February 28: A Recovery as Safe as Houses
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Housing is the rotting core of the US recovery (FT)
Robert Reich argues that economists shouldn’t get their hopes up for a strong recovery because the middle class has come to view buying a home as a potential financial death trap rather than a safe investment.
Banks Colluding with Insurers to Rip Off Homeowners, Lawsuit Alleges (ProPublica)
Banks are facing legal scrutiny for force-placed insurance, or insurance homeowners are forced to buy. But from the homeowner’s perspective, it’s more like the type of “insurance” where someone comes and breaks your knees if you’re not paid up.
The Volcker Rule: Return to Sender (HuffPo)
Robert Kuttner writes that the Volcker Rule has become a game of chess between regulators and lobbyists who have carved out so many loopholes and exceptions that it should be called the Geithner Rule in honor of someone equally ineffective.
A U.S. Boon in Low-Cost Borrowing (NYT)
Binyamin Appelbaum notes that there is so much demand for Treasuries at such low rates that investors are essentially paying for the privilege of lending money to the government, which they see as much safer than (shudder) doing something with it.
Towards a Creditor State – One in Seven Americans Pursued by Debt Collectors (Naked Capitalism)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Matt Stoller highlights a report that shows the number of Americans hounded by debt collectors has doubled since 2000 as creditors style themselves judge, jury, and… well, not executioner. Then you couldn’t pay up.
How Much Do Taxes Matter? (Baseline Scenario)
James Kwak reviews a new paper on marginal tax rates that shows that raising taxes on the rich doesn’t really cause them to stop wanting to make more money. It just causes them to get more creative in finding ways to keep it from the government.
The payroll tax law’s best measure (Guardian)
Dean Baker praises a work-sharing provision in the deal to extend payroll tax cuts that will discourage layoffs and compensate employees for working reduced hours. It makes so much sense that someone should check to make sure it’s not a misprint.
I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave (MoJo)
Mac McClelland reports on her experience as a temp worker in an online shipping warehouse under conditions in which human employees are treated as slightly less intelligent and much more expendable than the forklifts.
Rick Santorum’s rhetoric goes to the extreme (WaPo)
Eugene Robinson argues that Mitt Romney’s rival for the Republican nomination is, shall we say, a bit of an extremist. But he doesn’t live by his own rhetoric, unless he somehow accidentally acquired three diplomas from those liberal colleges he hates.
Wealthy More Likely to Lie, Cheat (Bloomberg)
A new series of studies finds that the rich are more self-interested and unethical than other people. For instance, you might see a cute little baby, but all they see is the delicious candy in that baby’s tiny clutches, theirs for the taking.
With additional research by Roosevelt Institute intern Elena Callahan.