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Showing posts from May 21, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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May school lunch cut ‘would hit 900,000 children of struggling families’

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[How is she hoping to stay elected? The move could undermine key Tory target of helping families ‘just about managing’, as concerns grow over social care pledge. *RON*]
Michael Savage, The Guardian, 21 May 2017

About 900,000 children from struggling families will lose their right to free school lunches under a cut unveiled in the Conservative manifesto.

The total includes more than 600,000 young children recently defined as coming from “ordinary working families”, according to analysis for the Observer by the Education Policy Institute.

It means that the surprise measure risks undermining Theresa May’s pledge to prioritise families that are “just about managing” – those who are in work but struggling to make ends meet.

May opted to end universal free school lunches for infants, introduced under the coalition government, and replace them with free breakfasts. The money saved will be used to see off a looming Tory rebellion over school funding.

The mov…

A famous venture capitalist predicts big banks will fall first to artificial intelligence

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[He was the former Google China CEO. "I don’t trade with humans anymore," Lee tells Quartz. *RON*]
Dave Gershgorn, Quartz, 16 May 2017
Wall Street will be one of the first and largest industries to be automated by artificial intelligence, predicts Kai-Fu Lee, China’s most famous venture capitalist and former Microsoft and Google executive. Lenders, money managers, and analysts—any jobs that involve crunching numbers to estimate a return—are at risk.

“Banks have the curse of the baggage they have, like Kodak letting go of film,” Lee says. “Their DNA is all wrong.”

Lee’s VC firm, Sinovation Ventures, has started to invest in this space by financing Smart Finance Group, a company which algorithmically determines eligibility for payday loans. Lee expects the company’s algorithms to pay out 30 million loans this year, giving the company scale that would never have been achievable when hiring humans to do the same job. That core technology woul…

'This is death to the family': Japan's fertility crisis is creating economic and social woes never seen before

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[Big demographic woes, and consequent social troubles, for Japan. *RON*]

Chris Weller, Business Insider, 20 May 2017

It's midnight in Tokyo and Takehiro Onuki has just left the office, 16 hours after his shift began.

Onuki, a 31-year-old salesman, is headed to the train station to catch the 12:24 a.m. train, the last one of the night, back to his home in Yokohama. The train will quickly fill up with other professional working men.

At about 1:30 a.m., after having made a pit stop at a convenience store to grab a sandwich, Onuki arrives home. When he opens the bedroom door, he accidentally wakes his wife, Yoshiko, who just recently fell asleep after working an 11-hour day. She chides him for making too much noise and he apologizes.

Then, with his food still digesting and his alarm set for 7 a.m., he creeps into bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Over the past two decades, stories like the Onukis' have become commonplace in Japan. Youn…

The New Normal: Demand, Secular Stagnation and the Vanishing Middle-Class

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[Discusses twin diseases stymieing the US middle-class -- secular stagnation and the polarisation of jobs and incomes -- and potential policy cures. *RON*]
Servaas Storm, Naked Capitalism, posted by Jerri-Lynn Scofield21 May 2017

By Servaas Storm, Senior Lecturer at Delft University of Technology, who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 deeply scarred the U.S. economy, bringing nine dire years of economic stagnation, high and rising inequalities in income and wealth, steep levels of indebtedness, and mounting uncertainty about jobs and incomes. Big parts of the U.S. were hit by elevated rates of depression, drug addiction and ‘deaths of despair’ (Case and Deaton 2017), as ‘good jobs’ (often in factories and including pens…

Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt

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["I don't see how anyone wins from this system other than the collection industry." Student loan defaults are a bonanza for the debt collection industry. See also: Student Debt’s Grip on the Economy. Student loans are being described as a bubble, and they are right up there with mortgages, automobiles and credit cards, in the trillion dollar range in the US. And, de Vos is pushing to have student loan forgiveness banned. *RON*]
Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg, 19 May 2017
The federal government has, in recent years, paid debt collectors close to $1 billion annually to help distressed borrowers climb out of default and scrounge up regular monthly payments. New government figures suggest much of that money may have been wasted.

Nearly half of defaulted student-loan borrowers who worked with debt collectors to return to good standing on their loans defaulted again within three years, according to an analysis by the Consumer Financial Pro…