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

Jeff Sessions encourages courts to continue practice of fining poor people for being too poor to pay their fines

In 2016, the Obama DoJ issued guidance to US courts telling them to cease the practice of levying fines on poor people that exceeded their means to pay, especially fines for failure to pay earlier fines. This week, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that order. Read the rest

Independent auditor: Trump has made it impossible for students defrauded by predatory diploma mills to get their loans cancelled

The US Department of Education's Inspector General has released a report saying that the DoE has stopped cancelling the debts of students who were defrauded by fake universities. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America's hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid). Read the rest

Student debt: more people, paying more money, and mounting year on year

Dissident economic statistician Matt Bruenig (previously) has parsed the latest numbers from the Survey of Consumer Finances, and brings us the news of the increased democratization of student debt: in 1989, only 16% of students and their families carried student debt -- in 2016, it was 44%. Read the rest

States suspend your driver's license over inability to pay court fines, costing you your job and any ability to repay

Massive income inequality, combined with Republican attacks on the taxation of the wealthiest, has produced a situation in which the state increasingly depends on extracting fines, interest and debt service from people who grow steadily poorer and less able to pay, and thus the state must turn to ever-more-extreme measures to extract the money it needs to survive. Read the rest

Once again, Cards Against Humanity is offering full-ride scholarships for women in STEM

Cards Against Humanity put $1M into a permanent trust that pays for an annual full-ride scholarship for women in science, technology, engineering, or math who are high-school seniors or current undergrads. Read the rest

America's dirtiest, biggest student lender neutralized by federal watchdog

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, founded by Elizabeth Warren prior to her career as a senator, has entered into an unprecedented settlement with National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, the largest holder of student debt in the country. Read the rest

Australia's housing bubble is built on a deadly, about-to-burst credit bubble

If you buy a house in Australia -- where housing prices are out of control, even by global standards -- you can wait a couple months for the house's book value to go up, and then borrow against that "unrealised capital gain" to buy another house...and then you can do it again. Read the rest

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."

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In the UK, 77% of 2017 university grads will never fully repay their student loan debt

Because of the UK's dramatic shift from student grants to loans, a startling report from the Institute for Financial Studies predicts that 77.4% of university graduates in the UK's class of 2017 will not repay their full student loan obligations. This is up from 41.5% just six years ago in 2011.

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