Zombie direct debits

Back in 1919, not many people could afford to buy a car. Loans to do so were often hard to obtain. So General Motors set up the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) as a financial services subsidiary. GMAC would provide you with a loan you could use to buy a GM car. By the 1990s, GMAC pretty much had the car financing thing down pat, and decided that the real estate market was easy money.

OMG! Jews!

While some people see Jews everywhere–controlling the media, running international banking, spreading Communism and corrupting our precious bodily fluids–I have the opposite problem: I suffer from Jew blindness. It happens time and time again: “Do you want to sign this Hannukkah card?” “Sure… Wait, Bill is Jewish?!” “Um… Yeah. Duh.” Or another time: “Wait, he speaks Hebrew?” “Well, yes, obviously.” “That’s kinda unusual isn’t it?” “Not necessarily…” “Oh, wait, I get it…”

Subprime meltdown

The mainstream media coverage of the US subprime mortgage meltdown has mostly been about all the folk who have lost their homes, and various plans the government has come up with to try and ease the problem. Thinking about it more carefully, though, doesn’t it seem a little odd for the US government to interfere in the sacred free market merely in order to save a bunch of poor people from ruin?

A heartwarming tale

Royal Bank of Scotland charges man £3,400 in bank charges. Man goes to court, claiming charges are illegal under UK law. Bank doesn’t bother to show up or contest the claim. Court rules in man’s favor. Bank doesn’t respond when payment of debt is demanded. Man sends in debt collectors, who seize fax machines and computers from the local high street branch in front of startled customers, and tell the bank the equipment will be sold to pay the debt unless the bank coughs up the money it owes.

Free money

Everyone should have a chunk of cash in an instant access savings account; see Dilbert’s guide to financial success. If you’re in the US and have $250 spare to put in a savings account, I’ve got a voucher you can use to open an account with ING Direct, and they’ll give you $25 free. (Plus $10 for me.) I’ve been saving with them for a while, because their rates are so much better than my bank’s savings account rates (4.

Fleet bank about to get what it deserves?

Fleet Bank is heavily invested in Argentina—where the economy has collapsed, and Fleet is having to restrict customers to withdrawing less than $1000 a month. Meanwhile, Fleet has taken a hit of $1.8 billion to cover the money it’s lost in South America, with an overall loss of $507m in 4Q2001. That’s half a billion dollars worse than they predicted. Profits for the full year were down 75%. Still, your account is FDIC insured, so if the bank goes belly-up the federal government will bail you out.