A compilation of articles and videos regarding income inequality in the United States

LeVeL

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Another article about Dan Price, the CEO that raised minimum salaries to $70k. This has little to do with the philosophical debate about minimum wage and instead takes a sceptical look at the example at hand, but I still think this is the best thread to post it.
 

ahpadt

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So STEM, like the "law school craze" was basically a bubble that has essentially burst.
A STEM degree will always give you a great foundation for finding work. However, just because you have a STEM degree doesn't mean you'll get your dream job within a week of graduation at your desired location.
 

LeVeL

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Not entirely. I think it's relevant to mention that the politicians speaking out against income inequality have actually gotten filthy rich by means of corruption.
 

GRtak

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A world divided: Elites descend on Swiss Alps amid rising inequality

Politicians and business leaders gathering in the Swiss Alps this week face an increasingly divided world, with the poor falling further behind the super-rich and political fissures in the United States, Europe and the Middle East running deeper than at any time in decades.

Just 62 people, 53 of them men, own as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire world population and the richest 1 percent own more than the other 99 percent put together, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said on Monday.

Significantly, the wealth gap is widening faster than anyone anticipated, with the 1 percent overtaking the rest one year earlier than Oxfam had predicted only a year ago.

Rising inequality and a widening trust gap between people and their political leaders are big challenges for the global elite as they converge on Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, which runs from Jan. 20 to 23.


Just a snip.
 

GRtak

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Outgoing Time Warner Cable CEO Admits Asking Impossible of Employees

Rob Marcus leaves with $92 million of severance after two and one-half years.

Outgoing Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus didn?t exactly endear himself to customers and employees during his short tenure.

Now with the sale of his company completed, $92 million of severance on the way and his calendar cleared for future vacations, Marcus has acknowledged the truth about some of his prior pronouncements to staff that struggled with one failed mega-merger to Comcast CMCSA -0.22% and then hung around for a second sale to Charter Communications CHTR 0.07% to slowly but successfully conclude.

?Over the last several years, I repeatedly called upon you to stay focused in spite of all the merger-related distractions, uncertainty and emotional upheaval,? Marcus wrote in a final missive to his employees. ?I recognized then and now that it was an unreasonable, almost impossible request.?

He may have forgotten to mention the ?unreasonable? and ?impossible? bits while the chaos was swirling, but Marcus now praises his staff for doing their best. ?But somehow, unreasonable or not, seemingly impossible or not, you consistently rose to the challenge, exceeding my wildest expectations of what a motivated, passionate, unified team could accomplish under the most difficult of circumstances,? Marcus wrote.

Though he?s now out?Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge gets to run the newly-created, second-largest U.S. cable company?Marcus also offered his best wishes to those who kept their jobs as he exits. ?Rest assured that I will be watching with great enthusiasm and high expectations, confident that you will continue to make me proud,? he wrote.

The letter was reported previously by the DSLReports web site.

A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, but defended Marcus?s severance package. Marcus took over as CEO at the beginning of 2014 and struck his deal with Comcast within months only to see the government block the combination last April. A month later, Marcus agreed to sell to Charter.

?Since TWC?s spinoff in 2009, Mr. Marcus has helped create more than $50 billion in shareholder value and TWC?s stock price has increased nearly 800 percent, significantly outperforming the S&P,? the spokeswoman said in a statement. ?His severance package largely consists of equity awards earned over the last several years, reflecting the increase in stock price benefitting all shareholders.?

Marcus?s severance package has been valued as high as $97 million, but Time Warner Cable?s amended 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in April lists $92 million worth of goodies, including $63 million of stock, owed to Marcus in the event of a ?change of control? of the company.
 

GRtak

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A Worrisome Pileup of $100 Million Homes

One of the latest symbols of the overinflated luxury housing market is a pink mansion perched above the Mediterranean on the French Riviera.

The 13,000-square-foot property, built and owned by the fashion magnate Pierre Cardin, is composed of giant terra cotta orbs arranged in a sprawling hive. The home?s name befits its price. ?Le Palais Bulles,? or ?the Bubble Palace,? is being offered for sale at approximately $450 million.

The listing is part of a global pileup of homes listed for $100 million or more. A record 27 properties with nine-figure prices are officially for sale, according to Christie?s International Real Estate. That is up from 19 last year and about a dozen in 2014.

If you add in high-priced ?whisper listings? that are offered privately, brokers say the actual number of nine-figure listings worldwide could easily top 40 or 50.

?It?s a bumper crop,? said Dan Conn, chief executive of Christie?s International Real Estate. ?It?s just a new world in terms of what people are building and offering for sale.?

The rise in nine-figure real estate listings comes just as sales of luxury real estate have cooled. Many say the sudden surge in hyperprice homes ? often built and sold by speculative investors ? is the ultimate bubble signal.

?When you have a record number of homes for sale at a price point of $100 million or more, that tells you these homes aren?t selling,? said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and research firm. ?It?s not as deep a market as some might hope.?

Last year, only two homes in the world sold for over $100 million, according to Christie?s. One was a 9,455-square-foot house in Hong Kong purchased for $193 million by Jack Ma, the chief of Alibaba. The other was a townhouse in London that sold for $132 million. This year, a ranch in Texas went on the market for $700 million and a home in Dallas listed for $100 million. Both sold, but the actual sale prices have not been disclosed.

The last time a sudden pop in $100 million-plus listings occurred was in 2007 and 2008, just before the housing crash. In 2008, at least four homes in the world listed for nine figures. Only one ended up selling for close to that. A mansion in Palm Beach owned by Donald Trump and listed for $100 million sold for $95 million. (Mr. Trump says it sold for $100 million.) A 103-room mansion in Surrey, England, called Updown Court, was listed for $138 million, but sold in 2011 for about $50 million. A log mansion planned for the Yellowstone Club in Montana, with a promised price of $155 million, was never built, and the land sold for $10 million.

Of course, anyone can slap a $100 million price tag on a home to get attention. Yet actual sales of nine-figure homes are rare, even in good times. Between 2011 and 2016, only 15 homes in the world have sold for $100 million or more, according to Christies, and five of those were in 2014.

?The era of aspirational pricing is over, and I?m not sure it ever really worked,? Mr. Miller said. ?These prices get headlines, but the properties just don?t sell.?

Brokers promoting the listings say their properties are one-of-a-kind masterpieces ? like Picassos or Modiglianis ? that rarely come on the market. They add that the more than 1,800 billionaires in the world see property as a safer store of wealth than stocks or art. Mr. Conn estimates that of the 27 nine-figure listings, a third will sell for under $100 million, a third will sell for around $100 million and a third for far more.

?I don?t think it?s a sign of a bubble,? Mr. Conn said. ?It?s a sign of growing wealth in the world and the quality of some of the new construction.?

Yet the market for megamansions and penthouses has cooled significantly in the last year. Prices for homes in the top 5 percent of the real estate market fell 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to Redfin. Prices for the rest of the housing market increased 4.7 percent.

Brokers say the very top of the market ? consisting of eight- and nine-figure homes ? is faring the worst as slowing economies overseas and volatile stock markets have spooked buyers. The supply of homes for the rich exploded as builders aimed at the high end after the financial crisis.

Of the 10 most expensive listings in the world, seven are in the United States and four of these are in Los Angeles. The most expensive listing in the world is the $500 million compound being built in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles by Nile Niami, a film producer and speculative builder. The property will have a 74,000-square-foot main house, a 30-car garage and a ?Monaco-style casino.?

In nearby Holmby Hills, a more modest 38,000-square-foot mansion, built by the investor and developer Gala Asher, came on the market in April for $150 million. The ultramodern house, on the prestigious Carolwood Drive, has a 5,300-square-foot master suite and a club level with bar, dance floor, wine room, lap pool, theater complex, beauty parlor and massage rooms. The property also includes several guesthouses and staff housing. The broker, Ginger Glass, said the price of the property was justified.

?Buyers today want new construction,? she said. ?And there isn?t anything that?s new like this in such a great location.?

Still more nine-figure homes are on the way. Real estate agents and developers say a home under construction in Bel Air is likely to have more than 50,000 square feet of living space, with finishes rivaling a superyacht?s. The price will be yacht-like, too, at around $300 million. Among the home?s amenities: the world?s largest safe.
 

GRtak

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Study: top bank execs saw the crash coming and sold off shares in their own institutions

In a new working paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research, scholars look at the trading records of shareholders, directors and top executives of major financial institutions in the runup to the crash of 2007, and find that the sell-offs by the top five executives at a bank strongly correlated with that bank's losses in the crash, but that other stakeholders' trading do not correlate: in other words, the very top brass of banks knew that they were sitting on piles of worthless paper and sold before anyone else knew about it, and kept their shareholders, direct reports, and the board of directors in the dark.

The significance here is that after the crash, the standard line on the banks' risky behavior was that they simply didn't anticipate the consequences of their recklessness; this research suggests that they knew exactly what was coming, but that "explicit and implicit bank guarantees by states, such as deposit insurance, provision of central bank liquidity, and bail-outs make it rational for banks to take on excessive risk," the result of which is that "bank managements can escape from control of their shareowners and holders of bank debt."

The paper finds that the top executives? ex-ante sale of their own bank shares predicts worse bank returns during the crisis; interestingly, effects are insignificant for independent directors? and other officers? sales of shares. That is, effects are substantially stronger for the insiders with the highest and best level of information, the top five executives. Moreover, the top five executives? impact is stronger for banks with higher ex-ante exposure to the real estate bubble, where an increase of one standard deviation of insider sales is associated with a 13.33 percentage point drop in stock returns during the crisis period. Our results suggest that insiders understood the heavy risk-taking in their banks; they were not simply over-optimistic, and hence they sold more of their own shares before the crisis.

These results have not only implications for corporate finance or banking theory based on agency problems, but also for an understanding of financial crises and public policy ? especially on the recent prudential policy measures across both sides of the Atlantic. Our evidence is consistent with agency problems in the banking industry being important for risk-taking. Accordingly, the recent policy initiatives to raise bank capital (including Basel III) or enforce macroprudential policies may be useful for limiting excessive bank risk-taking. If high risk-taking in banks were exclusively due to behavioral reasons, then some of the new prudential policies providing better incentives for bankers would not matter at all.

No less importantly, however, our results have policy implications for the regulation of insider trading in banks. Insiders? ability to trade (selling shares of their own bank when they anticipate that their excessive risk-taking may lead to large losses) may exacerbate conflicts of interest between them and shareholders, bank creditors, and even the other employees of the bank who did not or could not see what was coming. Banning trading by bank insiders might reduce excessive risk-taking by banks and operate as a (partial) substitute for bank capital regulation or macroprudential policies. Whether a total ban on insider trading would be justified, however, requires further analysis, since that may have other effects that also need to be assessed.
http://cepr.org/sites/default/files/news/CEPR_FreeDP_290516.pdf
 

GRtak

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As California wildfires raged, insurers sent in private firefighters to protect homes of the wealthy


During the worst of last month?s wildfires in Northern California, Dick Fredericks got a phone call that passed on ?some magical words?: His house was safe.

The message from a private firefighting service hired by his home insurer, Chubb Ltd. CB, +0.63% , was accompanied by an email with some two dozen photos, including one of the service?s firefighters pumping water from Fredericks?s swimming pool to extinguish a brush fire on his Sonoma Valley property.

Increasingly, insurance carriers are finding wildfires, such as those in California, are an opportunity to provide protection beyond what most people get through publicly funded fire fighting. Some insurers say they typically get new customers when homeowners see the special treatment received by neighbors during big fires.

The services are complimentary to policyholders in certain ZIP Codes or states that are prone to wildfires. Some insurers require policyholders to enroll in the programs in advance, to give permission for workers to access the property and to obtain contact information.

Chubb?s service, which began in 2008, is offered in 15 states. American International Group Inc AIG, +0.79% launched its Wildfire Protection Unit in 2005 in 14 California ZIP Codes. The unit has since expanded to 385 ZIP Codes in California, Colorado and Texas. Other insurers extending services include Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange, or PURE, and USAA.
 

GRtak

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So in certain zip codes that are wealthy get to be protected, but a poor one won't. Or at least the house in that zip code that has the right insurance company.
 

NecroJoe

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I don't see an issue with being allowed to pay more for more protection/coverage. There's a part of me that also thinks that there's a chance that it will allow the publicly-funded fire fighters to move on to other homes/areas sooner, allowing them to provide more/better service.

On the other hand, the "complimentary to policyholders in certain zip codes" is concerning...especially since I'm sure they will prioritize more affluent areas, without a doubt...but haven't looked into those stats at all to say if that's happening or not.
 
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CraigB

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It's obvious what they are doing. They see a $1m (Or more I'm sure, I don't understand California housing prices) loss and can mitigate the loss by spending a few dollars. It's smart, but looks really, really bad...
 
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LeVeL

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It's almost as if it costs the insurance company more money to pay out a claim on a multi-million dollar home than on a cheap shack. The outrage!!!
 

SirEdward

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The problem arises when you think of this not in absolute numbers, but in percentage of income.

So you may find that a wealthy person may afford an expensive house -and- house insurance for a lower percentage of their income compared to a less wealthy person, but the rich person will get a better service than the other, compared to what part of their income they invest in protection.

So, when a fire starts, which is a democratic calamity, wealth can save the day for the richer person even if the poorer person has dedicated more energy to it. That is quite bad.

But, there is more: since fire is democratic, it should be fought together, it should help people uniting in a single community. This differentiation in protection, however, will enhance the divide between rich and poor, and may even lead to things like the insurance-paid firefighters neglecting the house next door just because they are not paid to protect it. It is foreseeable to see someone not saving what he could save, because they are not paid to save it.

And the "no protection to those who can't pay" is much worse than the "added protection for those who can afford it".

The corporate view of the things is perfetly fine if you stay out of the community, which is something that can't be done without destroying the community itself.
 
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