Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday morning odds and ends

USAToday has a piece on non-profits and the current economic environment. Charitable giving to Catholic Charities, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, and Goodwill are all down, and worse are situations where fundraising is dependent on certain corporations.

From the story:

"Lehman Bros.' September filing for bankruptcy court protection could take a financial toll on non-profits as disparate as Doctors Without Borders, an international group that supplies emergency medical aid, and the Grand Street Settlement, an organization that provides education and social services on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Since 2005, Lehman's charitable foundation gave more than $1.5 million to fund Doctors Without Borders' relief efforts for the Asian tsunami and other disasters. The foundation also gave thousands of dollars to Grand Street's College and Career Discovery Center, which carries the Lehman name.

Jennifer Tierney, development director for Doctors Without Borders, awaits word on whether Lehman's bankruptcy filing will affect a pending application for additional funding. 'We really don't know what the implications will be,' she says."

The Washington Post has a slideshow guide to understanding how we got to the current economic crisis. A quick breakdown: In the beginning (the 1990s), most people with good credit already had homes, so lenders enticed people with bad credit to buy homes. The loans were packaged together as investments and, after 2001, interest rates were low so investors wanted something with a higher rate of return. The credit bubble begat the housing bubble, which, with people taking equity out of their houses to buy other things, created another credit bubble. Definitely worth checking out.

— And here's a fun story from Reuters about income inequality in U.S. cities rivaling that of African cities. The data comes from a UN report published last week:

"'The authors (of the study) find that though the cities in the United States of America have relatively lower levels of poverty than many other cities in the developed world, their levels of income inequality are quite high,' the report said.

In the United States and Canada one of the key factors in determining levels of economic inequality is race, the report said."


Wintermute said...

I've always had a problem with corporate officers and boards of directors giving money away that should go to shareholders, to spend or donate as the latter please.

Corporate image, schmimmage, the penguin suits tend to donate to things like ballet and opera so they can play the upper-class game. Or they buy athletic skyboxes "to entertain customers," dontcha know.

Oh no, we can't have a city without a symphony!!!! Oh OK, here's a thought experiment: would you rather have a city with (1) no symphony but with American and Stax Studios turning out tens of Top 40 hits per year; or (2) a symphony but no American or Stax Studios? If you chose (2) congratulations; that's what we've got.

packrat said...

mute, the two aren't mutually exclusive, I'd rather have both. However, I agree that public companies establishing these huge foundations is problematic.