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Posts Tagged ‘bank’

220px-egon_schiele_-_gustav_klimt_im_blauen_malerkittel_-_1913

Art: Egon Schiele, 1913
“Gustav Klimt in a Light Blue Smock.” UniCredit in Milan will sell most of its collection of works by Klimt, Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Léger, Gerhard Richter, and others to fund good works.

When I worked at a Federal Reserve bank, I was astonished by the beauty of the bank’s art collection — and shocked that the public didn’t get to see it. A few works were in public hallways, but most were in private bank offices, in storage, or in the offices of wealthy tenant companies. I think the collection was a lure for some corporate tenants.

So I was intrigued to read what the Italian bank UniCredit had decided to do with its own valuable collection: sell off pieces to fund social initiatives across Europe.

As Anny Shaw wrote in May at the Art Newspaper, “The Italian bank UniCredit has announced plans to sell off its art collection — one of the largest corporate holdings in the world — to help finance social initiatives across Europe.

The impetus has come from the firm’s chief executive Jean Pierre Mustier, who publicly sold the bank’s private jet, opting to drive a Fiat 500 instead.

“Earlier today, the Milan-based bank announced a €1.4bn profit for the first quarter of 2019, up nearly 25% from the same period last year, and Mustier stated he intended to sell of non-core assets.

“The collection of 60,000 works includes those by Gustav Klimt, Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Léger and Gerhard Richter. A spokeswoman says the bank has not yet decided exactly how many works will be sold, and when, but sales are expected to begin later this year. Pieces are currently displayed in the bank’s premises in Italy, Germany and Austria. …

“The decision to sell the collection comes after UniCredit extended its Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiative beyond Italy to countries including Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Education, gender equality and job creation are among the bank’s goals, which last year approved €73m in financing to social entrepreneurs and startups in Italy.

“According to the spokeswoman, some of the art will also be donated to local museums ‘and the rest of the proceeds will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the support of young artists locally.’ ” More here.

Federal Reserve folks would probably never be able to agree on doing something like that with their art collection, but I hold out hope that someday they will decide to make it available for viewing by the public. (Question for art critics: How about reporting on corporate collections, especially government ones that technically belong to the public?)

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Thomas Daigle, an optician in Milford, Massachusetts, is a thrifty guy.

Writes Martine Powers in the Boston Globe, “Daigle, 60, has finally fulfilled the goal he set for himself decades ago: Arriving at the Milford Federal Savings and Loan Association in April with two 200-pound steel boxes, Daigle paid off the couple’s final mortgage payment with the contents — more than 62,000 pennies.

“That day was also the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary. Daigle hopes his story, first reported Wednesday in the Milford Daily News, will teach others the value of good old-fashioned long-term commitment.

“ ‘One of my sons always tells me, “Dad, you’re stuck in the ’50s,” ‘ Daigle said. ‘But it’s how you’re brought up, and it comes down to values.’ …

“It took the bank two days to count the coins, Daigle said, but it turned out his tally was exactly correct — to the cent. The sum was a little more than what Daigle owed, he said, but he did not ask for the surplus.

“ ‘I just wanted the pennies out of my house.’ ”

Wouldn’t you have liked to see the customers’ reactions when the 400 pounds of rolled up coins were delivered? But good for him. I value pennies, too.

Read more.

Photograph: Essdras M. Suarez/Globe

Thomas Daigle paid his last mortgage payment in pennies.

 

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There’s a theory that if you want information to stick, it helps to tie it to emotions. The Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina tested the idea with The Bold and the Bankable: How the Nuestro Barrio Soap Opera Effectively Delivers Financial Education to Latino Immigrants.

It’s all true: If a character you like goes bankrupt because of reckless behavior with money, you are likely to remember and apply the learning to your own situation.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a theatrical production by teenagers from the Underground Railway Youth Theater who had written a script from interviews they conducted with 80 people of all ages. The teens asked interviewees about their experiences with money and how they felt about it. Some of the stories were quite moving, and the high school audience’s emotions were likely engaged as they were quiet as mice.

There was a talkback afterward. A few students wanted to know how to join Youth Underground.

From the group’s website: “Youth Underground serves youth ages 13-18 with stipend eligible opportunities to create theater together and in tandem with community-based organizations; and to showcase their work throughout the city, Greater Boston, and at Central Square Theater. Youth Underground holds both an academic year program and intensive summer residency with an annual Ensemble of 30 members. Youth Underground showcases work through performances, a youth driven Community Dialogue Series, and peer exchanges with local and global organizations.”

The Boston Globe has a good article on it.

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Recently the Economist magazine offered a pretty comprehensive summary of efforts that government entities, nonprofits, and banks have made to get people who do not use banks (the unbanked) into the banking system. The push is not only because banks want customers. In fact, many of the new programs for reaching the unbanked require banks to make big concessions.

The bigger concern is that low-income people and immigrants  get taken advantage of by payday lenders, check cashers, and the like.

One program that is now in several U.S. cities actually started with the innovative Bank On San Francisco. Bank On San Francisco emerged to meet a need. First, a broad range of stakeholder groups evaluated why low-income people often preferred using payday lenders. Having found that the customers liked the hours, locations, and apparent clarity about costs, the groups developed a system that could meet more needs. (In New Haven the police were involved in a similar effort because too many immigrants carried all their cash on their persons, and that led to too many muggings.)

I’m interested in this issue, and so I was intrigued by a NY Times story on traveling tellers rural India.

“Swati Yashwant, a 29-year-old mother of one, is part of a growing legion of roving tellers intent on providing bank accounts to the nearly 50 percent of India’s 300 million households that do not have them. Using a laptop computer, wireless modem and fingerprint scanner, Ms. Yashwant opens accounts, takes deposits and processes money transfers for farmers and migrant workers in this small town 70 miles south of Mumbai, India’s financial capital.

“To reduce the risk of robbery or theft, no transaction by law may exceed 10,000 rupees (about $212). And in practice, many amount to no more than a dollar or two. But with the bulk of India’s population living in villages that have never had a bank branch, Ms. Yashwant, with her electronic devices, is a missionary of financial modernity.” Read more here.

The Indian idea looks like one that might be gainfully imported to the United States.

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Have you been reading about Elizabeth Warren, the temporary head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? People say she is too controversial to be approved by the Senate and that maybe her employee, Raj Date, a former banker, would be a good compromise candidate. Maybe so, but I just want to tell you about the extraordinary consumer advocate that I know Elizabeth Warren to be.

As a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on bankruptcy, she has worked tirelessly to reverse the erosion of the of the middle class and lower-income families that has occurred over the last few decades. The CFPB was really based on her work, and she is the right person for the job. Growing up among a lot of older brothers, she learned to argue for herself and be persuasive. I have sat in meetings and heard her talk about her research and outreach, and my jaw just dropped. She is so passionate, and her arguments are so clear and incisive. She is capable of persuading many others who think they have different positions, because she always can find the common interest. But I think the country needs a consumer advocate who doesn’t back down.

Elizabeth Warren has a powerful effect on people. One day several years ago, I was standing in a grocery checkout line and by chance I overheard the cashier telling a customer that when she was thinking of filing for bankruptcy, she contacted Elizabeth Warren and received energetic help — for free. Later she would e-mail Warren anytime and get a response and advice. Probably Warren can’t answer such e-mails now, but I will check with that cashier next time I see her.

If Elizabeth Warren hired Raj Date, then he is a good guy. But if he is a real consumer advocate, I don’t see that his chances of being approved by the Senate are any greater than hers.

Comments may be sent to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. Luna & Stella is apolitical, but Suzanne said I could write about anything that interests me, and that is what I have been doing.

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