Why the Rich Have Too Much of The Economic Pie

How much of the pie do the rich have? The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explains with real pies.

Posters for the Economic Recession

NPR’s Planet Money put together a series of minimalist economic posters. Here’s one, but you should check out the rest.

Census Shows 1 in 2 Americans Are Poor or Low-Income

Is America sliding into the third world? Okay, probably not, but for the most prosperous country in the world, at least according to our marketing materials, 50% of Americans in or near poverty should have our leaders hanging their heads in shame instead of fighting about lightbulbs and threatening to shut down the government.

The Cycle of Financial Crisis

Financial crises show up every 10–15 years, but they haven’t always. According to Elizabeth Warren (who ought to know), regulations enacted in the wake of the Great Depression effectively smoothed out the markets for 50 years, and prevented the sort of crisis we’re recovering from, and paved the way for healthy economic growth. When we de-regulated the markets in the 80s, we returned to the cycle of financial crises every 10–15 years, ultimately leading to the Great Recession.

In the first minute of this video, Warren explains the cycle, how America stopped it, and how we dove back into the cycle of financial crises:

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Meltdown: The Economic Collapse, with Ominous Music

If you like your economic meltdown exposés with Canadian accents and ominous music, then Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse is the documentary for you.

I’m still watching the first episode, but Meltdown looks like a good, easy-to-grasp summary of the economic meltdown, starting with Countrywide‘s reckless lending practices. It’s done by the CBC, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to watch it on the CBC website. All I get are back-to-back ads. Fortunately, Al Jazeera English makes it easier. Here are all the episodes: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

(Thanks, BoingBoing!)

The Monster: the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown and the Jerks Who Caused It

The subprime mortgage meltdown, it turns out, makes for riveting reading. I was up until 4 a.m. reading The Monster, a page-turning account of the subprime lending binge that precipitated the collapse of the world economy.

The Monster would make a great heist movie, except that, instead of stealing piles of money from a casino, the subprime lending industry, lead by Ameriquest, Lehman Brothers, and countless others, scammed millions of Americans out of their savings.

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Consumers Annoyed by Car Dealers and Foreclosure Relief Consultants

Topping the list of things that consumers were pissed off about last year were an old consumer predator and a new one. Car dealers stayed comfortably at the top of the list. But foreclosure relief consultants, a symptom of the foreclosure epidemic, moved the “credit/debt” category up into second place. They pushed shoddy construction contractors down into third.

Foreclosure relief consultants have been around for a long time, but with the explosion in foreclosures over the last few years, they have multiplied like rabbits. Since foreclosures are announced publicly, it makes foreclosed soon-to-be-non-homeowners easy targets for mass mailings. Most experience a deluge of “SAVE YOUR HOME” offers right after the notice of foreclosure.

Apparently, it can get annoying.

(thanks, Consumerist)

Banks at Risk of Failure: 702

According to the FDIC, over 700 banks are currently at risk of going under, a huge jump over the last three years, and a bit of a shocker given the size of the federal stimulus. The FDIC has already shuttered 20 banks this year, and there is no sign that things will improve in the coming months.

Banks at risk of going bust tops 700 | CNN Money

Clunker Problems

Under the Cash for Clunkers program, dealers give buyers an instant rebate, then the dealer gets compensated by the government. The government is currently overwhelmed by the number of dealer requests and is having problems processing the requests quickly.

As a result, some dealers have pulled out of the program entirely. But there are plenty of dealers who are still participating—if you look hard enough, you can find them.

Also, do not let dealers make you get the rebate from the government—that is not the way it works. If you encounter a dealer who tells you otherwise, just head to the next car lot.


p class=”alert”>The Cash for Clunkers program ends Monday at 8 p.m., so you will have to take advantage of the program right away!

How to Avoid the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Snarl | Yahoo! Autos

(photo: Ian Hampton)

Bankruptcy lawyers succumb to economy-induced stress

In its monthly newsletter, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys mentioned that several bankruptcy attorneys recently committed suicide, had heart attacks, or gave up on bankruptcy practice entirely to get away from the stress.

Consumer rights lawyers, including bankruptcy attorneys, see some of the worst effects of the recession. But until now, I did not consider that the increase in our clients’ distress might affect our mental health, as well.

If you are a lawyer experiencing an increase in your stress level, find someone to talk to who can help you deal with your stress.

(photo: richardmasoner)