The American Conservative: "The Dickensian Return of Debtors’ Prisons"

It's fascinating to read Dan King writing in The American Conservative to decry "Dickensian debtors' prisons" in the USA -- the practice of judges locking up poor people who can't pay fines for petty infractions like traffic tickets. Read the rest

New game show pays off winner's student loans

There's a long history of TV programs that exploit the personal struggles of individuals for ratings. Now there's a new game show that tackles the student loan crisis. Like its predecessors in this genre, it's bad. Read the rest

We know how to fix homelessness, we just won't do it

The largest, wealthiest cities in America are filling up with tent cities -- especially on the west coast, where East Coast style right-to-shelter laws are rare -- and if the spectacle of human misery doesn't alarm you, perhaps you should be thinking about communicable disease epidemics. Read the rest

GDP vs human thriving: a "healthy" economy means debt-haunted people, desperately searching for housing

GDP and stock market performance are the two metrics that economists (and politicians) use to measure the health of a nation's economy, and by those metrics, Trump is doing a hell of a job. Read the rest

Mass protests against IMF austerity force Jordan's Prime Minister to resign

Jordan is broke, thanks to falling tax revenues due to tax avoidance and low taxes on the super-rich, and the country is seeking to bridge the gap in its finances by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, which backed a bill that imposed crushing cuts on public services to ensure that money could be found to pay back Jordan's creditors. Read the rest

America is the world's first poor rich country

Americans' median income is $60,000 -- but the average American couldn't stump up $500 to bail themselves out of an emergency, and a third of Americans can't afford food, shelter and healthcare. Read the rest

Student debt crisis watch: pay $18,000 of your $24,000 loan, owe $24,000

Kaitlin Cawley finished grad school with $95,000 in student loans, including a $24,000 variable-rate loan that started at 9.4% and now stands at 11%, a loan that the US government lender Sallie Mae brokered for her when she was 20. Read the rest

World Bank recommends that countries eliminate minimum wage, dismantle wrongful dismissal rules and contractual protections for workers

A draft of the World Bank's annual flagship World Development Report says that its creditor-states (the poorest countries in the world) should eliminate their minimum wage rules, allow employers to fire workers without cause, and repeal laws limiting abusive employment contract terms. Read the rest

If this goes on... The 1% will own two thirds of the world by 2030

The House of Commons Library has published research projecting the post-2008 growth of inequality until 2030, arriving at an eye-popping headline figure: at current rates, the richest 1% will own two thirds of the world's riches by 2030. I think that number is too low. Here's why. 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

Mortgage debt back at 2008 levels

Just in time for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to disappear! The chart was created by Jaydub.

Data Source: https://www.federalreserve.gov/data/mortoutstand/current.htm Tools used: Microsoft Excel and Plotly

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Toronto's real estate market is imploding

Toronto is one of the many great world cities that has been rendered nearly unlivable by real-estate speculation, both from onshore investors and offshore ones. 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

Corbyn says he'll end asset-stripping hostile takeovers

Labour leader and PM-in-waiting Jeremy Corbyn has promised that when he is Prime Minister, his government will introduce regulations that ban the finance-driven, asset-stripping hostile takeovers of UK companies, in a bid to make finance the "servants of industry not the masters of us all." Read the rest

Trump's "consumer protection bureau" will let the $50B payday lending industry gouge the poorest Americans with triple-digit interest rates

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, founded by Elizabeth Warren prior to her career as a senator, was once the gem of the US political system, a consistently effective force for punishing finance industry wrongdoing, until Trump let Wall Street robber barons loose on it, under the direction of a lawyer who represented loan sharks before going to work for the Trump administration. Read the rest

Nudging doesn't give poor people retirement savings, it just makes them poorer

Nudging -- the idea that a well-designed "choice architecture" can help people make free choices that are better than the ones they would make without the nudge -- has a few well-publicized success stories: the cafeteria where frontloading veggies and other healthful options gets kids to choose carrots over pizza; and the employer-side deduction for retirement savings that gets employees to put aside a little more to retire on (this insight rates a Nobel-adjacent prize*!). Read the rest

Modern Monetary Theory: the economic basis for expanded social spending and greater shared prosperity

The last 40 years has seen a steady rise of deficit-hawking, in which the world's postwar social safety nets are shredded because the state "can't afford" them -- think of all the times you've heard of national debt being money that "the taxpayers" will have to pay back, and misleading comparisons between sovereign governments (who print their own money) to households and businesses (who don't), as though sovereign state finance was just a scaled-up version of balancing the family check-book. Read the rest

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