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Ezra Klein is full of shit on corporate hoarding

Ezra Klein is full of shit. He paints a nice graph to demonstrate that corporations hoarding cash is nothing new... and because it is nothing new, he decides, there isn't anything wrong with the practice. The only thing is, the man makes absolutely no sense in his posting. It's Econ 101, Ezra, that money sitting in a vault isn't working and making more money, and money that isn't invested isn't driving employment. Ezra, friend, whose side are you on? Not mine. Ezra Klein - Corporations not hoarding cash
Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of people have been talking about how corporations are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash reserves and that if we could just get them to feel more confident, we could unleash a massive private-sector stimulus. The question, of course, was how to do that. But Barry Ritholtz presents some compelling evidence that today's reserves aren't anything out of the ordinary. Rather, they're the continuation of a long-term trend toward businesses hoarding money. Check it out:
FT-Corp-cash.png
As you can see, the cash-to-assets ratio more than doubled between 1980 and 2004. The rise between 2004 and 2010 -- which was really a recession-driven drop followed by a rapid recovery -- just puts it back at trend. Which suggests that businesses aren't insecure in a particularly historic way. They're not hiring more and not spending more because they don't see a reason to. But the extraordinary reserves that suggest an extraordinary absence of confidence aren't actually that extraordinary.

July 14, 2010

Utah group publishes list of 1,300 suspected undocumented people

Many of the names on the list are pregnant mothers and the list includes their projected delivery dates. Herbert calls for investigation into list of 1,300 identified as illegal immigrants | Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — An anonymous group says it quietly watched Hispanics in their neighborhoods, schools, churches and "public welfare buildings" to compile a list of 1,300 people it says are illegal immigrants living in Utah. The group sent the list to law enforcement agencies and news media demanding that those named "be deported immediately." It is not known who produced the list, although Gov. Gary Herbert has called for an investigation to see if the list was compiled by someone with access to state databases containing personal information. The list contains birth dates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers. Names of children are included. Several pregnant women have their exact due dates listed. All the names seem to be Hispanic. "This is a way to terrorize people," said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino and a former state director of Hispanic affairs. He spent much of Tuesday calling people on the list to warn them and to figure out who may have collected the information. "I'm nauseated," he said through tears. "All of these people are terrified. I don't have words to describe how scared they are. It just breaks my heart what they are telling me." While some are worried about deportation, others fear that "crazy people" could use the list to hurt them or their families, Yapias said.

July 07, 2010

Insurer revoked leukemia patient’s coverage because it claimed she underpaid her premium by a penny

Think Progress -- Insurer revoked leukemia patient’s coverage because it claimed she underpaid her premium by a penny.
One of the worst abuses of the private health insurance industry is the practice of denying claims to pay for necessary care or revoking the coverage of policyholders for frivolous reasons. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that a leukemia patient — a single mother of two teenage boys — had her coverage revoked after her penny-pinching insurance company, Discover Benefits, claimed that she had underpaid her premium: La Rosa Carrington has more than enough to worry about. She’s a single mother with two teenage daughters, she’s fighting a type of leukemia that requires five days of chemo a month for four months, and she lost her job in May. So the last thing she needed was news that her health insurance benefits would be terminated because she hadn’t paid her premium in full. The shortfall? One penny. [...] Under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, those who meet the eligibility requirements pay just 35 percent of the full COBRA premium. Because Carrington had not yet received a bill showing what her payment would be with the discount, she whipped out a calculator, figured out that she owed $165.15 a month and sent a check for that amount to Discovery Benefits. But Discovery Benefits determined she owed $165.16, and last week, she received a letter from the company telling her she was short on her premium and her coverage could not be continued. The letter, however, did not tell her how much she owed. She called Discovery Benefits and was aghast when she heard the amount. “I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ How am I going to pay you a penny’”?