‘Thinking of gifting someone "The 12 Days of Christmas" this year? Well you better be well-off. Sean Cole investigates the true price of the song.’
NPR and Propublica collaborated on a story () related to this interview.
‘Two years before the financial crisis hit, Merrill Lynch confronted a serious problem. No one, not even the bank’s own traders, wanted to buy the supposedly safe portions of the mortgage-backed securities Merrill was creating.
Bank executives came up with a fix that had short-term benefits and long-term consequences. They formed a new group within Merrill, which took on the bank’s money-losing securities. But how to get the group to accept deals that were otherwise unprofitable? They paid them. The division creating the securities passed portions of their bonuses to the new group, according to two former Merrill executives with detailed knowledge of the arrangement. …
Within Merrill Lynch, some traders called it a "million for a billion" — meaning a million dollars in bonus money for every billion taken on in Merrill mortgage securities. Others referred to it as "the subsidy." One former executive called it bribery. The group was being compensated for how much it took, not whether it made money.’
‘KUOW has learned that 19 people working for charities in the Puget Sound region earned more than $1 million in 2008. The nonprofit groups paid the seven–figure sums even as Washington state fell into its worst recession in decades. According to the charities’ filings with the IRS, another 59 employees earned at least $500,000 that year.
The charities are the region’s nonprofit hospitals. John Ryan brings us this KUOW investigation.’
‘One way retailers are trying to maximize profits this holiday season is through "dynamic pricing," whereby the price of an item is based on what the seller thinks the consumer is willing to pay. Slate’s Annie Lowrey says that retailers use your browsing history, your purchase history, and even your browser type to guess how deep your pockets are.’
‘For decades, the FCC has been fielding complaints about the drastic volume change between television shows and the commercials around them. Up until now, their only solution was to recommend that viewers use the mute button when a loud commercial comes on. The Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Williamson says all that will change now that Congress has passed new legislation to regulate the volume of commercials.’
‘Parents, the next time you fret that your child is wasting too much time playing video games, consider new research suggesting that video gaming may have real-world benefits for your child’s developing brain.
Daphne Bavelier is professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. She studies young people playing action video games. Having now conducted more than 20 studies on the topic, Bavelier says, "It turns out that action video games are far from mindless."’
From Santastic V. http://www.santastic4.com/V/
The periodic table lists 118 different chemical elements. And yet, for thousands of years, humans have really, really liked one of them in particular: gold. Gold has been used as money for millennia, and its price has been going through the roof.
Why gold? Why not osmium, lithium, or ruthenium?
We went to an expert to find out: Sanat Kumar, a chemical engineer at Columbia University. We asked him to take the periodic table, and start eliminating anything that wouldn’t work as money.
"Attorneys general in all 50 states are investigating improper foreclosure procedures that may cause sweeping consequences for the banks and institutions that bought mortgage-backed securities during the housing boom — and affect the cases of thousands of homeowners facing eviction.
Since the housing bust two years ago, when millions of homeowners fell behind on their loans, the foreclosure industry has grown into a multibillion-dollar business. To deal with the thousands of defaulted loans needing to be processed, banks relied on thousands of temporary employees who often had little experience and training to handle the foreclosure paperwork.
This resulted in many mistakes being made throughout the foreclosure process. Reports of sloppy documentation — including the questionable notarization of documents, the loss of key paperwork needed to begin foreclosure proceedings and missing paperwork on original mortgages — temporarily halted foreclosure proceedings across much of the country in early October. It also triggered at least five separate federal investigations into the ways mortgage lenders have handled foreclosures.
On today’s Fresh Air, Gretchen Morgenson, who covers the world financial markets for The New York Times, untangles the complex foreclosure mess and explains the flawed paperwork trail that has led to the reexamination of hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases."