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How to wreck the economy and avoid prosecution for $9 billion

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare. "Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Nov 7, 2014 - 42 comments

Sachs Tapes

The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks and prevent another financial crisis. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she bought a tiny recorder, and started secretly taping. This American Life reports. [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Sep 26, 2014 - 60 comments

Open and Operating

Al-Qaeda deliberately targeted the 9/11 attacks at the backbone of the world's financial system in lower Manhattan, to cripple US and world banking. That totally didn't happen and, national emergency aside, the US's (and world's) financial systems kept operating as normal, with no runs on banks and the NYSE trading at normal volumes just a week later. With the destruction of the physical infrastructure of banking and telecommunications in lower Manhattan, Alan Greenspan stranded in Zurich, and no one having any idea what was going on, how did that happen? Within 41 minutes, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson issued a short statement on Fedwire that the Fed fund transfer system was fully operational and the Fed would remain open until "an orderly closing could be achieved." Within 3 hours, the Fed issued a short statement that "The Federal Reserve System is open and operating. The discount window is available to meet liquidity needs." The financial system, the Fed declared, would not fail. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Sep 14, 2014 - 42 comments

"the conflation of money and heroism"

The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong is not simply a story of one man’s moral failures. To understand Armstrong you have to understand the people who use their money and power to shape the culture of competitive sports. And if you follow the trail of money and power in this particular case, it will lead you to Thomas Weisel, which is where the real story begins.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 10, 2014 - 82 comments

Capital Knows no Border

On Thursday, Wikileaks (previously) released the text (wikileaks) of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted "in secret" in Geneva by representatives of more than 50 countries, entitled the Trade in Services Agreement. [more inside]
posted by Roger_Mexico on Jun 21, 2014 - 81 comments

The Near-Death of Grand Central Terminal

"[S]tock jobbers[,]... confidence men,... an impecunious transportation entity", politicos, judges, scoundrels and Jackie O.: the near-death of Grand Central Terminal, and how it foretold the 2008 financial crisis. [sl Harper's]
posted by killdevil on Jun 19, 2014 - 5 comments

“The City is the equivalent of Venice in the middle ages,”

An outsiders guide to the City of London.
Also of interest from the Guardian is the Joris Luyendijk banking blog which includes a ten best quotes from financial insiders and a helpful guide for novices.
posted by adamvasco on May 30, 2014 - 5 comments

I thought it was amusing that you bought a budgeting app.

If you're going to read one piece on fictional, passive aggressive banking services make it Kelly Stout's short "Alert!" [more inside]
posted by sacrifix on Apr 4, 2014 - 10 comments

Aggregate Demand Management: "pass a law allowing the Fed to cut checks"

Free Money for Everyone - "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2014 - 19 comments

If Stable and Efficient Banks Are Such a Good Idea Why Are They So Rare?

Why do some banking systems never have crises and some have them all the time? Our system is Fragile by Design, the title of a new book by Calomiris and Haber. (The first chapter can be read here.) This essay lays out the argument, as does this PowerPoint. [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 1, 2014 - 32 comments

Coin Rules Everything Around Me

In 2014, Bitcoin (BTC) has become established as increasingly "real" money with government regulatory interest, law enforcement, and growing acceptance in commerce, but also as the reserve cryptocurrency for hundreds of "altcoins," making them also convertible to legacy money. Foremost among these is Litecoin (LTC), which introduced the scrypt hashing algorithm to cryptocurrency, democratizing coin mining by being best suited to common GPUs rather than Bitcoin's dedicated mining equipment. Recently donated LTC paid for a forest in Madagascar. Peercoin (PPC), next in prominence, introduces "proof of stake" where less energy is spent mining and existing coins pay interest. Dogecoin (DOGE), a fork of Litecoin (previously covered on Metafilter), continues heading to the moon, with more transactions than all other coins combined, thriving markets in digital goods, tipbots, an upcoming party in NYC's Bitcoin Center on Wall Street, much charity, and the recent announcement that new Dogecoins will be generated indefinitely. A selection of other foremost and interesting cryptocurrencies is within. [more inside]
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth on Feb 5, 2014 - 319 comments

How Obama can save USPS and ding check-cashing joints

...yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives. What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans... a way to deliver needed amenities to the nearly 68 million Americans—over one-quarter of U.S. households—who have limited or no access to financial services. Instead of banks, these mostly low-income individuals use check-cashing stores, pawnshops, payday lenders, and other unscrupulous financial services providers who gouged their customers to the tune of $89 billion in interest and fees in 2012. - The Post Office Should Just Become a Bank
posted by beisny on Jan 29, 2014 - 114 comments

Shell Games

The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming. At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn't a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It's a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 22, 2014 - 32 comments

"What was he doing having his face put on ATM cards?"

"It was as if, while Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school, Bowie was bracing for the 21st Century, the demand for everyone to “share” accessible versions of themselves. The self as a business card, to be distributed to anyone who asked for it. He also saw opportunity: on 1 September 1998, he launched BowieNet." Pushing Ahead Of The Dame (previously, previously) takes a look at David Bowie's late-90s, technophile projects and the future they foreshadowed - Omikron: The Nomad Soul (& BowieBanc & BowieNet)
posted by The Whelk on Nov 11, 2013 - 30 comments

Giant Bomb

PayPal locked down the developer’s account, and said it could only have 50% of the funds. The rest would be released as development continued, based on PayPal’s assessment of the situation. PayPal was, essentially, going to become a producer going forward. Crowdfunding's Secret Enemy is PayPal
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Sep 20, 2013 - 73 comments

NSA may have secretly made major mathematics breakthrough

If the NSA is able to break through banks' computer security, does that mean it solved the prime factorization problem? The New York Times reported recently that “the agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems.” Since banks' encryption codes rely on the fact that nobody knows how to find the prime factors of really large numbers, it could mean that the NSA has found a way to do that. Or it could mean that the NSA has simply gotten lots of banks to give up their information, or found other ways around their encryption. But if they've cracked this long-standing math problem, might the secret leak? What would be the effects?
posted by Sleeper on Sep 12, 2013 - 60 comments

"What we’re doing is preventing them from being able to get signatures"

Payday lenders target the working poor with quick loans at exorbitant interest rates. When a ballot initiative drive in Missouri threatened this lucrative business, the payday lenders fought back with everything they had--their money. A ProPublica report, published yesterday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch documents the web of secret donations and intimidation that smothered the reform movement.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Aug 3, 2013 - 59 comments

"It's not clear we have that much time."

As Andrew Haldane, director of stability at the Bank of England, put it in a historical overview a few years ago, ‘there is one key difference between the situation today and that in the Middle Ages. Then, the biggest risk to the banks was from the sovereign. Today, perhaps the biggest risk to the sovereign comes from the banks. Causality has reversed.’ Yes, it has: and the sovereign at risk is us. The reason for that is that in the UK bank assets are 492 per cent of GDP. In plain English, our banks are five times bigger than our entire economy. (When the Icelandic and Cypriot banking systems collapsed the respective figures were 880 and 700 per cent.) We know from the events of 2008 and subsequently that the financial sector, indeed the whole world economy, is in an inherently unstable condition. Put the size together with the instability, and we are facing a danger that is no less real for not being on the front page this exact second. This has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed soon, and nothing about fixing it is easy.
- "Let's Consider Kate," John Lanchester, London Review of Books (via)
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Jul 10, 2013 - 29 comments

Elizabeth Warren grills banking regulators on trials for big banks

Elizabeth Warren, in her new role as a member of the Senate banking committee, asks banking regulators: when did you last take a big Wall St bank to trial? (SLYT)
posted by shivohum on Feb 16, 2013 - 91 comments

The shocking news that Goldman Sachs is greedy

"Twenty five years ago I quit a job on Wall Street to write a book about Wall Street. Since then, every year or so, UPS has delivered to me a book more or less like my own, written by some Wall Street insider and promising to blow the lid off the place, and reveal its inner workings, and so on. By now, you might think, this game should be over. The reading public would know all it needed to know about Wall Street, and the publishing industry would be forced to look to some other industry for shocking confessions from insiders. Somehow this isn't the case."
posted by vidur on Feb 5, 2013 - 47 comments

There's a lot of bullshit coming from America

"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
posted by vidur on Jan 21, 2013 - 32 comments

Level 2 is more worrisome. Level 3 is hair-raising.

"We decided to go on an adventure through the financial statements of one bank [Wells Fargo], to explore exactly what they do and do not show, and to gauge whether it is possible to make informed judgments about the risks the bank may be carrying. We chose a bank that is thought to be a conservative financial institution, and an exemplar of what a large modern bank should be."
posted by vidur on Jan 14, 2013 - 14 comments

Free Beer: The Truth About Dishonesty

Are you more honest than a banker? Under what circumstances would you lie, or cheat, and what effect does your deception have on society at large? Dan Ariely, bestselling author and professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University visits the RSA to examine the mechanisms at work behind dishonest behaviour, and the implications this has for all aspects of our social and political lives. (28:46)
RSA Animation of excerpts of this lecture and related ones: The Truth About Dishonesty (11:08)

posted by Blasdelb on Jan 12, 2013 - 15 comments

"Victory as recorded on those screens made them feel like Masters of the Universe."

Eunuchs of the Universe: Tom Wolfe on Wall Street Today: [Daily Beast]
"As America teeters on a cliff, Tom Wolfe draws up a sterling indictment of our unscrupulous financial culture. Twenty-five years after Bonfire of the Vanities, the author returns to Wall Street to see what happened to the Masters of the Universe."

posted by Fizz on Jan 4, 2013 - 35 comments

Japan

What's Going On In Japan? "Really Japan is quite a remarkable case, since neither fiscal nor monetary policy seems to be working to achieve the anticipated results. This year Japan will have a fiscal deficit of around 10% of GDP and gross government debt will hit 235% of GDP, yet the country is still struggling to find growth. Instead of reiterating old dogmas (whether they come from Keynes or from Hayek) more people should be asking themselves what is happening here. This is not a simple repetition of something which was first time tragedy and is now second time tragedy, it is something new, and could well be a harbinger for more that is to come, elsewhere. Oh, why oh why are economists not more curious?" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 27, 2012 - 82 comments

"how we learned to stop worrying and embrace the abstraction"

A Brief History Of Money [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 16, 2012 - 53 comments

Abracadabra, No More Banking Crisis

IMF Economists are suggesting that The Chicago Plan, first proposed in 1936 as a way to avoid another Great Depression, is the answer to our current economic woes. [more inside]
posted by COD on Oct 22, 2012 - 57 comments

Landmines in the fine print: interest rate swaps in Italy

Interest rate swap derivatives have not only turned sour for local governments and agencies across the United States. London-based banks are accused of massive mis-selling to dozens of Italian cities and regions. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 15, 2012 - 60 comments

Brother, can you spare a dime?

The National Bureau of Economic Research has published a new paper analyzing 138 years of economic history in 14 advanced economies, which proves that high levels of private debt cause severe recessions. (Via) Bonus SLYT: Money As Debt (1hr)
posted by infini on Sep 10, 2012 - 32 comments

"Several executives involved in the transaction have either abruptly decided to retire or been sacked."

Last month, JP Morgan Chase announced it had lost $2 billion dollars in a 'hedging' maneuver. Today, Jamie Dimon, Morgan's chairman and CEO, testified before the Senate banking committee. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 13, 2012 - 69 comments

Choosing the Road to Prosperity

One of the more conservative of the Fed's regional banks, the Dallas Federal Reserve, says "too-big-to-fail" banks must be broken up. Now. An interesting and important essay(pdf) from a most unlikely source.(via)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Apr 2, 2012 - 13 comments

The Failure of Judges and the Rise of Regulators

The Control Revolution And Its Discontents - "the long process of algorithmisation over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
posted by kliuless on Feb 23, 2012 - 25 comments

The Minds Behind the Meltdown

How a swashbuckling breed of mathematicians and computer scientists nearly destroyed Wall Street.
posted by veedubya on Feb 23, 2012 - 48 comments

My Big Fat Greek Bailout

Greece gains another €130bn in bailout funds. It's a nice headline, but the reports suggest it still isn't enough and Newsnight paint a picture of a fracturing Greek society.
posted by jaduncan on Feb 20, 2012 - 92 comments

A serial intern in the finance sector speaks.

A serial intern in the finance sector speaks: "Applying for internships is so tiresome and bruising. It's like dating, you sit by the phone waiting for a call. Back in my days at university I would get up at 5.30am or 6am. First I'd go jogging, then send out an application for an internship. Every morning. It's so painful to hear 'no' all the time."
posted by feelinglistless on Jan 27, 2012 - 86 comments

What're the profit margins on a Trojan Horse?

A Swarthmore College student-reporter's questioning of whether it is moral to go into banking sparks NYT columnist Nick Kristof to not only assert the affirmative, but to argue (in part) that in fact more well-educated, liberally-mined people should go into "conservative" industries like banking in order to reform it from the inside. In effect, Kristof suggests, socialist-leaning, educationally-empowered students should hunker down, swallow their disdain, and apply their ideals to change finance. Said student responds (in Slate): elite, ostensibly liberal-leaning students don't seem to be particularly discouraged from capitalism or going into banking in this climate, and probably never have been.
posted by Keter on Jan 24, 2012 - 49 comments

Weren't you the 1% who hurt me with your lies?

We Will Survive Capitalism! flash mob with US Uncut [previously] and the Brass Liberation Orchestra
Previous BLO flash mobs include Bad Hotel [previously], Operation Hey Mackey [previously], and "PAY UP!" (demanding Bank of America pay their taxes). Speaking of BofA, in San Francisco on Thursday activists turned every Bank of America ATM in the city into an Automated Truth Machine, using special non-adhesive stickers designed to look exactly like BoA’s ATM interface. But instead of checking and savings accounts, these new menus offered a list of everything BoA customers’ money is being used for, including investment in coal-fired power plants, foreclosure on Americans’ homes, bankrolling of climate change, and paying for fat executive bonuses. [more inside]
posted by finite on Jan 15, 2012 - 42 comments

Self-seeking greed and avarice

"At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles." (relatedly via)
posted by xchmp on Jan 3, 2012 - 53 comments

Nerd Wallet: credit card comparison made easier

Nerd Wallet is a credit card comparison site that helps you filter cards based on select criteria. You can also limit your search to credit cards from credit unions. See also: the Nerd Wallet blog, with credit card industry and rewards news, and an interview with Tim Chen, founder of Nerd Wallet.
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 13, 2011 - 9 comments

Why do we need a financial sector?

Economics blog VoxEU debates Why do we need a financial sector? Serious, important and very dull articles discuss the trade-offs and myths of innovation, and whether the sector is overrated, critical or a contributor to the wider economy.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Nov 22, 2011 - 35 comments

Guy Fawkes Day comes to America

U.S. Credit Unions report that over 650,000 consumers have joined during October, representing more than a year's worth of members in a single month, as Britain's Guy Fawkes Day (Nov. 5th) becomes Bank Transfer Day (tips). [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Nov 4, 2011 - 143 comments

'Perhaps their complacency is justified.'

Special report: China's debt pileup raises risk of hard landing. 'When China announced a nearly $600 billion package to ward off the 2008 global financial crisis, city planners across the country happily embarked on a frenzy of infrastructure projects, some of them of arguable need.' 'Barclays Capital has predicted a global recession would trigger a "hard landing" in China, with gross domestic product sinking well below the 8 percent mark seen as the minimum for assuring enough job creation to keep up with urban migration. A severe economic slump would depress land sales, a vital source of funding for local governments, and make their debt load even more precarious.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Oct 10, 2011 - 13 comments

Chext

Chext is a site that enables the user to enter transactions and track their bank balance via SMS. People sharing a bank account can also get updates when money is spent from the account by the other person. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Sep 19, 2011 - 30 comments

Trust Issues

Hartwick College, a small school in New York's Catskills, is the beneficiary of a trust that “could ultimately shatter the nation’s financial structure.”
posted by reenum on Sep 16, 2011 - 73 comments

Too big to fail...too big to sue?

TARP is winding down...bring on the lawsuits. Within the next week, the US government is set to sue a dozen banks for billions in losses caused by those banks' misrepresenting the risks of mortgage-backed securities. This is in addition to numerous State Attorneys General suing the banks for failing to reach an agreement in foreclosure abuses. Insurance giant AIG will also be suing BofA to recoup losses over the mortgage bonds. BofA had also agreed to a settlement of $8.5 billion to cover losses from soured mortgage debt issued through Countrywide. Deutsche Bank is suing WaMu. Goldman Sachs already settled with the SEC for $500 million for their fraud and have been sued by othersseeking to recover losses. [more inside]
posted by darkstar on Sep 1, 2011 - 56 comments

Roger Ebert writes what many of us are thinking.

One percent of Americans now "earn" 25% of the income. Many of them have grown their wealth through criminal exploitation. Roger Ebert asks the burning question: why aren't more people outraged?
posted by rhombus on May 10, 2011 - 404 comments

The Free-Banking vs. Central-Banking Debate

Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2011 - 47 comments

Interchange reform is necessary and it is long overdue.

Open Letter TO JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. The Democrat from Springfield responds to the Chase CEO's letter to shareholders.
posted by boo_radley on Apr 13, 2011 - 39 comments

Laundering Drug Money

At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to banks on the brink of collapse. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade," he said. "There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs [more inside]
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream on Apr 2, 2011 - 30 comments

What's the problem?

Interview with Gary Gorton (pdf) - Fascinating look at private institutional bank money creation (really) and subsequent run on the shadow banking system that hearkens back to the late-19th century banking crises with securitization playing the role of checking before the advent of deposit insurance. "Gorton is a lucid narrator of a complex tale." (via via)
posted by kliuless on Jan 14, 2011 - 10 comments

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