How the "global super-rich" have honeycombed London's posh neighbourhoods with sub-basements, sub-sub-basements, and sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-basements

London -- ground zero for financial shenanigans, money-laundering, and the conversion of housing from a human necessity to an asset-class -- has spent decades converting itself to an inert, open-air vault full of status-displaying safe-deposit boxes owned by offshore criminals and oligarchs who "improve" their empty properties with absurd fripperies to make them more flippable come the day that their local warlord purges them and they need the ready cash. Read the rest

Designer garden hoses, and other 'luxurious alternative garden appliances'

Riffraff, step aside. A line of garden hoses for the more discerning yard worker has arrived.

With models like the Gold Digger ("certainly a statement piece is for those who love a bit of show off"), the "graceful and refined" Rusty Rose, and the Caribbean Kiss (which "will make you dream of a tropical beach edged with palm trees"), it's clear that Garden Glory's hoses are no ordinary lawn wetting devices.

The prices are not ordinary either. Hoses are $119 each (plus an additional $49 to $119 for the matchy-matchy nozzle) and come with an "elegant designer bag." Don't forget to kickdown for that complementary Reindeer Wall Mount ($299) to wrap your hose around. Add a pair of golden gloves for $59 and then snap some selfies of yourself "gardening." Your Instagram feed is sure to explode.

All of your "luxurious alternative garden appliances" dreams have come true. **pinch**

Thanks, Polly!

images via Garden Glory Read the rest

The other class war: technocrats vs plutocrats

After World War Two, the balance of wealth shifted dramatically: the super-rich lost so much capital during the two wars and the interwar period that their grip on power slipped, creating the space for a welfare state and other reforms. Read the rest

The Wall Street Journal on the decade since the crash: inequality, giant banks, regulatory failures, looming catastrophe

It's been ten years since the financial crisis, when barely regulated banks destroyed the world's economy, kicked off wars, and directly and indirectly killed millions. Read the rest

Rail barons and the new gilded age: one-percenters travel in style by hitching private "super-luxe" railcars to Amtrak trains

The Wall Street Journal profiles rich "train buffs" who buy vintage Gilded Age railcars and refurbish them, then pay to have them hitched to Amtrak trains and pulled between their city houses and their country places. Read the rest

Billionaire Cartier boss returns from fishing holiday gripped with terror that the poors are going to start building guillotines

Tobacco heir Johann Rupert is worth $7.5B; he's head of Cartier, Montblanc, Chloe and other luxury goods labels, having returned to the helm of his Richemont holding company after a year-long fly-fishing sabbatical; in a speech to the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco he revealed that he no longer sleeps at night because he is worried that "envy, hatred and social warfare" will destabilize the world. Read the rest

For Goldman Sachs execs, momentarily working for the government means hundreds of millions in tax savings

When Gary Cohn left Goldman Sachs to to work for Donald Trump, he was required to sell off his Goldman Sachs stock, but he didn't have to pay capital gains tax on that sale, saving him a cool $150,000,000; a year later, he was out of the Trump administration, and he still gets to hang onto those tax-free hectabucks. Read the rest

How 401(k)s created a class of suckers to be fleeced by the investor class

America's 1% have waged a long war on defined-benefits pensions, insisting that America could prepare for retirement by putting their money into 401(k)s, despite the stark evidence to the contrary. Read the rest

Stock market gains to the richest 2% of Americans in 2017 could pay for the entire nation's social programs

The wealthiest 2% of Americans got $1.15 trillion richer in 2017, nearly all of it in stock market gains -- more than enough to pay for state and federal Medicaid, and all mandatory and discretionary social welfare programs nationwide. Read the rest

Koch brothers publish letter crowing about all the ways Trump spent the year carrying water for them

In a letter to the Koch network -- a group of evil billionaires who chip in to buy politicians -- the Koch brothers crowed about how Donald Trump (whom they considered replacing with Paul Ryan in a backroom deal at the 2016 RNC) has been a pliable servant to them and their political goals during his year in office. Read the rest

California ballot initiative to make state university free again by reinstating inheritance tax for millionaires

From their inception, California's state colleges and universities were free or nearly free for in-state students, but since the 1970s, the state systems have been ratcheting up tuition and originating loans that impose crippling debt on students, leading to delayed fertility, late home-ownership, reduced retirement savings, and dampening entrepreneurial risk-taking. Read the rest

Tiffany sold out of a ton of those laughable sterling silver "everyday objects"

Remember Tiffany's runup to Xmas with the $1000 tin can and the $9000 ball of yarn? It was a pretty shrewd bit of marketing. Read the rest

Wells Fargo CEO promises to spend not one cent of the GOP tax gift on investment or wages

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan -- who inherited the most scandal-haunted bank of them all this year -- reassured his investors in a CNN Money interview that not one dime of the tax savings the GOP will deliver to his company will be reinvested or used to increase wages: instead, it will all go to buy-backs and dividends. Read the rest

A rogue's gallery of 17 of Eastern Europe's richest, most politically connected oligarchs

Albania's Shkëlqim Fusha likes to hide in the shadows, but his cousin, Tirana chief prosecutor Petrit Fusha, is implicated in a massive corruption scandal whose cover-up involved assassinating a 17-year-old boy -- in what is surely an unrelated coincidence, Tirana is where Fusha has made billions in no-bid city contracts. Read the rest

Simklept: Kleptocrat is a mobile game that uses real-world financial crimes to simulate being a tax-dodging one percenter

Kleptocrat is an Ios-only mobile game that challenges players to play as billionaire tax-dodgers, who construct ruses to hide their money from the tax authorities in the countries where the state guards their wealth, educates the workforce, and keeps everyone from dropping dead of infectious diseases. Read the rest

Share of national wealth held by America's 1% hits 50-year high

In Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962 to 2016: Has Middle Class Wealth Recovered?, an NBER working paper by NYU economics professor Edward N. Wolff, we get an analysis of the annual US governmental Survey of Consumer Finances, revealing that the share of national wealth owned by the richest one percent of Americans has risen by three points since 2013, to more than 90%, the highest level in half a century. Read the rest

Treasure Islands: EU publishes a blacklist of 17 tax-havens and a long-list of runner-up tax avoidance jurisdictions

The EU's new blacklist of 17 money-laundering financial secrecy states includes South Korea, Mongolia, Namibia, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and also includes a long-list of places like Guam, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Read the rest

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