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Thursday, Jul 31st

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Should More Bankers Be in Prison?

Prison

The financial crisis had many causes—too much borrowing, foolish investments, misguided regulation—but at its core, the panic resulted from a lack of transparency. The reason no one wanted to lend to or trade with the banks during the fall of 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, was that no one could understand the banks’ risks. It was impossible to tell, from looking at a particular bank’s disclosures, whether it might suddenly implode.

For the past four years, the nation’s political leaders and bankers have made enormous—in some cases unprecedented—efforts to save the financial industry, clean up the banks, and reform regulation in order to restore trust and confidence in the American financial system. This hasn’t worked. Banks today are bigger and more opaque than ever, and they continue to behave in many of the same ways they did before the crash.

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Payback! Hundreds of Homeowners Associations Threaten Banks with Foreclosure

Homeowners foreclose on banksIt’s payback time—literally. In Florida, hundreds of homeowner and neighborhood associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to upkeep their repossessed properties, according to—of all things— a CNN money report.

Florida is one of the states hardest hit by foreclosures, and there are nearly a half-million foreclosed houses now standing vacant and often slowly deteriorating. When a bank forecloses on a house, evicts the family and then repossesses the property, it also assumes responsibility for maintaining the home and yard and paying homeowner or condo association fees.

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The 12 biggest companies paying workers the least

WalmartThe gap between rich and poor is well illustrated by the large multibillion-dollar corporations employing thousands of low-wage workers. With the Great Recession over, not only are many of the companies posting record profits, but executive pay remains extremely high.

Meantime, the federal minimum wage earned by many workers at those companies is worth 30% less than it was in 1968 in purchasing power, according to a 2012 report from the National Employment Law Project.

Two-thirds of low-wage workers — those paid less than $10 an hour — are employed by large corporations with at least 100 employees, NELP says.

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As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price

Corporate tax dealsA Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

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Fuller picture of poverty: 49.7M poor people in US

Popverty in USA different way of calculating America's poor by taking into account medical costs and work-related expenses finds a higher total than the government's official count.

This measure is aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty. It found there are 49.7 million poor people in the country - or 16.1 percent of the population. That compares with the 46.2 million, or 15 percent, as reported in September in the Census Bureau's official count.

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China's economy to overtake US in next four years, says OECD

Chinese economyChina will overtake the US in the next four years to become the largest economy in the world, says a leading international thinktank.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said China's economy will be larger than the combined economies of the eurozone countries by the end of this year, and will overtake the US by the end of 2016.

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Standard & Poor's misled investors - Australian court

Standard & PoorAustralia's Federal Court has ruled that credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) misled investors before the global financial crisis.
S&P gave its safest credit rating, AAA, to complex and risky securities, which later lost most of their value.

In what is regarded as a landmark ruling, the court ordered S&P and the bank which arranged the product, ABN Amro, to pay damages to investors.

S&P said it planned to appeal against the decision.

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