Must Read Money Stories For Thursday, April 9

by April 9, 2015

MRMS15

The Assistant Economy. Dissent published a thought-provoking piece in its spring issue about personal assistants in the creative world. They usually come from elite colleges, especially Ivy League schools, and the magazine describes their work as “highly pressurized, poorly recompensed, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes menial secretarial assistance.” Despite the hell that some personal assistants go through working for big-shot directors and publishers, many end up being successful thanks to the connections they make through their bosses.

Meet Fundbox. Most small business owners are familiar with this problem: An invoice has been sent to a client, but they take a while to pay and cash runs low in between. Traditionally, employers have been forced to fill out complicated loan applications to banks that take weeks or months to go through in order to keep their businesses afloat. Fundbox, a new website that received $40 million in funding in March, hopes to solve those cash-flow problems within hours, the New York Times writes. All the service needs is access to a company’s accounting software.

Winter’s last laugh. Eighteen freighters are stuck in the eastern end of Lake Superior due to an “icy traffic jam,” NPR reports. The ships are carrying mainly coal and iron, and got stranded when huge eight-foot chunks of ice broke free due to warm weather and were carried west from the shoreline by strong winds. U.S. ships and Canadian icebreakers are currently attempting to clear paths in the ice for the freighters, and two have already been broken free.

Big Oil’s lifeline. U.S. oil prices plummeted from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to as low as $44 a barrel in 2015, a six-year low. It turns out that shale oil drillers have a $26 billion safety net to cushion crude’s swift decline. Bloomberg reports Wall Street banks and hedge funds sold insurance to drillers for this exact scenario, and now oil companies are ready to get paid. There are no disclosure requirements for price hedging transactions, however, so no one’s exactly sure who will be shelling out all that money.

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