8 Fascinating Reads

Happy Friday! There are more good articles on the web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating pieces I read this week.

Broke nation
Most Americans couldn't last long without a paycheck, writes

Some 59% of U.S. workers said they would only be able to pay their bills without a paycheck for 12 weeks if they became sick and unable to work, according to a new national survey from Cigna.

Even more alarming is that 29% said they would exhaust their resources in a month or less. Workers are overwhelmingly unprepared financially to weather a costly injury or illness that keeps them out of work.

Game changer
Health-care cost growth has plunged, as this chart from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows:

South Korea takes school exams very seriously, writes The Financial Times: 

Time was put on hold in South Korea on Thursday as financial markets and public offices opened late to ensure calm when more than 650,000 students sat the annual university entrance exam. Success in the test is critical to millions of young students' career and marriage prospects.

Trading at the Korea Stock Exchange and the country's foreign exchange market began at 10am, an hour later than usual, to keep roads clear while aircraft will be grounded in the afternoon during the English listening test. About 65 commercial flights have been rescheduled to avoid take-off or landing for 30 minutes from 1.05pm.

This should go over well 
Austerity in the U.K. has come to this

The Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Royal aides were told that the £60m worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing associations or hospitals it could lead to "adverse publicity" for the Queen and the Government.

Low prices, everyday
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) is setting a new standard for low pay. From Business Insider

A Cleveland Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive -- for its own employees. 

"Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner," reads a sign accompanied by several plastic bins.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported on the food drive, which has sparked outrage in the area.

"That Wal-Mart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers -- to me, it is a moral outrage," Norma Mills, a customer at the store, told the Plain Dealer

After Fukushima, Japan is going big on solar. Check out this new solar field, large enough to power 22,000 Japanese homes (via Slate): 

Like [convicted fraudster Alan] Stanford, Mr. Spangler relied on people failing to read or understand what was on their quarterly statements. Reports from the Stanford Financial Group were filled with small quantities of legitimate securities and had a line or two at the end showing the bulk of the money was in certificates of deposit later determined to be fraudulent.Victims
The New York Times writes about a crooked financial advisor who turned out to be running a Ponzi scheme:

In Mr. Spangler's statements, he provided only a breakdown of how money was allocated to his various funds.

"There was no indication on the statements," Mr. Boyd said. "They painted a very rosy picture. They showed our basis and current value for every investment we had. Our money had grown by 40 percent."

How the world grows
Statistician Hans Rosling made an incredibly good video on global population growth. Watch the whole thing here -- you won't regret it. 

Enjoy your weekend. 

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2013, at 3:27 PM, MartyTheCanuck wrote:

    That Wal-Mart thing is crazy. Was it for full-time workers ? Or part-time ? Temporary disabled ? If the regular, full-time employees need that kind of help, they should get a raise. And I say that as an occasionnal Customer and shareholder.

    Then when 50 millions are on food stamps, that's a lot of non-Wal Mart associates that need help too.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2013, at 3:29 PM, MartyTheCanuck wrote:

    The slower growing cost of healthcare is interesting, and you've been mentionning it for a while. But Democrats and their partners are trying to convince us that's it is due to Obamacare. That's a stretch, since the law hasn't taken effect until now ( except for some specific items that have very little to do with costs ).

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2013, at 2:14 PM, astuber9 wrote:

    Good video. I am going to buy a Mozambique etf (and loan more on kiva).

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2013, at 7:20 PM, cmalek wrote:

    "Health-care cost growth has plunged"

    It would be a much better read if it said "Health-care costs have plunged".

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2013, at 9:58 PM, JacquesleFou wrote:


    Would it be possible to block any comments with the words "Democrat", "Republican", "liberal", "conservative", "Obama" or "Boehner" for starters?

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2013, at 10:23 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    All I can say is not everything that you read is true. If you think it is then I have some swamp land in Arizona to sell.

    I don't think an article bashing Walmart, which actually employs over a million people and contributes a half trillion to the economy, is that fascinating. The company where I work is collecting money for military service members whose relatives work there. I think that is a lot more fascinating and a much better story. Let's stop the populist BS and start writing articles about investing. This stuff is garbage.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 10:01 AM, gkirkmf wrote:


    Watched "DON’T PANIC — The Facts About Population" completely as recommended... Well, IMHO the professor is a bit too optimistic and grosses over some real barriers to population growth that he "guesses" that the world will support. Here is a great blog on this topic which I suggest you read from top to bottom... the comments on the article are also interesting.

  • Report this Comment On November 29, 2013, at 10:08 AM, MartyTheCanuck wrote:


    Why would Morgan censor speech ?

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