February 27, 2017
What We’re Reading This Week
Talk around the water cooler (at Bloomberg anyway) suggests the next financial crisis may come from a bubble in auto loans. Somehow, I doubt it. My opinion is not based on economic data mind you; it is just that the last financial crisis was related to a bubble in home lending. It would look really bad if we had another crisis related to consumer loans and durable goods. However, last quarter auto debt hit a record high of $1.16 trillion. Plus, lower rated borrowers are missing payments like it’s 2009. What happens when you miss too many payments on your self-driving car? Does it just leave? Can a car repossess itself? I guess the adage is true: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.” Maybe we can add that as fine print to loans for self-driving cars?
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, spoke to his staff last week about recent “cultural failings” at the company. Controversy has buffeted Uber over the years with the most recent issues stemming from a New York taxi strike and allegations from a former employee regarding sexual harassment. I feel like we should not have such high expectations for a company that encourages you to get in a stranger’s car.
White Collar Crime
I have to admit, I have been waiting for this day with baited breath. I knew that one day I would wake up in a world where gangs were turning to white-collar crime. It truly is a brave new world. It makes sense, white-collar crime is often more lucrative than violent and drug related crimes and the sentences are often lighter. As an added advantage, when you steal money from a drug dealer or a rival gang there is a chance someone else may kill you. When you write fraudulent checks at Bank of America there is a much smaller possibility that an employee of the bank will murder you and your family. So, you have that going for you. These crimes are not without consequences, of course. Yesterday, I received an offer to purchase additional insurance on a refrigerator I bought at Home Depot a few weeks ago. More accurately, I received an offer to purchase additional insurance on a refrigerator someone else had purchased in my name at Home Depot. Last month my debit card was used to buy $1,400 worth of goods at Lowes and Home Depot in Harper Woods. The bank refunded me my money, so essentially it was a victimless crime. Unless you consider the bank a victim. I do not. Part of me is happy. Maybe the thief is selling the refrigerator illegally. However, I like to think they are using it in their home. Maybe they really needed a new fridge. A few years ago, someone stole my wallet and purchased a car battery at an auto parts store before I realized it was gone. I think it would be easy to be upset if they were taking money from an ATM or financing human trafficking. However, when someone turns to crime to purchase refrigerators and car batteries I cannot help but feel somewhat happy that aspect of their life is better, in no small part because of me. Do not get me wrong, I am still not buying that extra fridge insurance. That is a racket.
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