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Money Week

Friday, January 13, 2012

Against all odds

Posted By on 01.13.12 at 07:35 PM

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I go to 7-Eleven almost daily, and the register's typically crowded with people buying lottery tickets. I've never done so, and the one time I was tempted to—there was a pot so large I could have bought the Reader and given everybody raises—I was baffled.

This is a truly bizarre subculture. The official guide to the games begins: "WARNING! The following dances are designed solely for performance while in the grip of "Oh-my-gosh-I-just-won-the-Lottery" euphoria. Do not attempt otherwise." The instructions for each game are then given in the form of an Arthur Murray-type graphic. Odds are given below in a chart that I suspect makes people's eyes glaze over rather than absorb the fact that, e.g., the chances of winning the 200,000,000 Million Cash Spectacular instant game are 1 in 3.46 million. The site doesn't say "If you win"—it's "When you win." So I confess I wince inwardly when I see someone, to all appearances impoverished, avidly forking over the cash.

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An awesome gesture of "Fuck you, poor people"

Posted By on 01.13.12 at 12:30 PM

Tasteless, odorless gold leaf
  • Tasteless, odorless gold leaf

Apropos of this week's Key Ingredient and Money Week, please enjoy David Cross's account of his dinner at Jean Georges. Video after the jump.

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Lessons I learn from Margin Call

Posted By on 01.13.12 at 08:00 AM

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In honor of money week at the Reader, I watch Margin Call, which tells the tale of a group of ruthlessly slick, money-grubbing Wall Street types who make gazillions by producing nothing of value for the larger public.

Which, as I think you'll all agree, sorts of sums up the American economy today.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five great songs about money

Posted By on 01.12.12 at 08:00 AM

Money comes in only slightly behind love, sex, and death in terms of subjects musicians write songs about. Maybe it's because capitalism has warped us all on such a deep societal level that our artists view the acquisition of wealth as on par with the more primal themes (love, sex, death) that we like our artists to deal with, or it could be the fact that it's notoriously difficult to make a survivable amount of money to live off of by playing music.

Either way, click through the jump to check out five songs that make the root of all evil tuneful.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Obama in town this evening for the usual reason

Posted By on 01.11.12 at 03:00 PM

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  • Anne Fitten Glenn
President Obama will be in Chicago this evening. I wish I could say he was coming to tour the ghetto just a mile west of his Kenwood home and raise awareness about the concentrated poverty and racial segregation there.

But he's visiting for the usual reason. He'll attend a fund-raising concert at the University of Illinois at Chicago around 5 PM. Then he'll be driven to Lakeview for a fund-rasing party at the home of Fred Eychaner, CEO of the Newsweb publishing company ($35,000 a couple). Then it's off to a reception at the Hyde Park home of the manager of a private equity firm (tickets $7,000 to $20,000). And then it's back to Washington.

This is what presidents do nowadays when an election is approaching, for them or for Congress, which of course is much of the time.

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"What happened to the U.S. employment miracle?"

Posted By on 01.11.12 at 08:00 AM

Last weekend, 11,000 economists descended on Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Economic Association and allied organizations. That sounded like a great opportunity to get a fix on what's ailing us. After perusing a 400-page program that listed everything from "Robustness and Approximation in Mechanism Design" to "Implications of Rational Inattention," I sat in on a panel considering “What Happened to the U.S. Employment Miracle?” Here’s what I heard:

Things are not really better.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The euro crisis? You bet it's important!

Posted By on 01.10.12 at 08:00 AM

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Like other Americans who have read alarmist headlines about the possible collapse of the euro, I have been wondering, “But what does this have to do with me?” The other day I decided to find out. Above my desk at home is a mason jar that contains my international holdings. I turned it upside down and conducted an inventory.

Here is my portfolio in the obsolete currencies of the 17 Eurozone countries:

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Money: What do you want with it?

Posted By on 01.09.12 at 08:00 AM

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The movies stand in an interesting position in regards to money. While they can be the costliest art-making enterprises on the planet, they're one of the cheapest forms of art as far as consumers are concerned. The last time I volunteered at a soup kitchen, I spent more time than I'd expected talking about them. It was mid-summer, and some of the homeless men liked to spend whole afternoons at the movies because the theaters were air-conditioned. They'd seen everything that was out—I remember the one we all agreed on liking was Richard Linklater's Bad News Bears remake.

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Starting today on the Bleader: Money Week

Posted By on 01.09.12 at 07:00 AM

Today begins a new edition of our blog feature "Variations on a Theme," in which we devote digital ink to a topic that fascinates us. This week, it's money.

Every weekday morning and at various points throughout the week, Reader staffers will produce a post—a personal essay, a longer-form reported story, a photo gallery, or something more off-the-wall—on the week's theme.

There's no shortage of conversations surrounding money these days, but we went with that topic since it's also the theme we chose for our fifth annual photo issue.

And in case you missed it, here's all the "Variations on a Theme," we've done thus far:

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