Posts tagged money
Posts tagged money
Reuters report from last month on why it’s become extremely difficult to purchase plane tickets in Venezuela to foreign countries:
After a decade of currency controls set up by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez in 2003, the disparity between the official and black-market rates for the local bolivar currency is higher than ever. Greenbacks now sell on the illegal market at about seven times the government price of 6.3 to the dollar.
There are strict limits on the availability of dollars at the 6.3 rate, but Venezuelans are cashing in on a special currency provision for travelers. With a valid airline ticket, Venezuelans may exchange up to $3,000 at the government rate.
Some are not even flying, leaving many planes half empty.
So it’s possible to buy a plane ticket, use that as permission to exchange local currency to U.S. dollars, and then immediately flip those dollars on the black market, turning a profit large enough to pay for the plane ticket and then some.
Monetary policy is hard.
Hilarious thing that some members of the Richmond, California, city council are trying to do, as reported by Robert Rogers for the Contra Costa Times:
Reeling from foreclosures and with the city saying 51 percent of its residents owe more than their homes are worth, Richmond voted in April to enter a tentative agreement with [Mortgage Resolution Partners] to explore the unprecedented plan of using eminent domain to seize mortgages and refinance them at current market rates. The city has sent out a letter threatening to invoke eminent domain if security trusts for more than 620 delinquent and performing underwater mortgages reject offers made by the city to buy the loans at deep discounts pegged to the properties’ current appraised prices.
That’s right: they’re trying to use eminent domain, usually used to seize private property for some public use, to seize mortgages worth more than the values of the homes (“underwater mortgages”) in order to refinance them for the homeowners. This is amazing.
This article is about how some banks filed suits to stop this, and how the judge said it was premature because Richmond hasn’t actually done this yet.
Rebecca Greenfield writing for The Atlantic Wire:
The case of the unpaid American intern just got upended — again, and maybe for good: Just a month after one judge dismissed the class-action suit filed by free New York City media interns at Hearst Magazines, another has now granted the Hollywood coffee-fetchers who worked on Black Swan a precedent-setting win, ruling that the two production interns “worked as paid employees” and that Fox Searchlight should have to pay them as such. It’s a pivotal decision, says the attorney for the two young men who worked on the Oscar-winning film: “This is the first time a judge has held that interns as we know them today are employees entitled to wages and protections,” the lawyer, Juno Turner, told The Atlantic Wire in a phone interview Wednesday.
Indeed, it’s the first time a major U.S. court has ruled that zero dollars for legitimate work does not a legal unpaid internship make.
Greenfield goes on to explain and quote the judge’s ruling, which you should check out. The judge set precedent by applying a six point standard codified by the Department of Labor. So this ruling doesn’t ban unpaid internships entirely, but just ones that don’t meet the six criteria. That could still be a huge chunk of them, though.
Jordan Weissman, also of The Atlantic, has a little more on the ruling, including that a federal court judge in 2011 ruled the same Department of Labor test as too rigid.
You probably remember from May of last year the Tropes versus Women in Videogames campaign launched on Kickstarter by Feminist Frequency. A few weeks into funding, controversy erupted overnight at the mere thought that such a project might exist, amidst which a small group of fellows decided to organize a Tropes versus Men in Videogames campaign on Indiegogo in June by way of a retort.
While I didn’t back Tropes vs Women in Video Games on Kickstarter, I had been following the project on its way to the release of the first video earlier this month. I hadn’t heard a single thing about this protest campaign, though, which I guess is not surprising because they only raised about $3,000.
It took eight months from the end of the Kickstarter campaign for Anita Sarkeesian to release the first Tropes video, so a common complaint among project detractors was that it was a scam. This makes it patently hilarious that it’s the Tropes vs Men organizer(s?) who appear to have taken the money and ran. Read on about Gameranx’s research into where the money went.
Yesterday’s episode of 60 Minutes had a segment on a government study due to be released today on the United States credit score system. It is apparently not very good:
A new government study to be released tomorrow indicates as many as 40 million Americans have a mistake on their credit report. Twenty million have significant mistakes.
… the reliability of the industry is being questioned in an 8-year Federal Trade Commission study to be released tomorrow. Jon Leibowitz is the chairman.
Jon Leibowitz: Here’s what we found. Some pretty troubling information. One out of five Americans has an error on their credit report. And one out of 10 has an error on their credit report that might lower their credit score.
Before the episode even aired, the Consumer Data Industry Organization, a trade group that represents the three major credit bureaus in the United States, released a statement disputing the promo for the segment:
"The promotion released yesterday for a ‘60 Minutes’ story airing this coming Sunday, February 10, demonstrates that ‘60 Minutes’ has selectively interpreted an upcoming Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study to ignore the most significant results," stated Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) president and CEO Stuart Pratt. "The FTC study shows that 98% of credit reports are materially accurate, a fact it appears ‘60 Minutes’ is set to ignore."
"It is irresponsible for ‘60 Minutes’ to be reporting the findings of the study in this manner. The FTC’s study concludes that only 2.2 percent of credit reports have an error that would lead to higher-priced credit for the consumer. It is simply wrong to suggest that 21 percent have errors that would lead to this consequence," stated Pratt.
The CDIA statement only gives percentages, so there’s no way to tell from it how many credit reports the 2.2% figure actually means. The 60 Minutes segment says that there are “200 million Americans” kept on file, so 2.2% of that would mean that 4.4 million people have an “error that would lead to higher-priced credit.” Even the CDIA’s numbers don’t sound all that great to me.
David Dishneau of the AP on what one woman would do:
Chicago billing clerk Stephany Harris, 53, didn’t miss a beat.
"Of course I would," she said. "If the armored car had been in an accident of something, I’d make sure the drivers were OK and I’d call 911. But I’d put as much money in my pockets (as I could) and run."
But what if her kids were there? “I absolutely would not take any money,” she answered again without hesitation. “I wouldn’t want them to get the message that grabbing money that is not yours is the right thing to do.”
Well at least she’s honest (note that this is not in any way a consolation).
Here’s a photo by Thomas Peter for Reuters of a delicious new German bakery treat. MSNBC’s PhotoBlog’s caption:
Money concealed in pastries that the German customs agency Zoll seized during an anti-money laundering operation, is displayed before the agency’s annual statistics news conference at the finance ministry in Berlin on Friday.
Colin: Pretty sure I’m reading this right? What Would Happen if an Asteroid Hit U.S. banks?
Colin: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/23/us-financial-stress-idUSTRE7AM2NE20111123 apparently the full article
'Ili: “People would probably die.”
Colin: It actually has nothing to do with asteroids!
Colin: It’s just about another hypothetical banking crisis.
'Ili: That's probably a good thing, since I just realized the title says what would happen if an asteroid (singular) hit U.S. banks (plural).
'Ili: Can you imagine the size of that thing.
Colin: “well actually it was pretty small it hit a citibank and wells fargo across the street from each other about 30 miles outside of tulsa”
'Ili: ::skipped off the roof of one and onto the other::
'Ili: Now I'm imagining a BANKING CRISIS pinball table.
'Ili: ::all tellers lit up::
'Ili: ::”RUN ON THE BANK” scrolls across screen::
'Ili: ::30 second bonus round::
Colin: AHAHHAAH yeesssss
Colin: This needs to happen.
Colin: Multiball = credit default swap
Andy Rooney starting on the national debt before his train of thought derails, tumbles through the desert, and then somehow rerails.
Peter Svensson of the AP on the slow move toward EMV credit card technology (probably more commonly known as chip and PIN) in the U.S.:
The U.S.’s status as a holdout has also started to cause problems for travelers. While most European stores and restaurants still accept magnetic-stripe cards, Americans are finding that their credit cards don’t work in European automated kiosks, like the ones that sell tickets for the Paris Metro. Some U.S. banks, like Wells Fargo, have started issuing smart cards to customers who travel abroad.
Next year, Visa will start dangling this carrot in front of store owners: If they replace most of their terminals with ones that accept smart cards, they will no longer need to have their payment-system security checked every year. U.S. stores spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year for these audits, according to the NRF.
In an even more momentous shift, in 2015 Visa is shifting the liability for a certain kind of fraud from the banks to stores.
EMV is definitely not perfect either, and there have been a few successful attacks demonstrated in the U.K., but it is certainly more secure than what we have now.