The Ford Foundation has been working to close the racial wealth gap for over two decades, a gap much in the news these days, and one part of that effort has been to help “unbanked” low-income people escape from the shady world of payday lending and worse, and access the financial services that middle-class people take for granted. To that end, Ford recently gave $1 million dollars to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to continue its work on building financial tools for the underserved.
To me, his foundation’s role in helping fan panic over deficits at the height of the Great Recession—when most economists argued that more stimulus was needed to spark growth, not austerity—was deeply irresponsible.
Sam Zell is a Chicago businessman with a fortune of nearly $5 billion. His wife Helen is a philanthropist with wide interests and liberal views. The couple has been stepping up their giving, and we watch them closely, although we’re often struck by the inscrutability of the Zell Family Foundation’s giving, and always on the lookout for clues as to where the Zells’ philanthropy is going.
If you are a nonprofit that focuses on housing, should you apply for CDFI money? It’s probably a good idea to look into it. Funding from CDFIs has increased since 2008, and appears to be a growing trend.
How do you kill the American dream? One way is to finance people in over their heads, in essence creating debtors out of hard-working people who, in a more sane economy, would be accruing assets. It appears we are ready to go down the path of deregulation again all too quickly. From the New York Times:
“Financial deregulation is similar to relaxing rules on nuclear power plants,” argue Anton Korinek of Johns Hopkins University and Jonathan Kreamer of the University of Maryland in a related working paper for the Bank for International Settlements. It makes it easier and more profitable for the utilities, their shareholders and executives. It might also help ordinary Americans get cheaper electricity. “However, it comes at a heightened risk of nuclear meltdowns that impose massive negative externalities on the rest of society.”
Read more at More Renters, Less Risk for Wall St. – NYTimes.com.
And, for a first-hand account of what it feels like to be ripped off by an unscrupulous bank: http://www.rifuture.org/the-mortgage-debt-crisis-murders-the-american-dream.html
It’s hard to know how many people lost their homes thanks to this bank’s abusive lending and foreclosure practices, but the answer is probably “a lot.”
Let’s just cut to the chase: is the American dream affordable, and if not, what changes need to be made to this equation to make it affordable?