August 2012 Archives

New name for payday won't fix it

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The Huffington Post
By: Ellen Schloemer
August 29, 2012

New name for payday won't fix it

Payday lenders know their name is mud.

That's why they've started calling themselves "nonbank lenders"--nixing any mention of "payday," in hopes a name change will help shed their loan-shark image. But that's hard to do when they still offer loans at 400 percent interest, designed to trap the financially vulnerable in debt.

CNN
By: Jeanne Sahadi
August 30, 2012

How much should the rich pay in taxes?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- How much should the rich pay in taxes?

It's a heated question these days. President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, spar over it bitterly. And the taxes Romney pays on his own vast wealth have become the subject of massive press attention.

How to save $2500 a year on lunch

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TIME
By: Dan Kadlec
August 29, 2012

How to save $2500 a year on lunch

Gen Y is in a bind. This group of 18- to 29-year-olds has been told they must go to college in order

For years--no, decades--I've marveled at the lunch habits of my friends and colleagues. Where did they get the money to eat out every day? And even if they earned decent incomes, why did they choose to spend them this way?

TIME
By: Martha C. White
August 30, 2012

Who says kids are spoiled? Parents expect pre-teens to start saving for college?

At 12 years old, most of us didn't hold down regular jobs, except for maybe the odd baby-sitting or lawn-mowing gig. But one-fourth of parents today expect their kids to start socking away the contents of their piggy banks to help pay for college, starting before the age of 13. Oh, and 6% of parents don't plan to cough up a dime towards junior's college tuition.

The Washington Post
By: Dante Chinni
August 24, 2012

'The price of inequality' and 'The betrayal of the American dream'

Every four years, the nation seems to find itself wrapped in a debate about economic fairness and the struggles of the middle class. A presidential campaign has a wonderful way of focusing Washington's mind on the country's largest economic voting bloc, and 2012 is no exception.

The Huffington Post
By: Dean Baker
August 29, 2012

Poverty: The new growth industry in America

Recent trends in poverty rates should have the country furious at its leaders. When we get the data for 2011 next month, we are likely to see yet another uptick in poverty rates, reversing almost 50 years of economic progress. The percentage of people in extreme poverty, with incomes less than half of the poverty level, is likely to again hit an all-time high since the data has been collected.

The Atlantic
By: Nate Berg
August 29, 2012

Education and job requirements: The great mismatch

For a person to get a job, there must be a job opening. Call that Step One. Step Two is that the person seeking said job has the requirements to actually do that job. For many U.S. metropolitan areas, Step Two is the hard part.

Just how underemployed is gen Y?

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TIME
By: Dan Schawbel
August 29, 2012

Just how underemployed is gen Y?

Gen Y is in a bind. This group of 18- to 29-year-olds has been told they must go to college in order to find a decent job. Yet upon graduating, few jobs are available to young people -- and those that are open often don't require a college degree.
Earlier this year, The Atlantic pointed to data indicating that 53% of recent college grads were either jobless or underemployed. Underemployment is of course better than unemployment, but many of the jobs new grads are taking don't pay well enough to make much of a dent in student loan debt. The average college graduate owes roughly $25,000 in debt, and the total student loan debt is now greater than a trillion dollars.

TIME
By: Martha C. White
August 28, 2012

Lenders use a new dirty trick to jail you for small debts

Debt collectors can call you, hound you and make you feel like a lowlife, but here in America, they can't throw you in jail over your unpaid bills. Or can they? A sneaky tactic called "body attachment" is a new twist on this ultimate form of intimidation by creditors, and people who have committed no greater offense than managing their finances poorly are finding themselves thrown in jail with hardened criminals.

You have 49 FICO credit scores

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CNN
By: Blake Ellis
August 28, 2012

You have 49 FICO credit scores

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The credit score you get isn't always the same score a lender looks at when deciding whether to give you a mortgage, credit card or auto loan.

In fact, the lender could be looking at one of 49 different scores issued by credit scoring company FICO in order to determine how risky you are, according to a new infographic created by John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com and a former manager at FICO.

Reuters
By: John McCrank
August 27, 2012

Small business borrowing woes hurt jobs: NYSE CEO

New York Stock Exchange parent NYSE released the results of an annual survey on Monday on the economy, business and job creation. It included 340 CEOs from companies listed on NYSE Euronext markets from 26 countries, and 285 U.S. small business owners.

The Huffington Post
By: Janean Chun
August 27, 2012

Small businesses offer a 'second chance' employing the unemployable

Louise Batchelor was running a $1 million insurance agency when she was convicted of theft at age 55. After emerging from four months in prison, she realized she had gone from employer to unemployable.

"I couldn't even get a job at McDonald's," Batchelor told The Huffington Post.

The New York Times
By: Annie Lowrey
August 27, 2012

What do Democrats and Republicans agree on?

In the next two weeks, during the Republican and Democratic conventions, we'll hear a lot about the differences between the parties. How great we are. How terrible the other guy is. How we're better on Medicare, on Social Security, on foreign policy, on defense, on education, on taxes. How they're awful in policy realms you never even thought of.

That left me thinking: Where are the two parties closest together? What goals do they have in common that will likely go unmentioned in Tampa and Charlotte?

Defining inequality down

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Counterpunch
By: David Green
August 27, 2012

Defining inequality down

Since the recession of 2008, it has become increasingly apparent that for the past four decades the majority of the American population has gotten a raw economic deal. Computer applications and internet technology have made accessible raw data from the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other government, academic, and think tank sources. These data, honestly conveyed by such liberal think tanks as the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, provide not just debatable but incontrovertible evidence of class warfare, stagnant wages, increasing inequality and poverty, a transformed and diminished middle class, and an outlandishly wealthy ownership class, especially among financiers. In addition, they find that government policies aid and abet all of the above. At bottom, virtually all of the income and wealth gains resulting from the increased productivity of all workers have accrued to the upper quintile of families, and disproportionately to the one percent or even fewer.

TIME
By: Brad Tuttle
August 27, 2012

Monkey see, monkey do? Just 1% of kids save any allowance money

Studies have shown that most parents are poor financial role models for their children. So is it any surprise that of the money American kids get in allowance--a hefty $780 per year, on average--almost none is saved?

The Boston Globe
By: Megan Woolhouse
August 24, 2012

Chelsea nonprofit coaches clients to independence

Two years ago, Adaliz Rodriguez worked as a medical assistant, neck-deep in credit card debt and with no idea how to budget household expenses or even balance her checkbook. Today, the 34-year-old single mother not only balances her checkbook, but also plans to become an accountant -- and has the savings to pay for the community collegeĀ­ courses.

Charlotte Observer
By: Carl Rist
August 26, 2012

A new way to look at Charlotte residents' financial security

Unemployment in the Charlotte region, while still high, is on the mend. And there are other indicators that the N.C. economy is inching toward recovery. Yet, as millions of households re-gain their financial footing and shore up balance sheets following the Great Recession, it's time to contemplate: What do Charlotte area families really need to be financially secure again?

Secrets of the rich

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Asbury Park Press
By: Michael L. Diamond
August 26, 2012

Secrets of the rich

In the trenches of class warfare, the wealthy are winning.

They are armed with an array of weapons not available to you: a federal tax code that prefers investing to working; employment contracts that ensure they can avoid the unemployment line if they lose their job; private bankers, lawyers and accountants to advise them every step of the way.

Reuters
By: Chris Taylor
August 8, 2012

Sending your kid back to school? It's going to cost you

Her daughter Merone graduated last spring from Manhattan's LaGuardia High School, a performing-arts mecca and inspiration for both the film "Fame" and the TV series. But one day she came home with some surprising news.

"The teacher ran out of paper," Posner, 35, says. "They didn't have any money for paper. I was like, 'Really?'"

The Huffington Post
By: Khadeeja Safdar
August 21, 2012

One in five Americans can't afford food: Report

Another sign that the economy is not recovering quickly enough: A significant number of Americans are still having trouble affording food.

According to Gallup, nearly one in five Americans say they didn't have enough money to pay for food at times this year. The poll results, based on the responses of nearly 180,000 American adults, were gathered through various surveys conducted from January through June.

The Huffington Post
By: Representative Steny Hoyer
August 20, 2012

Innovation is key to helping businesses make it in America

Since our nation's earliest days, Americans have excelled at envisioning new ideas and transforming them into the products that make the world run. From the Bell telephone, to the Wright brothers' airplane to the first personal computer, innovation has driven American enterprise from generation to generation, creating jobs in the process.

The Huffington Post
By: Mark Gongloff
August 23, 2012

CNBC comes to conclusion that shrinking middle class is awesome

There is an imaginary world, let's call it CNBC world, where the rich get richer but the poor never get poorer. Unfortunately, this is not the real world.

The Atlantic
By: Jordan Weissmann
August 23, 2012

The middle class blames everyone but the middle class for our economy

After a pretty lousy decade, middle-class Americans are ready to blame just about everyone for the economic troubles they've faced -- except, it seems, themselves.

The Atlantic
By: Derek Thomson
August 22, 2012

Bye Bye, Booomers: This is the age of baby bust-ers

One way to think about the Great Recession is like a great pause button.

In normal times, millions of people get married in their mid-to-late 20s. They spend lots of money on a wedding. They buy a car, often with a loan. They buy a house, always with a loan. They buy new furniture and appliances. With their time and money coupled, expenses that were once extraneous now feel reasonable. Maybe he was individually satisfied with sports bars and she with Netflix, but as a couple, it makes more sense to watch live sports and TV shows on their new couch, and so they buy cable. They have a kid, or more than a few. You know how the story goes.

Small loan lenders on the rise

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GreenvilleOnline
By: Ciark Hicks
August 22, 2012

Small loan lenders on the rise

Hattiesburg has been invaded by high interest lending companies. We are officially under foreign occupation by these small loan, big profit businesses.

Our town has always had small finance lenders. They fill a void for persons who are unable to borrow money from banks or other institutions. Without them, some people would not have access to the money they desperately need for legitimate purposes.

Who counts as middle class?

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The New York Times
By: Catherine Rampell
August 23, 2012

Who counts as middle class?

As I've written before, Americans don't have a great sense of where they fall in the income distribution, or even what the income distribution actually looks like. Now, in a new report, the Pew Research Center has given us an update on the types of Americans most likely to call themselves middle class, and the answer doesn't necessarily have a lot to do whether respondents earn close to the median income.

TIME
By: Martha White
August 22, 2012

A huge number of Americans have no financial safety net

More than three years after the Great Recession officially ended, two in five households are still living paycheck to paycheck. This grim statistic is part of a new survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, and it's not the only recent indication that many of us are going through some serious financial struggles. In its new earnings report, the nation's biggest retailer also emphasized the persistent inability of American consumers to reclaim financial stability. What gives?

MSN
By: Karen Datko
August 13, 2012

Is US income gap wider than you think?

Do Americans understand how vast the nation's wealth gap is? And if they had their way, what income distribution sounds just about right to most people? That's what two behavioral economists have attempted to find out.

On both counts, the results they got may surprise you.

The Atlantic
By: Eric Jaffe
August 22, 2012

What big cities lose when they lose their small businesses

A few weeks ago Jeremiah Clancy announced the sudden closing of Mama's Food Shop, a quaint spot in New York's East Village that had been serving comfort food to the neighborhood for about 15 years. Before shutting down, Clancy posted a thoughtful note on Mama's website about the increasing hardships of owning a small business in a big city. The farewell gesture caught the attention of New York magazine, Felix Salmon of Reuters, and others.

America's generosity divide

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Chronicle of Philanthropy
By: Emily Gipple and Ben Gose
August 19, 2012

America's generosity divide

The nation's generosity divide is vast, according to a new Chronicle of Philanthropy study that charts giving patterns in every state, city, and ZIP code.
In states like Utah and Mississippi, the typical household gives more than 7 percent of its income to charity, while the average household in Massachusetts and three other New England states gives less than 3 percent.

The New York Times
By: Diana Henriques
August 20, 2012

Examining the Ponzi scheme through the mind of a con artist

Maybe "Ponzi scheme" should have its own spot in the Dewey Decimal System. Along with biographies of the schemers, a growing stack of scholarly references, legal tomes and articles aims to collect knowledge about this age-old crime.

But the latest entry in the category, "The Ponzi Scheme Puzzle: A History and Analysis of Con Artists and Victims" by Tamar Frankel, takes a different approach. While Professor Frankel is a legal scholar who has been on the faculty of the Boston University Law School since 1968, her book explores the psychology of the financial criminals and what makes them tick. She was inspired by a colleague who referred to them as "those mimics of trustworthiness: con artists."

Our views: Asset base for the poor

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The Advocate
August 21, 2012

Our views: Asset base for the poor

That poor people don't have assets does not seem to be a complex assertion, but looking at the asset base of poor communities is one way of divining new ways not only to fight poverty but to expand opportunity.

Policy Shop
By: David Callahan
August 20, 2012

Double Bonus: High CEO pay and low taxes

Economic inequality is a famously complex phenomenon, but some parts of this trend are quite simple: Like how today's rich are benefiting from a rare confluence of record high compensation and record low taxes.

Writing off poor children

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The New York Times
By: Nancy Folbre
August 20, 2012

Writing off poor children

Blame those single moms. If only they had married and stayed married, their children would have turned out so much better.

Practical Philanthropist

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Harvard Magazine
By: Ben Beach
September-October 2012

Practical Philanthropist

Bob Friedman '71 will never forget the moment at the Harlem Children's Zone when the five-year-old son of a poor single mother announced his intention to attend Harvard. He and his mom had already started saving for college in a unique matched college-savings account as part of the Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment (SEED) initiative.

Washington Monthly
By: Mark Schmitt

Michael Sheradden's compounding interest: two decades ago an oscureacademic revolutionized thinking about poverty. Now his insights might just save the middle class; The future of success

In 1991, a professor of social work at Washington University namedMichael Sherraden published a book called Assets and the Poor. Sherraden was neither a big name nor a natural self-promoter, the book waspublished by an obscure academic press, and his topic was not earth-shattering--he proposed a new approach to ameliorating poverty by helping poor families save for the future, as an alternative to programsthat simply provided enough income for day-to-day sustenance. But the book caught on quickly in Washington. In a city susceptible to intellectual fads, what's even more remarkable is that Assets and the Poor sparked the emergence of something that has lasted, and that has come to be known over the ensuing twenty years as the asset movement. Its adherents grew to include dozens of academics, policy entrepreneurs in nonprofits and foundations, mayors, governors, and members of Congress. The story of Sherraden's book shines an unusually clear lighton an often obscure part of the policymaking process. Everyone knowshow a bill becomes a law. But how does an idea become a cause?

The Huffington Post
By: Dedrick Muhammad and Mariko Chang
August 14, 2012

Valuing families and our nation's culture: The joys and economic penalties of parenting

As parents (one of us with a newborn and the other with three children), we have both experienced the wonder and joys of raising children. As economic analysts who focus on racial inequality, we both also see the increasing economic challenges facing families who are rearing the future of our country. Economic insecurity is rapidly becoming the norm for many American households. A trifecta of rapidly increasing costs, near stagnant wages and the contemporary call to weaken government investments in our nation's families pose a serious challenge to our nation's future as well as threaten to exacerbate the inequalities that divide our nation.

The Atlantic
By: Matthew O' Brien
August 16, 2012

The rich vs. the super-rich, in 2 charts

Forget gold. If Scrooge McDuck were around today, he'd be diving into a big pile of capital gains. Okay, and maybe some dividends too.

The charts below, courtesy of Bob Williams of the Tax Policy Center, compare where the merely rich and the super-rich get their money from. The first shows the breakdown for households with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million or greater, but who aren't among the top 400 tax filers. The second shows the same for that latter group. The cutoff for membership in this most exclusive club was $108 million in 2000, $111 million in 2005, $144 million in 2007 and $77 million in 2009, in constant 2009 dollars.

Salaries, what are those?

Foreign policy: Tomorrow, we save

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NPR
By: Joshua E. Keating
August 16, 2012

Foreign policy: Tomorrow, we save

Joshua E. Keating is an associate editor at Foreign Policy.

Why do Germans revere austerity and fiscal discipline, while Greeks spend like there's no tomorrow? Why can't the United States convince China to consume more and save less? Yale University economist Keith Chen thinks part of the answer may be in language -- particularly in how different languages treat time.

Policymic
By: Michael De Los Santos
August 14, 2012

Rich are getting richer, poor are getting poorer: Time for a fair tax policy

Editor's note: This article is part of a debate on income inequality with Christine Harbin. For her response, see here.

Today in America, we are in the midst of economic unrest. Even as the Occupy Wall Street movement slows to a crawl in many cities, the message of the 1% versus the 99% is still pretty rampant. Our income inequality is growing and wealth numbers show a disturbing trend. In Joseph Stiglitz's book, The Price of Inequality, he talks about the real issue with our current income gap (mobility), and why that points to a troubling future. If we do not generate solutions for the lack of mobility, the income and wealth gap in the country will grow deeper and we may not be able to recover.

The New York Times
By: Floyd Norrise
August 16, 2012

Schools pass debt to the next generation

The deleveraging of America is well under way, as individuals and companies recover from the excess borrowing that helped to produce the boom and left many people vulnerable when the bust arrived. Household debt is down nearly $900 billion over the last four years, partly from repayments and partly from defaults.

The Huffington Post
August 16, 2012

Needy children go back to school with dignity thanks to nonprofits

For the 21 million children who go hungry during the summer months without free school lunch, September signals an end to searing stomach pangs. But it also raises concerns about what they will wear on the backs and stuff in their knapsacks.

What is Ohio's middle class?

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The Huffington Post
By: Rana B. Khoury
August 15, 2012

What is Ohio's middle class?

There is something to be said for universal health care systems.

On Aug. 14, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rolled through Ohio on his "The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" Bus Tour. Two weeks earlier, president-and-candidate Barack Obama made his own appeal to Ohio's "average middle-class family" on his ninth campaign stop in the state. Both campaigns have placed Ohio and the middle class at the core of their messages. Each insists that they will protect and improve the middle class's well-being, while the other will destroy it for the sake of the super-rich in one case, the welfare-state in the other. As Ohioans find themselves at the center of all this attention (often unfortunately so, being on the receiving end of 400 political ads per day), I set out to find out what it means to be in Ohio's middle class, from Ohioans themselves. As it happens, the lower end of the spectrum is lower than Obama, Romney, and our national psyche might realize.

Los Angeles Times
By: E. Scott Reckard
August 16, 2012

California warns of online payday loan risks

Payday lenders, which for decades have made high-cost loans from storefronts in lower-income neighborhoods, have drawn plenty of fire from groups like the Center for Responsible Lending and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Washington Post
By: J.D. Harrison
August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan's stance on the most important small business matters

An unfamiliar face to most voters before Saturday, Paul Ryan now finds himself smack in the middle of the national spotlight and directly under the political microscope.

Washington onlookers have spent the better part of three days sifting through his personal and political past, examining his voting record and public statements, evaluating whether he can help Mitt Romney win over key voting blocks like the conservative base, young voters and those in his home state of Wisconsin.

The Washington Post
By: Abha Bhattarai
August 16, 2012

Financial lessons move into classrooms financial lessons move into newsrooms financial lessons into classrooms

At H.D. Woodson Senior High School in Northeast Washington, students help run an on-site branch of HEW Federal Credit Union. Over in Fairfax County, eighth-graders learn how to budget money and create stock portfolios using simulations at Junior Achievement Finance Park.

Throughout the region, schools are ramping up efforts to teach personal finance and economic literacy as the broader economy continues to sputter back from a downturn.

The Huffington Post
By: Mark Rosenman
August 14, 2012


With Romney and Ryan 'on the same page," What page are charities on?

With his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate, Mitt Romney changed the stakes of the 2012 presidential race. Well beyond Republican v. Democrat, the question now before Americans is who we are as a nation and as a people.

We must make decisions about public responsibility for the common good, about what we expect of government and of one another. The charitable and philanthropic sector cannot afford to ignore this debate.

Trickle down fairy dust

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The New York Times
By: Casey B. Mulligan
August 15, 2012

Trickle down fairy dust

Generally, transfers do not expand the economy, regardless of whether the recipients are rich or poor. Rather, they confer benefits that are limited to the direct recipients of those transfers.

America's aversion to taxes

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The New York Times
By: Eduardo Porter
August 14, 2012

America's aversion to taxes

There is something to be said for universal health care systems.

When my son developed a rash on an Italian vacation in Liguria last month, the pharmacist showed me to the doctor downstairs, who diagnosed the problem at no charge and sent me off with a handshake and a joke about a daughter in med school at the University of California, San Diego.

Bayou Buzz
August 14, 2012

New Orleans asset poverty short of catastrophic

A new report reveals that a substantial population of New Orleans citizens live in severe "asset poverty" and are months away from catastrophic poverty if the the main source of family income is lost.

The report, by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and local partner the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC) reveals a significantally different picture than projected by business organizations and national media which have promoted the real growth of the entrepreneurship in the city in recent years, particularly, after Hurricane Katrina.

The Times-Picayne
By: Rebecca Mowbray
August 14, 2012

Asset poverty is a big problem in New Orleans, where many have no cash cushion

Some 37 percent of New Orleans households would not be able to survive for more than three months without falling into poverty if their main source of income were disrupted, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Ford Foundation. While many examinations of poverty look at a family's income, this study of "asset poverty" looks at how large a financial cushion households have to protect them in times of crisis.

WNO
By: Eileen Fleming
August 15, 2012

Study shows New Orleans in poverty crisis

A new study says New Orleans in a poverty crisis. The review, commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and conducted by the Greater New Orleans Comunity Data Center, finds financial trouble extending to the middle class.

Microfinance is down, but not out

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The Huffington Post
By: Moushumi M. Khan
August 13, 2012

Microfinance is down, but not out

A growing unrest is stirring the global microcredit market. Not too long ago the world feted microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank with the Nobel Peace Prize. Now some are asking whether microcredit has really benefited the poor. Concerns about interest rates, lack of transparency and loan recovery methods provide an opportunity to ask whether microcredit has lost its way. Development practitioners, government regulators and all who care about poverty have a stake in the answer.

New help for 'unbanked'

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LoanSafe
By: Alex Ferrieras
August 13, 2012

New help for 'unbanked'

If you've always had a bank account, it's hard to imagine life without writing a check, hitting the ATM or swiping a debit card at the grocery store.
But for more than a million Californians, life without a bank account is the norm. They're known as the "unbanked": those who don't own a traditional bank account, either checking or savings.

The Atlantic
By: Derek Thompson
August 14, 2012

Are Liberals being unfair to Paul Ryan?

I get nervous when I start feeling too certain about something, and I feel pretty certain that Paul Ryan's budget is a massive devolution of government responsibility masquerading as fiscal prudence. So I called Alan Viard, a tax and entitlement scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, to ask what was fair and not fair to criticize in the Ryan Roadmap. It was a wide-ranging conversation, but here's an edited selection:

The Atlantic
By: Derek Thompson
August 13, 2012

The poor get poorer: How Ryan's budget would affect ours

There are many different ways to talk about Paul Ryan's Roadmap, but maybe the most useful is to imagine how his budget affects your budget. How much more money would you keep under his broad tax plan? How much more would you have to save to pay for health care? And for the low-income, whom -- as we'll see -- bear the brunt of Ryan's cuts: How alone would they be in Ryan's America?

CNN
By: Blake Ellis
July 24, 2012

Financial aid: How much students really owe

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A new "financial aid shopping sheet" will show college applicants exactly how much money they will be forking over for their education and help them compare financial aid offers from the different schools they're considering.

The Atlantic
By: Jordan Weissman
August 10, 2012

The upper-middle class has itself to blame for student debt

When it comes to paying for college, upper-middle-class families often get the worst of all possible worlds. They're not wealthy enough to treat the cost of tuition as an afterthought. They're not needy enough to qualify for big discounts. But they're often status conscious enough to pay whatever's necessary for their kids to attend an elite college.

TIME
By: Dan Kadlec
August 10, 2012

Student debt: Why even the affluent struggle

The financial devastation wrought by excessive student debt is hitting even affluent households, a turn that might finally lead to meaningful change in the way Americans think about higher education--and how they choose to pay for it.

The relentless increase in the cost of college and the rise of outstanding student debt to about $1 trillion have been well documented. So too the increasing rate of students graduating with $50,000 to $100,000 of debt and only limited job prospects. It has long been assumed that affluent households could afford to pay as they go, and so avoid this debt trap. But often that's not the case.

TIME
By: Massimo Calabresi and Jay Newton Small
August 11, 2012

The Ryan Budget: A primer on what's now the hottest topic in 2012

To anyone who ever complained that politics wasn't substantive, buckle up: the 2012 Presidential campaign just became a debate about that most substantive of all issues, the federal budget. The signature issue of Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, is fiscal policy: his 2008 "Road Map for America's Future" (pdf) improbably propelled him from an unusually earnest and likeable young Congressman to national prominence and now Romney's VP pick. The current GOP budget blueprint (pdf) that bears Ryan's name will now be picked apart for what it would mean for the country.
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

The Washington Post
By: Ezra Klein
August 10, 2012

Will Erskine Bowles be our next Treasury Secretary?

One of Washington's favorite guessing games -- behind Mitt Romney's veepstakes, but way ahead of who will run the Commerce Department -- is who will replace Timothy Franz Geithner as Treasury Secretary. And as of today, I'm ready to name a frontrunner, at least if Barack Obama is re-elected: Erskine Bowles.

Where are the women wonks?

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Washington Monthly
By: Anne Kim
July/August 2012

Where are the women wonks?

Every day in Washington, D.C., brings numerous announcements about the various policy events, forums, and conferences around town that serve as meet-and-greets for the city's thinking elite. In addition to a prepackaged muffin or a stale sandwich and some badly brewed coffee, these events typically feature a slate of experts on whatever topic is the focus. Also typically, most of these experts are men.

The Huffington Post
By: Michael Tasner
August 7, 2012

How small businesses can take advantage of mobile benefits

As Main Street begins to regain its steam, small businesses alike have many opportunities to increase their digital marketing efforts without having to empty their pockets on an agency. As digital merges more closely with the in-store experience, business owners should begin to see the potential that lies in their consumer's hands, and take advantage of what marketers have deemed the "SoLoMo" trend.

"Get Social, Think Mobile, Spend Local"

Sacramento Bee
By: Doug Schaefer
August 8, 2012

Lawmakers continue to debate payday lending regulations

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 8, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- Industry critics and short-term lending agencies continue to argue over proposed legislation that will that will influence future regulation. In a bill proposed by Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Joe Baca (D-CA.), online short-term lending resources such as www.fastunsecuredcashloans.com would be able to offer services to a broader base with fewer inconsistent regulations in each state. Currently, short-term lenders that cater to a growing online market face different rules and regulations from individual state officials.

Reuters
By: John Wasik
August 10, 2012

Condos for college kids? Do the math first.

(Reuters) - Friends of mine recently bought a condo for their son to live in while he's in college. Most people simply bite the bullet and pay for room and board, but they were able to save some money.

The Atlantic
August 10, 2012

Shop class revisited: Skilled vocational training in vogue

Ever wonder why you can't get a plumber when you really need one?

For the last few years, the hardest jobs for employers to fill have been for skilled trades. More than a third of all employers globally are facing a shortage of skilled workers, according to an annual survey by Milwaukee-based Manpower Group.

TIME
By: Dan Kadlec
August 9, 2012

Back to school: How to vet student bank accounts

If you have ever looked for the perfect bank account for your teen, you know how frustrating the search can be. Linked accounts, transfer limits and fees, ATM fees, overdraft protection and more vary from bank to bank and from account to account. How do you sort through this maze?

The Huffington Post
By: Kevin Manning
August 7, 2012

A national vision for higher education and career development

Over the last three years, the U.S. Department of Education and Congress have put the heat on for-profit higher education institutions for practices that exploit students with high financial need. New federal regulations on for-profits -- referred to in education circles as the "gainful employment" regulations -- seek to protect students and to increase the likelihood that they will be able to find employment and repay their loans after completing certificate or degree programs. Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has been particularly vigilant for this cause.

TIME
By: Eric Liu
August 7, 2012

The phony battle over the self-made man

The so-called self-made man has become a political lightning rod. This has been made starkly clear in recent weeks by the reactions to President Obama's much dissected "you didn't build that" line. What Obama said was: "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help ... Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts candidate for U.S. Senate, first voiced this theme in a video that went viral, arguing that the success of any entrepreneur is made possible by the roads, schools and police that generations of ordinary citizens have paid for. ("There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own," was her memorable line.)

College debt hits well-off

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The Wall Street Journal
By: Ruth Simon and Rob Barry
August 8, 2012

College debt hits well-off

Rising college costs and a sagging economy are taking the biggest toll on a surprising group: upper-middle-income families.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of recently released Federal Reserve data, households with annual incomes of $94,535 to $205,335 saw the biggest jump in the percentage with student-loan debt from 2007 to 2010, the latest figures available. That group also saw a sharp climb in the amount of debt owed on average.

The Washington Post
By: Lane Kenworthy
August 3, 2012

Five myths about the middle class

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney say they'll support it. Many Americans say they're in it. And virtually everyone says something must be done to help it. It's the American middle class, and it's the biggest talking point of the 2012 election -- and one of the most misunderstood.

The Huffington Post
By: Peter Meyer
August 6, 2012

Poverty and schools: Finally some, lights go on

When Jesus said (according to Matthew), "the poor you will always have with you," he might have added, "and so too the debate about whether schools can educate them." Paul Peterson has written one of the better essays on the seemingly interminable battle between those who believe that you have to cure the poor before you can educate them and those who believe that educating the poor will help cure poverty.

Why you may retire in poverty

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Reuters
By: Mark Miller
August 6, 2012

Why you may retire in poverty

Today's seniors are more affluent than the general population. But the generations that follow them - starting with the baby boom generation - will not be as fortunate. The decline of pensions, the erosion of Social Security and the housing crash all are pointing toward a new crisis of poverty among lower- and middle-class seniors in the years ahead.

TIME
By: Dan Kadlec
August 8, 2012

Bernanke: Kids will be better off than parents, but...

Children today will have a better lifestyle than their parents. But they will also have to take on greater personal responsibility for their futures and require a higher levels of financial acumen, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said yesterday.

Financially unprepared

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Desert Morning News
By: Michael De Groote
August 6, 2012

Financially unprepared

CEDAR HILLS ? For Melody Hillam, financial problems are centered on transportation. If the family car broke down or if the tires had to be replaced, she had no backup plan. "We needed to have our car fixed," she says. But there were no savings to pay for it.

Bloomberg
By: Anthony Effinger
August 6, 2012

Richest family offices seeing fastest growth as firms oust banks

They call it "money camp." Twice a week, 6- to 11-year-old scions of wealthy families take classes on being rich. They compete to corner commodities markets in Pit, the raucous Parker Brothers card game, and take part in a workshop called "business in a box," examining products that aren't obvious gold mines, such as the packaging on Apple Inc.'s iPhone rather than the phone itself.

The Atlantic
By: Dan Ariely
August 2, 2012

Americans want to live in a much more equal country (They just don't realize it)

The inequality of wealth and income in the U.S. has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years. One reason for this is that the visibility of this inequality has been increasing gradually for a long time--as society has become less segregated, people can now see more clearly how much other people make and consume. Owing to urban life and the media, our proximity to one another has decreased, making the disparity all too obvious. In addition to this general trend, the financial crisis, with all of its fall out, shined a spotlight on the salaries of bankers and financial workers relative to that of most Americans. And on top of these, and most recently, the upcoming presidential election has raised questions of social justice and income disparities, bringing the issues into focus even more.

TIME
By: Gary Belsky
August 6, 2012

Start-up create jobs, right? So let's stop praising small businesses--and fund more

By pretty much any measure, lending to American small businesses is weak. Most recently, small business borrowing dropped 5% from May to June, according to the research firm PayNet, which tracks such lending. And while May's borrowing had encouragingly reversed a four-month decline, June's numbers were actually in sync with a broader trend.According to the recent annual report from U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, a year-0ver-year comparison of outstanding loans to the nation's small business revealed a decrease of almost 7%, for the 12 months that ended in June 2011. At that point, banks had $606.9 billion in outstanding loans to the U.S. small businesses, compared with $652.2 billion for the same 12-month period ending in June 2010. That's not good news for anybody, except maybe the Romney campaign.

The Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2012

Capitalism and how we feel about our own well-being

The column "If the Election Is About Capitalism, What Does That Mean?" (Marketplace, July 27) is right about one thing: Capitalism is less about the economic system and more about how people feel at the moment about their own well-being.

Texas really isn't that great

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The Times-Union
By: Vincent Stein
August 5, 2012

Texas really isn't that great

I read Susan Egan's recent commentary ("What Texans don't miss about New York," July 24) and had to laugh within. Ms. Egan, a Texas native who lived in our area for a time, discussed the negative aspects of the tax structure in New York as well as the way our politicians do business. While many of her complaints are certainly true, is New York the only state that has deficiencies in some areas?

The Huffington Post
By: Marian Wright Edelman
August 3, 2012

The state of America's children 2012

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." When we look at the state of our union and the state of America's children in 2012, his words ring very true. It's impossible to deny that our nation's economy, professed values of equal opportunity, future, and soul are all in danger right now.

NPR
By: NPR Staff
August 4, 2012

How America's losing the war on poverty

While President Obama and Gov. Romney battle for the hearts and minds of the middle class this election season, there's a huge swath of Americans that are largely ignored. It's the poor, and their ranks are growing.

Washington Monthly
By: Kathleen Geier
August 5, 2012

For profit colleges: the subprime mortgage industry, 2012 version

Earlier this week, Tamar Lewin of the New York Times published an excellent story about a congressional report that was released earlier this week about for-profit colleges. I didn't see this report, authored by a committee headed by Senator Tom Harkin, covered in any of the blogs I regularly visit so I wanted to be sure I wrote about it a little here. For-profit colleges are an increasingly significant and fast-growing segment of the higher education field, and this is a cause for alarm. These schools are bottom-feeding, malevolent institutions. Here's what Senator Harkin told The Times about the committee's investigation:

TIME
By: Dan Kadlec
August 6, 2012

Are 'safe accounts' the answer to our consumer banking problems?

With millions of people turning to costly payday loans and the hammer coming down on excessive bank fees, the time is right for financial firms to embrace what's known as Safe Accounts. These are card-based electronic accounts used primarily at ATMs and the point of sale, and which carry extremely low fees.

The New York Times
By: Ron Liber
August 4, 2012

Financial plan for the truly fed up

The deck is stacked. The game is rigged. The system is unmanageable.

With each passing scandal, it gets a little bit harder to ignore this refrain from individuals who have had it with traditional financial services companies. Perhaps it's because the unfortunate events seem to be happening with increasing frequency.

Reuters
By: Stephen L. Carter
August 2, 2012

To end inequality, attack poverty, not the 1 percent

In June, I wrote in praise of Luigi Zingales's book, "A Capitalism for the People." At that time, I examined his call for elevating pro-market values over pro- business values.

Now I would like to return to the book, to analyze his discussion of an issue very much at the heart of the current electoral season -- economic inequality -- and to explain why the way Americans talk about the problem leads us in the wrong direction.

The Huffington Post
By: Lloyd Chapman
August 3, 2012

The most effective economic stimulus plan for today's economy was passed by Congress in 1953

In 1953 Congress realized that small businesses were the engine of economic growth in America and passed the Small Business Act. When the law was originally passed, it stated that small business should receive a "fair portion" of all federal contracts. Today's federal law mandates that a minimum 23 percent of the total value of all federal prime contract dollars be awarded to small businesses.

NPR
By: Scott Neuman
August 2, 2012

What can we do to fix the economy?

U.S. employment is stalled, growth is anemic, and the Federal Reserve has decided not to take action for at least another month.

Most economists weren't expecting the Federal Open Markets Committee, which sets the Fed's monetary policy, to announce another round of quantitative easing -- a fancy term that basically means the central bank buys bonds to increase the money supply and make borrowing cheaper -- at this week's meeting. Still, that's exactly what a number of them think is needed.

TIME
By: Mark Thompson
August 3, 2012

The fight doesn't end when they get home

Dealing with the nation's veterans - both those who have served since 9/11, and the older ones who came before - has always been a challenge. That's what makes the approach being championed by Soldier On in Massachusetts interesting.

The Huffington Post
By: Mariam Wright Edelman
July 27, 2012

Critical investment advice from fed chariman Ben Bernanke

On July 24th, Dr. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, gave a video keynote speech to 3,200 community and youth leaders attending the Children's Defense Fund's National Conference in Cincinnati -- not on the details of national fiscal policy, but on the crucial importance of effective early childhood supports and public education to the success of our economy. His remarks were strongly reinforced by a very distinguished panel of leading scholars, educators and education activists who spoke about the national imperative of preparing all children for school and building a public education system that prepares all children and our nation for the future. Here is most of what Dr. Bernanke said:

The Huffington Post
By: Seth Korman
August 1, 2012

There is capitalism, and then there is capitalism

As I wrote in my last piece, the Obama and Romney campaigns seem more than happy to turn this election into an ideological contest between socialism and capitalism. Yet while such a confrontation is a convenient device to add excitement to a relatively dull election season, another, real debate, is finally receiving the attention it deserves:

What exactly is American-style capitalism today?

Families make big changes

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NPR
By: Louise Radnofsky
August 1, 2012

Families make big changes

Maureen O'Brien told her daughter Emily Macri: dream big.

She could pick any college she wanted and they would figure out a way to pay for it.

Reuters
By: Ann Saphir
August 1, 2012

Small business borrowing falls in June

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the overall volume of financing to small U.S. companies, sagged to 98.5 from 103.8 in May, PayNet said. The index, which points to changes in overall economic growth several months in the future, has fallen in five of the past six months.

NPR
By: Jacob Goldstein and Lam Vo
August 1, 2012

How the poor, the middle class and the rich spend their money

How do Americans spend their money? And how do budgets change across the income spectrum?

The graph below answers these questions. It shows average household spending patterns in for U.S. households in three income categories -- one just below the poverty line, one at the middle of the income distribution and one at the top of the distribution.

The Wall Street Journal
By: Louise Radnofsky
August 1, 2012

Employers move to adapt to health law

Two major provisions of the health-overhaul law take effect Wednesday, testing employers' ability to adapt to changes the measure mandates.

CNN
By: Tami Luhby
August 1, 2012

Are you poor if you have a flat screen TV?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Can you really be poor if you own a flat-screen TV ... or two? Depends on whom you ask.

With income inequality at the center of the national political debate this year, it should be no surprise that conservatives and liberals are coming down on opposite sides of the tracks.

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