“I do feel very sorry for younger people in this business,” says Malik Karim, the founder of Fenchurch Advisory Partners.

“This is a relationship business. It is a business where you learn talking to people or sitting alongside people or listening to their calls. But the young people who are starting and have been thinking about coming to the office are going to be stuck at home.”

Karim, 59, is one of very few people working from Fenchurch’s new offices in 110 Bishopsgate, the 46-floor skyscraper that towers over Liverpool Street station. This year was supposed to mark the next phase of development for the business, an investment banking boutique that specialises in financial services. Instead, Karim is working hard to keep his team together.

“It’s all our problem,” he says. “We have to find a new way of working and staying in touch. We can’t have 330 people on a Zoom call having a drink together. Even eight is hard. So however the next few months work out, it is going to be disruptive.”

Yet deals are being done. Fenchurch is advising the mutual insurer LV= on its potential buy-out by the private equity firm Bain. Karim’s team is also helping the Post Office examine the options for its insurance business. Fenchurch has done 10 deals so far in 2020, including the £1.7bn buy-out of Hastings, and expects to complete more even as coronavirus restrictions tighten and the economic recovery is cut off.

Hunt for talent

The firm is part of the long-standing trend in investment banking towards specialist boutiques that can provide advice free of the potential conflicts of big banks. The giants of the City and Wall Street want to provide financing as well as advice.

Karim left that world when he was sacked by Credit Suisse

Outside the Bank of Japan (BOJ) headquarters in Tokyo on Sept. 14.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

The Bank of Japan’s escalating presence in almost every corner of the nation’s financial markets threatens to further distort activity and complicate any future pulling back from stimulus.

The central bank’s growing pile of assets has now reached the equivalent of 137% of gross domestic product, according to a Bloomberg calculation based on official data. In dollar terms, the tally of securities, loans and other assets is just 8% smaller than the Federal Reserve’s even though the U.S. economy is four times bigger than Japan’s.

While economists laud the relative success of the BOJ’s measures to support businesses and the economy through the Covid-19 crisis, many of them also warn that accelerated growth in the bank’s asset mountain will be hard to scale back in the future without unnerving investors and shocking loan-dependent companies and policy makers.

With its array of corporate debt and commercial paper quickly building, the BOJ’s “whale in the pond” presence is also spreading beyond government bonds and stock funds to distort other markets and further crowd out private investors.

“It’s like the BOJ has created an intensive care unit and wheeled everybody inside. It’s so comfortable on the drip feed that no one wants to leave,” said Takahiro Sekido, chief Japan strategist at MUFG Bank Ltd.

BOJ's asset haul is larger than Fed's by the size of an economy

The BOJ aggressively ramped up its lending and asset buying in March as the looming scale of the pandemic spread jitters among investors and businesses.

Given the already bloated size of the BOJ’s assets, the pace of increase appeared smaller in scale than its global peers, especially compared with the Federal Reserve. That partly reflects the Fed’s efforts to trim back earlier stimulus, something the BOJ was unable to do and


© AFP/Getty Images

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Younger workers are concerned that social security will no longer be available for them when they retire. They fear that they have been paying into the system for years, but there will be nothing left when they retire.  Social Security Trustees released their annual report in April 2020, and stated there is a possibility that social security could be insolvent in 15 years. The current COVID-19 pandemic is likely also depleting reserves. 

Social security is paid out of a general fund; the treasury reserve has a provision for social security. For public optics, nobody in Congress or the White House wants to preside over social security payments disappearing, or social security going away. Therefore, social security will likely never disappear completely. Although young workers will probably still receive social security payments, their payments will significantly less than what current and past recipients are receiving. In the case of Medicare’s Part A, a Trust Fund provides the funding for that. That is not covered by the general fund, and this Trust Fund is expected to run out in around 2024, give or take a couple of years. Medicare and its Trust Fund is a topic for a future blog article.

The challenge of funding social security remains. One provision that helps and will continue to help is the taxation treatment of social security. Around 30% of Social Security recipients pay tax on their social security payments. They either taxed on 50% or 85% of their social security benefits. The income thresholds to determine your taxability of social security are low and have stayed the same for over two decades. Keeping these the constant is intentional, and has helped to raise revenues in order to continue the funding of social security.   

·   You pay tax on 50% of your social security

The ballot measure, known as Proposition 22, would establish drivers as an independent class of workers with access to limited job benefits, along with wage and worker protections they’ve so far lacked under the gig economy model. Labor groups and many of driver advocates say the companies’ efforts, however, do not go far enough to protect workers and are merely an attempt, cloaked in friendly marketing materials, to quash a new law that would guarantee drivers access to the minimum wage, employer-provided health care and bargaining rights.

Drawing on a more than $186 million campaign war chest that Uber, Lyft, food delivery app DoorDash and other tech companies have raised, they are seeking to convince California voters that the ballot initiative reflects the will of drivers. They’ve cited limited survey data saying the vast majority of drivers want to remain contractors.

But critics see the measure as a last-ditch effort to strong-arm a tough law.

The gig companies are following a long history in California of powerful groups “manipulating the way the public understands propositions,” said Veena Dubal, an associate professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, who focuses on the gig economy and is an advocate for classifying drivers as employees in California. “They are working to trick the public … into voting in favor of this. And they’re getting traction.”

The heated battle could well result in major implications for gig workers not just in California, but across the country.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the current status of drivers?

In most of the country, drivers are independent contractors who are able to work for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and others on demand. That comes with pros such as flexibility. But it also means there are no guaranteed hours or health