Posts belonging to Category Personal Finance



What is Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a fan of this geeky economic theory called MMT

  • MMT is a big departure from conventional economic theory. It proposes governments that control their own currency can spend freely, as they can always create more money to pay off debts in their own currency.
  • The theory suggests government spending can grow the economy to its full capacity, enrich the private sector, eliminate unemployment, and finance major programs such as universal healthcare, free college tuition, and green energy.
  • If the spending generates a government deficit, this isn’t a problem either. The government’s deficit is by definition the private sector’s surplus.
  • Increased government spending will not generate inflation as long as there is unused economic capacity or unemployed labour, MMT proposes. It is only when an economy hits physical or natural constraints on its productivity — such as full employment — that inflation happens because that is when supply fails to meet demand, jacking up prices.
  • MMT proponents argue governments can control inflation by spending less or withdrawing money from the economy through taxes.

https://www.businessinsider.com/

Machines driving a ‘fire sale’ is a top market risk in 2019

30-item list of the most important drivers of financial markets risks

Deutsche Bank has produced a 30-item list of the risks it thinks will be the most important drivers of financial markets next year. Produced by Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist, the list spans everything from a market “fire sale” driven by trading algorithms to Britain leaving the EU without a Brexit deal.

After a turbulent 2018, which has seen stocks swing violently, it is time to look ahead to what might be in store as we head into the new year. With 2019 less than two weeks away,

Obvious worries, like the US-China trade war and the Fed’s continued increases in interest rates, feature prominently, but more esoteric risks, such as a house price crash in Australia also appear.

Check out the full list.

http://businessinsider.com

Judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional

U.S. healthcare stocks drop

Shares of U.S. health insurers, hospitals and healthcare companies fell on Monday in the aftermath of a ruling by a federal judge in Texas that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called Obamacare, was unconstitutional. Many legal experts predicted U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision on Friday eventually will be reversed on appeal considering that the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court, but the uncertainty created by the ruling drove down healthcare stocks on Monday.

O’Connor agreed with a coalition of Republican officials from 20 states that Obamacare was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring that Americans obtain medical insurance. The judge refused the states’ request to issue an injunction immediately blocking 2010 law that was championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama from being enforced.

The White House on Friday said the law would remain in effect pending any appeal.

http://reuters.com

Amazon says it had its biggest shopping day ever on Cyber Monday

Customers ordered over 180 million items over five days

Amazon said Tuesday it had its biggest shopping day ever on Cyber Monday, basing the record on the number of items sold. It also said customers ordered over 180 million items over the five days starting with Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Amazon did not say how many items it sold on Cyber Monday alone. It also did not release revenue generated over the holiday weekend, or any other data that could provide insight into how well its fourth quarter is going. We won’t have a full sense of how Amazon performed this quarter until it reports earnings after the new year.
Investors are expected to closely watch the results of Amazon’s holiday sales after the company delivered fourth quarter guidance that missed Wall Street expectations. In its third-quarter earnings report, Amazon said it expected revenue for the holiday season to range from $66.5 billion to $72.5 billion, below the consensus estimate of $73.79 billion.
http://www.cnbc.com

Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner discuss the 2008 financial crisis

The three bailed out Wall Street to help Main Street

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner reflected on the financial crisis during a forum in Washington, D.C. A decade later, the three officials who helped pull the U.S. out of the financial crisis now struggle with the choices they made, particularly considering that the public still sees the moves as a bailout for Wall Street.

The three spoke during a forum at the Brookings Institution in a talk moderated by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, who wrote “Too Big to Fail,” a chronicle of the crisis told from the inside of those who experienced it first-hand.

“We stepped in before the banks had collapsed and we did some things to fix the financial system which are very hard to explain because they are objectionable things,” Paulson said. “In the United States of America there’s a fundamental sense of fairness that the American people have. … You don’t want to reward the arsonist.”

Lehman Brothers went bust 10 years ago

Can it happen again?

In early 2007, the then chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, dismissed the idea that the slowdown in the US housing market had profound implications. It was, according to the man running the world’s most powerful central bank, just a local affair. Everybody knows what happened next. Within 18 months the local problem in the US subprime mortgage market had ballooned into the biggest global financial crisis since the 1930s. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt 10 years ago this week, it was the catalyst for a month of turmoil in which no financial institution was considered entirely safe.
Inevitably, the anniversary of those tumultuous weeks in late September and early October 2008 has prompted speculation about whether it could happen again. And, if so, what will be the cause? Looking around the global economy, there are plenty of potential candidates…

Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon

“Wages are so low, employees forced to depend on food stamps”

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon and other big companies that employ workers who collect food stamps and other public assistance. But Amazon disputes Sanders’ depiction, saying its pay and benefits are competitive with other retailers. The progressive icon from Vermont has been on the attack lately, posting a series of Facebook videos over the past week calling out Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) for not paying a living wage, which he lists in some posts as $15 an hour. In one video, titled “Get Amazon Off of Corporate Welfare,” he highlighted that CEO Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person and earns $260 million a day, while many of his workers are on food stamps.

“Mr. Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing in order to survive,” Sanders said in the video, stressing that taxpayers foot the bill for these benefits. “Frankly, I don’t believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world because they pay their employees inadequate wages.”
http://www.cnn.com

62% of America’s Jobs Pay Less Than $20 Per Hour

US has 130 million jobs overall

Almost two-thirds of America’s jobs aren’t paying a cent more than $20 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That means 62 percent of the nation’s jobs offer their employees less than $41,600 a year! The BLS report (h/t Horizon Credit Union) notes that the US has 130 million jobs overall.  Of those positions, 18 million pay less than $10 an hour and a startling 63 million pay between $10 and $20. Add it all up and you’ve got 81 million jobs (out of 130 million) paying their workers less than $20. This includes administrative assistants, personal care aides, and retail workers.

Employers that offer a more generous salary, more than $42,000 a year, make up about 38 percent of the nation’s jobs. According to CNN Money, 27 million jobs offer an hourly pay between $20 and $30. That includes plumbers, office supervisors, electricians, and insurance sales agents — all four positions have an hourly pay that hover around $24 an hour, an annual salary of about $50,000.
https://www.madamenoire.com/

Wage floor for Uber's ride-hail drivers

The goal is to pay drivers $17.22 an hour, or $15 an hour after expenses like gas.

The New York City council passed first-of-its-kind legislation this afternoon setting a wage floor for ride-hail drivers and capping the number of ride-hail vehicles in the city. Below, our story from before the historic vote.

Uber drivers make about as much money as minimum wage workers.

In some cases they can even make less. That’s because Uber drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than employees, and aren’t protected under federal, state, and local minimum wage laws.

Uber drivers aren’t being recognized as employees (that legal battle is ongoing). But in New York City, the city council is poised to pass a package of bills that, for the first time ever, would set a wage floor for Uber drivers and their peers in the ride-hail industry.
https://qz.com/

Amazon earnings skyrocket

Unlike Facebook

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) forecast strong fall sales and posted a profit that was double Wall Street targets on Thursday thanks to the retailer’s younger, higher-earning businesses, including cloud computing and advertising.
Shares rose more than 3 percent in after-hours trade. The report was a relief to investors in the U.S. technology sector, still reeling from a profit warning by Facebook Inc (FB.O) Wednesday that plunged its stock 19 percent.
Amazon’s report shows how the world’s largest online retailer has increasingly learned to compensate for the high costs of fast package delivery and video streaming by controlling expenses and building up higher-profit businesses. It was the first mover in the business of selling data storage and computing power in the cloud, a bet that continues to reap rewards and give it the leeway to invest in grand projects.
For instance, the company is working to ship food from Whole Foods Market stores across the United States, in an ambitious attempt to bring groceries into the age of online retail.
http://www.reuters.com

Venezuela’s inflation rate may hit 1,000,000 percent

Hyperinflation in Venezuela

 When the International Monetary Fund predicted this year that hyperinflation in Venezuela could top 13,000 percent, it seemed as if the South American country’s economic outlook could not get any worse.

It just did. With the situation in the country deteriorating faster than expected, the IMF has unveiled a far more severe prognosis, saying that Venezuela’s hyperinflation is poised to reach an annualized rate of 1 million percent by year’s end. That inflation rate is set to catapult socialist Venezuela into a rogue’s gallery of nations that have suffered the worst inflation rates in history.

Venezuela’s “is one of the most severe hyperinflation situations that we’ve known about since the beginning of the 20th century,” said Robert Rennhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department.

http://www.washingtonpost.com

Nigeria and India, champions of the extreme poverty in the world

Nigeria overtakes India

Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day. The findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute, show that more than 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty, with Africans accounting for about two-thirds of the total number.

In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. “By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today,” the researchers write.
Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards.

Economic Ponzi Scheme

Financial disaster is quickly forgotten

Consider two economic systems. In one, consumers work for employers to produce products and services. The employees are paid wages and salaries, and business owners earn profits. They use much of that income to purchase the goods and services produced by the economy. They save the remainder. A certain portion of the output represents “investment” goods, which are not consumed, and the portion of income not used for consumption – what we call “saving” – is used to directly or indirectly purchase those investment goods. There may be some goods that are produced and are not purchased, in which case they become unintended “inventory investment,” but in a general sense, this first economic system is a well-functioning illustration of what we call “circular flow” or “general equilibrium.” As is always the case in the end, income equals expenditure, savings equal investment, and output is absorbed either as consumption or investment.
The second economic system is dysfunctional. Consumers work for employers to produce goods and services, but because of past labor market slack, weak bargaining power, and other factors, they are paid meaningfully less than they actually need to meet their consumption plans. The government also runs massive deficits, partly to supplement the income and medical needs of the public, partly to purchase goods and services from corporations, and partly to directly benefit corporations by cutting taxes on profits (despite being the only country in the OECD where corporations pay no value-added tax).

https://www.seekingalpha.com/

The richest families in the world

33 rich people listed by the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times has published its much-anticipated Sunday Times Rich List for 2018, which ranks the wealthiest people in Britain, as well as the rest of the world— and it gives readers a sneak peek into the net worth of some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, self-made billionaires, and family groups.
https://www.businessinsider.com/

Five top stock ideas

Big gains

Morgan Stanley revealed its favorite stock picks to its clients, predicting big gains for several stocks this year.
These are “the firm’s best stock recommendations,” Morgan Stanley’s research team wrote Wednesday. “Selection criteria is simple – stocks that we expect to outperform the market in the next 3-6 months based on specific catalysts such as a change in industry fundamentals, a positive EPS surprise, or new product introduction.”
https://www.cnbc.com/