Chinese cops treat kidnapping as a routine form of largely acceptable debt-collection

If you owe someone money in China and kidnap them to get paid, the police are likely to treat the whole thing as a civil matter of "unlawful detention" and stay out of it (especially if the debtor is a foreigner and the lender is Chinese). Read the rest

Student loans are really "a list of people liable to additional taxation after graduation"

In an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, Neil Wilson explains how Labour can frame its policy on student debt forgiveness after they take power and abolish tuition fees. Read the rest

Billions of dollars' worth of predatory student loans may... just... vanish

Private student loans are the worst of a bad bunch, with incredibly high interest rates and penalties on funds used to finance educations at the kinds of "universities" who later get their accreditations yanked for academic malpractice and deceptive advertising -- universities that target the most naive kids from the least educated backgrounds, load them up with debt, waste four years of their lives, and pop them out the door with a useless "degree."

Read the rest

Talking Walkaway with Reason Magazine

Of all the press-stops I did on my tour for my novel Walkaway, I was most excited about my discussion with Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine, where I knew I would have a challenging and meaty conversation with someone who was fully conversant with the political, technological and social questions the book raised. Read the rest

Trucking company fires worker who spoke to reporter about working conditions, takes truck and $60,000 from him

Rene Flores is one of the truckers who spoke to USA Today for its excellent investigative piece on the use of debt and indenture to force truckers to work for literal pennies (or sometimes even pay for the privilege of working). Read the rest

Bloomberg: Middle-class Americans were "fleeced" by neoliberalism

Noah Smith (previously) writes in Bloomberg (!) about the "fleecing" of the Gen-X and Boomer middle class -- a class that is growing continuously smaller and poorer, thanks to "financial deregulation, tax cuts and a lax attitude toward consumer protection and antitrust." Read the rest

Bank of International Settlements warns of global economic crash, "with a vengeance"

The Bank of International Settlements -- the "central bank for central bankers" -- has released its latest annual report, warning that the looming debt crises in China, Hong Kong and Thailand could precipitate an abrupt collapse, or, as BIS monetary and economic department head Claudio Borio put it, "That end may come to resemble more closely a financial boom gone wrong, just as the latest recession showed, with a vengeance." Read the rest

Truck-driving is a modern form of indentured slavery

USA Today undertook a year-long investigation into southern California truckers, so-called "independent contractors" who form a critical link from America's busiest port to the rest of the country, and found that drivers are sunk into deep pits of debt due to predatory contracts they signed under duress, debts that are used to force them to work unsafe hours, falsify their work records, and sometimes bring home literal pennies a week after working 80+ hours (some drivers even finish the week in deeper debt, owing money to the companies they "contract" for).

Read the rest

What does Jeremy Corbyn stand for?

The 2017 UK Labour Manifesto has been hugely popular since it was leaked early last month, and young Britons registered to vote in droves after it got out. But what does it actually say? Read the rest

Betsy DeVos ends ban on crooked loan-collectors in the student debt biz

Education secretary (and Ponzi-scheme billionaire heiress, anti-public-education crusader, and sister of notorious war criminal Eric Prince) Betsy DeVos just killed the recent Department of Education/Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines that banned dirty bill-collectors from going after people with delinquent student bans.

Read the rest

China's "citizen scores" used to blacklist 6.7m people from using high-speed rail or flying

China's nightmarish "citizen scores" system uses your online activity, purchases, messages, and social graph to rate your creditworthiness and entitlement to services. One way your score can be plunged into negative territory is for a judge to declare you to be a bad person (mostly this happens to people said to have refused to pay their debts, but it's also used to punish people who lie to courts, hide their assets, and commit other offenses). Read the rest

Now in the UK! Pre-order signed copies of the first edition hardcover of Walkaway, my first adult novel since Makers

The UK's Forbidden Planet is now offering signed hardcovers of Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009 -- this is in addition to the signed US hardcovers being sold by Barnes and Noble. Read the rest

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

Politics got weird because neoliberalism failed to deliver

Ian Welsh says that the USSR collapsed because its promises -- "a cornucopia and a withering away of the state" -- conspicuously failed to materialize; now, neoliberalism's promises ("If the rich have more money, they will create more jobs; Lower taxes will lead to more prosperity; Increases in housing and stock market prices will increase prosperity for everyone; Trade deals and globalization will make everyone better off") are likewise being shown to be lies, and so we're in crisis. 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

Revealed: the amazing cover for Walkaway, my first adult novel since 2009

Next April, Tor Books will publish Walkaway, the first novel I've written specifically for adults since 2009; it's scheduled to be their lead title for the season and they've hired the brilliant designer Will Staehle (Yiddish Policeman's Union, Darker Shade of Magic) for the cover, which Tor has just revealed. Read the rest

More posts