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Weekend Roundup: Why There Is No Better Time for Another Trudeau

When Justin Trudeau’s sophisticated and cosmopolitan father Pierre was prime minister in the 1970s and early 1980s, Canada’s brand became synonymous with an open, liberal and sane society that got the balance right. During the Cold War and amid the conflicts in developing nations those days, its red and white maple leaf flag was the welcome symbol of an activist, peace-making foreign policy. However small its political clout compared to the colossus to its south, Canada enjoyed an outsized influence globally as the exemplar of the values of a civilized state.

The world today could do with another Trudeau, and thankfully we have one. Just how much Canada’s new prime minister not only walks in his father’s stead, but inhabits his spirit as well, can be seen in this global forum hosted by HuffPost Canada in Toronto this week. Trudeau took questions from around Canada and from editors of HuffPost editions around the world. In his report, Howard Fineman trenchantly sums up the discussion, writing, “Canada’s new prime minister is the opposite of Donald Trump.”

At a time when the leading Republican contender for the U.S. presidency is calling for walls and expulsions, and when European politics is relapsing into the kind of nationalist fervor that brought two devastating wars to the continent in the 20th century, the young Canadian prime minister already exhibits some of the wiser qualities bequeathed by his father.

As prime minister, Pierre Trudeau campaigned for the passage of the The Constitution Act, 1982 in Canada that eschewed “distinct status” for French-speaking Quebec in favor of a federalist solution. In an interview I did with the senior Trudeau as the Balkan wars ignited in 1990, he eloquently evinced the liberal creed against the siren of nationalism.

“Nationalists, whether of the left or right, are politically reactionary because they are led to define the common good as a function of an ethnic group or religious ideal rather than in terms of ‘all the people’ regardless of individual characteristics,” he told me. “This is why a nationalistic government is by nature intolerant, discriminatory and, when all is said and done, totalitarian.”

This message could not be more relevant at the present moment. Writing from Europe, both Alex Görlach and Gianni Del Vecchio worry that successes in state elections this week in Germany are strengthening the extreme right nationalists of the Alternative for Germany party and shifting the center of gravity of German politics. As Behlül Özkan writes from Istanbul, the nationalist backlash is so intense in Europe, that, in pursuit of a deal with Turkey to curb the influx of refugees, European leaders are looking the other way while the pro-Islam nationalist president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cracks down on any opposition, recently seizing the country’s leading newspaper, Zaman. WorldPost Middle East correspondent Sophia Jones also reports from Istanbul on the outrage of Turkish journalists at European leaders “turning a blind eye” to the crushing of freedom of expression. In an interview, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak views the situation darkly: “Artists, writers, academics — people who have been trying to build bridges so as to promote coexistence and peace — know that they have lost big time.” Aydoğan Vatandaş suspects that the press crackdown is really aimed at undermining any support that may emerge for a new centrist party led by former President Abdullah Gül that would challenge Erdoğan.

Writing from Athens, Nicos Devletoglou compares the measly 300 million euros being offered by the European Union to Greece for refugee relief to the 3 billion euros being offered to Turkey and calls for national referendums on Europe’s open borders. Writing from the Greek port of Piraeus, Katerina Prifti says the refugee situation, already dire, is about to get much worse. And this photo offers a glimpse of the already severe human cost of Europe’s shut borders.

Joshua Ostroff worries that the xenophobic fires being set by Donald Trump may be hard to extinguish. Writing from Italy, Massimo Faggioli dissects how conservative American Catholics unhappy with Pope Francis are lining up behind Donald Trump. Ed Dolan takes up Bernie Sanders’ challenge and favorably compares Europe’s and Canada’s single-payer health systems to that of the U.S., which spends nearly twice as much of its GDP on medical care.

Writing from Rome in our “Following Francis” series, Sébastien Maillard discusses how the 79-year-old pope is preparing to ensure that his reforms are not rolled back when he is gone. In this week’s “Forgotten Fact,” we examine the resilience of the Somali militant group Al Shabab.

Former NATO commander James Stavridis and cybersecurity expert Dave Weinstein weigh in on the battle between the FBI and Apple over encryption and argue for a middle road that balances security and privacy, something that must ultimately be determined by lawmakers and not the courts. Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez looks at the FBI-Apple dispute from the angle of having lived in a society that is constantly under surveillance.

In an exclusive commentary, Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador in Washington, Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki Al Saud, responds to the growing criticism of the kingdom in the U.S. “Today, we often hear claims that the ‘Wahhabis’ are exporting extremism and fueling radicalism in religious schools and ‘madrasahs,’ he writes “…it is illogical for the Kingdom to promote the very mindset that has threatened Saudi Arabia with deadly attacks against our homes and mosques.”

Writing from Brazil, Diego Iraheta says that there are serious questions still yet to be answered by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the corruption case against him. It is up to Lula, he says, to prove what he once proclaimed about himself, that, “there is ‘not a more honest living soul in this country.'” World Bank advisor Jorge Thompson Araujo makes the surprising find in a new study that Latin America’s growth in recent years was due as much to structural reforms as to the commodity boom, which has now fallen off. The McKinsey Global Institute reports in this essay how, for the first time, digital trade is surpassing traditional trade in goods and reshaping what globalization means. Writing from Hong Kong, investor Stephen Peel makes the case that Britain will become poorer if it leaves the European Union because its hinterland is too small without Europe to enable its companies to prosper.

Dror Berman and Samantha Wai examine how the latest innovations in synthetic biology, protein sequencing and tissue engineering are opening doors to rethinking food and protein production. In a photo series on everyday entrepreneurs, we look at how one man is perfecting coffee and chocolate production in the small African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. Fusion this week delves into the new funeral practice of preserving the DNA of loved ones. Finally, our Singularity series foresees how 3-D manufacturing will be able to assemble structures in space so they will not have to be launched from Earth.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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20 Ways to Pay Less at Costco


By Morgan Quinn, Contributor

Costco is one of the best retailers out there for low prices and savings, but wouldn’t it be better if you could save even more money at Costco? Of course it would, and thankfully, you can.

Visit GOBankingRates for more deals, coupons and freebies from the biggest retailers >>>

Sure, scoring free food samples might save you a few bucks, but there are other ways you can save money at this major warehouse superstore. Click through to discover 20 nifty tricks that can help you pay less at Costco.

1. Split bulk items with a friend.

If you are single or live in a small space, it’s probably hard to justify purchasing and storing a package of 30 rolls of toilet paper, even if it is only $19.50.But listen: That stuff is even more expensive in regular grocery or big box stores. Head to Costco with a friend to split up bulk packages of essentials and the costs — it’s absolutely worth the savings.

2. Know the secret Costco pricing codes.

Costco’s pricing codes indicate whether an item is specially priced, discounted or will not be restocked. Here is a general breakdown of the codes, according to HubPages:

  • Prices that end in $0.97 have been marked down from their original prices, which usually always end in $0.99.
  • Other odd pricing, like $0.49, $0.79 or $0.89, typically means the product is regular-priced merchandise.
  • An asterisk (*) in the upper right corner of the pricing sign means the item won’t be reordered. So if it’s a favorite, you should stock up.
  • Prices ending in $0.88 or $0.00 could mean the store’s manager marked it down to move the product faster.

3. Look for Costco coupons.

You can find a number of coupons and discounts for various items in Costco’s monthly coupon book as well as the Costco mobile app, but don’t worry about clipping coupons. Costco cashiers keep copies of the coupons at their registers and will scan them for you when you purchase a qualifying item.

4. Shop summer closeouts before the season is over.

Costco does massive markdowns on large summer items like patio furniture and pool toys before the season is over because stores need to free up room for the next season’s merchandise. You can get great deals on merchandise like barbecues, beach chairs and camping equipment that can be used right away. End-of-seasons deals can also be found year-round, however, including after Christmas.

5. Non-members can access Costco discounts, too.

Those who aren’t Costco members can still buy alcohol in certain states, use the pharmacy and immunization services, eat at the Costco food court if it’s located outside of the store, and access the store’s eye and hearing exams, reports Cheapism. You can also get around the membership requirement and shop the store as usual by paying with a Costco Cash Card, though you’ll have to enlist the help of a Costco member as these can only be purchased and reloaded by a member.

6. Buy discounted gift cards and movie tickets.

Costco’s deals go way beyond bulk goods. Members can get discounts on movie tickets, store or restaurant gift cards, and local attractions like theme parks. For example, you might be able to snag a Coffee Bean gift card worth $100 for only $79.99 or a similar deal to your local movie theater.

7. Take your lunch break at the Costco food court.

Eating lunch on the go is a huge budget buster, so if you left your sack lunch at home head to a Costco food court. You can buy the signature $1.50 hot-dog-and-soda combo, a $10 whole pizza or other reasonably priced fare. Plus, buying and eating at the food court doesn’t require a Costco membership.

8. Buy the Kirkland Signature brand.

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s in-house brand, but products offered by the brand are far from generic. Products carrying the Kirkland label tend to be high quality at a good value, and some even come straight out of the same factories where name-brand goods are made. Consumer Reports lists bacon, car batteries and regular batteries, ice cream, toilet paper, organic foods, and dish and laundry detergent among the top-rated Kirkland products.

Related: 5 Best and Worst Things to Buy Generic

9. Make a list (and stick to it!).

This isn’t really top-secret information, but we know all too well how running into Costco for “just a few things” can devolve into multi-cart shopping overkill. Make a list to keep your spending under control and on track.

10. Fill up on free samples.

Don’t let anyone shame you out of eating your weight’s worth of Costco’s free samples. The company actually encourages distributors to give out as many free samples as people will eat.

11. Keep your Costco receipts.

Costco is famous for its incredible return policies, which doesn’t include a time limit. But there are some exceptions to this policy. For example, if you bought a TV, computer or another type of electronic from Costco, the retailer will only accept returns within 90 days. The retailer also offers membership refunds, stating on its website, “We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.”

12. Put on your blinders.

Every entrance to Costco is the same: A narrow path lined with shiny new things looking to find a forever home with you. Put your head down, stick to your list, and if you really just have to buy something, at least make it a Tommy Bahama beach chair. Best impulse buy ever.

13. Book a vacation through Costco.

You might not know that your Costco membership gets you exclusive access to Costco Travel, a service that offers discounted vacation packages and planning. You can visit CostcoTravel.com to find deals on flight and hotel packages, cruises and rental cars for destinations from Las Vegas to Hawaii and Europe.

14. Compare Costco’s per-unit prices against other stores.

Costco might have tons of discounted goods, but not everything there is a steal. For example, my Costco store’s tilapia is about three times the price of that at my local grocery store. Also, many grocery stores offer coupons and discounts on name-brand items that Costco sells in bulk but does not markdown.

15. Avoid “action alley.”

According to Lifehacker, the middle area of the store is named “Action Alley” because of the high traffic. Distributors sometimes pay to put their products there or hand out samples. The flashy signs and advertising can be deceptive — oftentimes, this is where the highest-priced items and non-bargains at Costco live.

16. Start at the back of Costco.

The best bargains at Costco are typically at the back of the store or hidden at the end of aisles. Start your shopping trip from the back of the store to get your staples and deals, and then work your way up to the front where the cash registers are.

17. Buy meat in bulk, and freeze it.

One of the best deals at Costco is bulk meat because you can portion it out and freeze it for later use. Even the late, great Julia Child was a fan of buying meat from Costco — she was especially fond of the hot dogs.

18. Fill up at the Costco gas pumps.

Some Costco stores also have gas stations on their lots, which offer members competitive per-gallon prices. You can check off grocery shopping and filling up on gas at the same time.

19. Take advantage of the Costco Tire Center.

Sometimes Costco discounts name-brand tires by $70 to $80, which is enough savings to cover the cost of a membership and then some. For customers who’ve purchased tires from Costco, the center also offers free tire balancing and rotations. I’ve even had one Costco Tire Center worker patch a small hole in one of my tires for free.

20. Shop online, and use Costco’s app.

Going to Costco doesn’t top everyone’s list of favorite things to do. Skip the crowds, and avoid the hassle by shopping the Costco website or through the Costco mobile app — you can even find web-only deals that aren’t offered in the stores.

The Costco app is also a great resource that highlights current deals and offers, so checking it before heading to your Costco can help you pre-plan and have a smoother trip while still hitting the best deals. You can even use it to create your shopping list.

Keep Reading: 10 Best and Worst Deals at Sam’s Club

This article, 20 Ways to Pay Less at Costco, originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com.

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— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Hillary Clinton Wants To Bring Back The ’90s Economy. Here’s What She’s Missing.

Hillary Clinton is pointing to the economic growth during her husband’s presidency in the late 1990s as a model for her own economic plans.

The period during President Bill Clinton’s administration saw well-distributed economic gains that lifted the fortunes of marginalized communities of color.

But if Hillary Clinton is to revive the best aspects of that era of prosperity, she should acknowledge the pivotal role of the Federal Reserve, liberal economists argue. Clinton hasn’t said how she’ll choose Federal Reserve Board governors or otherwise indicated how she would like the Fed to act.

“You know, at the end of the ’90s, we had 23 million new jobs. Incomes went up for everybody,” Clinton said at the Univision-sponsored Democratic debate this week in Miami. “We were talking earlier about what needs to be done for Latinos and African-Americans. Well, we were doing it by the end of the ’90s. Median family income went up 17 percent. For minorities, it went up even more.”

As Clinton accurately pointed out, the economy created more than 23 million jobs from 1993 through the end of 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a period that spans Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Widespread wage growth followed robust job creation as high demand for labor forced employers to raise pay to compete for workers. As a result, median household income rose nearly 15 percent in 1999 from its low point in 1993.

Demand for labor was so high that the gains reached workers on the lower end of the earnings spectrum — something that was virtually unheard of since the early 1970s, and has not been replicated since.

As Clinton noted, the booming job market was especially beneficial to workers of color, particularly African-Americans.

By 2000, black unemployment had fallen to 7.6 percent, the lowest rate in recorded history, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis. The median wage for blacks rose even faster than for whites, propelling a higher percentage of African-Americans into the middle class than in any economic recovery since 1982.

It’s understandable why Hillary Clinton is pitching her presidency as a return to the halcyon 1990s.

But Clinton neglects to mention that the economy cannot grow to the levels it reached in the 1990s if the Federal Reserve does not permit it.

When the Fed raises the benchmark interest rate, it deliberately puts downward pressure on the job market to head off a rise in prices.

In the late 1990s, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan repeatedly refused to raise the interest rate, which many economists say is what ultimately permitted the unemployment rate to dip below 4 percent in 2000.

The mostly liberal economists who laud Greenspan for staying out of the way during that growth period argue that the Fed’s restraint was a rare bright spot in a decades-long trend of the central bank unduly prioritizing inflation concerns over job creation.

Hillary Clinton, however, hasn’t said whether her aim to recreate the days of job growth and wage growth would influence who she appoints as Federal Reserve Board governors.

The economy section of Clinton’s campaign website, subtitled “a plan to raise Americans’ incomes,” does not mention the Fed at all.

A spokesman for Clinton’s presidential campaign did not respond to a request for comment on how the Fed fits into Clinton’s economic agenda.

The president has the power to appoint the seven Fed board governors, including the chair, who must then be confirmed by the Senate. The governors occupy the Fed’s 12-person Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for adjusting the key interest rate. 

Two governors’ seats have remained empty in recent years as the Obama administration has struggled to get the Senate to confirm appointments.

Some analysts have criticized the Obama administration for not pushing harder to fill the vacancies. The openings mean that the five seats reserved for the unelected presidents of regional Federal Reserve banks have more influence over monetary policy than they otherwise would.

The Fed bank presidents tend to have close ties to the financial community, which has an interest in tamping down inflation. Four regional Fed presidents have worked for Goldman Sachs, for example, including William Dudley, who is currently on the FOMC. (Dudley, as president of the New York Fed, has a permanent seat on the FOMC, while other regional Fed presidents alternate serving one-year terms.)

Josh Bivens, research and policy director of the Economic Policy Institute, said he would “love” for Clinton to speak out about prioritizing filling the two vacant seats on the Fed Board of Governors.

“She could even talk about it in terms of the late 1990s,” Bivens said. “There are reasons to feel warmly about that period and a big part of that is the Fed did not take away the punch bowl too early.”

There are reasons to feel warmly about that period and a big part of that is the Fed did not take away the punch bowl too early.
Josh Bivens, the Economic Policy Institute

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank, and co-author of the book Getting Back to Full Employment, lamented Clinton’s reticence on the topic.

“If the Fed is not on board, they are going to have a hell of a time,” Baker said. “What are they are going to do if the Fed is raising interest rates?”

Clinton has not weighed in on the Fed’s decision to raise its key interest rate in December.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton’s rival in the Democratic presidential primary, condemned it, arguing that the Fed should wait until unemployment is below 4 percent.

It was not an especially radical stance. Lawrence Summers, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, who nearly became Fed chairman in 2013, opposed the Fed rate hike on similar grounds.

The Fed Up campaign, a coalition of grassroots groups mobilizing low-income workers to push for progressive Fed policies, emphasized the rate hike’s disproportionate impact on African-Americans and Latinos.

If the Fed is not on board, they are going to have a hell of a time.
Dean Baker, the Center for Economic and Policy Research

The endemic difference in employment opportunities for black people and white people of comparable education levels points to widespread racial discrimination in the job market. A Fed that keeps interest rates low — erring on the side of full employment rather than inflation — is essential, Fed Up and many economists argue, because when demand for workers grows to a certain level, employers can no longer afford to discriminate based on race.

The other problem with using the late 1990s as an economic model is that the era’s jobs boom was driven in large part by an unsustainable stock market bubble. The Fed’s refusal to put on the brakes was nonetheless a good thing, according to many economists, because it reflected the right balance of job growth and inflation. The stock market bubble, they say, could have been avoided through other means, such as better regulation.

But it does mean that the engine of growth cannot be recreated as easily as Clinton sometimes implies.

The most ambitious piece of Clinton’s job creation plan is a five-year, $275 billion investment in infrastructure.  

Bivens called Clinton’s plan “pretty good, not small potatoes.” But he said he doubted it would be enough to counter the gap in demand for goods and services left over from the recession, and the depressing effect of forthcoming Fed interest rate hikes.

Baker expressed a similar view. He also argued that reducing the U.S. trade deficit with countries like China by prioritizing their currency devaluation policies during trade negotiations would spur high-value job growth.

Ultimately, Clinton may be able to benefit from Americans’ fond memories of a prosperous economy if she embraces the complexity of the 1990s.

“I would love to see the late 1990s loom a lot larger in policy discussions — both the upside and the downside,” Bivens said. “The upside is that it showed we can have full employment without inflation reaching dangerous levels. And the downside is that it showed we need a stronger foundation for economic growth.”

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The Financial Crisis Film ‘Boom Bust Boom’ Falls Prey To The Big Problem It Addresses

Can a group of portly, middle-aged puppets explain the financial crisis?

They certainly can try.

In the new Terry Jones documentary, “Boom Bust Boom,” which premiered Friday in New York City, the Monty Python comedian uses puppets, cartoons and interviews with real people to turn a difficult and often boring subject into a lively lesson on history and the human biases that drive huge swings in the economy. Think of it as a whimsical version of “The Big Short.” 

Set for a national release on March 18, the film shows how markets can boom and bust with regularity. Over the course of centuries, we see this cycle play out over and over, and yet, before each bust, we learn how people convince themselves this time is different. It’s frustrating. Why can’t humans just get it right? 

Unfortunately, the film falls prey to its own thesis, almost shutting out the voices of anyone who isn’t a middle-aged white man, leading to a narrow view of this complex topic. It’s not very helpful for thinking critically about how we might change things, and perhaps that’s why the film offers few solutions.

“Boom Bust Boom” is at its best when illustrating some of history’s worst economic meltdowns. It has informative and fun depictions of the 1637 tulip mania in the Netherlands, the crash of the South Sea Company in early 18th-century Britain, and the 19th-century speculation in (and fantastic crash of) British railroad stock. It also describes how the heights of speculation in the 1920s led to the lows of the Great Depression, and, finally, the hard lessons of the 2008 mortgage crisis. Every time is the same: Euphoria over rising prices leads to speculation, which ends with a crash.

Humans are not rational, the movie tells us. We are hardwired, from the time of our primate ancestors, to have certain biases and blind spots. When it comes to capitalism, those blind spots lead to financial crises. And when someone sees the issue clearly, they are often disregarded until long after it’s too late.

The problem is, the film doesn’t take the next step and ask why policymakers and economists continue to think the same way and follow the same patterns from one crisis to another.

Here’s one reason: The world’s top economists (and government officials) more or less all have the same background. They went to a handful of schools, studied under a few dozen of the same professors, have read the same books and mingle in the same circles. Oh, and, to a large extent, they’re all white and male. That doesn’t encourage diversity of thought. 

Neither does this film. I counted about a dozen puppets woven into the story, and nearly all of them depicted middle-aged (or older) white men. Activist-actor and Huffington Post blogger John Cusack makes several somewhat puzzling appearances in this movie, too. (No disrespect to Mr. Cusack.)  

Women and minorities are almost entirely left out of this film — not unlike the way they’ve been left out of financial and economics professions. Yet, we know that women are slightly better at managing financial risk than men are. Study after study over the last five years has found that female financial managers consistently outperform their male peers. They think differently.

The two expert women the movie manages to talk to are Lucy Prebble, a playwright who once wrote a play about the collapse of Enron, and Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor who studies how monkeys make decisions. Neither have a background in economics, or in the 2008 crisis. 

But there is a long list of people — who aren’t white men — who would have made great interview subjects for the filmmakers.

Where was Christina Romer, who wrote a paper in 2015 examining the impact of financial crises on advanced economies? Where was Brooksley Born, who warned against the danger of unregulated derivatives — which ended up creating the 2008 financial crisis — when she was head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the 1990s? Where was Harvard economist Carmen Reinhart, who literally wrote a book called This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly? Where was Raghuram Rajan, India’s top central banker, who warned of a potential financial crash way back in 2005, when he was working at the International Monetary Fund? 

If the world is to develop a framework for thinking differently about economics, it might help to start with more diverse sources.

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March Madness Marketing: Another Slam Dunk for the NCAA in 2016

Although it is a non-profit organization, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) continues to do a brilliant job of marketing its March Madness men’s college basketball tournament, which is celebrating its 78th year in 2016.

A brief history

The NCAA started this tournament in 1939 at an old gym at Northwestern University with 8 teams and little media coverage since TV was in its infancy. Today, the competition has grown to 68 teams over three weeks competing in regional tournaments and culminating in a final contest between the top two. This year the contest will include 67 games that can be watched live, streamed online or viewed later.

March Madness has grown into the most popular sports showcase for advertisers ahead of the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball post-season contests. In 2010, the NCAA was able to parlay this popularity into a TV rights agreement worth $10.8 billion over 14 years.

Branding the tournament and playoffs

With a penchant for alliteration, the NCAA has created brand identities for the entire tournament and interim playoffs by giving them names such as March Madness, Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four. This year, they are even branding the day on which the brackets will be chosen as Selection Sunday. Even non-fans hear these words from sportscasters, late-night TV hosts and comedians. They pass them on to their friends via word-of-mouth and social media. They also attend branded parties, buy advertised products and participate in office “bracket pools.” This gets advertisers excited by the prospect of reaching a much larger, highly-engaged audience of fans and non-fans alike — enabling them to leverage their marketing investment.

Ever-expanding media coverage

Media coverage has grown to four television networks (CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV) and numerous radio and online websites, such as cbssports.com and ncaa.com — enabling fans to watch the games and interact with each other on their mobile devices. March Madness also has its own channel on YouTube YouTube.com/MarchMadness. The NCAA also offers March Madness Live (MML) with enhanced coverage over 12 platforms including desktop computers, Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, Android handset, Android tablet, Windows handset, Windows desktop, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Roku players and Roku TV models.

If that is not enough, there is also the Game Center, Video on Demand, and the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge amongst other contests, apps, and information sources.

Promoting the NCAA brand through online and social media

In addition to traditional TV and radio channels, historical content and commentary are distributed online through favored fan sites, such as Yahoo!, CBS, ESPN and MML. Just about everyone involved with the tournament also communicates via popular social media sites.

  • Facebook. March Madness has a Facebook fan page with over 909,159 fans and “like” links to such other sites as NCAA, iHoops, CBS Sports and many other sports links. Each of these, in turn has their own like links leading to additional Facebook word-of-mouth pyramids.
  • Twitter. The tournament is a major trend on Twitter with its own pyramid of followers (over 418,000 as of this writing).
  • YouTube. Search results for March Madness yielded 787,000 results, and the tournament has not even started! People can watch videos of games they missed or make their own commentary videos that help to further promote the brand.
  • Coke Zero™ NCAA March Madness social arena. This has new game features and tools to help fans pick brackets and offers a chance to enter a sweepstakes to attend the 2017 Final Four in Phoenix.

What organizations can learn from March Madness Marketing

By examining the marketing techniques used by the NCAA, marketers can perhaps learn how to better do the following:

  1. Create names, slogans and logos that are easy to remember. If they are, people will broadcast them for you and further your brand reach, frequency, and engagement.
  2. Apply branding and promotion techniques employed by March Madness.
  3. Create contests, apps, and games as an effective way to teach prospects and customers the benefits of your products while they have fun competing for prizes.
  4. Generate newsworthy events that capture the imagination of the news media so they will promote them for you at no charge. Nike is perhaps one of the best examples of using the news media as part of their marketing strategies.
  5. Provide traditional, digital, and social media with the information they need to publicize your products and events for free.
  6. Tie-in with events such as March Madness to leverage your brand and promotion.

The NCAA has achieved a slam-dunk

Even though the NCAA is a non-profit organization that many would not associate with brilliant marketing, they have, once again, done an enviable job of taking the March Madness Tournament and turning into one of the most popular sports showcases for advertisers – even beating the professional sports league playoff games.

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Dept of Educ Wants To End “Outrageous” Forced Arbitration by For-Profit Colleges


The Department of Education tonight released a new draft of regulations on student debt relief, in advance of the third round of rulemaking meetings to be held next week, and in a press release (see below) accompanying the proposal the Department appears to take a hard line against the fine-print language that for-profit colleges have been using to force students to resolve their disputes with a school through secretive arbitration proceedings, rather than in court.

The draft regulations appear to follow suit, laying out two options regarding mandatory arbitration, including one that requires schools participating in the federal direct student loan program to “[p]rovide that for any claim related to the making of a student loan or the provision of educational services” that:

(i) The claim may only be arbitrated with the student’s consent after the claim arises;

(ii) The school will not prohibit students from asserting any such claim in cases filed in a court on behalf of a class; and

(iii) The school will notify the Secretary upon the submission of and submit copies of any initial filings and decisions for such claim whether filed in court or in arbitration….

Members of Congress, advocacy groups, and some of the negotiators in the rulemaking have argued that the Department should require colleges taking taxpayer dollars to allow students to bring grievances to court, without restrictions on class actions or jury trials, as a way to expose and deter bad behavior and reduce the likelihood of more debacles like the egregious misconduct and collapse of Corinthian Colleges.  In the wake of the demise of Corinthian, which was taking as much as $1.4 billion a year in federal student aid, many former students have sought cancellation of their student loan debts.

Here’s the Department’s press release, and the part of the new draft regulation dealing with arbitration is here.  The regulations also address the broader student debt relief issues, as described below.

This article also appears on Republic Report.

U.S. Department of Education

Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office   

400 Maryland Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202                 

March 11, 2016

U.S. Department of Education Takes Further Steps to Protect Students from Predatory Higher Education Institutions

Department seeks to level playing field for students, end fine-print tactics to strip borrowers of their legal rights

The U.S. Department of Education released today a proposal that would establish borrower-friendly processes for seeking and obtaining loan relief triggered by unscrupulous conduct by higher education institutions. The Department also provided options to negotiators that would protect students from the use of mandatory arbitration provisions in enrollment agreements.

By updating existing borrower defense regulations with these provisions, the Department will build on the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect students and taxpayers, and ensure transparency and accountability among colleges and universities.

 “These actions would establish a simpler, more uniform standard of relief for students, hold schools accountable if they engage in unlawful practices, and put an end to using fine print to trap students into signing away their rights,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

 Last September, the Department began a negotiated rulemaking process to clarify how Direct Loan borrowers who believe they have been defrauded by their institutions can seek relief and strengthen provisions to hold colleges accountable for their wrongdoing. Current provisions in federal law and regulations called “defense to repayment” or “borrower defense” allow borrowers to seek discharge of their Direct Loans if their college’s acts give rise to a state law cause of action.

The Department plans to discuss with the negotiating committee how protect students from forced arbitration and incorporate crucial elements of state consumer protection laws in these regulations. Forced arbitration provisions used by many schools in their enrollment agreements – often buried in the fine print – effectively prevent students from seeking redress for harm caused by their school and hide wrongdoing from the Department and the public. Such agreements often bar students from bringing their legal claims in a group, making it financially impossible for individual students to challenge schools. Some agreements require disputes to be filed in secret tribunals where little or no records are kept; some prohibit students from speaking about the claims they file. The Department will discuss with negotiators how to end such outrageous practices.

” The Department is working to ensure that no college can dodge accountability by burying ‘gotchas’ in fine print that blocks students from seeking the redress they’re due. Legal aid, veteran, consumer, and student advocacy groups have all shared with us how mandatory arbitration has harmed students across the country. We heard them and agree. Which is why we’ve incorporated ideas from non-federal negotiators to limit mandatory arbitration agreements,” said Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “These efforts build on our work to protect students and require institutional accountability.”

In addition to addressing arbitration, the language sent to negotiators would accomplish the following:

  • Allow students to pursue a discharge of their student loan balances without the constraints of a statute of limitation;

  • Establish a simpler, more uniform standard for relief that incorporates crucial elements of state consumer protection laws;
  • Create borrower-friendly processes for determining whether discharges are merited, including pathways for group relief without individual applications from borrowers;
  • Hold schools accountable and ensure they have skin in the game when discharges result from their unlawful actions; And
  • Ensure that schools disclose information to prospective students when various risk indicators are triggered like too many former students struggling to repay their loans; and
  • Provide more information more often to affected borrowers on their closed school discharge rights, and grant discharge without an application in certain circumstances.

So far, two sessions of negotiations have been held. Next week’s session is the third and final negotiation session.


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Reboot Illinois Sold To Chicago Investment Firm

Chicago-based technology investment firm AFK Media Group has purchased Reboot Illinois, a political journalism website based in Chicago and Springfield.

Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Anne Dias, Reboot has quickly grown into Illinois’ top digital hub for political news, infographics and opinions, the company said in a release announcing the acquisition.

Dias, who is also a founder of Chicago-based hedge fund Aragon Global Management, says Reboot’s new owner shares her belief in a strong, independent press shining light on government affairs. 

“In this time of upheaval in Illinois — both financially for many press outfits and politically with our state budget — the need for a strong and independent press is greater than ever,” Dias said in a statement. “This is the right time for a new ownership team to take Reboot to the next level.”

Anthony Knierim, one of AFK’s partners, who helped launch Reboot as its director of digital strategy, will join Reboot’s board of directors. AFK plans to take the platform “to the next level,” he said in a statement.

“Reboot has created a great critical mass of engaged citizens and lawmakers who are active participants in the political process and debate,” Knierim said. “Our growth plans involve expanding Reboot’s content, its technology capabilities and its team of writers, building on the data-driven and strong editorial foundations of the business.”

Journalists Madeleine Doubek and Matt Dietrich, who launched Reboot after Dias provided seed capital for the start-up, will continue to lead the platform, according to the company’s announcement.

As part of the transaction, which takes effect on March 15, Doubek will take over as Reboot’s publisher and Dietrich will become editor. 

“Madeleine and Matt have led Reboot to decode what is happening in Springfield and how it affects all of us,” Dias said. “Their coverage of Illinois politics has been shrewd and fair-minded.”

According to its website, Reboot aims to “encourage citizens to retake ownership of our governments” and engage citizens by “giving them the information and tools they need to act on improving the jobs climate, schools, taxes, and state debt.”

The company has more than 115,000 Facebook fans and averages nearly 600,000 page views per month. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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The Dividends and Profits of Sex-Disaggregated Data

By Maria Teresa Villanueva and Caitlyn McCrone

Maria Teresa Villanueva leads the development and implementation of Multilateral Investment Fund projects to help women start and grow their businesses, and provide them access to finance, training, and markets. She holds a Master’s degree in development management from American University.

Let’s start with a simple puzzle. Using only the information provided below, can you determine whether the final statement is true or false?

Some men are doctors
Some doctors are tall
Hence, some men are tall.

You will not be surprised to note that the conclusion is not 100% certain. Using solely the information above, we can’t determine whether some men are tall. Why? Because in this microcosm, we do not know if all the doctors who happen to be tall are women. The example above is called a logical fallacy, an error in reasoning that seems true but is flawed. This example is interesting because it highlights how the lack of breaking down–or disaggregating–data by sex prevents us from seeing the whole picture.

Data collection is essential to deliberate decision making. Governments worldwide have for the last few years begun to take financial inclusion seriously, by developing concrete strategies and targets for women. Some have taken note of the existing gender gaps; however, very few recognize the importance of sex-disaggregated indicators as a tool to help them make policy decisions.

Here’s an example of important numbers. Findex reported that in 2011, 39% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean and 51% worldwide had bank accounts. This share of the population increased in Latin America and the Caribbean to 51% in 2014. However, these latest numbers hide a gender gap between men and women of 5%, with women remaining below the regional average and men above (49% of women with bank accounts vs. 54% of men). Perhaps even more economically significant is the persistent gender gap in financial services. Small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women in Latin America and the Caribbean reported that the gap¬ between their demand for credit and the amount of credit they received reached $85.6 billion in 2014–the largest credit gap in any of the world’s regions. This means that small women-owned enterprises in that region are unable to get the financing they need to grow.

Global Banking Alliance for Women

On the other hand, some recent initiatives–by both the public and the private sectors–to collect data differentiated by sex are helping to ensure that the needs and preferences of 100% of the population are adequately recognized, plotted, and differentiated. They are leveling the playing field for women and men entrepreneurs.

The Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA), in partnership with the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and Data2X, has released a new report that outlines some recommendations specifically targeted at governments. Among them are two critical actions that governments can take:

Targets get the ball rolling:
Set sex-disaggregated targets for financial inclusion strategies. In Rwanda, for example, where financial inclusion has been historically low–only 21% of the population had access to financial services as of 2008–the Bank of Rwanda set a target of 80% financial inclusion by 2017. Disaggregating supply-side data by sex allowed the country’s central bank to see that in the previous 5 years, the share of commercial bank loans to women had averaged only around 20%. Empowered by data, the government took two steps: strengthening the reach of savings and credit cooperatives, and modifying rules to allow for more agent banking entities in rural areas, where a majority of women tend to be unbanked. The result was dramatic: the share of commercial bank loans to women doubled to 42% a mere 4 years later.

Make the case for data collection: Sensitize key private- and public-sector actors, including financial institutions, about the importance of collecting sex-disaggregated data.

  • Chile. Chile, via its Superintendency of Banks and Financial Institutions (SBIF by its Spanish acronym), has consistently produced sex-disaggregated financial indicators for the past 14 years. It is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean that has done so, and has achieved this by directly linking the success of this data collection to the performance reviews of the superintendency’s staff. The data have revealed some interesting trends: compared with their male counterparts, women registered consistently lower Portfolio-At-Risk (PAR) levels and lower rates of returned checks in all of the years. The data also documented the different trends between women’s and men’s borrowing and spending habits, and at the same time indicated where gender gaps no longer exist.
  • Zambia. The Bank of Zambia underwent a Participatory Gender Audit by the International Labour Organization and worked with three banks to apply the ILO’s Female and Male Operated Small Enterprises (FAMOS) tool to understand gender issues both within its staff, and in the country’s banking industry. This allowed the country’s central bank to evaluate how well the local banks are serving small businesses, particularly those owned by women.

In short, collection of sex-disaggregated data gives governments the ability to tailor financial inclusion strategies to address gender gaps, and at the same time, helps financial institutions identify the vast untapped women’s market for financial services.

The succinct case for sex-disaggregated data collection can be found here.

Caitlyn McCrone

Caitlyn McCrone works on issues of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment for the Multilateral Investment Fund. She has a master’s degree in international economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

From the Multilateral Investment Fund Trends blog

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Who Owns American Skies – the People or the Skyjacking Airlines?

That’s a question currently being asked by legislators in the halls of Congress. Without a muscular pushback from the public, the big airlines could claim the American airspace as their own to tax and regulate, without any significant compensation to the American taxpayer and no oversight from elected officials. Talk about getting skyjacked!

An amendment in the 273-page FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) reauthorization bill― H.R. 4441 ―currently moving through Congress means to remove air traffic control from the authority of the FAA and hand it over to a private, not-for-profit corporation. This new corporate-controlled body would be responsible for the over 50,000 flights that take off each day without any input from Congress or the American people. The Washington Post reports: “The House bill to create the federally chartered corporation would transfer about 38,000 federal workers, including 14,000 controllers who now work for the Federal Aviation Administration.” This amounts to a staggering nearly 80 percent of the FAA’s workforce. It would also give away billions of dollars’ worth of air traffic controller equipment to this private body.

Spearheading the charge for air traffic control privatization is House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) who states that his bill, called the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization [AIRR] Act, will lead to the “transformational improvements we need in order to modernize our nation’s aviation system.” Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Rep. Shuster is the top recipient in the House of Representatives of airline industry contributions, and has even admitted to being involved “personally” with a top lobbyist from Airlines for America, a trade association representing most of the major airlines, which is a leading advocate for air traffic control privatization.

This old song and dance routine might sound familiar to those who have paid attention over the years to the corporate-funded propaganda campaign that aims to convince the public that corporations can manage and deliver services more efficiently and at less cost than democratically-controlled governments.

One chief criticism against the current air traffic control system is a $40 billion FAA modernization program known as “NextGen” that is behind schedule. However, implementing a seismic shift in airspace authority is choosing to solve a problem that isn’t causing any major issues for travelers – the air transportation system – as it is not fundamentally broken, and the United States has the safest air travel in the world, which is remarkable when you consider that it is also the most active and most complex system in the world. Under this new plan, air traffic control navigation would shift from a ground-based radar system to a new, satellite-based method.

“Running a science experiment with the most complex airspace in the world comes with a lot of risk, including the uncertain futures of thousands of workers at FAA,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) at a recent House Transportation Committee panel. (The airline-industry dominated panel approved the bill on a 32-26 vote and it will move on to the House floor.)

Most of the major airlines are, not surprisingly, in support of this new measure with one notable holdout — Delta Airlines. Delta released a study that found that “Travelers could have to cover 20-29 percent higher costs if the U.S. moves to a private ATC [air traffic control] organization.” Advocates for privatization often cite the privatized air traffic control systems of Canada and the United Kingdom as models to aspire to. According to Delta’s study however, during the first six years of implementation of the private model, “Canada saw an additional 59 percent increase on ATC-related fees. In the United Kingdom, ATC fees rose 30 percent.”

With potential higher costs to travelers, not to mention the risk of transitioning to a new untried and untested satellite system, what exactly is the American flying public gaining from this deal?

In an op-ed in USA Today, Captain Steve Dickson, senior vice president of flight operations for Delta Airlines, writes: “It just doesn’t make sense to remove the system responsible for the safe operation of our skies from the safety oversight of the FAA. The FAA is the gold standard against which every other nation’s airspace is measured. Do we have more work to do to improve the efficiency of our nation’s airspace? Yes. Is privatizing the answer? No.”

With a March 31st deadline looming to reauthorize funding for the FAA, Congress must either pass a new bill or extend the current legislation. This must-act scenario is like blood in the water to the privatization sharks that see an opportunity to reap even greater profits out of America’s skies.

Call (202-224-3121) and write your member of Congress and let them know that corporatizing America’s air traffic control system is a bad deal for the flying public.

For more information see stopairtrafficprivatization.com.

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This Underwater Hotel Wants To Lead The Way In Restoring Reefs

When it comes to the future of travel, many experts have looked beyond Earth to the cosmos, naming space tourism as the next big trend. But it turns out there’s another trend that’s quietly making waves on our home planet, targeting destinations benea…

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