In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
A New Look At China's Cultural Revolution - "Historian Frank Dikötter says newly opened archives offer fresh details about the chaos China experienced in the 1960s, when Chairman Mao urged students to take to the streets." [more inside]
After leading with a cover story criticizing Xi Jinping (otoh) The Economist has been censored in China; Time too and now Medium. [more inside]
an introduction to fiat money (pdf) by Steve Randy Waldman:* - "Self-reinforcing bootstrap dynamics hold as strongly for a king's token as it would for any other thing, but much more stably so, since the king can reinforce and assure the stability of his token so long as he retains the political capacity to coerce or persuade payment of tax." (via) [more inside]
In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears - "Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic." [more inside]
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
The Future of (Post)Capitalism - "Paul Mason shows how, from the ashes of the recent financial crisis, we have the chance to create a more socially just and sustainable global economy." (previously; via) [more inside]
Adam Davidson,The V.C.s of B.C.
Through a series of incredibly unlikely events, archaeologists have uncovered the comprehensive written archive of a few hundred traders who left their hometown Assur, in what is now Iraq, to set up importing businesses in Kanesh, which sat roughly at the center of present-day Turkey and functioned as the hub of a massive global trading system that stretched from Central Asia to Europe. Kanesh’s traders sent letters back and forth with their business partners, carefully written on clay tablets and stored at home in special vaults. Tens of thousands of these records remain. One economist recently told me that he would love to have as much candid information about businesses today as we have about the dealings — and in particular, about the trading practices — of this 4,000-year-old community.[more inside]
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]
China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour: "The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code." [more inside]
Youtube user dotflist has a playlist collecting classic TV themes and openings ....except something seems to be slightly off
The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution - "Unregulated banking with access to government guarantees is an enticing business model. It offers the profits of excessive risk-taking in good times, and allows passing on the inevitable losses to taxpayers in bad times." [more inside]
Continuing the exposure of how "being poor is expensive," the Washington Post takes a look at rent-to-own purchases in its article, Rental America: Why the poor pay $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa. [more inside]
VC for the people - "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
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]
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity 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]
Banks usually reserve the right to change the rules or rates for credit cards they issue at any time, and the only notice given is buried in a long legal document. Russian Dmitry Argarkov turned this on its head: After he received a junk-mail credit card offer, he modified the document to include terms ridiculously in his favor and sent it back. The bank signed and certified it without looking at it, and sent him a credit card. [more inside]
This week, retailers in 40 states will be allowed to charge fees for the use of Visa or Mastercard credit cards. Know Your Card. While large chains may avoid the new surcharge, it could be up to 4%. This is part of a settlement reached last summer in an anti-trust lawsuit against Visa, Mastercard, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, among others. There are 10 states where surcharging is illegal, but in many of them merchants may offer a discount for using cash.
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.
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]
Start Your Own Currency - "In the Catalonia region of Spain, a restaurant and a community garden are part of an experiment in alternative cash--they are accepting a home-grown currency called the Eco as well as the Euro." [viz. gated article (Google link), cf. The Wörgl Experiment]
The CARD Act of 2009, which has been much lauded for providing consumer protection hurts stay-at-home moms (and dad's). "This decision was meant to keep college students from going into credit card debt they could not afford to pay off but it also has the consequence of disenfranchising stay-at-home parents, 88% of whom are women. [...] In the worst case scenario, the Federal Reserve’s decision will play a role in financial abuse. Financial abuse is a factor in 98% of abusive relationships." 30,000 signatures have been delivered to the Financial Protection Bureu in Washington DC with "some petitioners dressed up as housewives from the 1950s -- complete with A-line skirts, pearls and tightly pulled back hair -- since the rule "feels like a flashback to the 1950s because of the way women aren't empowered financially."
"In other words, credit has become America’s welfare policy," says Sheldon Garon, Princeton University professor and author of Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves. The US savings rate currently = 3.8%, while the Euro Area savings rate = 13.7%[pdf]. [more inside]
On the 6th of December 2011, as has been traditional for the past 9 decades since Finland's Independence, the President, Tarja Halonen and her spouse, Dr Pentti Arajarvi host what is known as the Linnan juhlat or Castle Ball, an extremely popular televised reception for the notables of the nation. Along with the usual dignitaries, the President is also permitted to select invitees based on merit - entertainers, athletes, individuals - whom she feels have been in the news in the past year. This year Peter and Teija Vesterbacka also were invited due to Peter Vesterbacka's work as the CMO of Rovio. Teija Vesterbacka wore a red dress for the evening that had design concepts from one of the birds in the mobile game Angry Birds. Highlighted in the Finnish news by the very select group of photographers permitted entry to this exclusive event, it was when the photograph of this dress went viral among global MSM that the angry birds began to fly.
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
If you want to take a relation of violent extortion, sheer power, and turn it into something moral, and most of all, make it seem like the victims are to blame, you turn it into a relation of debt. Naked Capitalism talks to David Graeber about his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Previously. And more generally. Bonus Graeber classic: "Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You!" [more inside]
Since 2005, it has been nearly impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. HR 2028 and S.1102 aim to make private student loans again dischargeable in bankruptcy. [more inside]
The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
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]
Paul Copansky, a.k.a. Paul from the Diamond Center, reminisces about Ed "Hi Kids!" Barbara, Steven "Top of the Hill Daly City" Matthew David, and Harvard E. "Pete" Palmer, Jr., the adman who put these characters on the San Francisco/Bay Area's UHF band in the 1970's and 1980's. [more inside]
How panhandlers use free credit cards-"What would happen if, instead of spare change, you handed a person in need the means to shop for whatever they needed? What would they buy?"
Popular Unrest is a multi-episode drama by Melanie Gilligan (of Crisis in the Credit System) set in a future much like the present. Here, however, all exchange transactions and social interactions are overseen by a system called ‘the Spirit’. A rash of unexplained killings have broken out across the globe. They often take place in public but witnesses never see an assailant. Just as mysteriously, groups of unrelated people are suddenly coming together everywhere, amassing new members rapidly. Unaccountably, they feel a deep and persistent sense of connection to one another. (via)
"I Stopped Denying People." Former Bank of America employee Jackie Ramos appears on the Daily Show last night in a segment covering the sweeping credit card reform the went into effect last week.
Basicland vs. Sorrowland
A parable about how one nation came to financial ruin by Charles Munger. For extra colour there's... [more inside]
A parable about how one nation came to financial ruin by Charles Munger. For extra colour there's... [more inside]
"...for the scientific community, the most critical organ of the incentive system is the cycle of credit."
Just how credible is Wikipedia? While some have tested this empirically, others have chosen more dubious methodology. For a site that gives no credit to its post authors, one wonders, why even bother?
Debt: The first five thousand years. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber (previously) writes about "debt and debt money in human history" in Eurozine. Lots of thought-provoking stuff here; I'll put a sample in the extended description. (Via wood s lot.) [more inside]
The commercials are all over television — and they certainly are attention-grabbing. They’re the ones where the heavy, bald guy is sitting in his easy chair talking in a squeaky female voice about all the clothes he bought — including a bustier. Or the little old lady speaking with the gruff voice of a younger man about the sweet motorcycle she now owned. Identity theft is a serious crime — one that is occurring with an alarming frequency. The Identity Theft Manifesto explains how criminals get your personal info, and what you can do about it.
"In fact, while transactional credit provision is a perfectly good business, it might be reasonable for the state to offer basic transactional credit as a public good." Blogger Steve Randy Waldman has an idea that's so crazy it might work. He buried it in a nice wonky, obscure post about transactional and revolving credit, but now has been linked by Ezra Klein at his new WaPo blog. Will Metafilter heads explode?
The High Cost of Poverty : The Washington Post explores why the cost of living is proportionately higher in poor areas. Double Jeopardy: Why the Poor Pay More (pdf): a report on payday loans, the cost of homeownership, medical debt, and banking in poor communities.
Where did all the money go? is just one of the enties to GOOD's financial crisis infographic competition. [more inside]
The Compleat ÜberNerd: a fascinating series of blog entries detailing the nitty-gritty behind the mortgage industry by Calculated Risk's "Tanta." If you're curious about automated underwriting systems or the ins and outs of mortgage servicing or if you just enjoy some Mortgage Pig Excel art, Tanta was the blogger for you. Tanta, otherwise known as Doris Dungey, passed away on Sunday morning (NYT obit, CR obit).
Have we jumped over all the hurdles in our ongoing economic fiasco? Probably not, the next hurdle is Credit Cards. [more inside]
You know those exploitative 0% APR offers from the credit card companies? With careful work, some brave souls cash them out as interest free loans and invest it in high yield accounts -- but its not for the faint of heart, especially with the economic downturn.
Icelandic internet bank Icesave has closed its doors. The Icelandic government has told the UK chancellor that it cannot pay back the money of UK depositors. [more inside]
Paulson: Foreign Banks Can Use US Rescue Plan. Treasury Fact Sheet, "broader eligibility" if Paulson decides. Pressure builds at Morgan, Goldman. You Decide (kinda), probably no one listens.
How to Lawfully Reset Your Credit History. A fascinating true story of how Max successfully deleted thousands of dollars of debt from his credit history. The follow-up, Why Max Won, has some interesting insight into removing emotion from the credit equation. (Previous Make Your Nut appearances on MetaFilter here and here.)
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