If you’re elected president,” asked one guest at a 2007 hedge fund managers event for Obama, “what will you do to the taxes on the people in this room?” “I’ll raise them,” Obama fired back. The managers, who share social circles and an educational background with Obama, approved of his style. These days, however, the bloom is off the rose. In The Big Split, Alec MacGillis investigates the souring of a 20 year relationship between Democrats and high finance, and surmises that it's the administration's rhetoric more than its policy that has upset the masters of the financial universe.
Mother Jones: The 10 'Occupy' candidates vying for seats in the US House Of Representatives and Senate and their prospects.
Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs. New York Time Op-Ed. March 14th 2012:
TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.[more inside]
The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi uses a paper bag to illustrate exactly how the sub-prime mortgage scam worked, and how we're still on the hook for the next catastrophe. [more inside]
Robert Shiller wants to replace much of existing state debt by selling shares of the “earnings” of national economies, in units of 1/trillon GDP.
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."
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.
Fancy derivatives are mostly gone. Prop trading is gone. There’s less leverage everywhere. Mortgages are back to old-fashioned conservative mortgages—which is a good thing.”
The End of Wall Street As They Knew It After surprisingly successful financial reform, public vilification, and politics that have turned against them, the Masters of the Universe are masters no longer.
Best known for the (exaggerated) tales of her miserliness, Hetty Green was arguably the greatest female investor in history. During the 1907 Bankers' Panic, her loan of $1.1 million helped keep New York City solvent. Her estate - greater than that of J.P. Morgan's - was valued at more than $2 billion in today's money. [more inside]
The seven biggest economic lies with Robert Reich.
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."
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.
Andrew Lo reviews 21 books on the financial crisis. In a 41-page paper, Andrew Lo, from the MIT Sloan School of Management, does a comparative review of 21 books about the financial crisis - some from academics and some from journalists and Secretary Paulson, looking for common threads. Tyler Cowen comments.
Two months after being kicked out by the NYPD in an early morning raid, the Occupy Wall Street protestors have returned to Zucotti/Liberty Plaza to meet new regulations that make protesting all but impossible. Meanwhile, OWS is looking for an accountant and NYC councilman Ydanis Rodriguez wants to donate his 5k stipend to the protestors. Yasha Levine of The Exiled writes about his arrangement hearing after being arrested during the Occupy LA raid and Political Cartoonist and Essayist Tim Kreider releases four essays he wrote during the first occupation of Zucotti/Liberty Plaza, "What OWS Wants" "Capitalism, A Bummer" "An Open Letter To The Tea Party." and "OWS: The Morning After." [more inside]
Counterparties is a nice little collection of curated and tagged economic news stories, 5-8 every day. It is edited in part by the admirable (and MetaFave) financial journalist Felix Salmon.
Farhad Manjoo of Slate argues that buying books from Amazon is better than buying from local bookstores.
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.
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.
Sociologist Lauren Rivera of Northwestern spent two years researching the way elite financial and law firms really select their new hires. The original paper is behind a sciencedirect paywall, but Bryan Caplan has a nice write-up about the results. You're much better off with a degree from a tippy-top school than just any Ivy -- but they don't actually care about what you learned there. Your grades don't matter that much as long as they're not bad. Climbing a famous mountain or making a varsity team, especially if you're nationally competitive, would be wise. And oh yeah -- they do care what you got on your SATs. More reax from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and physicist Steve Hsu.
MF Global - once mostly a Futures Broker and more recently a budding full-service Investment Bank run by ex-Governor/ex-Senator Jon Corzine has collapsed following ratings downgrades on the back of large losses on Eurozone Sovereign Debt. Trades that Corzine himself oversaw. It will be the 8th largest Bankruptcy in US History. Much of the blame is being placed on Corzine's efforts to recreate his old firm, Goldman Sachs. He was forced out as Goldman CEO post IPO by none other than Hank Paulson - the Secretary of Treasury who oversaw the creation of TARP. [more inside]
Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress on why CBS's new show 2 Broke Girls is the closest thing we have to a 99% Movement Comedy.
How the Austerity Class Rules Washington. Tracing the origin of a political meme. (Via Paul Krugman.)
Effect of Herman Cain's proposed "9-9-9" tax reform plan on average household tax liability. Cain is leading the field of GOP Presidential candidates in polls of Iowa, South Carolina and Florida. Previously 1 2
BBC News asks independent trader Alessio Rastani "what would keep investors happy, make them feel more confident?" and gets a surprisingly honest answer: "Personally, it doesn't matter. See, I'm a trader. I don't really care about that kind of stuff. If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that. So, for most traders, we don't really care that much about how they're going to fix the economy, about how they're going to fix the whole situation; our job is to make money from it. And, personally, I've been dreaming of this moment for three years. I have a confession which is I go to bed every night and dream of another recession, I dream of another moment like this." [SLYT]
"It is this failure of political will both in the EU and US which is starting to make the contemporary economic scene resemble that of the 1930s. " The Eurozone and the US are heading into a bad economic decade, argues John Lanchester (wiki). [more inside]
The Guardian has launched what they term "Bankers: An Anthropological Study." One of their first discoveries? People really hate bankers. Daniel Davies - Left of Center Finance Guy, Twitterer, and Crooked Timber Blogger attempts a defense. "But who's the real criminal? Its me, isn't it?"
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]
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]
White House economic policy largely originates with The Council of Economic Advisers, CEA, who directly advise the President of the United States. CEA research and publish the annual Economic Report of the President[ .pdf ], which details the state of the nation's economic health. Today President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Princeton Economist Alan Krueger as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, who previously held the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy, has written on a wide range of topics, from the economics of rock music [ .pdf ], the causes of terrorism [ .pdf ] and American's changing work / life balance. But Krueger is best known as a labor economist who has extensively researched long term unemployment. [more inside]
Realtors in Cars is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these agencies got their realtors wedged into their cars, or why.
Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? "A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals."
Roubini warns of global recession risk. In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, Economist Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics warns that the risk of a global recession is higher than 50%, suggests investing in cash, blames George Bush for the United States' economic predicament, advocates higher taxes, warns of a possible break-up of the European monetary union and states that "Karl Marx was right". [more inside]
Has the Higher Education Bubble Popped? According to the CSM, the boom in demand for bankers, barristers, and bureaucrats is over.
In an investment manager's view on the top 1% - referring to the richest Americans by wealth and income - we learn that one needs $1.2 million in net worth to barely slip in the door of the top 1%. But that's just a start: the real power and influence in the U.S., the author argues, resides in the top 0.1%. You can guess who you'll find there: bankers and large-cap CEOs. Relevant quotes include... [more inside]
Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs is storing aluminum in several warehouses outside Detroit. Apparently not much aluminum is actually leaving the warehouses. This may help explain the recent spike in the price of - any guesses? - aluminum. [more inside]
"Any industry would be proud of an average annual growth rate of 34% over ten years and of a global reach from Austria to Taiwan. But the headlong expansion of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which by May this year controlled almost $1.5 trillion of assets (not far short of the $2 trillion in hedge funds), has become a matter for concern among financial regulators. Could ETFs be the next source of financial scandal, or even of systemic risk?" Characterizing the Financial sector "like a hyperactive child" that "can never leave a good thing be", The Economist appears to be wishing for the ETFs to be better regulated because "it would be a shame if reckless expansion spoiled a good innovation".
When athletes are in financial trouble, they often go to high end pawn shops to get money.
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]
The Higher Education (Debt) Bubble - "[H]igh and increasing college costs mean students need to take out more loans, more loans mean more securities lenders can package and sell, more selling means lenders can offer more loans with the capital they raise, which means colleges can continue to raise costs. The result is over $800 billion in outstanding student debt, over 30 percent of it securitized, and the federal government directly or indirectly on the hook for almost all of it. If this sounds familiar, it probably should... [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]
"..the time it takes light to propagate between [stock] exchanges, for example between New York and London, is now a limiting factor in [financial] trading.. enabling traders to buy low and sell high [ahead of others].." [more inside]
New York State Congressman Anthony Weiner (D) did an IAMA (I Am A Democrat Who Fights) Q and A on reddit last week. While he answered many questions, he responded to the top five most popular questions questions in video form. [more inside]
"The plan was money. The architect was money. The designer was money and the builder was money. And if you ever wondered what money would look like if it were left to its own devices, it's Dubai."
"People have always thought of tax havens as sideshows to the main event, whereas in fact they are central to the global economy". . . Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World [more inside]
In his Oscar acceptance speech, documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson reminded viewers worldwide that "not a single financial executive has gone to jail" for the fraud that created the 2008 financial meltdown. His film Inside Job (on Netflix DVD) explains, among other things, that the crisis was avoidable. See also the Inside Job trailer and a subsequent followup video in which Ferguson says that many sources "mysteriously backed out" before being filmed. He also spoke at MIT in January.
"The World", an ambitious real estate project conceived at the height of the real estate boom, is sinking back into the sea.