Category Archives: Finance

How Does Last-Dollar Financial Aid Affect First-Year Student Outcomes? Evidence from the Bridging the Gap Study

Source: Keith Wardrip, Eileen Divringi, and Kyle DeMaria, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Community Development and Regional Outreach, May 2018

This report examines the early impacts of a financial aid program that reduces or eliminates tuition and campus fee costs for lower- and middle-income New Jersey residents. The program boosted enrollment among lower-income students, improved students’ perception of college affordability, and reduced student financial stress. However, it is unclear whether first-year improvements in academic performance are attributable to the program.

Calculating percentages and decimals

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), 2018

Welcome! Are you a CUPE member who’s interested in learning some basic union math? Do you want to serve your local as a union financial officer? We’re glad you’re here. We hope this short, online course helps you develop the skills and the confidence to be more comfortable with math as you develop your union leadership skills. ….

Course Map
Lesson 1 – Percentages and fractions
Lesson 2 – Fractions and decimals
Lesson 3 – Calculating dues
Lesson 4 – Percentages simplified
Lesson 5 – Per capita

Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2018 Trustees Report

Source: Elliot Schreur and Benjamin Veghte, National Academy of Social Insurance, June 2018

From the abstract:
The 2018 Report of the Social Security Trustees projects that revenues will be sufficient to pay all scheduled benefits until 2034 and roughly three quarters of scheduled benefits thereafter. In 2017, Social Security income from payroll contributions, tax revenues, and interest on reserves exceeded outgo by $44 billion. Reserves, now at $2.9 trillion, are projected to begin to be drawn down in 2018 in order to pay full scheduled benefits. The Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund is projected to cover scheduled benefits until 2032, and the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund until 2034.1 On a combined OASDI basis, Social Security is fully funded until 2034, but faces a projected shortfall thereafter. After the projected depletion of the combined OASDI trust funds, Social Security contributions and tax revenues would continue to be received and would cover about 79 percent of scheduled benefits (and administrative costs, which are less than 1 percent of outgo). The long-range actuarial shortfall over 75 years is projected to be 2.84 percent of taxable payroll – that is, 2.84 percent of all earnings that are subject to Social Security contributions. This projected long-term revenue shortfall is substantially unchanged from the 2.83 percent of taxable payroll reported in the 2017 Trustees Report. Timely revenue increases and/or benefit reductions could bring the program into long-term balance, preventing the projected shortfall.

Related:
Social Security 2018 Trustees Report
Source: Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds

Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2017-18; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2016-17; and 12-Month Enrollment: 2016-17: First Look (Preliminary Data)

Source: Scott A. Ginder, Janice E. Kelly-Reid, Farrah B. Mann, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Publication #: NCES 2018060, May 2018

From the abstract:
This First Look presents preliminary data findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) fall 2017 collection, which included three survey components: Institutional Characteristics for the 2017-18 academic year, Completions covering the period July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, and data on 12-Month Enrollment for the 2016-17 academic year.

Campaign Finance Law Database

Source: Campaign Finance Institute, 2018

From the press release:
The Campaign Finance Institute is pleased to release a groundbreaking new tool, “CFI’s Historical Database of State Campaign Finance Laws”. The database covers all of the states’ campaign finance laws every two years since 1996. It is designed for everything from interactive and visualized lookups to downloadable datasets.

Anyone with a serious interest in politics is bound to have made, heard, or wondered about claims to the effect that the laws governing money in politics “make a difference”. These claims may be about who runs for office, how they campaign, who wins, how they govern, or what policies come out in the end. But until now it has been impossible to evaluate most of these claims properly. You cannot really understand a law’s effects unless you can compare jurisdictions with different laws to themselves and each other over time.

CFI’s new tool opens the door to let everyone make those comparisons. It covers every state since 1996 and is structured to handle queries from the simplest to the most complex. Because not everyone will want to use the tool in the same way, the material comes in two formats.

One is a remarkably compact and attractive visualization that will let users look up the answers to what we expect will be their most common questions. For example:
– What are the laws in my state? When did they change?
– Which states disclose what kinds of information about independent spending?
– Which ones changed their contribution limits after Citizens United?
– Which states offer public financing or political contribution tax credits? In rank order, which states had higher and lower disclosure thresholds (or contribution limits, etc.) in any given year?

All of these kinds of questions can be answered through the visualization tool. But the tool is based on only a fraction of what the data can offer. The full database has literally hundreds of pieces of information for each state and year. The visualization only covers about 10% of these. The full set can be downloaded in whole, or part. It then can be manipulated or merged with other data sets at the user’s pleasure. Downloading is the first step for answering “what difference” questions. For example:
– What difference does it make to have higher or lower limits?
– Is the law really responsible for a particular effect – whether positive or negative?

Federal Election Commission: Membership and Policymaking Quorum, In Brief

Source: R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R45160, April 12, 2018

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the nation’s civil campaign finance regulator. The agency ensures that campaign fundraising and spending is publicly reported; that those regulated by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and by commission regulations comply and have access to guidance; and that publicly financed presidential campaigns receive funding.

FECA requires that at least four of six commissioners agree to undertake many of the agency’s key policymaking duties. As of this writing, the FEC is operating with four commissioners instead of six. Others reportedly are considering leaving the agency. One nomination to the FEC has been resubmitted during the 115th Congress; no committee or floor action has been taken on it to date.

It is entirely possible that the FEC will retain at least four commissioners and that the agency will remain able to carry out all its duties. If, however, the FEC loses its policymaking quorum—as happened for six months in 2008—the agency will be unable to hold hearings, issue rules, and enforce campaign finance law and regulation. This CRS report briefly explains the kinds of actions that FECA would preclude if the commission lost its policymaking quorum.

This report will be updated in the event of significant changes in the agency’s policymaking quorum or the status of agency nominations….

Company Men: The 200-year legal struggle that led to Citizens United and gave corporations the rights of people

Source: Kim Phillips-Fein, New Republic, Vol. 249, no. 4, April 2018

More than 100 years ago, at the height of the last Gilded Age, Congress passed its first law prohibiting corporations from spending money to influence election campaigns. From the start, the wealthy chafed against this limit, and some sought to test it in court. Alcohol manufacturers—terrified of high taxes and Prohibition—might not have seemed the ideal candidates to take on this fight. But they were nonetheless the first to challenge the law, contributing cash to candidates in state and federal races and then arguing that any effort to keep money out of politics was no less than an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.

At that time, state and federal courts rejected these arguments out of hand. To the Michigan Supreme Court, for example, it was self-evident that a local brewery had no “right to participate” in elections. The company, wrote the chief justice in a 1914 decision, was created not to engage in politics, but “for the purpose of manufacturing beer.” In a different case involving the Brewers Association, a federal court ruled that corporations “are not citizens of the United States,” and that as far as the franchise went, they must “at all times be held subservient to the government and the citizenship of which it is composed.”

Yet the beermakers finally had their day in 2010, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United. In a reversal of last century’s common sense, the Court found that corporations did have free speech rights after all and that campaign finance laws placed an intolerable restriction on those rights….

2017 Workplace Benefits Report

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ARKRNPFQ, 2017

From the summary:
Bank of America Merrill Lynch works with employers across the country to help provide employee education, guidance and retirement plan solutions that help employees take charge of their financial lives. As part of this ongoing effort, we conduct an annual study — the Workplace Benefits Report (WBR) — to talk to employers and employees about retirement readiness and larger financial wellness topics. Our current report examines how employees feel about their financial situation and the role employers play in supporting their overall financial wellness.

On behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Boston Research Technologies conducted an online survey with a national sample of 1,242 employees between September 22, 2016 to October 7, 2016. Understanding the ever-evolving retirement landscape, monitoring and keeping abreast of these key indicators and opinions, helps us empower employers to stay ahead of the curve while helping meet the varied needs of their employees.

Related:
/2017_WBRInfographic_R6_060217.pdf”>Infographic Presentation
Millennials Supplement
Healthcare Supplement

The perk your employer is most likely to give you, and it’s not a raise
Source: Maria Lamagna, Marketwatch, March 27, 2018

When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

Source: Paul Kiel, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

There’s ample evidence many people don’t file for bankruptcy simply because they can’t pay an attorney. It’s a fixable problem.

Related:
How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans
Source: Paul Kiel with Hannah Fresques, ProPublica and the Atlantic, September 27, 2017

Black people struggling with debts are far less likely than their white peers to gain lasting relief from bankruptcy, according to a ProPublica analysis. Primarily to blame is a style of bankruptcy practiced by lawyers in the South.

TOO BROKE FOR BANKRUPTCY: How Bankruptcy Fails Those Who Need It Most
Source: ProPublica, 2017