Category Archives: Finance

Tackling Student Debt: How Did We Get Here and What Can We Do About It?

Source: Cristian deRitis, Regional Financial Review, September 2019
(subscription required)

Rising student debt levels command significant attention in social and political discourse. This article explores how we got here, some of the potential long-term consequences of student debt, and offers a proposal for dealing with the problem.

Cyberattacks pose growing operational and financial risks for hospitals

Source: Jennifer Barr, Lisa Goldstein, Leroy Terrelonge, Jonathan Kanarek, Kendra M. Smith, Jessica Gladstone, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, September 12, 2019
(subscription required)

Many cyberattacks result in data breaches and, in the most critical cases, endanger revenue, posing a material risk to financial performance. Small hospitals are the most vulnerable to attack with lesser financial resources.

Related:
Smaller Medical Providers Get Burned by Ransomware
Source: Adam Janofsky, Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2019
Cyberattacks are pummeling doctors, dentists and community hospitals around the U.S., causing some to turn away patients and others to shut down

Spending at Trump Properties

Source: ProPublica, 2019

2020 cycle
Top three spenders (as of July 31, 2019):
Trump Victory – $449,715
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $287,740
Republican National Committee – $154,873

2018 cycle
Top three spenders:
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $3,442,383
Republican National Committee – $1,391,855
America First Action, Inc. – $415,578

2016 cycle
Top three spenders:
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $9,812,319
Trump Victory – $650,715
Republican National Committee – $16,412

State of the Union: Millennial Dilemma

Source: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, May 2019

The annual Poverty and Inequality Report provides a unified analysis that brings together evidence across such issues as poverty, employment, income inequality, health inequality, economic mobility, and educational access to allow for a comprehensive assessment of where the country stands. In this year’s issue, the country’s leading experts provide the latest evidence on how millennials are faring.

Contents include:

Executive Summary
David B. Grusky, Marybeth Mattingly, Charles Varner, and Stephanie Garlow
With each new generation, there’s inevitably much angst and hand-wringing, but never have we worried as much as we worry about millennials. We review the evidence on whether all that worrying is warranted.

Racial and Gender Identities
Sasha Shen Johfre and Aliya Saperstein
The usual stereotypes have it that millennials are embracing a more diverse and unconventional set of racial and gender identities. Are those stereotypes on the mark?

Student Debt
Susan Dynarski
Often tagged the “student debt generation,” millennials took out more student loans, took out larger student loans, and defaulted more frequently. Here’s a step-by-step accounting of how we let this happen.

Employment
Harry J. Holzer
Labor force activity has declined especially rapidly among young workers. The good news: We know how to take on this problem.

Criminal Justice
Bruce Western and Jessica Simes
The imprisonment rate has fallen especially rapidly among black men. Does this much-vaunted trend conceal as much as it reveals?

Education
Florencia Torche and Amy L. Johnson
The payoff to a college degree is as high for millennials as it’s ever been. But it’s partly because millennials who don’t go to college are getting hammered in the labor market.

Income and Earnings
Christine Percheski
When millennials entered the labor market during the Great Recession and its aftermath, there were uniformly gloomy predictions about their fate. Does the evidence bear out such gloomy predictions?

Social Mobility
Michael Hout
Millennials have a mobility problem. And it’s partly because the economy is no longer delivering a steady increase in high-status jobs.

Occupational Segregation
Kim A. Weeden
Are millennial women and men working side by side in the new economy? Or are their occupations just as gender-segregated as ever?

Poverty and the Safety Net
Marybeth Mattingly, Christopher Wimer, Sophie Collyer and Luke Aylward
Millennial poverty rates at age 30 are no higher than those of Gen Xers at the same age. But this stability hides a problem: Millennials are replacing a falloff in earnings with large increases in government assistance programs.

Housing
Darrick Hamilton and Christopher Famighetti
Housing reforms during the civil rights era helped to narrow the white-black homeownership gap. But those gains have now been completely lost … and the racial gap in young-adult homeownership is larger for millennials than for any generation in the past century.

Social Networks
Mario L. Small and Maleah Fekete
Millennials are not replacing face-to-face networks with online ones. Rather, they’re a generation that’s found a way to do it all, forging new online ties while also maintaining the usual face-to-face ones.

Health
Mark Duggan and Jackie Li
It might be thought that, for all their labor market woes, at least millennials now have health care and better health. How does this story fall short?

Policy
Sheldon Danziger
A comprehensive policy agenda that could help millennials … and other generations too.

Do prices vary with purchase volumes in healthcare contracts?

Source: Robert B Handfield, Jaikishen Venkitaraman, Shweta Murthy, Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, OnlineFirst, April 4, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Hospitals are facing severe increases in the cost of clinical supplies, and a common strategy is to drive economies of scale achieved by hospital consolidation. The supply strategy of “volume leveraging” involves sourcing through contracts with Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) for commercial distributors and manufacturers of medical products. This study seeks to document the empirical benefits associated with volume leveraging, through analysis of purchasing data from three large hospitals. The dependent variables include a number of factors that are used to justify volume leveraging approaches, yet the study finds no significant explanatory factors that determine price variation related to the volume purchased. Interviews with physicians and clinicians suggest that poor data quality leads to lack of transparency, and an inability to aggregate volumes across inventory SKUs may be preventing volume-based cost savings from materializing. The results also suggest that lack of transparency results in low levels of utilization, which increases costs.

Alexander’s Loan-Repayment Overhaul

Source: Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2019

Proposal to automatically deduct loan payments as a share of borrowers’ paychecks promises big improvements but raises questions over some new complications, too.

Student advocates have for years complained about the complex set of options borrowers must navigate to repay their student loans. Student loan borrowers are faced with a dizzying nine repayment plans based on their income, in addition to a standard 10-year loan-repayment plan.

There’s a growing consensus that Congress should reduce those options to one income-based option on top of the standard plan.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, would go one step further, calling for loan payments to be automatically deducted from borrowers’ paychecks. ….

…. While the proposal to reduce the myriad repayment options for borrowers already has broad support among higher ed interest groups, getting buy-in for making student loan payments work more like payroll taxes is more uncertain.

Jessica Thompson, director of policy and planning at the Institute for College Access and Success, said streamlining the repayment plans available to borrowers is “an overdue change.” But she said paycheck withholding for loan payments is “in reality a lot more complicated than it sounds.” ….

Emerging Iterations on State Free College Policy in the 2019 Legislative Sessions

Source: Sarah Pingel, Education Commission of the States, January 31, 2019

State legislatures are officially in full swing, with 44 states plus the District of Columbia in session. At Education Commission of the States, we’re cleaning our glasses and diving into the thousands of pieces of education-related legislation spilling into our inboxes. Not surprisingly, free college maintains its position on state legislators’ minds. We are already tracking 45 pieces of legislation in 19 states plus the District of Columbia…..

Not-for-profit healthcare and higher education – US – New accounting standard for operating leases is credit neutral

Source: Rita Sverdlik, Lisa Martin, Lisa Goldstein, Diane F. Viacava, Susan I Fitzgerald, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, January 23, 2019
(subscription required)

New guidance from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) related to operating leases took effect January 1. Under the new standard, issuers will include the net present value (NPV) of operating leases on the balance sheet. This change does not affect issuers’ credit quality because our assessments already consider operating leases in a manner similar to the new FASB standard. However, in a few limited circumstances, the accounting change will affect issuers’ compliance with financial covenants in bond and bank agreements and temporarily elevate credit risk.

Health Care Providers’ Credit Quality To Suffer If ACA Lawsuit Ruling Is Not Overturned

Source: S&P Global Ratings, December 17, 2018
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Last week a federal judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by 20 state attorneys general. In S&P Global Ratings’ view, if this ruling is not overturned the credit quality of many health care providers, insurers, and states could be hurt….