Except in this case its Sulzbergers, not Bancrofts living off the non-existent fat of the company, which is slashing a hundred jobs—nearly 8 percent of its newsroom. Bloomberg reports that one media analyst is surprised they put reporters and editors on the chopping block before their thirty-one-cent dividend, which the company bizarrely raised by eight cents a little more than a year ago in what was the biggest increase in at least ten years.
Dividends are supposed to be for safe, cash-producing stocks, which in case its management and board has failed to notice, the Times is not anymore. That money would be better spent investing in the future of the company’s journalism, not lining the pockets of Sulzbergers and investors to prop up a sinking share price.
How to live beyond your means
The Journal on page one looks at how strapped consumers are still finding unconventional ways to dig up money to make ends meet. Credit cards are still popular, of course, with borrowing near a record and up 8 percent from a year ago, but even the big home-as-ATM movement of this decade hasn’t been totally upended by the housing bust.
But businesses are reporting greater demand for newer cash-raising techniques. Reverse mortgages are gaining new favor. Secured by a home’s equity, this vehicle can provide consumers with a lump-sum payout, a line of credit, periodic payments or a combination thereof.
Also flourishing: niche products that quickly unlock the value of a particular asset. Life settlements, once marketed mainly to the wealthy, have grown in popularity as companies target smaller policies, like Ms. Brunner’s. A number of companies cater to people who’ve won personal-injury settlements—which are often paid over a period of years—by buying them out up front, typically for a sum much lower than the amount of the payments sold. Reserve Solutions Inc. of New York offers debit cards to help workers access funds from preapproved 401(k) loans.
Americans have so much debt that the only way to handle it is to go into more debt and pray for the best, or make bad financial decisions because they have to.
The so-called life-settlement industry ends up on average giving sellers about 20 percent of the face value of their life-insurance policy and people who’ve won lawsuits lose much of the money they would have gotten by getting paid upfront. Not only that but a financial regulator has warned that people who cash out assets may make themselves ineligible for some benefits like Medicaid.
Here’s today’s Dude, You Live in a $1.8 Million House And You’re Griping About the Price of Eggs Quote of the Day, a sign of our screwed-up economy:
Daniel Petelin, 62, lives in a roughly $1.8 million house in Redwood City, Calif. His mortgage debt on the place, about $16,000, is minimal. But the freelance public-relations and event manager, who has an income of about $47,000, is still feeling pinched. “Eggs a few months ago were 79 cents a dozen. Now they’re $1.79.”
FT leaves us hanging on warehousing news
The FT reports on page one that international regulators are planning to make it more expensive for investment banks to “warehouse” bundled assets, like the mortgage-backed securities that have them in so much trouble.
In particular, supervisors believe that the rules will reduce incentives for banks to engage in so-called “warehousing” activities—the practice of keeping repackaged assets inside a bank for an indefinite period, before selling them to outside investors.
One senior western policymaker said: “These changes are significant. They are definitely going to make some warehousing activities more expensive.”
But the paper leaves out some pretty basic information—how exactly the regulators plan to make it more costly. We guess from reading between the lines that new rules would do so by increasing the capital required to back “low-risk” assets that they’ve held on their books, but we could be totally wrong.
Maybe they want to slap a tax on them for all we know. Help us out, FT.
Bad year for trial lawyers