Feature

The 'Russian doll' workplace

And more of the week's best financial insight

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

The 'Russian doll' workplace
The growth of subcontracting is making it more common to "not actually work for the people you work for," said Henry Grabar at Slate. Emergency room doctors, hotel cleaners, and delivery drivers don't have very much in common — except for the fact that "their jobs increasingly come from nationwide firms that specialize in a particular employment niche." Business professor David Weil estimates more than 4 in 5 hotel workers actually worked for staffing companies hired by the hotel operator. Businesses like these "Russian doll" arrangements because they can reduce costs, but they are increasingly creating a "fissured workplace," which detaches employees from the shared successes and makes it harder for workers to seek better work conditions and benefits.

One-page PPP loan forgiveness
Loan forgiveness for companies that participate in the Paycheck Protection Program has become easier, said Gabrielle Bienasz at Inc. The process has been streamlined for business owners who borrow less than $150,000. They will be "required to submit a single, one-page form" asking "the number of employees your company was able to retain" and "the amount you spent on payroll costs, which can include some benefits expenses." Borrowers will generally be taken at their word on this; previously, lenders had received "no real guidance" and often "asked for more paperwork to back the loans up, just in case." The PPP program has been relaunched with an additional $284 billion; while 60 percent of any money borrowed still has to be applied to payroll, rules have become more flexible on what expenses qualify for the rest.

The twice-a-year approach to investing
My investment approach involves making decisions twice a year, said Paul Brown at The New York Times: On Jan. 1 and July 15 (my birthday). That's it. "On those two days, I will sit down and evaluate both my asset allocation and my individual holdings, changing only what I absolutely need to." On the other 363 days, "I have made a commitment not to act." I learned about investing from my father, who was "convinced he could outsmart the market" but never did. I started investing in passively managed index funds in the 1980s, and the majority of my portfolio remains in them today. "When I think about my father's approach to financial planning, I realize what he was doing was essentially gambling."

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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