Grand Theft Auto V has two playable stock exchanges

I suppose it’s always good for people to learn how the stock market works. Kevin Roose has a look at the exchanges, and a recent effort to manipulate the markets.

• There are two playable stock exchanges inside GTA V: LCN and BAWSAQ. On each of these exchanges, you can buy and sell stocks using the virtual cash you amass during the course of the game. (This cash has no real-world value, but it can be used to buy houses, airplane hangars, and other cool things inside the game.)

• Most of the time, these stock prices appear to move randomly. But in certain missions, your character is given a tip that, due to an in-game event (usually, an assassination of a CEO), a company’s stock is about to rise or fall precipitously. When this happens, you’re supposed to load up on the stock (or its competitor’s stock), kill the CEO, then profit from your trades.

• Rockstar Games, the makers of GTA V, have hinted (but never confirmed) that BAWSAQ, the second exchange, might be dynamic — in other words, it might move in response to the actions of other GTA V players, whose trades feed into a central online database. If thousands of players around the world happen to buy a bunch of guns simultaneously, the theory went, the BAWSAQ might reflect that activity by raising the price of Ammu-Nation stock (Ammu-Nation being the store where guns are purchased).

• There is no penalty for insider trading or securities fraud in Grand Theft Auto.

Grand Theft Auto V has two playable stock exchanges

Nobody trusts the big banks

This article is really long. Interesting long, but it does say the same things over and over again (in a good way I swear). Basically, the big banks did not learn their lesson in 2008 and the accounting at big banks is as bad as ever. They’re still taking giant risks and smart investors don’t trust them anymore.

That’s an increasingly widespread view among the most sophisticated leaders in investing circles. Paul Singer, who runs the influential investment fund Elliott Associates, wrote to his partners this summer, “There is no major financial institution today whose financial statements provide a meaningful clue” about its risks. Arthur Levitt, the former chairman of the SEC, lamented to us in November that none of the post-2008 remedies has “significantly diminished the likelihood of financial crises.” In a recent conversation, a prominent former regulator expressed concerns about the hidden risks that banks might still be carrying, comparing the big banks to Enron.

A recent survey by Barclays Capital found that more than half of institutional investors did not trust how banks measure the riskiness of their assets. When hedge-fund managers were asked how trustworthy they find “risk weightings”—the numbers that banks use to calculate how much capital they should set aside as a safety cushion in case of a business downturn—about 60 percent of those managers answered 1 or 2 on a five-point scale, with 1 being “not trustworthy at all.” None of them gave banks a 5.

A disturbing number of former bankers have recently declared that the banking industry is broken (this newfound clarity typically follows their passage from financial titan to rich retiree). Herbert Allison, the ex-president of Merrill Lynch and former head of the Obama administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, wrote a scathing e-book about the failures of the large banks, stopping just short of labeling them all vampire squids. A parade of former high-ranking executives has called for bank breakups, tighter regulation, or a return to the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which separated commercial banking from investment banking. Among them: Philip Purcell (ex-CEO of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter), Sallie Krawcheck (ex-CFO of Citigroup), David Komansky (ex-CEO of Merrill Lynch), and John Reed (former co‑CEO of Citigroup). Sandy Weill, another ex-CEO of Citigroup, who built a career on financial megamergers, did a stunning about-face this summer, advising, with breathtaking chutzpah, that the banks should now be broken up.

Nobody trusts the big banks

Income inequality in America

Jon Ronson went out and profiled 5 people who have an income separated by a multiple of about 5. He spoke with someone making $200 a week, $900 a week, $5K a week, $25K a week, $125K a week, and $625K a week. Surprisingly, only the person making $625K a week was angry about the politics surrounding income inequality. Worth a read. The person making $125K a week thinks more needs to be done.

There’s something unusual about Nick. For a multimillionaire, he doesn’t have your average multimillionaire view. In fact, he’s come to believe that the system he benefits so richly from is built on nonsense—specifically, the idea that “the markets are perfectly efflcient and allocate benefits and burdens perfectly efflciently, based on talent and merit. So by that definition, the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor. We believe this because we have an almost insanely powerful need to self-justify.”

Income inequality in America

Life as a warehouse wage slave

When applying to become a shipping warehouse employee, Mac McClelland was concerned her background as a journalist might be an issue. Instead they only cared that she’d never been in prison and that she’d be on time.

There is no room for inefficiencies. The gal conducting our training reminds us again that we cannot miss any days our first week. There are NO exceptions to this policy. She says to take Brian, for example, who’s here with us in training today. Brian already went through this training, but then during his first week his lady had a baby, so he missed a day and he had to be fired. Having to start the application process over could cost a brand-new dad like Brian a couple of weeks’ worth of work and pay. Okay? Everybody turn around and look at Brian. Welcome back, Brian. Don’t end up like Brian.

Life as a warehouse wage slave

How Republicans talk about the economy

In a sign of how long I keep tabs open in my browser, this article about How Republicans are being taught to talk about Occupy Wall Street is from 12/1/11. Frank Luntz, a Republican operative partly for responsible for the success of GOP messaging over the last several years, had a session at a Republican Governors Association meeting and gave a list of 10 dos and don’ts on how to talk about Occupy Wall Street.

6. Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’

“If you talk about ‘compromise,’ they’ll say you’re selling out. Your side doesn’t want you to ‘compromise.’ What you use in that to replace it with is ‘cooperation.’ It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you’re selling out those principles.”

How Republicans talk about the economy

NPR cements liberal bias by asking GOP to back up claims

Republicans in the Senate are refusing to extend a payroll tax holiday that would be paid for with a small surcharge on incomes over $1 million. Their excuse is that it will hurt job creators. NPR asked to speak to some of these job creators who would stop hiring if their marginal income tax rate was raised.

NPR cements liberal bias by asking GOP to back up claims