read About Greece . Read the rest

Thousands of American kids are getting free university educations in Germany

German higher education is essentially free, even for foreign students, and many courses are conducted entirely in English. Read the rest

How and why to default on your student loan

Lee Siegel defaulted on his student loans because it was "absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college" just because "he had the misfortune of coming from modest origins." Read the rest

Anti-austerity parties soar in Spanish elections as Greece threatens default

Two new, anti-establishment parties (including one that grew out of the indignados movement -- a kind of Spanish precedent to Occupy) took key seats in regional and municipal elections in yesterday's Spanish election, which is a kind of dress rehearsal for the upcoming national elections. Read the rest

Class of 2015: most indebted in history

A report (issued by a college savings business, caveat lector) says that the US graduating college class of 2015 has more debt than any other class in history. Read the rest

Judge who invented Ferguson's debtor's prisons owes $170K in tax

Judge Ronald J Brockmeyer -- who filled Ferguson's coffers by fining its poorest residents and sent them to inhumane, overcrowded prisons when they couldn't pay a few hundred dollars -- stands accused of fixing fines for his cronies, and owes $170K in unpaid taxes. Read the rest

Debt, a photo project

Spurred by her own financial hardship experiences, photographer Brittany Powell embarked on "The Debt Project," a series of formal photo portraits of myriad Americans in debt accompanied by their handwritten debt stories and, eventually, audio interviews. Powell is hoping to complete the project with funding from a Kickstarter campaign. Read the rest

David Graeber and Thomas Piketty on whether capitalism will destroy itself

Graeber wrote the magisterial Debt: The First 5,000 Years; Piketty, of course, wrote the essential Capital in the 21st Century -- in a must-read dialog, they discuss their differences and similarities and offer views on whether capitalism will collapse. Read the rest

The more your job helps people, the less you're paid (and vice-versa)

In this spectacular, long interview with Salon, David "Debt" Graeber builds on his bullshit jobs hypothesis and points out the horror of modern American work: if your job does some good, you are paid less; jobs that actively hurt people are paid more; and no one seems to want a world where no one has to work anymore. But have no fear: it ends on a high note: a proposed "revolt of the caring classes." Read the rest

Free science fictional graphic novel about the student debt conspiracy

Christopher Kosek writes, "'The Default Trigger' is a 52 page, free (with a pay what you want version available) digital graphic novel about student loan debt, the shadowy figures lurking in the background who watch over our struggles and their insidious conspiracy to keep this cycle going. It's written and illustrated by me, Christopher Kosek. Plot (with spoilers): When a recent college grad, Joseph Doakes, defaults on over $100k in student loans," Read the rest

Debt collectors illegally hound people who don't owe money

A third of people who complain about debt-collectors who break the law say they don't even owe the money under discussion. Of the victims who complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about being hounded for money they don't owe, two thirds say they never owed it, and a third say they had already paid it off. Debt-collectors call wrong numbers or hassle people with names similar to those of debtors. They call them at work and at home, and use threats and obscene language when they're told they've got the wrong person. One offender, CashCall Inc, is being sued over its practices, and was separately ordered to refund $14M in debts it collected through fraudulent robo-signing. Read the rest

Meet Educational Credit Management Corporation, the arm-breakers of the student debt racket

A private contractor to student debt-holders has a special legal department that goes to bankruptcy court to argue that student loans shouldn't be discharged in bankruptcy, ever. The Educational Credit Management Corporation contracts to the Department of Education, on whose behalf it argues (for example) that debtors who go bankrupt fighting pancreatic cancer should still have to pay back their student loans in full, because "Survival rates for younger patients tend to be higher."

Student debt is the most pernicious kind of debt. It's debt that you take on when you're a teenager, and it's the only debt that can be taken out of your Social Security check. But as bad as the student debt racket is (and it's bad -- no, I mean really bad), I hadn't quite clocked how depraved its bagmen and enforcers could be.

They've been censured by courts for their strongarm tactics, bills have been introduced to make them behave, but they seem unstoppable. Why not? The precarious job-market has convinced Americans to go into $1 trillion worth of student debt, and when that collapses, it'll make subprime look like small change. So, realistically, who's ever going to stop thug bill-collectors from torturing people with terrible illness, or caring for severely disabled loved ones, or facing other unimaginable hardship, in order to bleed whatever they can for the debt-holders who're depending on that trillion bucks being repaid? Read the rest

Student debt and tuition hikes: destroying the lives of America's children

In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi takes a long, in-depth look at the scandal of student loans and tuition hikes, a two-headed parasite sucking America's working class and middle class dry as they plunge their children into a lifetime of ballooning debt in the vain hope of a better, college-educated future. The feds keep backing student loans, and the states keep cutting university funding, so the difference is made up by cranking up tuition and shifting the burden to future grads. Meanwhile, the laws that prohibit discharging student debt in bankruptcy, combined with ballooning default penalties (your $30K debt can rocket to $120K if you have a heart-attack and are bedridden and can't make payments) and the most ruthless, unsupervised, criminal collection agencies means that tens of millions of Americans are trapped in a nightmare that never ends -- student debt being the only debt that can be taken out of your Social Security check. Matt Taibbi is a national treasure, and Rolling Stone does us all a service by keeping him working.

If this piece moves you and you want to learn more, Don't miss "Generation of Debt," an important pamphlet on the subject from UC students. Read the rest

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