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Debt

The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues: Borrowing for Infrastructure

Thursday, September 27, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: The necessity of borrowing to initiate and maintain essential infrastructure projects. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues Data: How Much Does US Debt Concern You?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

As part of the Brian Lehrer Show's 30 Issues in 30 Days series, the WNYC Data News team is designing interactive visualizations, tools and graphics to illuminate the data behind the issues. Join the full conversation on the role of long-term debt here.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues: Is The Debt Really A Crisis?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: The actual significance of the national debt and how it might play into the election. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations.

Comments [46]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Margaret Atwood on Debt

Monday, September 03, 2012

The renowned author talks about the concept of "paying back."

Comments [2]

The New Yorker: Political Scene

John Lanchester and James Surowiecki on the European debt crisis.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

John Lanchester and James Surowiecki on the European debt crisis.

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Transportation Nation

Report: Transit Fares High and Rising? Blame Bailed-Out Banks

Thursday, June 07, 2012

(New York, NY - WNYC) A transit union says in a report that one cause of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's recent fare hikes and service cuts has been hiding in plain sight: financial arrangements called interest rate swaps. Those are deals the authority made with banks on 10 percent of its $33 billion of debt —deals that have gone against the authority and in favor of the banks.

The deals were made between 1995 and 2007, when banks agreed to cover the fluctuating interest rates on some of the authority's bonds. In exchange, the NY MTA said it would pay the banks a fixed rate, plus a small premium. That agreement would've protected the authority if rates had jumped up. But the Amalgamated Transit Union says the NY MTA has taken a net loss on the deals since the economy crashed in 2008 and interest rates fell to sustained, historic lows.

The union says the authority is now losing almost $114 million a year ― and could continue to lose money on the deals for the next 20 to 30 years.

NY MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg disputed the union's calculations, saying the swaps brought predictability to the authority's budget, which needs to be balanced each year. "To compare transactions we entered into years ago, compared to what you can get in risky variable rate debt right now is either irresponsible or deliberately misleading," he said. "They are simply wrong."

He contended that the swaps allowed the authority to save $248 million. The report says that was true until 2007, when the arrangement allowed the NY MTA to pay off its debt at nearly a full point below interest rates that were relatively high. But that was before the economy tanked. Since then, the authority has lost money on the deal.

The report looked at 12 transit agencies or local governments that entered into interest rate swaps. The report's authors insisted in a conference call that, though the deals may have made sense when they were struck, these 12 agencies ― which includes the NY MTA and NJ Transit ― are now bleeding at least a half a billion dollars a year from the budgets of governments and transit authorities around the United States.

James Parrott, an economist with the Fiscal Policy Institute, called on agencies like the NY MTA to seek concessions from the banks, many of which received massive taxpayer bailouts.

He said he doesn't understand why the NY MTA isn't treating its bankers like any other business partners. “The MTA went to all of its vendors from 2008 to 2010 and got concessions from them to reduce the price of contracts," he said. "The only business they didn’t go to is the banks. Why?”

Parrott also noted that the NY MTA is about to go to market to sell billions in new bonds to refinance its capital construction program. "They could say to the banks, ‘If you’re unwilling to renegotiate these credit swaps, we’re not so sure you’re going to get a piece of these bonds,'” he said.

Lisberg called the idea unrealistic. "We need these major banks to provide financing for us," he said. "We’re constantly in the debt markets, it’s how we and every other large government organization works. If we’re buying equipment to use over 30 years, it makes sense to pay for it over 30 years."

In 2010, the NY MTA plugged a budget gap by laying off 1,000 workers and eliminating 750 positions. It also enacted some of the deepest subway and bus service cuts in decades. Riders absorbed a 7.5 percent fare increase in 2011, and further 7.5 percent increases are scheduled in 2013 and 2015.

The banks that hold interest rates swaps with the NY MTA are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, AIG, Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Ambac.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Debt, Money, and the New World Order

Friday, May 25, 2012

Economist columnist Philip Coggan discusses why western economies have splurged on debt in the past 40 years, and what the repercussions are. In Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order explains the origins of the debt crisis and how it will affect the new global economy.

Comments [5]

The New Yorker: Political Scene

Nicholas Lemann and James Surowiecki on the economics and politics of student debt.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nicholas Lemann and James Surowiecki on the economics and politics of student debt.

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Money Talking

Money Talking: Should We Be Scared of $1 Trillion in Student Loans?

Friday, April 27, 2012

May 1 is the deadline for millions of high school seniors to choose where they will go to college in the fall.  To pay for it, many will take out thousands of dollars in student loans, only adding to the country’s more than $1 trillion in existing student debt. All this debt is having enormous consequences on economic growth.  Could student loans be the next financial bubble?

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Margaret Atwood on Debt

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Margaret Atwood, author of Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, and Jennifer Baichwal, director of the documentary "Payback," discusses the new documentary film adaptation of Atwood's 2008 book of essays on debt, opening at the Film Forum in New York on Apr. 25th. 

Comments [9]

WNYC News

A 10-Year-Old Boy's Solution To The Euro Crisis, In 1 Picture

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

"All Greek people should bring their Euro to the bank. They put it in an exchange machine (see left on my picture). You see, the Greek guy does not look happy!!"

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Money U: Student Loans in Deferment or Forbearance

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anya Kamenetz, senior writer for Fast Company, discusses a recent report from the NY Fed on student loans that found nearly half of loans in deferment or forbearance, and gives advice on paying off those kinds of loans. Kamenetz is the author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education and Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out for Student Loans, Bad Jobs, No Benefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers--And How to Fight Back.

Comments [34]

The Leonard Lopate Show

Debt, Money, and the New World Order

Monday, February 06, 2012

Economist columnist Philip Coggan discusses why western economies have splurged on debt in the past 40 years, and what the repercussions are. In Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order explains the origins of the debt crisis and how it will affect the new global economy.

Comments [10]

The Takeaway

The Economic Forecast for 2012

Friday, December 30, 2011

As evidenced by the Congressional debt panel's failure, MF Global's $600 million missing investor funds, and lagging employment numbers, the U.S. has a long way to go in terms of solving the economic problems that created the 2008 financial crisis. And there are plenty of potential pitfalls abroad — China's inflation rate is at 10 percent, and the euro zone's ongoing debt crisis. Yet, there are bright spots with many manufacturing, energy, and tech sector jobs growing.

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The Takeaway

Corzine Defends Actions Before Congress

Friday, December 09, 2011

Jon Corzine, the former head of investment firm MF Global, told lawmakers he did not intend to break any rules and that he has no idea where $1.2 billion in missing money is during testimony before Congress on Thursday. The New Jersey Democrat became the first former U.S. Senator to be subpoenaed by Congress in more than a century. During his testimony, Corzine repeatedly apologized to investors and customers, saying he never ordered any movement of money out of clients' accounts.

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The Takeaway

Should the US Care About Saving the Euro?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

European leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday for the start of a two day summit in what many are hoping will be a turning point for resolving the euro zone crisis. Expectations are high that a deal can be brokered by Germany and France to overhaul economic rules and create confidence in the beleaguered currency. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with European officials earlier this week, a sign of American interest in reaching a resolution. But some economists and politicians are beginning to question whether, from the U.S. perspective, the euro is really worth saving.

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The Takeaway

S&P Warns France and Germany of Downgrade

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Standard and Poor's announced on Monday that it is considering a credit rating downgrade for both Germany and France, the euro zone's two biggest economies. The move takes place as euro zone countries meet in Brussels in an attempt to stop the ongoing crisis. The two countries currently have a top-notch AAA rating from the agency. Standard and Poor's said that 13 additional euro zone countries are also vulnerable to downgrade as a result of the continent’s economic crisis. 

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The Takeaway

Weighing Solutions for Euro Zone Crisis

Thursday, December 01, 2011

In an effort to help alleviate the symptoms of Europe's debt crisis, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and other international banks funneled U.S. dollars into European financial systems on Wednesday. The move helped markets by making American dollars more easily available outside the U.S. Stocks shot up in reaction to the news. The increased liquidity had the immediate effect of boosting the Dow Jones industrial average by 484 points. It was the biggest single day gain since March 2009. Some wondered, however, whether the move was a smart long-term investment, or just a temporary fix.

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The Takeaway

What's At the Heart of the Euro Zone Crisis?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Much of the political turmoil surrounding the euro zone crisis has centered around the question of whether fiscally stronger nations, such as Germany and France, should have to bail out Greece and other struggling economies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held the purse strings along with other leaders who have demanded strict austerity measures in those countries receiving assistance. Merkel is under political pressure at home with many in her government feeling that the Greeks, like the German people, should have lived within their means.

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The Takeaway

President Obama Hosts US-EU Summit

Monday, November 28, 2011

President Obama is hosting European Union leaders at the White House for this year's US-EU summit. Dominating discussions will be the issue of the European debt crisis. Eighteen months into its sovereign debt crisis, Europe is running out of time to find a real solution, and fears of contagion are growing.

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