Crime doesn't pay, at least not very well, when it comes to robbing banks, a new study finds. With unprecedented access to financial data from British banks, economists have shown that bank robbers don't make a lot of money, certainly not enough to justify the risks involved in such an armed robbery. "The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish," the researchers wrote in the statistics journal Significance. "It is not unimaginable wealth." It is so low, in fact, that it is not financially worthwhile for banks to install screens that could further reduce robberies. Economist Neil Rickman of the University of Surrey and his colleagues were given unusual access to financial data from the British Bankers' Assn. Such data about robberies are not normally disclosed to the public because it is commercially sensitive and could potentially encourage copycat robbers. Treating bank robbery as a business like any other, they used normal statistical measures to calculate profitability...
Tag Archives | Wealth
A vigorous case for the super rich is argued by Edward Conard of Bain Capital in an interview with Adam Davidson for the New York Times Magazine:
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Ever since the financial crisis started, we’ve heard plenty from the 1 percent. We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants. They typically repeat platitudes about investment, risk-taking and job creation with the veiled contempt that the nation doesn’t understand their contribution. You get the sense that they’re afraid to say what they really believe. What do the superrich say when the cameras aren’t there?
With that in mind, I recently met Edward Conard on 57th Street and Madison Avenue, just outside his office at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped build into a multibillion-dollar business by buying, fixing up and selling off companies at a profit. Conard, who retired a few years ago at 51, is not merely a member of the 1 percent.
Occupy George is a (presumably illegal) attempt to convey the reality of wealth distribution in the United States to the public by adding pertinent information to paper currency and circulating it as needed. Now your money will have informational as well as purchase value. Download their templates or order the custom stamps, and you can begin minting your own Occupy George bills at home:
Money talks, but not loud enough for the 99%. By circulating dollar bills stamped with fact-based infographics, Occupy George informs the public of America’s daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.
Roll Call has crunched the financial data to figure out the wealthiest members of Congress and compiled a list the top 50. Ol’ mule John Kerry comes in third, followed by California representative Darrell Issa. The number one spot is held by Texas congressman Michael McCaul, who possesses about $300 million in assets, largely a result of his marriage to the daughter of Lowry Mays, the CEO and founder of the Clear Channel empire.
Looking at the entire list, the common theme, if any, is real estate investment and family money. Very few of the richest appear to have made their fortune from any activity that most people would consider a contribution to society — the most admirable is probably Issa, who founded an electronics company that manufactures car alarms. The surest conclusion to be drawn is that the estate tax will not be boosted anytime soon.
Via the NY Daily News:
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Peter Thiel has made his fortune by being part of the next big thing: He was a co-founder of Paypal and one of the early investors of Facebook. But a new Details profile sums up his new plans: “Forget startup companies. The next frontier is startup countries.”
Thiel has donated $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, the brainchild of Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer and grandson of economist Milton Friedman. Here’s the gist: creation of libertarian, sovereign nations built on oil-rig-type platforms anchored in international waters and free from the laws and moral codes of any other country.
Plans for the prototype include a movable, diesel-powered 12,000-ton structure that could house 270 residents. The goal would be to eventually link hundreds of the structures together. Friedman’s timeline is to launch offices off San Francisco next year, get a full-time settlement within seven years and eventually diplomatic recognition from the UN.
Warren Buffett says we need a significantly higher income tax for the super-rich. But could that argument be a red herring? Partial Objects writes that the real conversation we need to be having is about taxing wealth — i.e., Buffett’s $45 billion fortune, not the paltry millions he made in 2010:
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Warren Buffett wants us to stop coddling the super-rich. He argues for superlatively higher taxes on those with incomes greater than $1 million a year.
Let’s say we take Buffett’s advice, and we raise taxes so that those highest 400 income earners pay an additional 20% more in income taxes (i.e. 41.5 instead of 21.5). That would mean an additional $18 billion in revenue. Nice, right?
The US doesn’t tax wealth, but other countries do. If we did, at a modest 10%, it would mean an additional $140 billion in revenue every year. But we never talk about taxing wealth, only income.
...the bottom line is this: A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes. They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%. Moreover, those at the very top have no incentive whatsoever for revealing or changing the rules. I am not optimistic.(Full Article Here)
This is one of the most interesting studies on comparative religions that I have seen in a long time. Who’d be a Jehovah’s Witness, eh? David Leonhart reports for the New York Times:
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The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.
The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.
On the other end are Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists. In each case, 20 percent or fewer of followers made at least $75,000.
In an effort to contain class resentment stemming from a growing wealth gap, China has outlawed public ads that extol luxurious or ‘high end’ things. Are they onto something? Partial Objects takes note:
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The clean up means commercials posted or aired in public can no longer include words like “supreme”, “royal”, “luxury” or “high class”, all of which frequently appear in Chinese promotions for real estate developments, vehicles and wines.
This move is designed to deal with the growing resentment about the wealth gap that exists between (some) urban and rural Chinese.
But note that they aren’t banning the wealth itself, or taxing it to oblivion; but managing the appearance of wealth, the description of wealth. It’s still okay to sell high end real estate, just don’t describe it as “elite” or “luxury.”
The Chinese government is fighting a linguistic battle, not an economic one. Anyone who sees a nice car may want one, but it is the description of that car and not the car itself that makes it an aspirational good.