"Perhaps it's time for acceptance: Yes, the banks have used our weakness against us, and they have won." —This story, ostensibly about the insane proliferation of bank branches around New York City, turns out to be about quite a bit more.
Anyone holding Bitcoins—or pretty much any cryptocurrency, really—has taken a substantial hit in the last few months, with the exchange rate of dollars to Bitcoins dropping from a high of around $1200 last November to around $550 today. But it's possible that those whose Bitcoins were parked at the long-troubled Mt. Gox exchange have suffered a near-wipeout, or even a total one, in what may have been the catastrophic theft of some 744,000 Bitcoin from that exchange.
Mt. Gox was the first big Bitcoin exchange; as such it attracted the most attention, the most traffic, and the most trouble. It was hacked repeatedly because, at one time, it was [...]
What a fascinating time. When you start staring at our government and its economy, you can start to feel an urge to put together a Carrie Mathison-style wall chart. Because on some level, it all starts to seem like it fits together, doesn't it?
• Here is an "explainer" about What The Federal Reserve Does. Spoiler: what the Fed has done for the last several years is literally give money for free to banks every day. Banks use that borrowed money to make money, including, even, sometimes, by loaning that money to customers. Exciting policy, am I right? "The campaign that gets all the publicity is called quantitative [...]
As you may have seen on Twitter yesterday, Burger King was either sold to McDonald's or taken over by crazy people. Both would be an improvement, as Burger King has a reputation as "the fast food that even fast-food lovers don't like at all." There has always been something off about this hamburger franchise business, especially the marketing. That's why cynical people looked at the supposed hacking of @BurgerKing and figured it was just another desperate try to get anyone to care about the perennial No. 2 hamburger brand.
In all the pretend cultural battles between the East Coast and the West Coast, Dunkin' Donuts occupies a special spot. Eastern Seaboard people are constantly in the Dunkin' Donuts shops, eating bizarre lard-based concoctions such as the beloved "New Hampshire Turkey Snausage Cheese-Steak On a Heat-Pressed Chocolate-glazed White-Bread Sodium Bagel." It's the kind of food that makes Taco Bell look healthy in comparison. It's food for cops and the huge bellies they've earned from 25 years on the beat, taking crap from you people who don't show no respect for nothin', and eating in their patrol cars while listening to classic rock.
Decades of often awkward interaction with America's "print media" professionals has proven (to me) that writers who talk about their medium are bores, and also bad writers. This goes for the people who type up rules for "curating" the Internet and the people who propose "best practices" for typing bullshit on Twitter, but it's the newspaper person who is most guilty of being terrible all the time. Often applying the term "ink-stained wretch" or "scribe" to himself—and it is always a "him"—the newspaperman looks back on his career (which started when personal computers were already in every grade-school library) and sees not the stories covered or drunken camaraderie of the [...]
"Trillions of dollars worth of stock certificates and other paper securities that were stored in a vault in lower Manhattan may have suffered water damage from Superstorm Sandy. The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., an industry-run clearing house for Wall Street, said the contents of its vault 'are likely damaged.'" —And here you are worried about people having food and water and electricity.
In which we re-answer questions sent to The Ethicist.
I know of someone who has lived mortgage-free for three years while the bank foreclosed on his apartment. During that time, the man paid his monthly maintenance to the building but did not pay his mortgage. His rationale: He had been in the furniture business and lost much of his income with the financial crisis, and not one of the bankers responsible for the meltdown has gone to jail. And furthermore, as a result, his apartment was worth less than he paid for it. Does any of that matter? Is strategic loan default ethical? NAME WITHHELD
You're a nosy [...]
"If you want to live in a more equal community, it might mean living in a more moribund economy."
Five years ago, the economy nearly collapsed — and no one felt the impact more than Hank Paulson | http://t.co/l8ykzoDnOJ
— Businessweek (@BW) September 12, 2013
Bloomberg Businessweek goes huge today, observing, give or take, a peg for the five-year anniversary of the "financial crisis." Oh mercy. What a tweet that is. Here is when we make a hero of Hank Paulson, the man who ping-ponged from the Pentagon to the Nixon White House to Goldman Sachs to the oversee the actual death of business as we knew it, with a in his own words biography. Which is fascinating, to be sure! It avoids the trouble [...]
"For the full year of 2012, digital advertising revenues increased 0.2 percent to $214.8 million from $214.5 million in 2011. Excluding the additional week [in 2012], estimated digital advertising revenues decreased 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 1.9 percent for the full year of 2012." —The New York Times Company released its 2012 results this morning, if you like that kind of thing. Lots of fun stuff, like the $4.5 million cost for a "retirement and consulting agreement" for departed CEO Janet Robinson. How do you like your buyouts now, staffers?
Here is a disgusting fact you probably don't think enough about, unless you're Michael Bloomberg resting between other public tragedies such as climate change and the slaughter of children: The primary source of calories for Americans is "caloric beverages." Meaning, on top of all the repulsive processed food and industrial fat-meat Americans eat around the clock, corn-syrup drinks provide the largest percentage of calories per American.
Coca-Cola, which adds corn syrup to water at factories around the world, is finally spending your money to buy commercials on the cable-news channels to tell you about this problem.
"Today, we'd like people to come together on something that concerns all [...]
There's a whole bunch of ways to read now, and we'd like you to indulge in all of them, as you wish, even in the ways that don't particularly help us publish writing. One thing we've often heard from folks is that they would like a quiet thing to sit down with for reading—away from the laptop and the desktop, away from the IMs and Twitter and email and noise.
With the help of 29th Street Publishing, we've made The Weekend Companion. It's a weekly Awl magazine, and it comes out every Friday, for iPhone and iPad, through Apple's Newsstand. Each issue has just five or [...]
Have you been out of the workplace for two or more years? Perhaps because you were laid off by a financial service company, such as Goldman Sachs, who had repeated layoffs of thousands of employees, for a bit of free—and, with the exception of one harrowing quarter, unnecessary—cash to have handy in the recent financial crisis? Good news! The Goldman Sachs Returnship® Program (yes) is offering ten-week paid internships for people just like you, those were cast out of the workplace as dead weight to appease the bottom line (sorry, who took an "extended career break"). Goldman Sachs is "committed to help facilitate the on-ramping process"! Some of these [...]
Here's a look at how six great independent bookstores make it in the big city, which is actually a question I have always wanted answered. The Park Slope Community Bookstore has done it in part by catering to Park Slope's child-related needs, which seems obvious; BookCourt did it by buying their building and, eventually, the building next door. PowerHouse Arena, as anyone who goes to things knows, does it by tirelessly having things to go to (and lots and lots of space rental). The lovely Greenlight books did it through canny investment and fundraising and by being a bookstore where a bookstore was needed. And Sarah McNally of McNally [...]
Today, one Countrywide exec was named as actively perpetrating fraud, and current owner Bank of America was mildly fined. It begins! Or… maybe it ends.
In case you missed this last night on "All In With Chris Hayes," and you possibly did… Alexis Goldstein totally WENT OFF on JP Morgan and Wall Street and it was delightful. (Also it was set up with the best Alex Pareene clip, which is wonderful.) The poor banker dude tried to get in that like "Oh if we prosecute bankers then the banks won't loan!" Which is hilarious, since… the banks really did give up on a lot of loaning—not just in [...]
I didn't know what I would get paid to write this article. I didn't ask. It doesn't matter. It won't make a tangible dent in paying the rent on my apartment in Brooklyn, or, for that matter, rent on an apartment in any other city. By the time I finish the research, the interviews, the writing, and the editing, whatever small sum—$30, $125, $200—this site pays me will pale in comparison to the effort. It's not "worth it" in a traditional monetary sense. I'm doing it for exposure (maybe hire me?), because I'm interested in the topic, and because it's immediately relevant to my so-called career as a [...]
"Is it any wonder that virtually all Wall Street 'professionals' are habituated sociopaths who lie for a living just to skim a few pennies (metaphorically speaking: make that millions of "other people's" dollars in the real world). And is it any wonder that all banks demand their inner workings never see the light of day so they can operate in absolute secrecy, and exchanges like the above, and 22 more, are never read by the public." —Would you like to be a fixed income trader? Well, that era is ending, but it was a good grift. (via)
Do you remember where you were when MySpace lost its spot as the top social network? Where were you when Plastic died? There are early signs today that Facebook, used by many and loved by few, is beginning its inevitable decline. In Britain, where the drunken populace spends an inordinate amount of time staring at their phones, Facebook lost 600,000 users last month. That's not quite 2% of the U.K. user base, but it's also the opposite of "growth."
The data chimes with speculation that Facebook is reaching saturation point among the web user population in its core markets, and that continued growth is increasingly dependent on the [...]
Congratulations, everybody: Black Friday retail sales topped a billion dollars, which means everybody is rich and happy again. Whether shopping from a laptop in bed with a variety of empty bottles and pie crumbs or "at the actual store" with your fellow shoppers in their sweatpants, you helped make America great again.
How much greater? How about 26% better than Black Friday 2011! That is just a phenomenal amount of spending, for a phenomenal amount of consumer goods, electronics, gifts, and whatever else people buy. Pretty much everything is a Black Friday sales item in 2012. Cars? Oh hell yeah, go buy a car on Black [...]