There have been some great money-related articles in The New Yorker lately.
The Feb. 2 issue was jam-packed:
Alex Ross on affordable concertgoing in New York: Cheap Seats
John Lanchester reviews the book Lords of Finance, in Heroes and Zeroes: When central bankers rescued, then ruined, the world.
The Rationalist, Laura Secor's profile of an Iranian free-market economist. I found the cause-and-effect analysis of various policies fascinating, how politics can lead to such wild swings in a country's economy.
And in the Feb. 9 16 issue, The Ponzi State. George Packer's article on Florida's real estate boom and bust is a must-read. The most poignant part for me was about a man named Dan Hartzell, who described himself as "a blue-collar type guy." He was recently laid off and has been desperately looking for work ever since, with no luck.
The Hartzells didn't take out a subprime mortgage. They hadn't lived beyond their means. After Dan lost his job, they stopped renting DVDs and buying toys.... They felt lucky to have avoided eviction, but now they were facing the real possibility of homelessness....
Dan knew that his plight was the result of rising unemployment in a bad economy that was shedding the few remaining manufacturing jobs... and yet, in pondering the causes of his trouble, Dan couldn't avoid the feeling that the world had singled him out for some terrible payback, that it must have been his fault, that the failure was his alone and he had no right to anyone else's help. It occurred to me that this was an attitude that no senior figure on Wall Street had adopted.
And this guy gets at what I always think about when I hear people saying that it's okay for us to send manufacturing jobs overseas because we're becoming a service economy or whatever-- as if it's all going to be okay because everyone will just be re-trained to work in retail or do something with a computer. But the reality is that we need blue-collar jobs, not just white-collar jobs. Some people are better suited to that kind of work, some people want to do that kind of work, and there shouldn't be any judgment placed on it, as if it's only good enough for those other people in some third world country. Dan Hartzell isn't ashamed of not being "the behind-the-counter-take-your-money-can-I-help-you-find-your-dress-size type." So why can't this country find a way to employ more people like that with dignity, with a decent wage, and without looking for them to take the first pay or benefit cuts when things go wrong?
Anyway, lots of good reading in these articles... you have to be a registered user to get the full text of a couple of them, but enjoy!