To Protect Australian Workers’ Retirement Savings, We Must Democratize Pensions

Link: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/05/australia-pensions-superannuation-super-industry-funds-democratic-control-investment-vanguard-equity-stock-market

Excerpt:

By design, Australia’s existing superannuation system reproduces inequalities built into the labor market. This is because employers must pay super as a proportion of wages into individual accounts that then earn compounding returns. Upon retirement, high-income workers may find they own a significant pool of capital.

Meanwhile, lower-income workers — disproportionately women — retire with the lowest super balances. The same will be true of younger or marginalized workers who are trapped in precarious or informal employment. As wages continue to decline and precarious work becomes more prevalent, the number of people with a stake in defending superannuation is shrinking year by year.

To make matters worse, in its present form, superannuation undermines genuinely redistributive institutions like the age pension. This is because conservative political forces are able to present them as a last-resort safety net rather than a guarantee of the right to a decent retirement.

Author(s): Robert Lechte

Publication Date: 9 May 2021

Publication Site: Jacobin Magazine

Private Equity and Hedge Funds Survived the 2008 Crisis. Now They’re Making a Killing Off COVID-19.

Link: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/04/private-equity-hedge-funds-covid-profits

Excerpt:

What is a shadow bank?

The term shadow bank refers to things like hedge funds, venture capital firms, and private equity, which all have relatively less oversight than traditional financial institutions. These are all lending intermediaries, or institutions that lend money that fall outside of the mainstream regulatory structure of finance. They’re either situated outside of investment banks, or they exist in less regulated arenas of investment banks, perhaps in offshore settings. One example you might be familiar with is the big private equity firm Blackstone. Another is the big hedge fund Bridgewater.

The “shadow” label implies a degree of opacity, because frequently they make investments that are harder to understand, often in private markets rather than public markets. But it also refers to the fact that they’re lending in the shadow of larger institutions. This partially because they’re deemed to have sophisticated investors by the Securities and Exchange Commission and are therefore designated as subject to less oversight.

Author(s): Megan Tobias Neely interviewed by Meagan Day

Publication Date: 8 April 2021

Publication Site: Jacobin Magazine

The End of Joe Biden’s Student Debt Prison May Be in Sight

Link: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/04/biden-student-debt-loan-forgiveness-bankruptcy

Excerpt:

Bankruptcy courts have not been friendly to student borrowers. That’s at least partly attributable to Biden. In 2005, “the senator from MBNA,” so named for his close relationship with the credit card company that was also his largest donor, was one of eighteen Senate Democrats who backed a successful Republican-led bankruptcy reform bill that stripped private student loans of bankruptcy protection amid an explosion of private loan debt.

“He is a zealous advocate on behalf of one of his biggest contributors — the financial services industry,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said of Biden at the time.

For his part, Biden argued the law was necessary to prevent abuse of the system by borrowers who could afford to repay some of their debt. He and other supporters of the bankruptcy bill claimed the legislation would enable private lenders to lower costs for people seeking credit. But both arguments were ultimately proven wrong — abuse was minimal, and interest rates in general did not go down. Instead, the law resulted in a system that leaves borrowers with few options for relief.

Author(s): Walker Bragman

Publication Date: 8 April 2021

Publication Site: Jacobin Magazine