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"The Culture represents the place we might hope to get to"

The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we've got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren't terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we'll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.
In 2010 Jude Roberts interviewed Iain M. Banks for her PhD. Banks discusses his utopia, The Culture, which he created in a series of science fiction novels.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 19, 2014 - 71 comments

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

"Mess with the best, Die like the rest!"

JPMorgan Chase Says More Than 76 Million Accounts Compromised in Cyberattack [New York Times]
"The breach is among the largest corporate hacks, and the latest revelations vastly dwarf earlier estimates that hackers had gained access to roughly 1 million customer accounts."

posted by Fizz on Oct 2, 2014 - 122 comments

I get around

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan. “I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.
_______________

The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start. The cause was not a mechanical problem — it was her lender.

_______________

This is the face of the new subprime boom. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 1, 2014 - 69 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

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

Vampire Squid

The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet. "Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever." This is the latest and last article for Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi, who is moving on to join First Look Media.
posted by homunculus on Feb 21, 2014 - 56 comments

The US has one of the worst payment systems in the entire world

Almost alone among developed nations, U.S. credit and debit cards have a magnetic stripe that contains all the financial information necessary to make a purchase. Once information gets stolen from a merchant, it can be encoded into a magnetic stripe and used with a new card. Smart cards in Europe and elsewhere encrypt that data and store it on a microchip, which is much tougher to replicate. More important, the cards also require a personal identification number (PIN) to work. This “chip-and-PIN” system introduces a second authentication, forcing thieves to have both pieces of information to successfully use the card. It’s a combination of advanced technology and simple common sense. - Your Credit Card Has a Dangerous Flaw That the Banks Refuse to Fix
posted by beisny on Jan 17, 2014 - 138 comments

Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Eat the meat you are Fed: It's good, we guarantee it!

The last mystery of the financial crisis. It's long been suspected that ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's helped trigger the meltdown. A new trove of embarrassing documents shows how they did it. by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.
posted by lalochezia on Jun 19, 2013 - 34 comments

Crow Road

RIP Iain Banks. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jun 9, 2013 - 372 comments

"Shortfall fears for interest-only mortgage holders"

"More than a million people with interest-only mortgages face a financial crunch when they have to pay them off, a watchdog is warning. Some 2.6 million UK householders have the mortgages but the Financial Conduct Authority said estimates suggested that nearly half would not have savings or other funds to cover the final bill. The average shortfall is £71,000, according to FCA research." Gruaniad version.
posted by marienbad on May 2, 2013 - 28 comments

The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

Wall Street begins playing again with the same matches that burned the economy in 2008 From the New York Times: "The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street. " (View article on a single page) [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 20, 2013 - 57 comments

''Escrache'' it's direct action.

Mortgage fraud, faux-democracy and escrache in Spain. Those unfortunate enough to lose their homes are also burdened with a debt for life.
Anatomy of an ‘escrache’.
Spanish banks repossessed 30,000 family homes in 2012 and those who take part in doorstep protests may face fines of up to 6,000 euros in Madrid.
Between 2002 and 2008 an average of 754,000 new homes were built in Spain every year. It is currently estimated that up to 6 million homes remain vacant.
posted by adamvasco on Apr 14, 2013 - 17 comments

Turn the wheel and look to windward

Two of our finest authors, humanist and government critic, Iain [M] Banks is dying of cancer. His next novel will be his last. His books are a source of inspiration and joy for me and many other mefites.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Apr 3, 2013 - 223 comments

Incommensurable values

Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 25, 2013 - 27 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

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

Secret and Lies of the Bailout

Secret and Lies of the Bailout. "The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 7, 2013 - 77 comments

Credit unions have surpassed BofA in Seattle

Credit unions now#1 in Seattle
posted by modernist1 on Dec 11, 2012 - 37 comments

Bankster Rap

Once the financial sector achieves a certain size, its continued expansion reduces economic growth, according to a new study by two senior economists at the Bank for International Settlements, Stephen Cecchetti and Enisse Kharroubi, using a large international data base stretching back more than 30 years.
posted by unSane on Oct 26, 2012 - 10 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

Goldman Sachs gets away with it

In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PDF) release a report that Goldman Sachs knowingly sold mortgage-backed securities that they believed would fall in value, and then shorted them for billions in profit. The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to press charges today.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College on Aug 10, 2012 - 94 comments

"Abused people go one or two ways: They either self-destruct or make a difference, you feel me? I’m gonna make a difference."

'In 2002, five years before journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered by members of Your Black Muslim Bakery, (Previously) a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 1 stepped forward to report decades of sexual abuse, welfare fraud and violence by the bakery's leader, Yusuf Bey Sr. She was prepared to hand over to Oakland police DNA from her three children -- evidence that Bey had impregnated her, the first time when she was 12. This was a risky move, but the woman had powerful motivation: her daughter, then 18, had alerted her that Bey was trying to abuse her -- his own child. Now, Jane Doe No. 1 has decided she no longer wants to be nameless. Her name is Kowana Banks and she is the first of Bey's victims to speak publicly.' Video interview. Transcript. (Via) This post recounts experiences of rape and sexual abuse. Topics may be disturbing to some readers. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2012 - 8 comments

Computer says No

For the past 4 days, up to 12 million NatWest / Royal Bank of Scotland customers have been unable to pay bills, move money or get paid due to a technical problem. Customers have been unable to complete on house purchases and some are stuck because they can't pay hotel bills abroad. The new mobile banking service has also been affected. The bank has called in 7,000 staff to open all weekend as problems persist.
Just three months ago, the State-controlled bank outsourced nearly 300 back-office roles to Hyderabad in India.
posted by Lanark on Jun 23, 2012 - 71 comments

sovereignty and taxation

David Graeber: Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 8, 2012 - 85 comments

DEAR AMERICA: You Should Be Mad As Hell About This

DEAR AMERICA: You Should Be Mad As Hell About This. Here is a helpful series of excellent visual aids that shed light on the state of our current American socioeconomy.
posted by Vibrissae on Jun 7, 2012 - 76 comments

This is the story of Brian Banks

In 2002, Brian Banks was a sought-after high school football phenom until he was accused of kidnapping and raping a female student. On the advice of his lawyers, he pleaded no contest and served 6 years in prison. Then his accuser recanted. That's when the Innocence Project stepped in to help exonerate Brian Banks. CA Innocence Project filing here; informative if you skip right to the "Statement of Facts" part.
posted by lalex on May 25, 2012 - 146 comments

nonsense economics

"I call it the destruction of shared prosperity hypothesis. ... [A]round 1980 the U.S. adopted a fundamentally flawed economic paradigm ... that abandoned full employment and severed the link between wages and productivity growth. ... Financial deregulation, regulatory forbearance, financial innovation, financial mania, and plain vanilla financial fraud kept the economy going by making ever more credit available, However, as the economy cannibalized itself by undercutting income distribution and accumulating debt, it needed ever larger speculative bubbles to grow. The house price bubble was simply the last and biggest bubble and was effectively the only way around the stagnation that would otherwise have developed in 2001." - an interview with Thomas Palley on the origins and prognosis for the crisis
posted by crayz on Apr 18, 2012 - 31 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

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

Greater Depression?

Joseph E. Stiglitz "argues that the U.S. is now facing and must manage a similar shift in the 'real' economy, from industry to service, or risk a tragic replay of 80 years ago."
posted by beukeboom on Feb 19, 2012 - 133 comments

The Final Alphabet

Arkitypo — Using the 26 letters of the alphabet as the starting point, the curators selected a specific typeface that began with each respective letter to develop a 3d alphabet of alphabets. After thoroughly researching the history of each letter, they set out to represent each individual character graphically with elements of its history serving as the foundation. Arkitypo: letter rotations on Vimeo.
posted by netbros on Feb 11, 2012 - 3 comments

Read twice, pass to your left.

A list of pothead novels.
posted by stinkycheese on Jan 28, 2012 - 61 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

WHAT DO WE WANT? STUFF LIKE THIS.

Critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement have complained that the protestors have no clear goals, so WE DON'T MAKE DEMANDS composed a list of 12 concrete, specific suggestions focusing on economic reform, stronger regulation, and closing loopholes.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 30, 2011 - 193 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

The Great Bank Robbery

For the American economy – and for many other developed economies – the elephant in the room is the amount of money paid to bankers over the last five years. We've seen a lot written about banks on the blue, but this piece, co-authored by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (of Black Swan fame) takes on the financial industry from a unique angle - pointing to severe problems downstream, and suggesting possible solutions.
posted by Vibrissae on Sep 6, 2011 - 62 comments

Bankster Gangs

Bankster Gangs (SLYT)
posted by tomswift on Jul 24, 2011 - 14 comments

Hang the bankers

"Let's start hanging bankers, I think that could be a solution" (slyt)
posted by 445supermag on Apr 15, 2011 - 76 comments

Banks considering capping debit card transactions

JP Morgan Chase considering limiting size of debit card transactions to $50 or $100.
posted by Netzapper on Mar 10, 2011 - 137 comments

The finance minister might as well be standing in Pompeii and saying that actually the volcano wasn’t really worth mentioning. Just a little lava!

When Irish Eyes Are Crying - an article on Irish economic woes by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair.
posted by exogenous on Feb 3, 2011 - 67 comments

And the vaults are stuffed with silver, / That the farmer sweated for.

"People in these communities may not have experienced the Great Depression first-hand, but our research suggests that the cultural consequences of suspensions, especially as they relate to trust and demoralization, have been passed along for generations." Counties with higher bank suspension rates in 1930 experienced elevated suicide rates 70 years later.
posted by orthogonality on Jan 22, 2011 - 5 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

2010: The Year in Data Breaches

Wikileaks may have been the big news, but there were numerous other data breaches in 2010. [more inside]
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed on Dec 28, 2010 - 26 comments

The skinny guy behind the The Rock guy can't seem to keep up with the moves.

The Hideous Financial Monster, by Te Waka Huia.
posted by Evilspork on Dec 22, 2010 - 13 comments

Checks Without Banks: The Irish Banking Strike

The Irish Banking Crisis: A Parable - What happened when the Irish stood up to the bankers in the 1970s? cf. Why Wall Street won't get shrunk & The Inequality That Matters [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 17, 2010 - 38 comments

"...the best form of democracy we’ll have in this process."

Are you ok with your bank playing roulette with your deposits? Yes? No? Well, today is the last day to speak up and be heard! [more inside]
posted by Hypnotic Chick on Nov 4, 2010 - 29 comments

Obama signs Wall Street reform bill

In a "Triumph of Policy Over Politics" President Obama today signed most sweeping Wall Street reform bill since Great Depression. Obamas remarks at the signing. A piece-by-piece guide to th financial overhaul law. Timeline of the laws effects. 10 Ways New Wall Street Reform Law Will Help You.
posted by Artw on Jul 21, 2010 - 141 comments

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