Davos in the Desert is back, and banks and hedge fund managers are flocking to Mister Bone-Saw's side

"Davos in the Desert" is Saudi Arabia's charm offensive aimed at global financial elites, but its launch last year was marred by its close proximity to the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out at the personal behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who styles himself a progressive reformer. Read the rest

Rep Katie Porter: an Elizabeth Warren protege and single mom who destroys bumbling, mediocre rich guys in Congressional hearings

In 2018, Katie Porter flipped a Republican safe seat -- it had literally never been held by a Democrat-- in California's 45th District, and since then, she has been a delightful, brilliant terror of a lawmaker, using her deep background in finance law (she's a tenured finance law prof at UC Irvine who literally wrote the textbook on consumer finance law in the wake of Dodd-Frank and Elizabeth Warren's establishment of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau). Read the rest

"The People's Money": A crisp, simple, thorough explanation of how government spending is paid for

Modern Monetary Theory is an economic paradigm that treats money as a utility that governments issue and tax in order to mobilize resources needed to provide the services that the public wants; it explains why some kinds of government spending leads to inflation while other kinds do not, and how sovereign states use different levers to control inflation, even when they're spending extraordinary sums, as in WWII. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg to testify before House Financial Services Committee on Facebook's 'Libra' cryptocurrency

The House Financial Services Committee has asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on Facebook's planned Libra cryptocurrency, and he will do so on October 23. Read the rest

What happened to the 2008 bailout money?

In 2008, Congress authorized a $700b bailout of the finance sector, with almost no strings attached (notably, the bailout did not require banks that were receiving public subsidies to abstain from foreclosures or penalties for the members of the public who had just bailed the banks out). Read the rest

"I just love to solve problems": how people who work at predatory lenders avoid thinking about the pain they inflict

Elena Botella worked at Capital One -- one of the US's leading issuers of subprime credit-cards -- for three years; in a fascinating first-person account, she describes how Capital One's youthful, smart, principled and caring staff created a culture in which the lives they were ruining were replaced by obfuscating jargon and interesting mathematics puzzles. Read the rest

Thomas Cook travel collapsed and stranded 150,000 passengers, but still had millions for the execs who tanked it

Thomas Cook is one of the oldest travel agencies in the world, operating their own flights, ships, hotels, etc, whose founders effectively invented modern tourism (listen to this excellent Stuff You Missed in History Class episode for the fascinating and fraught tale of how that happened) but a consolidation in the travel industry combined with private equity chicanery that loaded the company up with $2.1b in debt in order to pay out investors drove the company to its knees, and, last week, it finally died. Read the rest

Trial begins for the "cum/ex" bankers accused of stealing €447m and trying for €60b

You know that late-stage capitalism is upon us when a financial scandal targeting €60 billion in fraud against public treasuries is lost in the noise of other scandals. Read the rest

A deep dive into Elizabeth Warren's plan to tame private equity

Yesterday, I published a brief analysis of Elizabeth Warren's plan to close the loopholes that allows private equity to defraud investors, creditors and workers to make billions while destroying the real economy. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's banking proposals are designed to demolish the private equity sector and force finance to serve the people

Elizabeth Warren's bid for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination has been dominated by a series of bold, detailed policy proposals that are designed to enact deep, structural changes in American law and policy to reverse 40 years of post-Reagan corruption and wealth accumulation by the richest 1%. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren wants to force companies to warn investors about their risks from climate change

Public companies are legally required to disclose their risks to investors, but it's a rare company that incorporates climate change into those mandatory disclosures; under a new presidential campaign platform proposal from Elizabeth Warren (disclosure: I am a donor to both Warren and Sanders's campaigns), the SEC would require public companies to incorporate two kinds of climate risk in their warnings: first, the risks of an out-of-control climate (fires, floods, etc); and second, the risks from the a transition to clean energy (collapsing fossil fuel prices). The idea is to accelerate divestiture from climate-destroying industries like oil and fracking, and to spur investors to favor companies with a plan to mitigate the effects of climate chaos on their operations. Read the rest

Chase customers have ONE MONTH left to opt out of binding arbitration

Ten years ago, Chase was forced to withdraw the binding arbitration clauses in its credit card agreements as part of a settlement in a class-action suit (the company was accused of conspiring with other banks to force all credit-card customers to accept binding arbitration) (one of the things binding arbitration does is deprive you of your right to join class-action suits!). Last May, the company stealthily reintroduced the clauses, and gave customers until August 7 to notify the company in writing if they do not agree to binding arbitration. You have ONE MONTH LEFT to opt out. Read the rest

The rent's less damned high: rents falling in most of America's most expensive cities

In all but a few of the most expensive cities in the USA, median rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments have fallen, sometimes quite sharply (for example, in NYC median asking rents on a one bedroom are down to $2940, a 12.8%/$430 decline from their peak in March 2016; while in Honolulu, rents are down 21.6% from their peak in Mar 2015, down to $1670 from $2130). Read the rest

Why can't we see big companies' tax returns?

As Russell Brandom writes, "before 1976, corporate tax returns were broadly considered part of the public record" and there's been bipartisan support since for mandating that big companies show us how they're structuring their earnings (this was especially urgent after the Enron scandal). Read the rest

Reverse mortgages: subprime's "stealth aftershock" that is costing elderly African-Americans their family homes

Reverse mortgages -- complex home loans -- are aggressively marketed to elderly people, especially in African-American neighborhoods, using deceptive tactics that offer false promised to "eliminate monthly payments permanently" with "a risk-free way of being able to access home equity." Read the rest

U.S. budget deficit now $739 Billion, despite GOP promises and Trump tariffs

38.8% more than the same period a year ago

Payday lenders switched their trade show to a Trump hotel and sent Trump at least a million bucks, then he gave them carte blanche to make billions preying on poor people

The payday lending industry is the pinnacle of predatory, corrupt capitalism, unabashed loan sharks who prey on the poorest and most desperate Americans, charging interest rates in the hundreds and even thousands of percent APR, using strongarm tactics including threats of violence and rape to collect on debts, and papering over the whole thing by flooding notice-and-comment proceedings with bot-generated comments and secretly bribing academics to write papers explaining that usury is a social good. Read the rest

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