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 -
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 -
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
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Jul 10, 2013 -
"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 -
"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 -
"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 -
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.
Money As Debt
posted by infini
on Sep 10, 2012 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Wajahat Ali, a solo practitioner from California, takes on Wells Fargo in an attempt to get his clients' home loan modified. Lots of ball dropping and passing of the buck ensues. He describes
the Kafka-esque nature of the experience.
posted by reenum
on Jun 20, 2010 -
Who would have thought it? The UK has withdrawn
the 500 Euro
note after an investigation by SOCA
discovered that 90% of the notes in circulation were linked to crime. Nicknames the ‘Bin Laden
’ (you know its out there somewhere) the purple note worth $630 is a favourite of the criminally minded due to its ultra-portability and acceptance throughout mainland Europe. Drug investigations
in Latin America time and time again turn up large amounts of currency in this form. According
to Columbian financial regulators 234K Euros was legally imported and declared into the country but trails of 600M Euros being exported were discovered. Whilst money laundering and fraud relating to the Euro is nothing
new the decision to put into circulation such a high note must now be being questioned at the highest levels.
posted by numberstation
on May 13, 2010 -
Betting Against the American Dream
. In 2005, just as Wall Street started to get cold feet about the housing market, the Magnetar
hedge fund helped create a new wave of billion-dollar mortgage-backed securities, pushed bankers to include riskier sub-prime mortgages, and then shorted the securities, making millions when the bubble finally burst. Traders on both sides of the deals pocketed enormous fees even if their banks went under when the securities failed. Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica
, This American Life
, and NPR's Planet Money
track down some of the big winners in the housing/financial crisis. No time to read or listen? It seemed so much like a scheme from The Producers
, they even recorded a show tune to explain it all
posted by straight
on Apr 15, 2010 -