If Every Day is a Rainy Day, What Am I Saving For?


What’s it like grow up poor and remain poor as an adult? Samantha Irby offers an interesting perspective.

I know I should have invested in a sturdy pair of those bootstraps people who speak at graduation ceremonies are always talking about, but what does that even mean? Pay the rent, throw some cash at the phone bill, sprinkle a little change on the light bill, divide the remaining 20 bucks between the laundromat and a stock portfolio? It all seemed so unmanageable. And the years of being deprived or feeling stressed about money didn’t make me want to save; they made me want to spend, to immediately enjoy the fruits of the $7.25 an hour I made listening to people talk down to me in a customer service job.

The New York Times

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Why Are Economists Giving Inequality the Cold Shoulder?

I’ve long questioned the value of economics as a profession. Most economists focus on the quantitative rather than the lived. They are also consistently unable to explain or predict economic movements. I think the former may lead to the latter. Indeed, in this piece in the Boston Review, the author examines professional economists’ opposition to Thomas Piketty’s focus on inequality:

But perhaps the greatest rebuke of Piketty to be found among academic economics is not contained in any of these overt or veiled attacks on his scholarship and interpretation, but rather in the deafening silence that greets it, as well as inequality in general, in broad swathes of the field—even to this day. You can search through the websites of several leading economics departments or the official lists of working papers curated by federal agencies and not come across a single publication that has any obvious or even secondary bearing on the themes raised by Capital in the Twenty-First Century, even in order to oppose them. It is as though the central facts, controversies, and policy proposals that have consumed our public debate about the economy for three years are of little-to-no importance to the people who are paid and tenured to conduct a lifetime’s research into how the economy works.

Read the full article at The Boston Review

Marshall Steinbaum — Boston Review

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Ten Years after the Crisis

A decade has passed since 2007, the year sub-prime loans began to default, signalling the start of the financial crisis which shook the world within months of its beginning. Governments have changed, foreign exchange rates are back to pre-2007 era, real estate rates have stabilized, jobs are back but the banking sector is still dealing with the aftershocks and it still remains under intense public and political scrutiny.

The very memory of 2007-08 sends shivers down bankers across the globe

So, the question that remains after 10 years since world’s largest banks began to feel the tremors that would ultimately lead to their end, what exactly is the future of banking?

Today’s Needull, a recent article from The Economist, sums it up all, as it looks at the various changes triggered by this financial apocalyse, over the decade.

So have the banks at last put the crisis behind them? This special report will argue that many of them are in much better shape than they were a decade ago, but the gains are not evenly spread and have further to go. That is particularly true in Europe, where the banks’ recovery has been distinctly patchy. The STOXX Europe 600 index of bank share prices is still down by two-thirds from the peak it reached ten years ago this month. European lenders’ returns on equity average just 5.8%.

America’s banks are significantly stronger. In investment banking, they are beating European rivals hollow. They are no longer having to fork out billions in legal bills for the sins of the past, and they are at last making a better return for their shareholders. Mike Mayo, an independent bank analyst, expects their return on tangible equity soon to exceed their cost of capital (which he, like most banks, puts at 10%) for the first time since the crisis.

Full Article Here

The Economist – Patrick Lane

Original Blog: Brazen Banker

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How Rand made US selfish?

“Capitalism and altruism are incompatible….The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.”

~Ayn Rand

You might disagree to what Ayn, one of the most controversial novelist – cum -philosopher of modern times, says but you just can’t deny the power this statement holds. Ayn Rand’s philosophy has influenced not just individuals but nations and made them successful yet selfish. In today’s eye-opening Needull, we read about a clinical psychologist’s analysis of Rand’s influence on bright and young Americans, who in turn influenced US’s policy to turn it into the ‘selfish nation’ it is today.

Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Full Article Here

Raw Story – Bruce Levine

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We might not have left the time of crisis yet


Today’s needull is review of the book – Annie McClanahan’s Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture (Stanford, 2016). The crisis that happened in 2008 might not be over yet despite the positive reports in newspapers.

Following Marx’s intervention, McClanahan pulls out from her close readings of these texts a central contradiction of our time: as subjects in a time of debt, we are called upon to follow and act upon our desires and needs for shelter, sustenance, and security, but then are then turned into pariahs of unregulated desires once the moment of crisis hits. McClanahan demonstrates how, in these ideological explanations of crises, the structural level of capitalist macroeconomics always drops out. What Dead Pledges restores to our understanding of the 2007–2008 crisis is how capital accumulation depends on individuals taking out credit and debt; but explanations for the crisis have consistently misplaced the blame onto those of us who have been forced, by a declining productive sector, to turn to debt to reproduce ourselves and to survive.

The complete article

Brian Whitener — The New Inquiry

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What The Job!!!

Let’s admit, most of us are in ‘meaningless jobs’. The value that we are adding is not worth the time, effort and paycheck that it garners. Sometimes, this feeling of ‘not being valuable enough’ and the purposelessness of all of this charade catches on us but most of the times, we just follow the herd. However, it’s time we stop being forced robots and assign our meaningless work to actual robots, and have meaningful education to perform meaningful jobs.

When we’ll be able to escape this cycle of meaningless jobs will we actually uncover our true potential. It’s high time and I sincerely hope the Needull below inspires you (and me) to do the same.

It starts with an age-old question: what is the meaning of life? Most people would say the meaning of life is to make the world a little more beautiful, or nicer, or more interesting. But how? These days, our main answer to that is: through work.

Our definition of work, however, is incredibly narrow. Only the work that generates money is allowed to count toward GDP. Little wonder, then, that we have organized education around feeding as many people as possible in bite-size flexible parcels into the employment establishment. Yet what happens when a growing proportion of people deemed successful by the measure of our knowledge economy say their work is pointless?

Full Article Here

World Economic Forum – Rutger Bregman

Bonus Read: The End of Meaningless Jobs Will Unleash the World’s Creativity

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The House Always Wins

After a spate of failed investments, I have come to realize the indubitable truth, that even seasoned investors like Warren Buffet admit to, that no one can consistently and predictably beat any sufficiently large market over an extended period of time.

It just doesn’t work this way.

What you can do is to work on gaining from spillovers, manipulate certain specifics for your benefit and be wary of what analysts at CNBC or Bloomberg say. On that ironical note, today’s Needull is a Bloomberg article on why it is impossible to ‘beat the market’.

Most of us have a vague sense that we’re being ripped off by investment firms that charge hefty fees while producing results that are no better than you’d get throwing darts at a page of stock listings. It’s troubling nonetheless to find out we’re correct. And it’s important to understand the mechanics of what has gone wrong.

Full Article Here

Bloomberg – Peter Coy

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