4. Good news!  U.S. households are wealthier than ever!

    Bad news: Not everyone is sharing in the wealth.


  5. A small, conservatively managed financial institution of the Catholic Church that serves those spreading the Word of God around the world.

    How The Vatican Bank, which made 86 million euros last year, describes itself.

    What’s on the Vatican Bank’s balance sheet?


  6. I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like (BLOCKED) to intern at (BLOCKED), but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception. I am extremely interested in investment banking and would love nothing more than to learn under your tutelage. I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can.

    I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp (sic) about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.

    A young finance major looking for an internship wins over hotshot investment bankers by admitting in his cover letter that there’s nothing special about him.

  7. Cartoon of the day: Digging for trouble 
    TOM TOLES © 2013 Universal Press Syndicate

    More cartoons

    (Source: theweek.com)


  8. President Obama convincingly won a tough re-election fight, and almost immediately he has to deal with “Taxmageddon,” the so-called fiscal cliff that looms before the U.S. economy on Jan. 1, 2013.

    But what, exactly, is the fiscal cliff?

    Answer: The fiscal cliff is a combination of $536 billion in tax increases — a return of rates to 2001 levels (before the Bush tax cuts) plus an end to Obama’s 2 percent payroll tax holiday and various business and investment tax breaks — plus $110 billion in spending cuts almost immediately affecting everything from the military to Medicare.

    How would that affect me?
    According to an Oct. 1 analysis by the Tax Policy Center, the fiscal cliff would increase taxes for 90 percent of Americans, by an average of about $3,500 per household. There’s a pretty big spread contained within that average — the lowest 20 percent of earners would have to pay $412 more a year (a 3.7 percent cut in after-tax income), the top 1 percent would pay an extra $120,000 a year (a 10.5 percent hit), and those earning $40,000 to $65,000 a year would pay an average of $2,000 more a year (a 4.4 percent cut in income)

    Who thought this would be a good idea?
    Nobody, really. A sizable majority of Washington, including Obama, wants some of the tax rates to stay put, at least for now; the question is whether to keep all of the lower rates, as the GOP demands, or raise taxes for just the wealthy, as Democrats insist. We’re at this point largely because the two sides couldn’t resolve that conflict at the end of 2010, the last time the Bush-era tax cuts were scheduled to expire. The package of steep spending cuts, or sequester, was Congress’ idea, a cudgel to force its own “supercommittee” to agree on a binding plan to reduce the deficit; they didn’t. 

    Would driving off the fiscal cliff really be so awful?
    Some economists argue that while the short-term pain would be bad, it might be worth the reward: Taming the national debt without having to do anything else. But most analysts say the one-two punch of big cuts and sharply higher taxes would be too strong a shock to the recovering economy. “Going over the fiscal cliff would mean allowing a massive and immediate cut to nearly every major government agency and activity, including those vital to our national security or economic growth,” argues Erskin Bowles in The Washington Post. “It would mean a double-dip recession at a time when the economy is still very weak and many Americans are struggling to find work.”

    What are lawmakers going to do about it?
    That’s the $800 billion question. Obama campaigned pretty heavily on raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and has pledged to veto any fiscal-cliff solution that doesn’t do that. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — now “the undisputed leader of the Republican Party,” says The Washington Post's Dana Milbank — made conciliatory noises after the election about the House GOP agreeing to ”accept some additional revenues” as part of a broad deal that reforms entitlements and the tax code, but it’s not clear if he’s offering anything new. And he also said that since they kept control of the House, Republicans “have as much of a mandate as [Obama]… to not raise taxes,” notes an unconvinced David Weigel at Slate. The great Beltway hope is that Obama and Boehner will seal a comprehensive “Grand Bargain,” and that their parties will go along with it. They have 49 days. Stay tuned.

    Everything you need to know about the fiscal cliff 

    (Source: theweek.com)


  9. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are still a month away, but London has already exceeded its budget by 101 percent — and counting.  Here, a look at what could possibly become the most expensive Olympic games in history, by the numbers:

    $13 billion — Expected sports-related cost of the London Olympics

    $6.5 billion — Original estimate of the 2012 Summer Games budget

    $37.5 billion — Projected total cost of the London Olympics, including everything from sports-related spending to security to overtime for subway train drivers, according to a Sky Sports investigation

    14,000 — Security guards added after the original estimate of 10,000 was determined to be inadequate

    $864 million — Current estimate of the security budget, which doubled because of needs not initially spotted 

    $524,000 — Price tag for a single outdoor sculpture called Jurassic Stones — which locals have dubbed “row of stones on sticks” — erected to greet motorists arriving at a venue for sailing events

    More numbers

    (Source: theweek.com)


    A numerical look at the average family’s financial struggles:

    Net worth of the median American family in 2007

    Net worth of the median family in 2010

    Percentage drop in wealth over that three-year period

    Median percentage of debt that was education-related in 2007

    Median percentage of education-related debt in 2010

    Percentage of Americans late on their debt payments in 2007

    Percentage late on payments in 2010

    The dwindling wealth of the American family: By the numbers

    (Source: theweek.com)


  11. As Congress and the White House cast about for ways to shrink the yawning U.S. budget deficit, they could do worse than starting with a few stern words for their own staffs. According to IRS data crunched by The Washington Post, almost 100,000 employees of Congress, the West Wing, and several other federal agencies were collectively about $1 billion short in paying their 2010 taxes. That’s “totally unacceptable and disrespectful,” says Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who’s pushing a bill to make tax delinquency a firable offense for federal workers. “If you’re on the federal payroll, the very least you can do is pay your taxes.” Here, a by-the-numbers look at the federal bureaucracy’s tax problem:

    • $114.2 billion
      Unpaid 2010 taxes, interest, and penalties for all Americans
    • $1.03 billion
      Amount that 98,291 federal, postal, and congressional employees owe in unpaid 2010 taxes
    • $32 million
      Increase from 2009 to 2010 in delinquent federal employee taxes owed
    • 0.96
      Tax delinquency rate, in percent, at the Treasury Department, which houses the IRS. That’s the lowest rate of any agency studied.
    • $9.3 million
      Unpaid 2010 taxes for 1,181 delinquent Treasury employees

    More numbers here


    • $113,149 - Average net worth of a white household in 2009
    • $78,066 - Average net worth of an Asian household in 2009
    • $5,677 - Average net worth of a black household in 2009
    • $6,325 - Average net worth of a Hispanic household in 2009

    America’s massive racial wealth gap


  12. This is only being implemented in Illinois, but if this pilot program and another $4-a-pop one in Texas prove successful, getting cash may become more expensive nationwide. To compete for customers, “banks are going to try to minimize the monthly fees and load you with fees in different ways — and ATM fees are going to become one of the most popular ways to do that.”