Friday, March 16, 2012

Short Takes: Muppet Clients and more

An executive director at Goldman Sachs leaves the firm where he has “seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets’.” He paints a picture of a company focused on finding ways to shift clients’ assets into their own pockets.

Retire Happy Blog makes a good point that you have to look at the numbers to make big financial decisions like purchasing an annuity.

Young and Thrifty makes an interesting point that teachers may have difficulty teaching financial literacy to students because their high pay, job security, and guaranteed pensions give them little reason to care about many personal finance issues. There was also discussion of the difficulty of attracting qualified math teachers. Of course, the private sector would solve this problem trivially by offering math teachers more pay than other teachers. I’d love to watch someone suggest this in a teacher union meeting.

Big Cajun Man isn’t too happy with those who say that civil servants get free gold-plated pensions. He’s right that pensions aren’t completely free for civil servants. But they are mostly free and are entirely gold-plated.

Canadian Couch Potato posted a spreadsheet for tracking your asset allocation across multiple accounts.

Where Does All My Money Go? has a cool interactive graph that illustrates European government debts.


  1. If you wish to live in my gold plated basement, you'll have to speak nicer of me...

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Hi Mike

    Lots of good posts this week in your round-up….

    Like you appear to be suggesting in connection with Young and Thrifty's post, I agree the educational sector could benefit from greater market forces on this and other issues. Perhaps a voucher system like Sweden's (and in many other places) would help.

    The setting wasn't quite a teacher union meeting, but I did recently speak about the need for more choice and competition.

    If that piece had appeared in the Globe, no doubt the comments section would have filled up with some choice messages from irate teachers and their families. But I don't believe such reactions should deter speaking out because the exercise of monopoly power in this context is not in the public interest.

  3. @Larry: I think the number one thing that has to happen with our educational system is to allow parents to get their children away from bad teachers. Right now we have the double-whammy of very high teacher pay and the inability to get rid of the poor teachers. A voucher system is an interesting idea. Presumably there are many ways to implement one and success or failure would be determined by these details.

  4. Thanks for the link - have a great weekend!

  5. @Patrick: It always helps to get rid of people who can't or won't do their jobs well.

    1. The comment above is a reply to Patrick whose comment without the now broken link:

      @Michael: Take a look at the documentary Waiting for Superman some time. One of the points they make is that the only think keeping US teaching system from leading the world would be firing the bottom 6% of teachers.