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

Americans are too poor to survive whether or not they're working

A new study from the United Way claims that 43% of American households are in a status called "asset limited, income constrained, employed" (ALICE), which denotes employed people who can't afford housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and a cellphone -- the basics of modern living. Read the rest

Profiles of young Americans who entered voluntary exile rather than paying their student loans

CNBC profiles a small handful of young Americans who have moved abroad and ceased payments on their student debt, relying on international borders to protect them from their edu-creditors. Read the rest

That billionaire who paid off a graduating class's student loans also supports the hedge-fundie's favorite tax loophole

Billionaire Goldman Sachs alum Robert F Smith made headlines when he donated enough cash to pay off the student loan debt of the entire Class of 2019 at Morehouse College; but Smith is also an ardent supporter of the carried interest tax loophole, which allows the richest people in America to pay little to no tax on the bulk of their earnings, while working Americans (like the Morehouse Class of 2019 will be, shortly) pay their fair share. Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students. Read the rest

Sanders and AOC team up for an anti-loansharking bill that will replace payday lenders with post-office banking

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jointly introduced The Loan Shark Prevention Act, which will cap credit card interest rates at 15% (and closes the loopholes that lets credit card issuers exceed their stated APRs with the use of hidden fees) and which re-establishes American post-office banking. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren proposes debt relief for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has endured decades of looting and austerity from the finance sector who then used the pretense of Hurricane Maria to impose radical financial policies on the island, dismantling the statistics agency that would track how those reforms punished the people of Puerto Rico, while filling the streets with armed, anonymous mercenaries. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's latest proposal: cancel student debt, make college free

Elizabeth Warren has proposed a $1.25 trillion plan to forgive student debts and make all public college and university undergraduate education free, as well as earmarking $50B for historically Black colleges, and expanding federal grants to help pay for all students' non-tuition expenses. Read the rest

The two hidden intellectual moves behind the "progressive" argument against free college

Pete Buttigieg is one of the prominent members of the progressive wing of the Democratic party who opposes free college tuition, on the ground that the "benefits" of college accrue to those who attain a degree and that it's unfair to ask the majority, who don't attend college, to subsidize the minority who do. Read the rest

China's "pawn shops" have loaned $43B, mostly secured by real-estate

In reports of China's looming debt crisis, it's common to see references to the "shadow finance" or "shadow banking" system, but it's not always clear what these terms mean. Read the rest

Financialization is wearing out its welcome

On the eve of Apple issuing a credit card (and following Carl Icahn's 2013 advice that "Apple should be a bank"), we seem to be reaching the end of financialization's dominance over the economy, a trend that started in the 1970s and has risen ever since -- but the tricks are wearing thin. See for example, the notorious Brazilian corporate raiders 3G bought out Kraft-Heinz and tried its usual MO of goosing profits by squeezing suppliers, paying its bills late, and cutting costs at the expense of growth -- only to have Kraft-Heinz's value drop by more than 50% in less than three years. Read the rest

Canada's housing market is slowly but surely imploding, and Canadians are more exposed than the US was in 2008

After 20 years of unprecedented lows, Canada's central bank is gradually raising rates; this, combined with strict rules on new loans, empty house taxes in overheated cities like Vancouver, and mandatory ownership disclosures (which keep money launderers out of the market) are depressing the Canadian housing market, and the prognosis is not good. Read the rest

New York hospitals illegally billed rape survivors for their rape kits, then sent debt-collectors after them

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has concluded that seven New York hospitals illegally billed rape survivors for their rape kits, at least 200 times, for sums ranging from $46 to $3,000, and then sent collections agents after survivors who could not pay. Read the rest

New York City's municipal debt collectors have forged an unholy alliance with sleazy subprime lenders

New York City's "marshal" service is a throwback to the Dutch colonial days; the 35 marshals are appointed by the mayor, draw no salary, and earn their livings by skimming a percentage off of the debts they collect, operating with impunity and reaching around the world. Read the rest

"Sixteen Tons": the student debt edition

When I was a kid, we used to sing Merle Travis's Sixteen Tons in the car on long trips: it's a poetic masterpiece, capturing the clash between a worker's proud and indomitable spirit and his impossible, inescapable poverty trap (chances are you've heard Tennessee Ernie Ford or Johnny Cash perform it). Read the rest

Since 2007, debt-haunted grads have been doing public service to earn loan forgiveness, which they won't get

The roster of people carrying student debt is really just "a list of people liable to additional taxation after graduation"; in 2007, GW Bush signed into law the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that would allow debt-haunted grads to earn loan forgiveness by foregoing the private sector and working for lower wages in public service for a decade. Read the rest

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the collapse of 2008 and things are much, much worse

Nobody covered the Wall Street collapse, bailout, and corrupt resurgence better than Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, from giving Goldman Sachs its unforgettable epithet to covering the hearings on the bailouts to documenting the foreclosure mills, to deep dives into the sweetheart deals the banks got; to the revolving door between finance regulators and the finance sector to the rise of Occupy; to the consolidation of financial primacy after the collapse; to the double-standard for criminal justice revealed by the collapse; to the frauds that surfaced after the crash; to the tiny bright spots where bankers were brought to justice; all capped by an incandescent, outstanding book about the crisis and the systematic racial and economic justice it revealed. Read the rest

More posts