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pages: 279 words: 76,796

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, basic income, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, employer provided health coverage, financial exclusion, financial independence, financial innovation, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, gig economy, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, late fees, Lyft, M-Pesa, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, Occupy movement, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, precariat, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, too big to fail, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor, Zipcar

much higher interest rates: Kelly Dilworth, “Average Credit Card Interest Rates Rise to 15.07 Percent,” CreditCards.com, October 2014. http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/interest-rate-report-100114-up-2121.php 5. PAYDAY LOANS: MAKING THE BEST OF POOR OPTIONS 77 Payday loans are illegal: For the number of states where payday loans are illegal, see Pew Charitable Trusts, “State Payday Loan Regulation and Usage Rates” (Washington, DC: Pew, July 11, 2012). http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/multimedia/data-visualizations/2014/~/media/data%20visualizations/interactives/2014/state%20payday%20loan%20regulation%20and%20usage%20rates/report/state_payday_loan_regulation_and_usage_rates.pdf usage has increased dramatically: For a summary of the emergence of the payday loan industry, see Bruce Miller (Managing Director, Stephens), “Credit: Where We Are and Where We’re Going,” paper presented at FiSCA at 25 Conference, Chicago, October 2012.

Each state has different rules: For a summary of this information, see Pew Charitable Trusts, “State Payday Loan Regulation and Usage Rates.” Georgia and North Carolina: Morgan and Strain, “Payday Holiday.” A 2008 study examined: Ibid. Compared with other states: Ibid. 90 “plausibly inferior” alternatives: Zinman, “Restricting Consumer Credit Access: Household Survey Evidence on Effects Around the Oregon Rate Cap.” Other states have placed: Pew Charitable Trusts, “How State Rate Limits Affect Payday Loan Prices” (Washington, DC: Pew, 2014). http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2014/04/10/how-state-rate-limits-affect-payday-loan-prices payments in Colorado amount: For the number of states where payday loans are illegal, see Pew Charitable Trusts, “State Payday Loan Regulation and Usage Rates” (Washington, DC: Pew, July 11, 2012). http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/multimedia/data-visualizations/2014/~/media/data%20visualizations/interactives/2014/state%20payday%20loan%20regulation%20and%20usage%20rates/report/state_payday_loan_regulation_and_usage_rates.pdf after the legislation: Ibid. 91 Pressure on policymakers: At the time of this writing, the CFPB had not yet released its new rules for payday lenders.

But once the media reported that these loans were basically the same as payday loans, the banks stopped offering the products. The risk to their reputation was too great. Of course, banks do offer all of us a short-term loan. It’s called an overdraft, and if it had a repayment period of seven days, the APR for a typical incident would be over 5,000 percent. Americans paid $38 billion in overdraft fees in 2011, more than they paid to payday lenders. The shrinkage of credit has also caused people to juggle their available credit and use payday loans in ways that would seem counterintuitive without complete knowledge of individuals’ situations. For example, some people who take out payday loans also have credit cards that are not maxed out. It would seem that they should use the credit cards before getting a payday loan, right? Not necessarily.


pages: 299 words: 83,854

Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy by Howard Karger

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big-box store, blue-collar work, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, delayed gratification, financial deregulation, fixed income, illegal immigration, labor-force participation, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, microcredit, mortgage debt, negative equity, New Journalism, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, payday loans, predatory finance, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, underbanked, working poor

An extreme example is the situation of Lisa Engelkins, who entered into 35 back-to-back payday loan transactions over 17 months, paying $1,254 in fees to extend a $300 payday loan.24 Table 5.1 is an example of a hypothetical payday loan history.76 Ralph Johnson takes out 10 payday loans a year, which is close to the national average. Despite admonitions by payday lenders that “a cash advance is a short-term solution to an immediate need, it is not intended for repeated use in carrying an individual from payday to payday,”25 these loans are generally not used this way. Payday lenders maintain that the industry provides needed credit for emergencies. However, a 2003 study by the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity found that 67% of payday borrowers used their loans to pay general nonemergency bills.26 For many people, payday loans lead to a pattern of chronic borrowing and chronic debt.

However, a 2003 study by the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity found that 67% of payday borrowers used their loans to pay general nonemergency bills.26 For many people, payday loans lead to a pattern of chronic borrowing and chronic debt. Table 5.1. Connie’s $300 payday loan. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, only 1% of all payday loans go to one-time emergency borrowers who pay their loan within two weeks and don’t borrow again within a year. Conversely, 66% of borrowers initiate 5 or more loans a year, and 33% take out 12 or more loans a year. Ninety-one percent of all payday loans are made to borrowers with five or more loans a year. On average, payday customers receive 8-13 loans a year. These chronic borrowers form the backbone of payday-industry profits. For example, borrowers who receive 5 or more payday loans a year account for 91% of payday lenders’ revenues, and 56% of this revenue is generated by customers who take out 13 or more loans a year.2777 Payday loans exacerbate credit problems by postponing the inevitable for two weeks at an exorbitant cost.

In the United States, the number of payday lenders grew from a few hundred in 1990 to more than 25,000 in 2002, with the industry expecting to double in size over the next few years.10 In fact, there are now more payday loan shops in America than McDonald’s restaurants.11 The largest payday lenders are Advance America (1,375 stores in 30 states); ACE Cash Express (1,000 stores in 30 states); Check ‘n Go (800 stores in 26 states); Dollar (700 stores in 24 states); Check into Cash (650 stores in 24 states); and Cash America International (470 stores in 18 states).12 The growth of the payday industry has been explosive, with loan volume rising from $10 billion in 2000 to $25 billion by 2003. This $25 billion included 83 million payday loans costing 7.6 million customers about $3.4 billion.13 Surprisingly, this growth occurred despite 19 states’ prohibiting payday loans at triple-digit interest rates.14 Payday loans (also known as “payday advances” or “deferred deposit loans”) are about twice as profitable as standard pawn-based loans.15 In 2002 the percentage of payday loans charged off as uncollectible in Virginia was 3.4%. In North Carolina, only 6% of payday checks were returned for insufficient funds (NSF). Lenders recovered 69% of the value of those checks.16 According to the Center for Responsible Lending, payday lenders report losses of 10-12 cents for every dollar lent and a 34% pretax return on investment.


pages: 424 words: 121,425

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran

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access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

Consider the following comments that the CFBP and the Pew Charitable Trusts gathered from payday lending customers in support of payday loans:69 “Well I can say I normally get a payday loan only for emergency like [sic] if I need to pay a bill. I feel I get great service and the money I need.” —J. B. from Birmingham, AL “I have unfortunately had to use the services of the Payday loans. Again, unfortunately it is easier to get these loans than to apply for and receive a loan from the bank that is using your money to supply others with loans and other functions.” —D. M. from Alliance, OH “Payday loans have helped several times when bills and unexpected circumstances arise. The limits are great, not too high so an individual can keep it under control. It’s less hassle than going to a bank for those without the best credit.” —Craig from Wellington, AL “Payday loans have helped me pay medical bills and buy medicine for me and my mom, bought me gas and helped me get my car fixed when money was tight.

The CFPB found that the average consumer had over ten transactions over a twelve-month period and paid a total of $574 in fees, which does not include the loan principal. 43. “On average, a payday loan takes 36 percent of a person’s pre-tax paycheck, Bourke [project director at Pew] said.” “States with Highest, Lowest Payday Loan Rates,” USA Today, April 20, 2014, accessed March 17, 2015, www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/04/20/id-nv-ut-have-among-highest-payday-loan-rates/7943519/. 44. Richard Cordray, “Remarks at the Payday Field Hearing,” March 25, 2014, accessed March 17, 2015, www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/director-richard-cordray-remarks-at-the-payday-field-hearing/. 45. CFPB, “Ask CFPB: What Is a Payday Loan?,” accessed September 29, 2014, www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1567/what-payday-loan.html. 46. Ibid. 47. According to a study done by the Center for Responsible Lending, the median loan-to-value ratio among borrowers is 26 percent.

Until the demand stops (that is, people are less poor) or fair credit becomes more widely available, variations on high-interest small loans will keep popping up. Because those who need payday loans are already struggling financially, there is some evidence that prohibiting these loans may actually hurt consumers. Paige Skiba found that check bouncing, customer complaints, and Chapter 7 bankruptcies all increased significantly in Georgia after payday loans were prohibited in 2004.118 Donald Morgan and Michael Strain also used data from Hawaii and found similar results. Pew found that if individuals were faced with a shortfall and payday loans were unavailable, 81 percent of borrowers said they would have to cut back on expenses such as food.119 For years, economists have tried to study the effects of payday loans on their borrowers. After a recent review of all the economic research attempting to answer the big question, “Do payday lenders, on net, exacerbate or relieve customers’ financial difficulties?”


pages: 305 words: 89,103

Scarcity: The True Cost of Not Having Enough by Sendhil Mullainathan

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrei Shleifer, Cass Sunstein, clean water, computer vision, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, fault tolerance, happiness index / gross national happiness, impulse control, indoor plumbing, inventory management, knowledge worker, late fees, linear programming, mental accounting, microcredit, p-value, payday loans, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

The subtext being “I’m focusing on what needs to get done now!” Next month’s budgeting is an abstraction, something to turn to later. Like all the worthy goals that do not matter when you’re speeding to the hospital, the long-term economics of the payday loan do not matter at that moment. This is why payday loans are so attractive—people turn to them when they are tunneling on putting out a fire. And their best feature is that the loans put out this fire, quickly and effectively. Their worst feature—that the fire will return in the future, possibly enlarged—is obscured. Of course, none of this is unique to payday loans or to money. Think about putting off answering an e-mail. When we take on this time debt, we focus on the benefits: “Right now I need to get other things done.” We do not spend much time asking ourselves, “How will I make time for this later?”

We have also seen that incentives can be less effective in circumstances like this. When you’re tunneling, many rewards can fall outside the tunnel. Why not instead think about financial products, logistical interventions, or working conditions that help workers deal with financial volatility and help clear some bandwidth? Here is a stark example. Many workers, as we saw in chapter 5, resort to payday loans. Yet it’s worth observing that a payday loan is often simply a loan against work that has already been done. The worker who takes a payday loan halfway through the pay cycle has already earned half her paycheck. The need for a loan is largely due to the fact that payment happens with a delay. Why should an employer have workers taking these loans, potentially falling into scarcity traps, taxing bandwidth, and resulting in lower productivity, especially when the employer can himself give pay advances at low cost?

In 2006, there were more than 23,000 payday lender branches in the United States, which was more than all the McDonald’s (12,000) and Starbucks (almost 9,000) locations combined. Sandra’s practice of rolling over and accumulating fees is also common. Three-quarters of all payday loan volume comes from rollovers, ultimately accounting for $3.5 billion in fees each year. Why do those strapped for cash take on such extreme loans that they cannot afford to pay back? Why do they allow themselves even to start down such a slippery slope? Such questions typically lead to debates about the importance of personal responsibility or about how unscrupulous businesses prey on low-income individuals; they fuel discussions about the myopia of the poor and the need for financial education. Consumer advocates bemoan the payday loan industry as predatory and push to ban these loans. Others point out that when you’re in real need, a loan, however expensive, can be better than no loan.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

,” Atlantic Monthly, September 25, 2015, www.​theatlantic.​com/​technology/​archive/​2015/​09/​facebooks-​new-​patent-​and-​digital-​redlining/​407287/. American Express learned this the hard way: Ron Lieber, “American Express Kept a (Very) Watchful Eye on Charges,” New York Times, January 30, 2009, www.​nytimes.​com/​2009/​01/​31/​your-​money/credit-​and-​debit-​cards/​31money.​html. Douglas Merrill’s idea: Steve Lohr, “Big Data Underwriting for Payday Loans,” New York Times, January 19, 2015, http://​bits.​blogs.​nytimes.​com/​2015/​01/​19/​big-​data-​underwriting-​for-​payday-​loans/. On the company web page: Website ZestFinance.​com, accessed January 9, 2016, www.​zestfinance.​com/. A typical $500 loan: Lohr, “Big Data Underwriting.” ten thousand data points: Michael Carney, “Flush with $20M from Peter Thiel, ZestFinance Is Measuring Credit Risk Through Non-traditional Big Data,” Pando, July 31, 2013, https://​pando.​com/​2013/​07/​31/​flush-​with-​20m-​from-​peter-​thiel-​zestfinance-​is-​measuring-​credit-​risk-​through-​non-​traditional-​big-​data/.

These WMDs have many of the same characteristics as the value-added model that derailed Sarah Wysocki’s career in Washington’s public schools. They’re opaque, unquestioned, and unaccountable, and they operate at a scale to sort, target, or “optimize” millions of people. By confusing their findings with on-the-ground reality, most of them create pernicious WMD feedback loops. But there’s one important distinction between a school district’s value-added model and, say, a WMD that scouts out prospects for extortionate payday loans. They have different payoffs. For the school district, the payoff is a kind of political currency, a sense that problems are being fixed. But for businesses it’s just the standard currency: money. For many of the businesses running these rogue algorithms, the money pouring in seems to prove that their models are working. Look at it through their eyes and it makes sense. When they’re building statistical systems to find customers or manipulate desperate borrowers, growing revenue appears to show that they’re on the right track.

The greatest divide is between the winners in our system, like our venture capitalist, and the people his models prey upon. Anywhere you find the combination of great need and ignorance, you’ll likely see predatory ads. If people are anxious about their sex lives, predatory advertisers will promise them Viagra or Cialis, or even penis extensions. If they are short of money, offers will pour in for high-interest payday loans. If their computer is acting sludgy, it might be a virus inserted by a predatory advertiser, who will then offer to fix it. And as we’ll see, the boom in for-profit colleges is fueled by predatory ads. When it comes to WMDs, predatory ads practically define the genre. They zero in on the most desperate among us at enormous scale. In education, they promise what’s usually a false road to prosperity, while also calculating how to maximize the dollars they draw from each prospect.


pages: 239 words: 70,206

Data-Ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else by Steve Lohr

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Merrill asked what she would have done if she had not been able to reach him, and he recalls that she told him that she would have taken out another “payday loan.” Merrill knew something about finance and risk assessment, but her remark sent him researching the payday lending market—loans made to people with jobs, but with poor credit ratings or none at all. At any given time, an estimated twenty-two million payday loans are outstanding, and the fees paid by payday borrowers amount to $8 billion a year—a lot of money from those in the working population who can least afford it. Merrill saw a market in need of greater efficiency and a business opportunity that would provide the social benefit of lower costs for borrowers in the subprime consumer market. The missing ingredient, Merrill concluded, was Google-style data analytics. “Underwriting, Meet Big Data” is the ZestFinance corporate motto. A typical payday loan, Merrill explains, is for a few hundred dollars for two weeks, and rolls over ten times, or twenty-two weeks.

The fees are all paid first, with the principal due at the end—a cycle that repeats every time the loan is rolled over. In a traditional payday loan, he says, a person pays $1,500 to borrow $500 over twenty-two weeks. Using ZestFinance, Merrill says, a borrower generally pays $920 to borrow $500 for twenty-two weeks—still a lot but far less than a standard payday loan. The payments along the way pay off both interest and principal. There is no big “balloon” payment at the end. The better deal for borrowers, Merrill says, is made possible by ZestFinance’s data-sifting algorithms, which reduce the risk of default by 50 percent compared with a typical payday loan. ZestFinance assumes less risk, so it can charge less and still turn a profit on its loans. To make its risk assessments, ZestFinance’s machine-learning models work on tens of thousands of data “signals” in seconds.

“If you don’t have $500 today, you’re not likely to have $600 in two weeks,” she says, referring to the principal on a $500 loan plus $100 in interest fees. “So you have to keep going back to them. It’s a vicious cycle.” Yet a loan using the ZestFinance alternative, she says, involved payments of $95 every two weeks—split between interest and principal—until the loan was paid off. The total cost was hundreds of dollars less than a conventional payday loan would have been, she estimates. Richardson, her husband, and their two children were moving into a slightly larger rental property at a time when her husband’s hours as an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant had been cut. The loan, she says, was “a little extra to get us over the hump.” So correlation rules—but not always. One of the most celebrated examples of the power of correlation has been Google Flu Trends.


pages: 135 words: 49,109

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

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payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, quantitative easing, telemarketer, unpaid internship

No matter what sort of credit rating you have, if your car’s water pump goes out, you can’t get a $300 loan from a bank. When something like that happens, some small emergency that I can’t actually afford until the next paycheck, I’ve generally had three options: a payday loan, borrowing from friends, or doing without. My friends aren’t always exactly flush themselves, leaving me with two choices: make it to work or not. When I’ve lived in the country or cities without good public transportation, making it to work has generally meant payday loans. I’m kind of torn about payday lenders—the storefront small lenders that everyone’s up in arms about. The way these places work is pretty simple: You give them some kind of collateral, like a postdated check, if you have a checking account, or a car title.

It was totally worth $15. I figure that at some point it will occur to someone, somewhere, that the reason there are so many payday loan places is that there are so many people whose checks simply will not last a whole pay period unless everything goes perfectly, and that people who have things like perfect weeks aren’t the sorts of people who’ve ever cashed a check at Wal-Mart at three a.m. because they ran out of the napkins they’d been using as toilet paper for two days. Those people will find a less shitty way of doing business; perhaps someone can start a nonprofit bank that charges minimum fees or something. For now, we have our fees to pay. I put furniture rental in the payday loan column because rental places are in the business of letting poor people have nice things for more than retail. The rental is simple; it’s just making twelve easy payments of $99.99 for something that might actually cost closer to $1,000 if you paid it all at once.

And payday lenders are brutal about getting it back. If any one of my employees was in default, we’d dread answering the phone. They’d call constantly. And they call for years. Meanwhile, clearly it’s usury to charge 400 percent APR. So I should be wholeheartedly against them, right? But the thing is, I’m not. Because they do serve a purpose that no one else does for poor people. I don’t think in terms of annual APRs when I’m getting a payday loan. I think of it as a $15 poor tax. Every time we need to borrow $100 for a week, it costs $15. Are these places preying on the weak? Yep. Is it less moral than huge banks preying on the same demographic? Probably not, and those assholes have never bailed me out of a tight spot before. The payday places, evil empire though they are and all, actually do fill a niche where there’s a real need. I’ve used them in the aforementioned water pump scenario and once when I got the flu and missed three days’ work on a week I couldn’t afford a short paycheck.


pages: 406 words: 113,841

The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, bank run, basic income, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, every year fifteen million Americans use payday loans, auto title loans, pawn shops, and other cogs in the low-income debt machine.8 Micro-loans issued by nonprofits could be used as a short-term alternative to these exploitative products, providing a method for the poor to access credit to tide them over rough patches in a way that doesn’t condemn them to endless fees and exorbitant interest rates. That’s what the company Progresso Financiero does in California and Texas. Aimed mainly at Hispanics in the two states, the short-term loans are provided at roughly 36 percent—far higher than the long-term loans given out by banks so that people can buy homes and cars, but far lower than those of payday loan companies, the fees and penalties on which can rapidly add up to several hundred percent annually.

There are people who are poor because they have made bad choices, gotten addicted to drugs, burned bridges with friends and family—and then there are people who have never taken a drug in their lives, who have huge social networks, and who still can’t make ends meet. There are people who have never held down a job, and others who hold down multiple, but always low-paying, jobs, frequently for some of the most powerful corporations on earth. There are people who have never had a bank account and use payday loans and other predatory lending sources whenever they need access to extra cash, and there are others who, during more flush times, owned huge suburban houses and expensive cars. There are children whose only hot meals are what they are given at school, and young adults who have nothing now and never really had anything earlier in life either. There are military veterans who have struggled to find a place in civilian life, middle-aged and once-middle-class people falling down the economic ladder as the recession fails to fully lift, and elderly people cascading into destitution as savings evaporate and expected equity in their homes fails to materialize.

The young couple with four children had recently moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a small, impoverished community in California’s Central Valley so that her husband could take up a new job with the company. His health benefits were due to begin in January. But, a few weeks beforehand, Megan’s appendix ruptured; lacking medical insurance, the family was bankrupted by close to $100,000 in medical bills. Their credit shattered, they resorted to borrowing from one payday loan company after another. Five or six days after I was home from the hospital, I got my first hospital bill. About two weeks after that, I got my first failure to pay notice, saying that “you have not paid your $96,000 hospital bill.” The dollar pay raise had knocked us off housing benefits; we went from $612 rent to $1,030 rent. Knocked us off food stamps, so we didn’t get any food assistance.


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

It has increased the fragility of the economy and the probability of another financial crash. Payday loans, credit card and catalogue debt are the bane of the precariat. Finance imposes extra costs on the economically disadvantaged. Those in and out of casual jobs, with fluctuating low incomes, dependent on state benefits, or with a record of debt, however petty or short-lived, are often denied cheaper forms of credit and must borrow or obtain credit from lenders who charge much higher rates. This further increases social income inequality. Payday loans, perhaps the most parasitic rent-extraction practice, came to prominence after the financial crash of 2008. These very short-term loans at eye-watering rates of interest aim to tide people over for a few days before payday when their low wages run out. In the USA, payday loan storefronts outnumber McDonald’s restaurants and are the prime source of credit for 90 million unbanked Americans.

In 2015, worried by the extent of debt and the growing housing bubble, the government raised taxes and reduced subsidies on buy-to-let properties. While this may deter some from starting or expanding buy-to-let activities, it does nothing to shrink the pool of existing buy-to-let debt. Landlords with large mortgages will be in trouble if interest rates rise. This new form of debt seems as risky as any other. PREDATORY CREDITORS: CREDIT CARDS, CATALOGUES AND PAYDAY LOANS ‘I use Mastercard to pay Visa.’ Bumper sticker Rent-seeking capitalism relies on inducing people to spend more than they can safely afford. This contrasts with the old Fordist model, in which corporations were encouraged to pay decent wages – a practice started by Henry Ford for his employees – on the grounds that workers had to be able to buy the goods and services being produced. Today, wages are kept down on grounds of ‘competitiveness’ with wages in some other part of the world, while desired domestic consumption is fanned by easy credit.

In the USA, payday loan storefronts outnumber McDonald’s restaurants and are the prime source of credit for 90 million unbanked Americans. The average unbanked household pays more than $2,400 each year for storefront financial services, even though they are banned in fourteen US states. And some of these lenders are operated or backed by the very Wall Street banks that refuse cheap loans to poor people.20 In Britain, the coalition government eventually introduced rules to limit the predatory behaviour of payday loan companies, which were charging financially illiterate people as much as 5,000 per cent annual interest and deducting money from borrowers’ bank accounts without their say-so. Even after the new rules came in, Wonga (the lender that came to symbolise the sector) was still able to charge an annualised rate of 1,509 per cent, and QuickQuid one of 1,212 per cent. A new breed of online lender, expanding rapidly in the USA with names like ZestFinance and LendUp, provides short-term small loans with annual interest rates of up to 390 per cent per annum.


pages: 217 words: 73,289

Tails I Lose: The Compulsive Gambler Who Lost His Shirt for Good by Justyn Rees

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call centre, payday loans, South China Sea

But the fact was, the lawyer who had agreed to take on the case had just secured legal aid. No deposit was needed. “How much?” “Five grand.” “When?” he asked me. “Um… well, now, really. I could pay you back in about six months. I have a dividend payment due in January.” Alex didn’t ask any questions. He wrote me a cheque there and then. I felt guilt as I drove away from the docks. Even when I told myself that the money would clear off all the payday loans, I still felt wretched. I had lied about something I knew Alex would respond to. It wasn’t just a lie, it was betrayal. What kind of a friend was I? I flicked on the radio. The sports bulletin followed the news headlines. Andy Murray was involved in a tight tennis match against Roger Federer; the final set was about to start. I dialled the familiar number and transferred £100 to my betting account and backed the Scotsman.

There were so many lies, I lost sight of what was real and what was pure fantasy. Almost all my money was now disappearing to service my debt and pay for groceries and essential bills. I let the rent slip, but luckily the landlord had either not noticed, or was being incredibly nice by not chasing me. In order to feed my gambling habit, I looked elsewhere for credit. When I had taken out as many payday loans as I could, I called my mother and arranged to see her. Like Alex, she was so pleased to see me. Her home in Kent was a long way from Derbyshire and my visits had become less frequent. I think she was a little worried about signing the guarantor loan documents when I laid them out before her, but I assured her that I had an excellent opportunity to buy more shares in the company and that I would repay her long before the term of the loan ended.

He was almost apologetic at first. I told him the truth. We agreed to meet up on Tuesday, with the HR director. I watched dust particles dance in a ray of sunlight as I lay on the floor, still holding the phone long after I’d said goodbye. Tuesday’s meeting didn’t take long. Over the weekend, they had looked at the emails in my account from the last few months and discovered that more than half the communications were from payday loan companies. It was quite clear I couldn’t continue as an account director. We came to an agreement which avoided a disciplinary hearing. I had shares to cover the payments on my card. The whole thing was managed efficiently and sensitively. But I was now out of work, with little prospect of ever again working in the industry of which I had once been at the very pinnacle. There was no time to say goodbye to my friends and work colleagues.


pages: 255 words: 75,172

Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America by Tamara Draut

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, always be closing, battle of ideas, big-box store, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, creative destruction, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, ending welfare as we know it, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, full employment, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, occupational segregation, payday loans, pink-collar, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, white flight, women in the workforce, young professional

But as is the case for many workers in food and retail, Javier’s hours and days off vary from week to week, and his hours are deliberately kept just under full-time so that he does not become eligible for benefits. Despite the fact that Javier and his wife work as close to full-time as they can (she works at Big Lots), the couple has needed to rely on payday loans to pay their bills, which perversely became harder to meet after their household income rose high enough to disqualify them for food stamps. The payday loan payment comes directly out of Javier’s paycheck—a $300 bite out of a $700 paycheck, accumulating interest at an annual rate of 200 percent. These are hard facts for Javier to swallow. “I really don’t want to be stuck with those payday loans,” he told me. “Everything else, God provides. We have clothes. We go to food banks, they provide food.” But a bigger paycheck would get him free of the payday lenders and maybe even allow him and his wife to afford things like his kids’ school pictures or the yearbook his daughter wants.

A Better Deal would mean that all children would grow up in the United States with the knowledge that we want them to fulfill their dreams and have invested in a high-quality combination of higher education and training options for them to do just that. A Better Deal would mean that Javier, whom we met in Chapter 3, who stocks shelves in the freezer department at Walmart, wouldn’t have to rely on payday loans to pay his bills, because his paycheck, and his wife’s paycheck from working in retail, would be enough to pay the rent and keep the fridge stocked and the lights on. It would mean that their children, unlike Javier, who dreamed of going to college but had neither the cultural nor the financial resources to do so, would grow up knowing that this country makes it possible for anyone, regardless of their background, to get the education or training they want to be their best.


pages: 164 words: 57,068

The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society by Charles Handy

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Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, bonus culture, British Empire, call centre, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, Edward Snowden, falling living standards, future of work, G4S, greed is good, informal economy, Internet of things, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, late capitalism, mass immigration, megacity, mittelstand, Occupy movement, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, sharing economy, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Veblen good, Walter Mischel

Interestingly, only 18 per cent thought that this was a heavy burden. Too many are happily living a Ponzi life, paying today’s expenditure with tomorrow’s money, and will come to rue it when their incomes sag or the cost of credit rises and mortgages become expensive once again. These debts are making a nonsense of much of the welfare system at the poorer levels of society where half of the benefits paid out can go straight away to pay the interest on payday loans, with not enough left over to live on, let alone pay off the original loan. It can be a trap for life. Businesses will tell you that credit, or gearing as they call it, is no bad thing in moderation. It allows you to grow without waiting for your savings to accumulate. Gearing is only a fancy term for ‘buy now pay later’. That works as long as the extra profit exceeds the cost of the credit plus the repayment.

But bigger debt means bigger interest payments and therefore less money to make up the Ponzi gap. Like more ordinary folk, they can’t win in the long run. A Ponzi mindset has come to be endemic in modern society. It is too easy to live in the present and let the future take care of itself. Except that it never does. Borrowing from the future to pay for today is made all too easy by those who make their money from our liabilities. Payday loans, logbook finance, where people borrow against their cars, interest-free offers from retailers, all encourage us to postpone the payback day and hope that something will turn up before it is too late. Ponzi thinking is addictive, and dangerous. We can lose control of our lives, living at the behest of our creditors. Governments cannot save us from ourselves, nor would we want them to. Indeed, in their eagerness to grow the economy and encourage consumption they are unlikely to try to curb our enthusiasm to borrow to spend.

The likelihood of any government enacting such a draconian policy must be minuscule, but a moderated version that, for example, required all mortgages to be extended in length by 50 per cent, might be possible. Alternatively and more usefully, governments could help us to discipline ourselves by requiring all borrowers to provide details of their existing financial state when applying for a loan of any sort. This is already happening in Britain, with increasingly stringent requirements for affordability tests for mortgages and payday loans. That requirement in itself could be a wake-up call to review one’s whole financial situation, including provision for the longer-term future. Credit and affordability checks in themselves are not enough. They do provide useful warning signs but they don’t provide the answers to the problems they throw up, other than to say you can’t have this loan or this purchase. That protects but does not teach.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, women in the workforce

For now, what we know is that fiat money – when combined with free-market economics – is a machine for producing boom-and-bust cycles. Left to run unsupervised, it could – before we’ve even considered the other destabilizing factors – push the world economy towards long-term stagnation. FINANCIALIZATION Go to any of the British towns devastated by industrial decline and you’ll see the same streetscape: payday loan stores, pawnbrokers and shops selling household goods on credit at hyper-inflated interest rates. Next to the pawnbrokers you’ll probably find that other gold mine of the poverty-stricken town: the employment agency. Look in the window and you’ll see ads for jobs at the minimum wage – but which require more than minimum skill. Press operatives, carers on night shift, distribution centre workers: jobs that used to pay decent wages now pay as little as legally possible.

The USA, under neoliberalism, boosted profits by impoverishing its own citizens. The truth is, as finance has seeped into our daily lives, we are no longer slaves only to the machine, to the 9-to-5 routine, we’ve become slaves to interest payments. We no longer just generate profits for our bosses through our work, but also profits for financial middlemen through our borrowing. A single mum on benefits, forced into the world of payday loans and buying household goods on credit, can be generating a much higher profit rate for capital than an auto industry worker with a steady job. Once every human being can generate a financial profit just by consuming – and the poorest can generate the most – a profound change begins in capitalism’s attitude to work. We’ll explore this later, in Part II. For now, to summarize: financialization is a permanent feature of neoliberalism.

By the time you had computerized your production line, innovation elsewhere meant you had to rip it out and start again. But after around 2004, with the rise of the internet and mobile data, technology began to enable new business models: we called it Web 2.0. It also started to produce tangible new behaviours among large numbers of people. It became normal to pay with plastic; normal to put your whole private life online for ever; normal to go online to get a payday loan at 1,000 per cent interest. At first, the exhilarating rush of new technology was taken as justifying all the pain we’d gone through to get free markets. The British miners had to be smashed so that we could have Facebook; telecoms had to be privatized so that we could all have 3G mobile phones. That was the implicit rationale. Above all, however, it was the change in human terms that was critical.


pages: 263 words: 89,368

925 Ideas to Help You Save Money, Get Out of Debt and Retire a Millionaire So You Can Leave Your Mark on the World by Devin D. Thorpe

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asset allocation, call centre, diversification, estate planning, fixed income, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, knowledge economy, money market fund, mortgage tax deduction, payday loans, random walk, risk tolerance, Skype, Steve Jobs, transaction costs, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Being strategic with the money can have a big impact on your family’s lifestyle in the long run. Consider which of these circumstances best describes your situation and follow the guidance to get the most out of your raise. Awash in debt: if you can barely make ends meet each month, it may be because you’re over extended, with credit card debt, car loans and maybe even a payday loan or two that are eating away at every penny you bring home. Put the money from the raise toward the smallest debts—probably the payday loans—to quickly reduce the monthly outflow for debt payments. Barely scraping by: if you’ve been frugal forever and have successfully stayed out of debt, but you haven’t accumulated much and don’t own a home, now is a great time to put your focus on buying a home. Put the raise toward a savings account for a down payment and get serious about putting your family in a stable, permanent situation.

You’ll also have a new debt totaling $4,308 at the end of 36 months. If you borrow the money on a more expensive credit card, say one with a 24% interest rate, after three years the monthly deficit will have grown to $204 per month. At the higher interest rate, your debt will have grown to $5,200 instead. These numbers are tame compared to what would happen if you start using payday loans to close the gap in your budget. Payday loans often feature fees and terms that bring the interest rate far above 100% per year. If you use 200% as a low estimate of the cost, after one year your monthly shortfall will have grown to $636 per month and your balance after just one year would be a scary $3,215. Long before three years, your loan balance would exceed what any payday lender would advance. This discussion highlights the importance of a budget to control your spending and the need for the family to make some joint sacrifices, if need be, at the end of the month to avoid borrowing money you won’t have the wherewithal to repay.


pages: 318 words: 93,502

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, business climate, Columbine, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, labor-force participation, late fees, McMansion, mortgage debt, new economy, New Journalism, payday loans, school choice, school vouchers, telemarketer, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Similarly, when Texaco executives were accused of using racial slurs to refer to African Americans, the company was boycotted, sued for millions of dollars, and forced to adopt new practices to ensure that its black employees had better opportunities. 107 But when a Citibank official said in sworn affidavits that she regularly added extra fees to a home mortgage “[i]f someone . . . was a minority,” there was little response. Citibank quietly agreed to a cash settlement with the FTC, and there were no press releases from the NAACP, no interviews on the evening news, no calls for Citibank’s highly visible CEO, Sandy Weill, to resign. Subprime lending, payday loans, and the host of predatory, high-interest loan products that target minority neighborhoods should be called by their true names: legally sanctioned corporate plans to steal from minorities. Many years ago, a host of community groups worked together to oppose discriminatory lending and to help pass the Community Reinvestment Act despite stiff opposition from the banking industry. It is time for these groups to come together again to eliminate the modern version of economic discrimination, which parades under different names but has the same devastating effects.

Available at http://www2.fdic.gov/hsob/ [3/20/2003]. 75 The nine interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in 2001 did not affect most fixed-rate cards and had only modest effects on variable-rate cards. Cecily Fraser, “A $10 Billion Windfall: Credit Card Lenders Don’t Pass on Full Interest-Rate Cuts,” CBS MarketWatch.com, October 3, 2001. Available at http://www.cbs. marketwatch.com [2/2/2003]. 76 Interest on so-called payday loans can be in the 300-1,000 percent range. FDIC, Payday Lending FYI: An Update on Emerging Issues in Bankruptcy (January 29, 2003). 77 Mansfield, “The Road to Subprime ‘HEL’,” pp. 492-495. The initial Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA), which allowed banks to pay higher interest to depositors and preempted state usury laws, passed the House on September 11, 1979, by a vote of 367 to 39, and passed the Senate on November 1, 1979, by a vote of 76 to 9.

Available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/01adtchrt/tab3-1.html [3/22/03]. 105 HUD, Federal Housing Authority Single Family Mortgage Insurance Foreclosures, Cumulative by Number and Percent, 1982-2002, unpublished data. 106 In Chicago, 41 percent of the city’s subprime refinancing occurs in black neighborhoods, although only 10 percent of the overall refinancing takes place in these same neighborhoods. HUD, Unequal Burden. An Illinois study found that there are 37 percent more payday loans issued in minority neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods. Woodstock Institute, Unregulated Payday Lending Pulls Vulnerable Consumers into Spiraling Debt, Reinvestment Alert Number 14 (Chicago: Woodstock Institute, March 2000). Available at www.woodstockinst.org/alert.pdf [2/2/2003]. 107 In 1996, a Texaco employee revealed secret tape recordings he had made of Texaco executives disparaging African-American employees and discussing the shredding of documents pertaining to a discrimination case.


pages: 407 words: 136,138

The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler

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always be closing, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, full employment, illegal immigration, late fees, low skilled workers, payday loans, profit motive, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, working poor

This pattern prevails in Illinois, for example, where state examiners found that rollovers made up yy percent of all payday loan transactions. The average customer had ten such renewals, which meant paying fees totaling up to twice the amount borrowed.6 Eventually, you may have to borrow from another payday loan merchant to pay the fees at the first. And so on and on and on. Furthermore, the loans are not technically loans in some states, because there’s a check. And if a check bounces, more severe penalties apply than those for unrepaid loans. Borrowing $300, for instance, an Indiana woman paid a $30 fee and wrote a check for $330. When the check bounced, her bank and the payday loan establishment charged $80 in fees. Then the lender took her to court, won triple damages of $990, lawyer’s fees of $150, and $60 in court costs.

“If they ask questions, preparers are supposed to answer.” Many customers simply do not know what questions to ask. Poverty is like a bleeding wound. It weakens the defenses. It lowers resistance. It attracts predators. The loan sharks operate not only from bars and street corners, but also legally from behind bulletproof glass. Their beckoning signs are posted at some 10,000 locations across the country: “Payday Loans,” “Quick Cash,” “Easy Money.” You see them in check-cashing joints and storefront offices in poor and working-class neighborhoods. They have organized themselves into at least a dozen national chains, and they charge fees equivalent to more than 500 percent annual-ized interest. They also provide a much needed service. Say you’re short of cash, and the bills are piling up, along with some disconnection notices.

Her wages from the bakery were deposited directly, but they were gone as soon as they hit the ledger. “I have maybe $8 in the account every week,” she said. “You can’t get less than ten from the money machine, so if I have five, I can’t get five.” If she went to a teller, the bank levied a $3 charge. She was so low one January that she had to pay a $15 fee for a two-week $100 advance from a storefront payday loan operation. Her fellow workers in the bakery were trapped in gloom. Nothing there encouraged her. As she began the job, one employee after another cautioned her: “You don’t want to work here.” She heard the warning even from an assistant supervisor who had been her high school classmate. “Debra, I know you don’t want to work here,” she remembered her classmate saying. “How long you been here?”


pages: 189 words: 64,571

The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means by Jeff Yeager

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asset allocation, carbon footprint, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, index card, job satisfaction, late fees, mortgage debt, new economy, payday loans, Skype, upwardly mobile, Zipcar

The cheapskates next door will eat nothing but ramen noodles for a year before they’ll even think about taking out any of these loans: PAYDAY LOANS—Borrow against your next paycheck at an annual interest rate that’s often 400 percent or higher, and that’s before “renewal fees” and other add-ons; CREDIT CARD CASH ADVANCES—As if the interest on credit card purchases isn’t bad enough, interest on cash advances is usually much higher, averaging about 22 percent, plus an additional up-front fee of as much as 5 percent; CAR TITLE LOANS—If you own a car outright, you can borrow about 55 percent of its value—at an annual interest rate of around 300 percent, plus hefty monthly renewal fees. Default, and the lender takes your wheels. [Note to Self: Anything money-related that’s advertised on daytime TV probably isn’t a good deal.] Savings: Variable, but a $1,000 payday loan carried for a month will probably cost you about $225 in interest and fees—what a deal!

They frequently don’t take out student loans to finance their college educations (Chapter 4), or they borrow the absolute minimum amount possible and pay it off before even thinking about borrowing for anything else after college. They will take out a mortgage to buy a home, but usually buy a more modest home than they could qualify for, stay in it a good long time, and pay off their mortgage early (Chapter 10). And what about second mortgages, home equity loans, lines of credit, reverse mortgages, payday loans, etc., etc., etc., to pay for home remodeling, the kid’s college, a summer cottage, retirement, a European vacation, etc., etc., etc.? Get outa here! The cheapskates next door couldn’t give a flying fig about any of those “loan instruments.” As John “Doc” Dochnahl told me, “If you can’t afford to pay for it now, you can’t afford it.” How do they do it? How do the cheapskates next door avoid the pitfalls of debt that ensnare so many Americans from such a young age?


pages: 223 words: 77,566

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, blue-collar work, cognitive dissonance, late fees, medical malpractice, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, working poor

One ended up in an abusive relationship that produced a child before the mom was old enough to purchase cigarettes. The oldest overdosed on drugs and was arrested not long after he graduated from high school. This was my world: a world of truly irrational behavior. We spend our way into the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being. We spend to pretend that we’re upper-class. And when the dust clears—when bankruptcy hits or a family member bails us out of our stupidity—there’s nothing left over. Nothing for the kids’ college tuition, no investment to grow our wealth, no rainy-day fund if someone loses her job.

One Friday morning I dropped off my rent check, knowing that if I waited another day, the fifty-dollar late fee would kick in. I didn’t have enough money to cover the check, but I’d get paid that day and would be able to deposit the money after work. However, after a long day at the senate, I forgot to grab my paycheck before I left. By the time I realized the mistake, I was already home, and the Statehouse staff had left for the weekend. On that day, a three-day payday loan, with a few dollars of interest, enabled me to avoid a significant overdraft fee. The legislators debating the merits of payday lending didn’t mention situations like that. The lesson? Powerful people sometimes do things to help people like me without really understanding people like me. My second year of college started pretty much as my first year had, with a beautiful day and a lot of excitement.

During the past few Christmas seasons, I’ve found myself in large department stores, buying toys for kids I’ve never met. As I shop, I’m reminded that wherever I fell on the American socioeconomic ladder as a child, others occupy much lower rungs: children who cannot depend on the generosity of grandparents for Christmas gifts; parents whose financial situations are so dire that they rely on criminal conduct—rather than payday loans—to put today’s hot toys under the tree. This is a very useful exercise. As scarcity has given way to plenty in my own life, these moments of retail reflection force me to consider just how lucky I am. Still, shopping for low-income kids reminds me of my childhood and of the ways that Christmas gifts can serve as domestic land mines. Every year the parents in my neighborhood would begin an annual ritual very different from the one I’ve become accustomed to in my new material comfort: worrying about how to give their kids a “nice Christmas,” with niceness always defined by the bounty underneath the Christmas tree.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

If the debts were to be cancelled – or ‘forgiven’, as they used to say, as if being in debt were a sin – those prudent lenders, those financial benefactors, would lose out; worse, the debtors would not learn their lesson, and they would soon come to expect to be subsidised by others! This is how many people think about debt. In the words of Nicholas Mirzoeff, a New York University professor active in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Debt has become the means of subjecting everyone – from sovereign nations to homeowners and victims of payday loan sharks – to a mixture of ersatz morality and threats. Pay your debts or else you’re a bad person or bad country, and so bad things will happen to you.35 By such means, creditors maintain ideological as well as economic dominance. On the other hand, precisely because ‘debt’ has a negative tone, we may prefer to think of its positive flip-side, ‘credit’. The consumer finance industry has played this option brilliantly.

Daily interest payments on personal debt are £162 million.49 To their cost, many people do not realise how high rates of interest can be: high or ‘usurious’ rates of interest have become common for consumer credit, with some store cards charging rates of interest well above 20% per year. In Britain the annual percentage rate of interest on Homebase and Dorothy Perkins cards in 2014 was 29.9%.50 £1.5 billion of transactions are made with plastic cards every day. So-called payday loans – small loans for short periods of time – are in a league of their own, incurring enormous rates of interest – Ferratum charges a typical Annual Percentage Rate of interest of 2,591%, while Wonga, the highest-profile payday lender in the UK, charges 5,853%.51 That might sound downright nasty, but Wonga advertises its loans through television commercials featuring puppets of loveable, funny old people – Betty, Earl and Joyce – making small talk.

Those in the next 10% get roughly as much interest as they pay out, while those in the top 10% get more than they pay out, and within that group the richest of course enjoy the biggest surplus (Figure 5.1). In Britain, the Positive Money researchers estimate that only the top 10% get more in interest than they pay out, and of course it’s the 1% who get the most.56 This redistribution through interest on debt is a major cause of inequality. Interest payments made by people on their mortgages, credit cards, car loans, payday loans and so on provide banks and other financial institutions with a major source of unearned income to ‘invest’ in a host of ways, often by re-lending it to others to extract still more. Similarly: Government debt . . . can be thought of as a means for upward redistribution of income, from ordinary taxpayers to rich bondholders. Instead of taxing rich people, governments borrow from them, and pay them interest for the privilege.


pages: 342 words: 94,762

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

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algorithmic trading, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, impulse control, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, Menlo Park, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nick Leeson, paper trading, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, six sigma, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel

The causes of high discount rates are hotly debated, and the environment certainly plays a significant role. For example, evidence suggests that poor people are especially prone to have high short-term discount rates.45 They frame economic decisions in narrow terms, using blinders, which is one reason why so many poor people are trapped by crushing debt loads. Poor people are more likely to get “payday” loans—high-interest-rate advances on their next paycheck.46 They are less likely to understand that the charges for payday loans are absurdly high, even compared to credit card rates. Or perhaps they do understand, but must have the money at once anyway. It remains unclear which way the causation runs: are people poor because they have high discount rates, or do they have high discount rates because they are poor? Young people also tend to have high discount rates.

Some rules also can help, though we need the willpower to follow them.52 We might tell ourselves that before we can put off a task, we must have a unique reason for why we aren’t doing it today and we must commit to completing the task in the future by putting it on our calendar for a specified future date.53 Web-based tools such as RescueTime.com can help us plan by keeping track of precisely how we fritter away time. Just as the best diet aids involve keeping track of what we eat, the best time management aids involve keeping track of what we do. Borrowers can reduce their present biases by thinking more carefully about future costs, comparing the cost of a payday loan to the effective interest rate of a credit card, or looking at the estimated cost or savings for a year.54 Employers can help us avoid our high short-term discount rates by automatically enrolling us in a savings plan unless we opt out.55 For many straightforward tasks, it helps to impose strict deadlines.56 On the other hand, there can be real benefits from putting tasks off, and we should recognize those as well.


pages: 369 words: 90,630

Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want by Nicholas Epley

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affirmative action, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Cass Sunstein, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, drone strike, friendly fire, invisible hand, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, payday loans, Peter Singer: altruism, pirate software, Richard Thaler, school choice, the scientific method, theory of mind

Arguably not spending enough time actually learning in school. Longer school days, shorter summer breaks, and fewer vacations improve student achievement. If you want students to do better in school, a good place to start is to have them spend more time in it. • REDUCING POVERTY. Poverty is one of society’s most persistent problems, and the poor don’t seem to be helping themselves as much as they should. They disproportionately take out payday loans with obscenely high interest rates, getting themselves caught in endless debt traps that require taking on more debt to pay off past debt. One common theory about poverty explains it in the language of mental deficiencies: the poor are simply not as smart as the rest of us, and they do stupid things with their money that keep them poor. What’s the fix? A common strategy is to roll out financial literacy classes to teach the poor to be smarter.

Those classes seem to help the poor very little.30 The reason may be that the poor turn out to be smarter and more informed about money than these policies imply. In one set of experiments, psychologists found that poor people make fewer mistakes on financial problems that routinely trip up the wealthy.31 One of the bigger problems is the lack of trust in financial institutions that is rampant in poor communities, which is compounded by the lack of access to simple banking services like savings accounts. The poor take out payday loans in part because they don’t have other banking services they can rely on. One effective way to help break the chronic debt trap is to give the poor access to banking services. Poverty will not yield to simple solutions like this alone, of course, but it’s unlikely to yield at all using assumptions that poverty is largely the product of stupidity. • REDUCING OBESITY. Americans are in the midst of a growing obesity epidemic.

Omaha Indians Onion, 5.1, 8.1 On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (Grossman), nts.1n opinion polls, xx, 5.1, 8.1, nts.1n Orwell, George owl butterflies, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 Pain in Neonates (Avery) Pakistan Palestinians, Palestine, 8.1, 8.2 Palin, Sarah paranoia parents perception of danger and see also children Paro (robot), n parochial altruism, 3.1, nts.1n parroting payday loans performance appraisals perspective deception and egocentrism and, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 getting of, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, aft.1, nts.1n getting of, barriers to gift selection and, 8.1, nts.1n interracial interactions and taking of, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.6, nts.1n talking stick and transparency and pets, anthropomorphism and, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, nts.1n Philadelphia, Pa. Phillips, Mark D., n physicians desensitization to patients of, 3.1, 3.2, nts.1n empathy and malpractice issue and Piaget, Jean, 5.1, 5.2 pigs, 4.1, 4.2 Piro, George Pitt, Brad Pittsburgh Pirates, n planning fallacy politics egocentrism and, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 incumbent advantage and inferential brain function and, 3.1, nts.1n lying and naïve realism and snap judgments and stereotypes and, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 polls, polling, xx, 5.1, 8.1, nts.1n Ponca Indians, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 popcorn Popov, Alex poverty banking system and context and reduction of, 7.1, 7.2 praying mantises preferences, prf.1, 2.1, 6.1 Principles of Psychology (James) prisoners, anthropomorphism and progressive storytelling, n Proust, Marcel, prf.1, aft.1 psychics, 2.1, 8.1 psychological distance, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 psychological experiments, correlation and, 1.1, 1.2, nts.1n psychology attention limitation experiment in, n behaviorism and, 4.1, nts.1n correspondence bias and, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 8.1 curse of knowledge and Newton’s “tapping study” and, 5.1, nts.1n Piaget and Quiz Bowl experiment and, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 public speaking, egocentrism and, 5.1, 5.2, nts.1n Putin, Vladimir, 1.1, 1.2 Quiz Bowl experiment, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 racial profiling racism, 2.1, 2.2 dehumanization and profiling and stereotypes and Ramachandran, V.


pages: 383 words: 108,266

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

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air freight, Al Roth, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, collateralized debt obligation, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, endowment effect, financial innovation, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, housing crisis, invisible hand, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, market bubble, Murray Gell-Mann, payday loans, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Thaler, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Upton Sinclair

For people who are already in financial distress, this is clearly not going to be easy to accomplish, nor am I naive enough to think that we can completely eliminate the problem of the financial planning fallacy. But we can guard ourselves against the bumps in the financial road by putting aside some money to give us a cushion, and by so doing we might be able to put a dent in the planning-fallacy problem and make it less acute. Finally, I think that punitive finance practices—including high-interest credit cards, car title loans, payday loans,* and the like—that prey upon those with the fewest resources have to be controlled. It is more appropriate, fair, and better for the economy, as a whole, if we spread the cost of financial services such as checking accounts, credit cards, and insurance among all customers rather than forcing those with fewer resources and fewer options to carry a large part of the burden. At the end of the day we have to realize that when we financially squeeze people who don’t have much financial juice in them, it hurts all of us

., 205–6 “No Child Left Behind” policy, 85 Norton, Mike, 135 nucleus accumbens, 203, 208 O oaths, honesty and, 208–9, 211–13, 215 Obama, Barack, 323–24 Ofek, Elie, 159–60, 338 online auctions, 135–36 open-source software, 81 options, 139–53 abundance of, in modern democracy, 148 aversion to loss and, 148–49 college students’ choice of major and, 141–42 consciously closing, 150–51 “door game” and, 143–48 downside of, 140 important, vanishing of, 149 romantic relationships and, 142, 148, 150 sale prices and, 148–49 similar, choosing between, 151–53 Xiang Yu’s story and, 139–40 ordering food or drinks, 231–38 enjoyment of choices and, 232, 235–36, 237, 238 need for uniqueness and, 237–38 out loud vs. in private, 231–32, 233–36, 237–38 strategy for, 238 Orhun, Yesim, 136, 338–39 osteoarthritis, arthroscopic knee surgery and, 174–76 outsourcing, 81–82 overdraft fees, 301–2 ownership, 127–38 aversion to loss and, 134, 137, 138 Duke University basketball tickets and, 127–33 of points of view, 137–38 pride of, putting work into something and, 135 “trial” promotions and, 136–37 value in owner’s eyes increased by, 129–35, 265–69 virtual, online auctions and, 135–36 P pain, experience of, xxiii–xxiv, xxvi–xxvii expectation and, 179 painkillers: epidural, during childbirth, 103–4 price and efficacy of, 180–84 parking illegally, theory of rational crime and, 291–92 passion: underprediction of effect of, 98–99 see also arousal patient compliance, 260–64 Paulson, Henry, 304–6, 310, 311–12 pay, see compensation; salaries payday loans, 304 paying, pain of, restaurant meals with friends and, 248–50 pearls, 23–25 black, demand for, 24–25, 26 Pennebaker, James, 315, 316 Pepsi, taste tests of Coke and, 166–68 perception: expectations and, 155–72, 293–94; see also expectations; taste inherent biases in, xxvi–xxvii Perfectly Legal (Johnston), 204 personal lives: arbitrary coherence and, 43–45 separation of social and market norms and, 67–69, 75–76, 77–78 petroleum geologists, decline of ethics and values among, 211 pharmaceuticals, 210 conflicts of interest and, 293, 295 marketing hype and efficacy of, 190–91 price and efficacy of, 180–84, 190 Pittinsky, Todd, 169 Pittman, Bob, 60 placebo effect, 173–94 Airborne and, 275–78 author’s experience with Jobst suit and, 192–94 conditioning and, 179 energy drinks and, 184–87 faith in drug, procedure, or caregiver and, 179 Gerbi’s worm secretions and, 177 knowingly treating patients with, 187–90 marketing hype and, 186–87, 190–91 moral dilemmas in experiments on, 191, 194 mummy powder and, 177–78 origin of term, 176–77 pharmaceuticals and, 180–84, 190 power of suggestion and, 178–79 price and, 176, 180–87, 190 royal touch and, 188 surgical procedures and, 173–76, 178, 191 planning fallacy, 297–304 automobile insurance and, 299–301 FREE!

Of course, if you took the regular mortgage, you would owe nothing by the end of the 10 years and would also own your home, but if you took the interest-only mortgage, you would still owe $300,000 (at which point you will take on a new mortgage, and so on). * For a helpful perspective, see M. P. Dunleavy, “Making Frugality a Habit,” New York Times (January 9, 2009). * Since 1990, the number of places in the United States that give “payday” loans has grown faster than the rate at which Starbucks shops have opened.


pages: 444 words: 138,781

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

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affirmative action, Cass Sunstein, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, desegregation, dumpster diving, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jobless men, late fees, mass incarceration, New Urbanism, payday loans, price discrimination, profit motive, rent control, statistical model, superstar cities, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, working poor, young professional

In many cases, this annual benefit is as much a boost to landlords as to low-income working families.44 In fixating almost exclusively on what poor people and their communities lack—good jobs, a strong safety net, role models—we have neglected the critical ways that exploitation contributes to the persistence of poverty. We have overlooked a fact that landlords never have: there is a lot of money to be made off the poor.45 The ’hood is good. Exploitation thrives when it comes to the essentials, like housing and food. Most of the 12 million Americans who take out high-interest payday loans do so not to buy luxury items or cover unexpected expenses but to pay the rent or gas bill, buy food, or meet other regular expenses. Payday loans are but one of many financial techniques—from overdraft fees to student loans for for-profit colleges—specifically designed to pull money from the pockets of the poor.46 If the poor pay more for their housing, food, durable goods, and credit, and if they get smaller returns on their educations and mortgages (if they get returns at all), then their incomes are even smaller than they appear.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (Washington, DC: US Department of Labor, 1965). 45. This point is indebted to Satter’s Family Properties. 46. On rip-off schemes, see Alan Andreasen, The Disadvantaged Consumer (New York: The Free Press, 1975); Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (New York: Norton, 2010), 20; David Caplovitz, The Poor Pay More (New York: The Free Press, 1967). On payday loans, see Pew Charitable Trust, Payday Lending in America: Who Borrows, Where They Borrow, and Why (Washington, DC: Pew, July 19, 2012); Gary Rivlin, Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. (New York: Harper, 2010). 47. On markets being embedded in state and social relations, see Mark Granovetter, “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness,” American Journal of Sociology 91 (1985): 481–510; Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001 [1944]).


pages: 364 words: 104,697

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan

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Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, collective bargaining, corporate governance, cross-subsidies, dark matter, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, facts on the ground, Gini coefficient, haute cuisine, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pensions crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce

And although I got better before I left, I was thrilled to come back to Chicago and go to the office. “Forgive me,” I said to everyone. And for the next four years I took no vacation. Yes, I had to admit: Germany was dark. But with no social democracy, it would have been a lot darker. 5 Clash of Civilizations Meanwhile, America had become dark. There was the nightmare of Bush v. Gore. We did not seem like a democracy. We had big tax cuts for the rich, and payday loans for the poor. Every day I went to Caffè Baci and read the Financial Times and would root for Germany and hope that, in terms of GDP, it would do a little better. Many a time, in the half hour for lunch, I would think: shouldn’t I be back over there pushing up GDP? I kept thinking, as I said, that in the 1930s people on the left went to die in Madrid. In the same way, it’s our duty to spend in Berlin.

Yes, just as they, as angels, cannot intervene in human affairs, so I, as a foreigner, also observe. I have to hold someone else’s coat. As to the future of the German model, they have to fight that fight. Yes, I might talk about “taking off my angel wings,” but it’s kind of ridiculous to get involved. It’s Europe. Besides, if I was stuck in a social democracy, I’d just have to play defense. In the U.S., I’ve the luck of getting to go on the attack. When I come back here and see a payday loan store offering loans at 365 percent, yes, I could weep. Yet it’s a thrill to know I can take off my wings. “Oh, we can’t have anything like Europe has, can we?” That’s what some say. It’s a fair question. I think it’s quite possible. I now have stopped rereading and underlining Streeck’s great essay, “German Capitalism: Does It Exist? Can It Survive?” Still, I recall his central, disheartening point that the German model, with its works councils and the rest, was simply too hard to copy in other countries.


pages: 284 words: 92,387

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

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Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, John Markoff, Lao Tzu, late fees, Occupy movement, payday loans, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, working poor

In 2004, for example, those eighteen to twenty-four ended up paying 22 percent of their income on debt payments (this includes principal, but doesn’t include service charges, fees, and penalties)—with about a fifth paying more than 40 percent—and for twenty-five- to thirty-four-year-olds, the cohort most impacted by student loans, things were even worse: they spent an average of a quarter of their income on debts. And these figures are true of younger Americans as a whole, regardless of education. We need hardly speak of the fate of that roughly 22 percent of American households so poor they have no access to conventional credit at all, who have to resort to pawn shops, auto title, or payday loan offices that charge as much as 800 percent annual interest. And all this was true before the crash! In the immediate wake of 2008 everyone in America who had any means to reduce their debt, and hence, the amount of their income siphoned off to Wall Street, immediately began to do so—whether by frenetically paying off credit card debt, or walking away from underwater mortgages. This might give a sense of how dramatic was the change: Yet at the same time, certain types of loans had been set up in such a way that this really wasn’t possible.

As a result student loan debt continues to balloon at a giddy rate, the total amount owed having long since overtaken total credit card debt and other forms of debt as well: TOTAL DEBT BALANCE AND ITS COMPOSITION Mortgage 72% HE Revolving 5% Auto Loan 6% Credit Card 6% Student Loan 8% Other 3% *2011Q3 Total: 11.656 Trillion Aside from students, the other group stuck in the debt trap is the working poor—above all working women and people of color—who continue to see huge chunks of their already stagnating earnings culled directly by the financial services industry. They are often called the “subprimers,” since they are those most likely to have signed up for (or been tricked into) subprime mortgages. Having fallen victim to subprime mortgages with exploding adjustable rates, they are now faced with being harassed by collectors, having their cars repossessed, and, most pernicious of all, having to resort to payday loans for emergency expenses, such as those related to health care, since these are the Americans least likely to have meaningful health benefits. Those paydays operate with annual interest rates of roughly 300 percent a year. Americans in either of those overlapping categories—the working class and underemployed graduates with crippling student loans—are actually paying more of their income to Wall Street than they pay to the government in taxes.


pages: 375 words: 105,067

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

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asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, Cass Sunstein, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, game design, greed is good, high net worth, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, mortgage debt, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, éminence grise

This was not a problem of relative youth. Median income for Americans ages forty-five to fifty-four fell from $66,800 to $61,000 in 2010. Of course, the national savings rate was decreasing. How could it not? From 10 percent in the early 1980s it had fallen to near zero at the millennium and still continued to plunge as the 2000s rolled on and desperate Americans turned to credit cards, lines of home equity, payday loans…pretty much anything to keep up with the bills. In the period between 2000 and 2008, Americans’ borrowed home equity more than doubled, from $5.4 trillion to $11.2 trillion. Revolving and installment debt also almost doubled, from $1.4 trillion to $2.6 trillion. As college costs soared, student loan debt piled up, increasing from an average of $12,750 per borrower in 1996 to a record-breaking $27,200 for students graduating with the aid of loans in 2011.

Guess who had a plan?” Ramsey’s politics can best be described as muddled conservative. He appears regularly on Fox Business News (despite the cancellation of his show), proselytizes for supply-side economics, and in 2010 endorsed unsuccessful Republican candidate Zach Wamp for governor of Tennessee. At the same time, Ramsey despises industries that prey on the poor, and reserves special disgust for the payday loan business, calling them “scum-sucking bottom-feeding predatory people who have no moral restraint,” and repeatedly begs politicians to outlaw them. There’s no love lost for the banks, either, whom he regularly castigates for handing out credit cards and home mortgages to people who clearly did not have the means to pay back the debt. And he can sound like a breathless teenager in love for the first time when he discusses Elizabeth Warren and her fight to protect consumers against the ravages of the easy credit industry—something of an unusual position for someone who generally supports anti-big government candidates.


pages: 468 words: 123,823

A People's History of Poverty in America by Stephen Pimpare

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affirmative action, British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, payday loans, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, union organizing, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

It was a grim, crowded little store smelling of camphor. There were some gloomy East Side people standing around. The walls were covered with strange objects: guitars, shovels, blankets, clocks; with lace curtains, underwear and crutches; all these miserable trophies of the defeat of the poor.75 While by 2003 there were still some 11,600 pawnshops in the United States, Caskey suspects that payday loan brokers are replacing them as the emergency resource of choice. Perhaps as many as 15 percent of all Americans had used these high-cost (but easily obtained) loans by 2004, paying annualized rates of 350 to 1,000 percent. There were ten thousand institutions in this lucrative business by 2001, increasingly owned by large corporations with multiple storefronts throughout the country. Those who use check cashers instead of bank accounts are charged as much as 3.5 percent for each check they cash, and pay $1.50 (and more) per money order; they are more likely to be younger, less educated, poorer, black, and Hispanic.

See National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) O’Beirne, Kate obesity rates occupation-based charities O’Connor, Stephen Olmstead, Frederick Law Operation Santa (New York letter-writing program) Orleck, Annelise orphanages/orphan asylums and African American children Brace’s “orphan trains,” and child labor demographics of orphan population Orshansky, Molly Orshansky method/Orshansky poverty line Orwell, George The Other America (Harrington) Ozark Hotel (Chicago) Packard, Elizabeth Paine, Thomas Parker, M.A. Parker, Star patronage pawnshops payday loans/check-cashing services Pease, Lewis Peguy, Charles Pennsylvania Gazette Pension Act (1818) pension programs and occupation-based charities Townsend’s movement for national old-age pension and veterans and widows A People’s History of the United States (Zinn) Perez, Marcello Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (1996). See also welfare reform “pesthouses,” Philadelphia colonial almshouses colonial debtor’s prisons colonial hospitals for the sick poor colonial-era distribution of wealth colonial-era poverty rates family homeless shelters late-eighteenth-century poor neighborhoods police round-ups of homeless men Pierce, Franklin Piven, Frances Fox Place, Jeff police harassment of the homeless political participation and diminished expectations of the poor and disenfranchised ex-felons and income inequality and poor people’s opinions of government and relief recipients The Poor Pay More (Caplovitz) poor whites, Southern during Civil War colonial immigrants as indentured servants and history of welfare in the American South and slavery poorhouses.


pages: 194 words: 59,336

The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life by J L Collins

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asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, compound rate of return, diversification, financial independence, full employment, German hyperinflation, index fund, money market fund, nuclear winter, passive income, payday loans, risk tolerance, Vanguard fund, yield curve

Unfortunately, few will ever even see this as an option. There are pervasive and powerful marketing forces at work seeking to obscure the idea that such a choice exists. We are relentlessly bombarded with messages telling us that we absolutely need the latest trinket and that we simply must have the most fashionable of currently trending trash. We’re told that if you don’t have the money, no problem. That’s what credit cards and payday loans are for. It is this thinking that makes it so hard for most people to see that it is possible to reach a million dollar net worth on an income of $25,000. This is not some evil conspiracy at work. It is simply business pursuing its own needs. But it is deadly to your wealth. The science behind the art of this persuasion is truly impressive, and the financial stakes are huge. The lines between need and want are continually and intentionally blurred.


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

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Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, John Meriwether, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

Lee Scott among them, squeezed the American worker’s wages, the other hand was reaching out with the tempting offer of credit. In fact, easy credit became the American substitute for decent wages. Once you worked for your money, but now you were supposed to pay for it. Once you could count on earning enough to save for a home. Now you’ll never earn that much, but, as the lenders were saying—heh, heh—do we have a mortgage for you! Payday loans, rent-to-buy furniture and exorbitant credit card interest rates for the poor were just the beginning. In its May 21 cover story on “The Poverty Business,” BusinessWeek documented the stampede, in just the last few years, to lend money to the people who could least afford to pay the interest: Buy your dream home! Refinance your house! Take on a car loan even if your credit rating sucks! Financiamos a Todos!


pages: 261 words: 64,977

Pity the Billionaire: The Unexpected Resurgence of the American Right by Thomas Frank

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, big-box store, bonus culture, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, financial innovation, housing crisis, invisible hand, money market fund, Naomi Klein, obamacare, payday loans, profit maximization, profit motive, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, strikebreaker, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, union organizing, Washington Consensus, white flight, Works Progress Administration

CHAPTER 2 1929: The Sequel Seventy-nine years after the Great Crash, we got our own economic calamity, a crushing bust to put the exclamation point on the end of an anemic boom. As a lesson in the built-in treachery of the system, the collapse was unexcelled in living memory. As an indictment of official America’s consensus economic doctrine, it surpassed any plaint about NAFTA, any righteous editorializing about the payday loan industry, any fretting about the concentration of wealth into ever-fewer hands. If you had brought the world’s teenaged anarchists together in some great international congress and asked them to design an ideal crisis, they could not have discredited market-based civilization more completely than did the crash of 2008. Committee to Give the Huge Middle Finger It happened, to begin with, on the watch of president George W.


pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

It is a very large industry: there are twenty-four thousand payday outlets in the United States, compared with a little more than fourteen thousand McDonald’s restaurants in 2012. A survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that roughly one in twelve American households, or some 17 million adults, are “unbanked,” meaning they lack a current account; another one in every five households has an account but uses alternatives as well—payday loans, check-cashing services, pawn shops, and the like.1 A lot of guff is talked about the evils of payday lending. When people have a need for cash, it is generally better for them to go to actual businesses with physical outlets than to turn to loan sharks with baseball bats. Although predatory lenders undoubtedly exist, the deeper problem is that even the good ones end up charging high rates of interest in order to cover not just their operating costs, but also the higher credit risks that they are taking on by making unsecured loans to low-income borrowers.


pages: 252 words: 75,349

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-From Global Epidemic to Your Front Door by Brian Krebs

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barriers to entry, bitcoin, Brian Krebs, cashless society, defense in depth, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, John Markoff, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pirate software, placebo effect, ransomware, Silicon Valley, Stuxnet, the payments system, transaction costs, web application

While some are using ransomware and data harvesting, Savage said, many other former affiliates and managers of failed scareware, pharma, and pirated software partnerkas are casting about for the next big thing. “It’s a period of innovation, and people clearly are looking around for another sweet spot that’s as good as pharma, which made more money more reliably than anything else out there,” he said. “A few affiliate programs are trying to peddle pirated e-books and movies; others are getting into [advertising] payday loans. There are now tons of programs that will write term papers for students. That seems to be a big thing now.” The other factor weighing on the spam industry, Savage says, is that many affiliates have found more success advertising websites using so-called “black SEO” techniques to manipulate search engine rankings for their sites. He notes that the biggest earner by far across thousands of GlavMed pharmacy affiliates was a black SEO expert who used the nickname “Webplanet.”


pages: 202 words: 72,857

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When and the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy by John Lee

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8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, butterfly effect, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Donald Trump, financial independence, high net worth, intangible asset, Mark Zuckerberg, negative equity, passive income, payday loans, self-driving car, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh, Y2K

Cash investors are offering desperate sellers a solution when no one else can. Of course there is a payoff. Sellers are relieved of their burden; they get a fast, secure deal and we get a profit. The BBC once interviewed me on this subject, and I was adamant that it is not exploitative to help people who urgently need to get their money out of their properties or be relieved of the burden of mortgage repayments. It's like payday loans, which are now getting a bad reputation. If people need to borrow money to eat and heat their houses, what other options have they got? If the government can't help them, and their friends and family can't help them, they have to go to someone who can. One of the most touching stories I remember was a widow who called me and said she wanted to sell her house as fast as possible. She hadn't been able to sleep even a night in it since her husband had died.


pages: 725 words: 221,514

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

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Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, colonial rule, commoditize, corporate governance, David Graeber, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, double entry bookkeeping, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, informal economy, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit motive, reserve currency, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, sexual politics, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor, zero-sum game

It did not help here that in 1980, U.S. federal usury laws, which had previously limited interest to between 7 and 10 percent, were eliminated by act of Congress. Just as the United States had managed to largely get rid of the problem of political corruption by making the bribery of legislators effectively legal (it was redefined as “lobbying”), so the problem of loan-sharking was brushed aside by making real interest rates of 25 percent, 50 percent, or even in some cases (for instance for payday loans) 120 percent annually, once typical only of organized crime, perfectly legal—and therefore, enforceable no longer by just hired goons and the sort of people who place mutilated animals on their victims’ doorsteps, but by judges, lawyers, bailiffs, and police.25 Any number of names have been coined to describe the new dispensation, from the “democratization of finance” to the “financialization of everyday life.”26 Outside the United States, it came to be known as “neoliberalism.”

My purpose here has been less to engage with it directly than to show how it has consistently encouraged us to ask the wrong questions. Let’s take this last paragraph as an illustration. What is Ferguson really saying here? Poverty is caused by a lack of credit. It’s only if the industrious poor have access to loans from stable, respectable banks—rather than to loan sharks, or, presumably, credit card companies, or payday loan operations, which now charge loan-shark rates—that they can rise out of poverty. So actually Ferguson is not really concerned with “poverty” at all, just with the poverty of some people, those who are industrious and thus do not deserve to be poor. What about the non-industrious poor? They can go to hell, presumably (quite literally, according to many branches of Christianity). Or maybe their boats will be lifted somewhat by the rising tide.


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Veblen good, Wave and Pay, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Thompson’s “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the 18th Century,” which describes rioting against those merchants and traders who raised the price of grain to exploit short-ages (Thompson 1971: 78–79). More recent examples include various forms of price regulation such as the minimum wage, trade tariffs, price gouging, and antidumping laws. In the financial sector, attempts to regulate interest rates—capping payday loans, for example—might be seen as examples of just pricing. The just price is considered by Aquinas to be objectively fair. It is both “fixed” and “real.” According to Simmel, however, the principle merely “corresponds with the substantialist-absolutist world view” that was characteristic of the Middle Ages, which assumes that there is an objective relationship between an object and its price. For Simmel, far from being objective, such a price is “subjective in the worst sense of the word” and therefore arbitrary: it is an “inadequate valuation that made a momentary constellation [of value] into a fetter for future developments” (Simmel 2004: 317).

See also death of God; eternal return; Übermensch Nigeria, 301 ninety-nine percent, 3, 129–30, 370–71 nihilism, 141, 142 Nishibe, Makoto, 345 Nixon, Richard, 45, 98–99, 244 Nixon shock, 45n Nobel Prize, 330 nomos, 262, of the Earth, 222, 223 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 239 nonpecuniary values, 287, 294 North, Peter, 373 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 239 Nostradamus, 49 Nuer, 284 numismatics, 165; sociological, 34 nummus, 223, 262 occultism, 7, 11; and capital, 56, 154 Occupy movement, 1, 3, 50, 130n55, 201, 267, 370 Oedipus complex, 149, 150, 230 Oesterreichische Nationalbank, 20n Old Glory Mint, 361 one trillion dollar platinum coin, 385, 386, 387, 392 optimal currency area (OCA), 20, 253 order of worth, 200 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Orléan, André, 19, 43–46, 250; on Mauss, 32 Ortega y Gasset, José, 247 overaccumulation, in Bataille, 176; in Baudrillard, 192; and financialization, 61n22; in Harvey, 68, 166, 243; Marxian concept of, 65, 88, 205 overbanking, 122, 124 overproduction, 57, 73 Owen, Robert, 342 Pan, 77, 246 panic, etymology, 77n; financial, 77 paradox of thrift, 208, 347, 348 parallax view, 80–81, 205 Park, Robert, 319 Parsons, Talcott, 8, 34, 230, 276n patriarchy, 336 Patton, Paul, 227 Paulhan, Jean, 172n payday loans, 325 PayPal, 378, 380n Peace of Westphalia, 216 Pecunix, 42, 316 Peebles, Gustav, 304–5 peer-to-peer (P2P) currencies, 105, 365, 370 peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, 247, 316 peer-to-peer (P2P) payment networks, 365 pension fund socialism, 77 pension funds, 59, 68, 75, 110, 129n52, 132, 221, 243 pensioners, 2, 22, 72, 77, 88, 126 perfect money, 14, 30, 197, 315, 316, 317–22, 326, 328–30, 339, 341, 356–57, 375, 382 perfect society, 30, 315, 316, 320–21, 322, 326, 329–30, 351 Perroux, François, 207 philanthropy, 166 Pixley, Jocelyn, 315n Plato, 200, 313 Platonism, 322, 326 Plender, John, 50 Poe, Edgar Allen, 185 poetry, 313, 314, 331 Polanyi, Karl, 13, 36, 57n16, 271, 279–86, 291, 292, 294, 299, 306; on the double movement, 128, 280, 311; on embeddedness, 279, 280–81, 285; on fictitious commodities, 279–80; on formal versus substantive approaches to the economy, 285; The Great Transformation, 279, 282, 284, 286; on limited and general purpose money, 279, 282–83, 285, 286, 325, 373; on the market, 372, 279–81; on money and language, 297; on planned laissez-faire capitalism, 280 Polillo, Simone, 218–19 Polybius, Histories, 239 Ponzi, Charles, 117n Ponzi finance, 58, 117n, 118, 199; and Bitcoin, 368 Ponzi stage, 120.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

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Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

., none at all) and thus lacked “skin in the game”; this echo chamber of contempt ricocheting throughout the news media was so extravagantly over the top that it became the target of satire on many of the usual cable outlets, such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.72 In the current climate, it seems there is almost nothing you could do to the poor that would earn you opprobrium and ostracism from polite company, (maybe) short of sexual molestation of children. Prior to the 1980s, the practice of “salary purchase,” aka “payday loans,” had been outlawed; but a concerted effort beginning at the state level progressively legalized this particular form of predatory lending. As of 2008, there were more payday lender outlets in the United States than there were McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants combined, with turnover that dwarfed casinos, the other major poverty vampire operation.73 What is astounding about such operations is that they are no longer treated as reviled bottom-feeders by both the media and politicians, but rather as exemplary of the types of legitimate businesses that provide opportunity and salvation in the current contraction.

See Neoliberal Thought Collective (NTC) Nugent, Ted NYU (New York University) O Obama, Barack Occam’s Razor Occupiers Occupy Handbook Occupy London Occupy Movement Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Odyssey (Homer) Old Thinking Oldham, Taki, Turf Wars Open questions Open Society The Open Society and Its Enemies (Popper) Oracle at Delphi Ordoliberalism Oreskes, Naomi Original Sin O’Rourke, Kevin Orszag, Peter Orwell, George Osborne, George Outsourced Self (Hochschild) OWS (Occupy Wall Street) P Page, Scott Palin, Sarah Pareto, Vilfredo Patterson, Scott, Dark Pools Paul, Ron Paulson, Hank Payday loans Payne, Christopher PBS Peck, Jamie Pecora, Ferdinand Perry, Rick Pesaran, Hashem Pew Economic Policy Group Financial Reform Project Philip Morris Phillips Curve Philosopher’s Stone Pimco Pinochet, Augusto Pinto, Edward Pissarides, Christopher Pity the Billionaire (Frank) Plant, Raymond Plato Plehwe, Dieter Ponzi scheme Poon, Martha Popper, Karl Portes, Richard Posner, Richard Power Auctions Predator Nation (Ferguson) Prediction as red herring Prescott, Edward C.


pages: 278 words: 83,468

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

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3D printing, barriers to entry, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, continuous integration, corporate governance, experimental subject, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Metcalfe’s law, minimum viable product, Network effects, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, pull request, risk tolerance, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, transaction costs

We have serviced more than 10,000 customers in the past year alone across all the outlets.”5 A LEAN STARTUP IN GOVERNMENT? On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. One of its landmark provisions created a new federal agency, the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency is tasked with protecting American citizens from predatory lending by financial services companies such as credit card companies, student lenders, and payday loan offices. The plan calls for it to accomplish this by setting up a call center where trained case workers will field calls directly from the public. Left to its own devices, a new government agency would probably hire a large staff with a large budget to develop a plan that is expensive and time-consuming. However, the CFPB is considering doing things differently. Despite its $500 million budget and high-profile origins, the CPFB is really a startup.


pages: 316 words: 91,969

Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America by William McGowan

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, corporate governance, David Brooks, East Village, friendly fire, haute couture, illegal immigration, immigration reform, liberation theology, medical residency, New Journalism, obamacare, payday loans, postnationalism / post nation state, pre–internet, uranium enrichment, yellow journalism, young professional

(Harbinger has since sold off some of its stake, and did not stand any candidates for election to the board in 2010.) In the meantime, mounting debt forced the Times to turn to another outsider, the Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos “Slim” Helu, for a loan of $250 million so it can make interest payments on that debt. The analyst Henry Blodgett described the transaction with Slim as “the corporate equivalent of borrowing money from a payday loan shop.” Whereas the Times had once characterized Slim as a “robber baron,” now it was calling him a “shrewd investor.” When one of Slim’s holdings got involved in a Mexican telecommunications scandal in early 2010, the Times was accused of dragging its feet in reporting it out of deference to its financial angel. And in May 2010, Slim added to his stake after Harbinger sold off some of its holdings.


pages: 397 words: 112,034

What's Next?: Unconventional Wisdom on the Future of the World Economy by David Hale, Lyric Hughes Hale

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversification, energy security, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global village, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, passive investing, payday loans, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system, women in the workforce, yield curve

Politicians will be quick to claim credit, but there will be no practical way to determine whether any is deserved. Dodd-Frank’s Missing Pieces Far more important than anything that Dodd-Frank does are the things that—for good or ill—it does not do. The most obvious deficiency is its silence on GSEs. Although Senator Dodd and Representative Frank found space to empower regulators to crack down on retail payday loans and to order companies to report purchases of “conflict gold” from Africa, they somehow neglected to say anything about some of the chief culprits behind the housing bubble and subsequent financial collapse. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac facilitated—if not encouraged—all the mortgage-underwriting excesses of the 2000s. GSEs have already become the most expensive part of financial rescue efforts, and taxpayers remain potentially liable for hundreds of billions of dollars in additional losses.


pages: 371 words: 110,641

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman

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ghettoisation, informal economy, mass incarceration, payday loans, traffic fines, unemployed young men, working poor

When I first came to the neighborhood in 2002, 93 percent of its residents were Black. Men and boys stood at its busiest intersection, offering bootleg CDs and DVDs, stolen goods, and food to drivers and passersby. The main commercial street included a bulletproofed Chinese takeout store that sold fried chicken wings, single cigarettes called loosies, condoms, baby food, and glassines for smoking crack. The street also included a check-cashing store, a hair salon, a payday loan store, a Crown Fried Chicken restaurant, and a pawnshop. On the next block, a Puerto Rican family ran a corner grocery. Roughly one-fourth of the neighborhood’s households received housing vouchers, and in all but two households, families received some type of government assistance.13 6th Street is not the poorest or the most dangerous neighborhood in the large Black section of Philadelphia of which it is a part—far from it.


pages: 339 words: 88,732

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, digital map, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, falling living standards, Filter Bubble, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, full employment, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, intangible asset, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, law of one price, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, mass immigration, means of production, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telepresence, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Y2K

The economists Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel J. Schneider, and Peter Tufano conducted a 2011 study asking people about “their capacity to come up with $2,000 in 30 days.” Their findings are troubling. They concluded that, “Approximately one quarter of Americans report that they would certainly not be able to come up with such funds, and an additional 19% would do so by relying at least in part on pawning or selling possessions or taking payday loans. . . . [In other words, we] find that nearly half of Americans are financially fragile. . . . [A] sizable fraction of seemingly ‘middle class’ Americans . . . judge themselves to be financially fragile.”8 Other data—about poverty rates, access to health care, the number of people who want full-time jobs but can only find part-time work, and so on—confirm the impression that while the economic bounty from technology is real, it is not sufficient to compensate for huge increases in spread.


pages: 274 words: 93,758

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, new economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publication bias, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave

A recent economics article on “hand-to-mouth consumption” shows that in 2010 the median US working-age family held less than one month’s income in cash, or in checking, savings, or money-market accounts; in addition, but not surprisingly, the median direct holdings of stocks or bonds was exactly zero.6 A study using British diaries of spending gives another indication that many are just juggling the bills; for monthly earners, expenditures are down a full 18 percent in the last week of the monthly pay period, relative to expenditure in the first week after payday.7 We also know that a significant fraction of households do not make it. Some 30 percent of households say they have resorted to super-high-interest “alternative forms of borrowing” at least once over the past five years; those methods include, for example, use of pawn shops, auto-title loans, or short-term payday loans.8 In 2009 a full 2.5 percent of householders reported they had gone bankrupt in the past two years (most of which had been pre-Crash).9 That 2.5 percent may seem like a small, relatively innocuous number; nevertheless, it suggests that a quite significant fraction of the population will go bankrupt over the course of their lifetimes. No one knows the rate of repeat bankruptcy; but if, for example, those with one bankruptcy have two more over the course of their fifty-odd years of adulthood, then slightly more than 20 percent of the US population will go bankrupt in their adult life.10 Eviction is another way to not make it.


pages: 361 words: 97,787

The Curse of Cash by Kenneth S Rogoff

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Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cashless society, central bank independence, cryptocurrency, debt deflation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, ethereum blockchain, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial intermediation, financial repression, forward guidance, frictionless, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, illegal immigration, inflation targeting, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, large denomination, liquidity trap, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, moveable type in China, New Economic Geography, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, payday loans, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, RFID, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, The Great Moderation, the payments system, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, unconventional monetary instruments, underbanked, unorthodox policies, Y2K, yield curve

Low-income households and individuals go without banks for various reasons, including the inability to meet minimum deposit requirements, monthly service fees, and lack of convenient access in lower-income neighborhoods. In the United States, more than 8% of households were un-banked in 2013, according to an FDIC survey.3 Another 20% were underbanked, meaning they also used alternative financial services outside the banking system, including prepaid cards, payday loans, pawn shops, and check-cashing services. More than 25% of adult Americans do not have a credit card. Unfortunately, the cost of not having bank access is high. Check-cashing services charge exorbitant fees; for immigrants and others who need to wire funds abroad and transfer money to relatives, the transaction costs can amount to 10–15% or more. Storing cash at home and carrying cash greatly increases the chance of theft.4 The risks of being subject to fraud are much higher outside the regulated financial sector.


pages: 421 words: 110,406

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You by Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall W. van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, buy low sell high, chief data officer, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, data is the new oil, digital map, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, Haber-Bosch Process, High speed trading, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market design, Metcalfe’s law, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pre–internet, price mechanism, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Still another potential source of future growth is the hundreds of millions of “unbanked” people, both in the developing world and in less affluent neighborhoods in the U.S. and other developed countries, who currently have no access to tools that can help them pay their bills, borrow money, save, and make investments. Because they live in areas without bank branches and lack the capital needed to qualify for a traditional bank account or line of credit, the unbanked are forced to rely on costly, inconvenient, and sometimes fraudulent alternatives like check-cashing services, money order businesses, payday loan companies, and illegal loan sharks. These substandard financial operators represent another barrier to self-sufficiency that makes it harder for the poor to escape poverty. Now that millions of these less affluent consumers have access to mobile technology in the form of cell phones, the possibility of creating affordable online financial platforms customized to their needs has become a reality.


pages: 366 words: 94,209

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

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3D printing, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business process, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Google bus, Howard Rheingold, IBM and the Holocaust, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, medical bankruptcy, minimum viable product, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software patent, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, trade route, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

But taking a cue instead from the hands-on, do-it-yourself bias of the digital age, the activists came up with a much simpler solution: buy the debt. They launched a project called the Rolling Jubilee,48 raising money from donors to buy back and then dissolve debt. With just $700,000 of initial donations, they have managed to dissolve over $17 million of student debt and $15 million of medical debt and are now targeting payday loans and private probation debts.49 And the more people they get out of debt, the more new donors they create. Such solutions may not be highly technological, but they are digital in spirit, especially in the way they retrieve the peer-to-peer mechanisms of mutual aid and distribute personal risk and liability throughout a network. Finally, the solution itself is a hack of the existing, highly exploitative system; pennies-on-the-dollar leverage afforded to credit packagers is used instead to relieve debts twenty-five times greater than the donated amount.


pages: 519 words: 104,396

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (And How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone

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availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equal pay for equal work, experimental economics, experimental subject, feminist movement, game design, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index card, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, Landlord’s Game, loss aversion, market bubble, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Potemkin village, price anchoring, price discrimination, psychological pricing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, working poor

It’s not hard to understand why this makes dealers anxious to close a deal. Forty-seven Pricing Gender A group including Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir conducted a particularly ambitious experiment in the fall of 2003. They got permission from a large consumer lender in South Africa to test a grab bag of psychological tricks in its junk-mail pitches for loans. The lender was offering the equivalent of American payday loans—short-term cash for the working poor, at loan shark rates. The lender sent letters offering a special interest rate to 53,194 past customers. Among other factors, Mullainathan and Shafir’s team tested the effect of having a photograph in the mailing. They found stock photos of pleasant, smiling faces and put them in the lower right corner of the letter, near the signature. This implicitly suggested that the person depicted was a bank employee, maybe the one who had written the letter.

Frugal Innovation: How to Do Better With Less by Jaideep Prabhu Navi Radjou

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bretton Woods, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Computer Numeric Control, connected car, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, global supply chain, income inequality, industrial robot, intangible asset, Internet of things, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, reshoring, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, software as a service, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, women in the workforce, X Prize, yield management, Zipcar

US credit-card debt rose by 8% in 2013 to $38.2 billion, and UK savings fell to 5.4% of household net disposable income in 2013 from 7.8% in 2009 – a serious worry for governments and lenders. Barclays Bank, a UK multinational banking and financial services company, reports that people tend to have little consideration for “rainy days”. Most have no significant savings, spending what they earn and getting by only as long as they have a job. More worryingly, some customers face severe financial strain, typically use payday loans, are late with repayments and withdraw cash on credit cards. This latter group might be expected to reduce spending on nonessentials, but they actually spend more than average, precisely when they are in financial trouble. Worried that such behaviour on a large scale could harm the bank and the economy, Barclays has begun to look at how it might turn around its profligate customers. One approach is through its financial health programme, which helps customers visualise their financial behaviour and meet savings targets.


pages: 488 words: 144,145

Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream by R. Christopher Whalen

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Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, debt deflation, falling living standards, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global reserve currency, housing crisis, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, non-tariff barriers, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce

Indeed, this inequality led to alternative policy responses in the Anglo-Saxon countries versus the social welfare countries of continental Europe. In the former group (United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand) the response was one of democratization of credit that allowed households to borrow and spend beyond their means: the boom in mortgage and consumer credit (credit cards, auto loans, student loans, payday loans, subprime loans, and so on) led to a massive increase in private household debts that found it matching in the rising leverage of the financial sector (banks and shadow banks). This financial system leverage was abetted by reckless financial deregulation—repeal of Glass Steagall, non-regulation of derivatives, explosion of toxic financial innovation, rise of a subprime financial system, explosion of the shadow banking system.


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, publication bias, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, selection bias, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

These operations range from the negligently optimistic to the outright criminal, and show a special fondness for locating in places like Long Island, Florida, and Vancouver. This survey excludes the lowlifes who take in $200-300 billion a year by preying on the poor and desperate — brokers who demand 20% on a WALL STREET second mortgage, pawn shops who charge 240% on loans, finance companies who charge 300%, check-cashing services that charge 2,000% for quick "payday" loans, layaway artists and rent-to-own schemers (Hudson 1996). While they're undoubtedly part of the financial industry, I'll ignore them; the point of this book is to tar the folks with the good reputations, if only to preempt the "bad apple" defense. funds of several sorts Individuals who deal with brokers can trade stocks, bonds, options, and other exotic instruments, but many also turn to mutual funds and other managed investment vehicles to do the research and trading work for them.


pages: 497 words: 143,175

Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies by Judith Stein

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, desegregation, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial deregulation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invisible hand, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, post-industrial society, post-oil, price mechanism, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yom Kippur War

Beginning in the 1980S, the financial services industry found a home in FDR’s party. Despite popular outrage, the industry blocked legislation in the Democratic Congress prohibiting usury. Usury used to be illegal, but in 1980 Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Congress repealed all interest rate controls and the national law prohibiting usury. This repeal is what makes it possible for credit card companies to charge 30 percent interest and lenders to make the notorious “payday” loans that charge desperate people a real interest rate of more than 500 percent. Legislation capping rates at 15 and 18 percent failed to pass the Congress and the Senate in early 2009.118 Banks blocked a law, once championed by Obama, to allow bankruptcy judges to lower the amounts owned on mortgage loans.119 The financial services industry is probably more concentrated than it was before the crisis.


pages: 598 words: 134,339

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier

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23andMe, Airbnb, airport security, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, augmented reality, Benjamin Mako Hill, Black Swan, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, congestion charging, disintermediation, drone strike, Edward Snowden, experimental subject, failed state, fault tolerance, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Firefox, friendly fire, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hindsight bias, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, lifelogging, linked data, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, moral panic, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, national security letter, Network effects, Occupy movement, payday loans, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, South China Sea, stealth mode startup, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, zero day

Data brokers use your data to sort you into various marketable categories. Want lists of people who fall into the category of “potential inheritor” or “adult with senior parent,” or addresses of households with a “diabetic focus” or “senior needs”? Acxiom can provide you with that. InfoUSA has sold lists of “suffering seniors” and gullible seniors. In 2011, the data broker Teletrack sold lists of people who had applied for nontraditional credit products like payday loans to companies who wanted to target them for bad financial deals. In 2012, the broker Equifax sold lists of people who were late on their mortgage payments to a discount loan company. Because this was financial information, both brokers were fined by the FTC for their actions. Almost everything else is fair game. PERSONALIZED ADVERTISING We use systems that spy on us in exchange for services.


pages: 457 words: 128,838

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

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3D printing, Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

In Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, the proportion of people above the age of fifteen with a bank account ranges from 96 percent to 99 percent. But head to the United States, and the figure slips to 88 percent. Add in a separate “underbanked” category—that is, those who may have a bank account, but also are driven to “nontraditional” banking sources such as check cashers or payday loans—and the percentage of the American population with insufficient access to the financial system exceeds 30 percent. Whereas China has delivered bank accounts to 64 percent of its people, in Argentina, despite Buenos Aires’ large, educated, and internationally savvy middle-class population, just 33 percent of the country is banked, a figure less even than India’s 35 percent. In the Philippines, where remittances are so valued that returning OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are exempted from airport taxes and given fast-track passport-processing at Manila Airport, only 27 percent of the population have bank accounts.


pages: 311 words: 130,761

Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America by Diana Elizabeth Kendall

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Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, declining real wages, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, framing effect, Georg Cantor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, haute couture, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, lump of labour, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working poor

A woman referred to as “Melissa” in the book was still working at Walmart, where her wages had risen from $7 to $10 an hour in the intervening nine-year period.135 In his 2010 book, Gary Rivlin emphasizes the exploitation of the working poor by the “poverty industry.” According to Rivlin, the recession has not been equally difficult for everyone: the “mercenary entrepreneurs” have enriched themselves by preying on the “credit-hungry working poor” and misleading them about instant tax refunds, payday loans, subprime mortgages, pawnshop specials, and rental furniture and appliances with strings attached.136 Were it not for books like these, the mainstream media might not have published as many reports about the growing problems of the working poor. Through media framing of stories about this group and the increasing problem of long-term unemployment, journalists provide media audiences with information and explode myths that have perpetuated and exacerbated economic and social inequalities in this country for many years.


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

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3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

If a $100 windfall could pay the overdue utility bill or replace the kids’ shoes that are now too small, opportunity costs are front and center. However, this incessant fretting about opportunity costs takes a toll. Having to constantly worry about where the money is going to come from to pay the rent makes it hard to keep up with everything, and may contribute to some of the bad decisions made by the poor, such as taking out and rolling over payday loans. † The median is the statistical term for middle. If all the prices are ranked from high to low, the median answer is the one with as many answers higher as lower. ‡ A recent study finds that when U.S. supermarkets were confronted with the challenge of a Walmart entering their home market, all suffered, but those who used a promotional pricing strategy (e.g., frequent sales) experienced significantly greater revenues and long-term viability than an everyday low price strategy (Ellickson, Misra, and Nair, 2012). 8 Sunk Costs Vince paid $1,000 to an indoor tennis club that entitled him to play once a week for the indoor season.


pages: 527 words: 147,690

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

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23andMe, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, basic income, Brian Krebs, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, game design, global village, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, license plate recognition, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, pre–internet, price discrimination, price stability, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social graph, social web, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telemarketer, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, universal basic income, unpaid internship, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Whether in airport security lines or on e-commerce sites, our data is being run through the decision-making mill. We are judged on the basis of our personal data and our social-media presence, with little opportunity to dispute its accuracy or confront a real human being. Like demographic, medical, or credit data, information gleaned from social media is increasingly being taken up with the promise that it can tell companies and governments about who people are and predict their actions. Lenders, from payday loan companies to mortgage giants, have taken to looking at customers’ social-media accounts. Their reasoning is that strong social networks may reveal a customer’s reliability, particularly if he lacks a credit history, and that this information may be more up-to-date than what’s contained in a credit report. Others are pairing the social graph with even more information: GPS coordinates, the applicant’s behavior on the phone or Web site while submitting an application, online purchases, friends’ credit histories, hardware and software used.


pages: 580 words: 168,476

The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, declining real wages, deskilling, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, jobless men, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, lone genius, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, obamacare, offshore financial centre, paper trading, Pareto efficiency, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Many states tried to circumscribe its activities, but it used its political influence (it had senior ex-politicians, including a former leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, on its board) to try to get federal preemption (whereby weaker federal rules preempt the rights of states to regulate). In 2006 Rent-a-Center (with nationwide revenues in excess of $2 billion) was successfully sued by the state of California for deceptive business practices. See http://oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=1391. Credit cards and payday loans provided other venues for predatory practices. Among many discussions, see, e.g., Robert Faris, “Payday Lending: A Business Model That Encourages Chronic Borrowing,” Economic Development Quarterly 17, no. 1 (February 2003): 8–32; James H. Carr and Lopa Kolluri, Predatory Lending: An Overview (Washington, DC: Fannie Mae Foundation, 2001). 12. A well-performing financial sector is absolutely essential for a well-performing economy.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

In 1850, the Singer Sewing Machine Company began to sell its machines on installment to consumers through agents.10 By the 1870s, such a machine could be purchased for as little as $1 down and fifty cents per week. This stage of installment purchases extended beyond the prosperous classes to working-class households, including recent immigrants. The late nineteenth century also brought the development of “wage assignment” loans, similar to today’s “payday” loans, in which the collateral was a legal claim on the future wages of the borrower. Administering these loans required new types of information gathering, as borrowers could lie about the amount of their wages or the security of their employment. Lenders tended to favor workers who had stable employment, such as government or clerical workers, and they sometimes resorted to bribes to gain access to the payroll records of their borrowers.