Tag Archives: the economy

Divorce Insurance

It's good we've finally come to this. If you're the type of person to get married, but want a little piece of mind, you ought to call WedLock. The idea of divorce insurance is seedy on its own. What really bothers me is it's such a shitty deal.

WedLock, as it's coyly named, is a new type of casualty insurance that gives the unhappily married policyholder a payout after he or she is unhitched. It costs about $16 a month for every $1,250 of coverage. But to discourage people from signing up just prior to their divorce, policyholders must ante up for four years before the policy will pay out. It adds a premium of $250 per unit for every year the marriage survives beyond four. So if a policyholder who bought 10 units got divorced after 10 years, he or she would have handed over $19,188 and would receive a payout of $27,500.

Brad Pitt Options Wrong Michael Lewis Book

It says here that Brad Pitt has optioned The Big Short. As loyal readers, you'll know that I've been using the platform of Unlikely Words for several years to advocate for a movie based on Liar's Poker. Actually The Big Short and Liar's Poker could be released together as a part 1 and part 2 of the financial collapse. Shia Labeouf could play a young Michael Lewis.
Pitt's Plan B productions is going full steam ahead on an adaptation of Lewis' latest, "The Big Short," about the events that led up to the current financial fiasco. They're set offer Charles Randolph ("The Interpreter," "The Life of David Gale") $750G to write a script, reported New York mag's Vulture.

Every couple months or so, I do a little Googling to see if Liar's Poker has been optioned yet. Turns out it was optioned 20 years ago. Make the fucking movie already.

A few more Michael Lewis links to round out the day:
Complete Guide To Who's Who In The CDO Scandal
Goldman Sachs Is Doomed

On Oaths
We pledge to meet and even get to know ordinary people who do not work for Goldman Sachs, so that we might better understand their irrational behavior, and exploit it only when necessary.

Goldman Didn’t Have A Single Day of Loss Last Quarter

Which I suppose is exactly what they had in mind when they put together their master plan, but it's still a little shocking:
In the quarter ended March 31, Goldman made money on every single trading day. The firm did not record a loss of even $0.01 on even one day in the last quarter. That's 63 days profitable out of 63 trading days. The statistic probability of this event is itself statistically undefined. Goldman is now the market - or, in keeping with modern market reality, Goldman is the house, it controls the casino, and always wins. Congratulations America: you now have far, far better odds in Las Vegas that you have making money with your E-Trade account.

When they've gotten so brazen they don't even care about the optics of something like this, you know we're all in trouble.

Brad Pitt Close to Optioning Another Michael Lewis Book

Looks like Brad Pitt's production company is about to option another Michael Lewis book. One that hasn't even come out yet.
Plan B Entertainment, is closing on a deal to option Lewis's next book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, a chronicle of Wall Street greed and the swollen U.S. housing market. Pitt is also considering starring.

I swear if someone doesn't start making a movie about Liar's Poker soon, I'm going to start typing in all caps. And I'll mean it, too. The fact that it's not a movie yet makes me itchy.

16 Step Program

Slacktivist has 16 steps Glenn Beck should take to stop being so angry.

8. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld to pay for your health insurance is a lot more than it was last year.
I won't ask you to dig up old paychecks from 2008 and 2007, but this has been going on for a long time. Every year, the amount of your paycheck withheld to pay for your health insurance goes up. A lot.

Homeowners opt to flee instead of fight as loan modifications start to lose luster

Even when HAMP works, it doesn't:
Recently, Airan-Pace secured a modification for a Miami Beach client that shrank his monthly payment from $3,700 to $1,600. But it was only a reduction in interest rate — allowed by the Home Affordable Modification Program to go as low as 2 percent.
"I called him in and he said, 'I'm not signing this,' " Airan-Pace recalled.
He owed $470,000 on a property worth less than half that.

The Trouble With Debit Cards

The NY Times discusses the problems caused by rewards earning credit/debit cards for merchants and consumers alike. Visa, and to a lesser extent Mastercard, come off looking like health insurance companies. Entities who don't add significant value to the economy, but manage to skim huge profits and act as a burden anyway. One solution:
Life might be simpler and more efficient if retailers could levy a surcharge that covers their costs to accept cards and let consumers figure out whether to pay it. But the card companies don’t allow that, and Congress hasn’t yet forced their hand, though this is now how things work in Australia (where some retailers charge excessive fees, alas).

And from a few days earlier, here is the Times talking about why the fees are so high.
The banks have used interchange fees as a growing profit center and to pay for cardholder perks like rewards programs. Interchange revenue has increased to $45 billion today, from $20 billion in 2002, driven in part by the surge in debit card use.

Strategic Default

I missed this NYTimes piece by Roger Lowenstein discussing how incongruous it is for big banks to be the main cheerleaders for the idea that people have a moral imperative to continue paying mortgages when their homes are underwater. This concept seems perilously close to a tipping point that would have disastrous results for the economy. What would the banks do then? Lowenstein, by the way, wrote the great, "Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management", which is as good as, "Liar's Poker" at helping to explain the genesis of this entire mess.

Think of private-equity firms that close a factory — essentially deciding that the company is worth more dead than alive. Or the New York Yankees and their World Series M.V.P. Hideki Matsui, who parted company as soon as the cheering stopped. Or money-losing hedge-fund managers: rather than try to earn back their investors’ lost capital, they start new funds so they can rake in fresh incentives. Sam Zell, a billionaire, let the Tribune Company, which he had previously acquired, file for bankruptcy. Indeed, the owners of any company that defaults on bonds and chooses to let the company fail rather than invest more capital in it are practicing “strategic default.” Banks signal their complicity with this ethos when they send new credit cards to people who failed to stay current on old ones.