Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
Then they came for the bankers...
Big banks' annual shareholders meetings have become battlegrounds in the culture wars, said Jennifer Surane in Bloomberg. The country's biggest banks "have come to expect activists" at their gatherings, but usually they are "decrying the lenders as capitalist power-houses behind fossil fuels, gunmakers, and societal inequities." This year, conservative speakers have been more vocal with "questions, proposals, and ultimatums," and pummeled the banks for "woke, Marxist agendas and pledges to diversify their ranks." At Wells Fargo's meeting, conservative activists warned the bank "not to follow Disney," which is now embroiled in a battle with Republican politicians in Florida. One group "submitted shareholder proposals at Citigroup and Bank of America to audit whether diversity efforts are themselves discriminatory."
Saying no to dead-end work
A new book aims to help working women say no to office chores, said Emma Jacobs in the Financial Times. The title of the book, The No Club, "comes from the regular meet-up of the authors," all four of them female academics, "when they got together to complain about the volume of tasks that overwhelmed them." The tasks were often "critical to making their workplace function, such as organizing a colleague's leaving present," but offered no career benefit. The research found that women are both asked more frequently than men to do such tasks and then say yes more often. At one professional-services firm, the authors found "the median woman spent about 200 more hours per year than the median man" on dead-end work.
The return of the ARM loan
The adjustable-rate mortgage is back, and the share of ARMs as a share of all home loans has doubled in the past three months, said Irina Ivanova at CBS News. ARMs, which now make up 9 percent of mortgages — and a full 17 percent in dollar terms — are "more popular when interest rates for fixed-rate products rise." That's exactly what's happening. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 5.41 percent this week, about 2 percentage points above where rates stood at the start of the year. By comparison, the introductory rate on an ARM with a five-year fixed period — after which the rate switches to the market rate — is 3.67 percent. "More than a third of all new mortgages were adjustable-rate" before the housing crisis.
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