Monthly Archive: July 2017

Lemon Wallpaper: My Summer Entryway Makeover

Transitional spaces offer an opportunity to have a little fun; to try something unexpected and show-stopping that you might not feel comfortable committing to in another room. This was definitely true of the entryway in my NYC apartment. I knew that I wanted to transform the long and non-descript space into something memorable, while also committing to brighter colors than I had done in the rest of the apartment. You guys all know how much I adore blue (in any and all shades!) but I also love yellow, too. Luckily, these two colors work together beautifully. As blue is a key theme throughout the rest of the apartment, I knew it would make sense to incorporate some blue accents into the yellow base. After the jump I’ll talk through the full entryway space, including this amazing lemon wallpaper. Come take the tour! This fabulous lemon wallpaper had my name written all of it! From the moment I saw it, I knew that it would be perfect for the apartment entryway. Playful, bright, cheerful and graphic: it was everything I was looking for to transform this transitional space into a wow moment. I love it! All our friends and family go […]

The post Lemon Wallpaper: My Summer Entryway Makeover appeared first on Bright Bazaar by Will Taylor.

Trump Just Made Saving for Retirement More Discouraging for Some

U.S. Treasury Building (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Participants in the Obama-era myRA retirement plan found out via email last Friday that the program was shutting down, the New York Times reported. The Treasury Department-run program was aimed at people with no access to employer-based retirement plans. They were informed they’d be given the option to roll over the funds into a privately run Roth IRA (individual retirement account).

According to the Times, “about 20,000 accounts have been opened [since they became available at the end of 2015], with participants contributing a total of $34 million, according to the Treasury; the median account balance was $500. An additional 10,000 accounts whose owners have not contributed to them have been opened.”

Jovita Carranza, the United States treasurer, said in a statement to the Times that demand for the accounts was not high enough to justify the expense of running the program, which has cost $70 million since 2014, according to the Treasury. The department projected a cost of $10 million a year in the future. (The Times did not report on how Carranza came up with such figures.)

Instead of letting money managers pick investments from a range of stocks, bonds and other assets, which can lead to expensive fees, myRA savings only went into one asset: U.S. Treasury savings bonds. It was designed to be an onramp to retirement saving, especially for low-income households. There was no minimum deposit or fees. Contributions could be manually or automatically withdrawn. The maximum annual contribution was $5,500 a year, or $6,500 if age 50 or older.

There might have been more demand for the program as state and local governments ramped up their own publicly sponsored retirement plans. The myRA program could have also been used as a component of state- or municipal-sponsored retirement plans, and there had been some planning to do so, the Times reported:

The program “offers a really good solution,” said Tobias Read, state treasurer of Oregon, which is running a pilot of its retirement savings plan this month and had expected to use myRA as its “capital preservation” alternative. “Without it, we will be forced to look at other options, which frankly aren’t as good for that purpose.”

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has been pushing for a city-sponsored retirement plan too. At companies with fewer than 10 employees, nearly 90 percent don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the comptroller found. The myRA could have provided a safe, low-cost foundation for Stringer’s city-sponsored plan as well. Now, cities and states will have to look elsewhere.

By telling participants about rolling over retirement savings to private money managers, the Trump Treasury Department is exposing nascent retirement account holders to the kinds of fund managers who often charge expensive money management fees. The Securities and Exchange Commission, who regulates these money managers, recently levied fines of $13 million on Morgan Stanley and $97 million on Barclays Capital for overcharging clients.

Private money managers were destined to get their hands on myRA savings anyway — the account maximum value was $15,000, at which point it would be rolled over into a private sector retirement account. As another key measure, the Obama-era “Fiduciary Rule” is meant to curb high fees by requiring money managers to act in the best interest of their clients. That rule, after an early challenge from the Trump administration, went into effect this June.

But Trump continues to look for ways to claw back the Fiduciary Rule. In other words, at the same time that his administration is taking away a free, safe option to begin saving for retirement, it’s turning over $34 million in retirement savings to private money managers and trying to make it easier for those money managers to charge higher fees.

Venice Joins Lists of Cities Feeling Tourist Backlash

(Credit: publicstock)

When international human rights organization Unesco published its 2017 World Heritage in Danger list, it included cities like Aleppo and Damascus, both in Syria. It did not include the city of Venice — and while that exclusion probably seems logical from the U.S., it shocked many Italian locals. The reason: tourism run amok.

“In July and August it’s like war,” Paola Mar, who heads the city’s tourism bureau, recently told The Independent.

That might seem like hyperbole held up next to the likes of Aleppo — but the Italian city’s struggle is both real and difficult to address. Venetian services and infrastructure cost money, but tourists tend to see the historic urban landscape as part of the international public domain. Mar’s job, according to the paper, is to tread “a gossamer-thin line between the needs of a globalized world that thinks canalside selfies are a human right, and increasingly furious locals, protesting about being pushed out of their jobs, homes and city in favor of Airbnbs, souvenir shops and an incessant stream of people wearing cruise-ship stickers and following umbrella-toting guides.”

Venice isn’t the only city struggling with the dark side of a tourism boom, aided by several trends. American millennials, or so the story goes, prefer to collect experiences rather than things and are traveling in record numbers. And Chinese tourism is also on the rise, due to loosened travel restrictions and the rapid rise of a new middle class. Less anecdotally, a number of cities, including Brooklyn, New Orleans and Salt Lake City in the U.S. and the countries of Iceland and New Zealand, turned to tourism as a new economic staple in the last decade — in Iceland’s case, as a way to repair the damage done by the 2008 financial crisis.

But as CityLab pointed out earlier this month, Iceland’s eagerness for tourist dollars is swiftly being dampened by tourist behavior.

“The Icelandic public has been losing it recently over visitors’ bad behavior, sick of people who treat the country as some sort of fire-and-ice theme park where elves arrive to magically tidy up their mess,” Feargus O’ Sullivan wrote.

New Zealand has similar concerns. A new marketing campaign encouraging tourism brought 3.5 million visitors to the country in 2016, a 16 percent increase over the previous year, according to DW.com. More growth is projected through 2022. But between vehicle accidents and traffic congestion, locals worry about the inadequate infrastructure, as well as environmental damage caused by tourists living out their Lord of the Rings fantasies in ecologically sensitive areas.

Some cities and countries are designing policy solutions to discourage bad tourist behavior — and others are trying to discourage tourism all together, according to the New York Times. Following a scandal in which a number of tourists were deported from Cambodia for posing naked at sacred sites, the country began considering “a code of conduct that would ban not only nudity, but also the touching of ruins.”

“Bhutan, wary of uncontrolled tourism, is going further — it has restricted the number of tourism visas, curbed hotel construction and imposed a high tariff on tourism, all part of a strategy of ‘low-volume and high-value tourism,’” according to the paper.

In Venice, authorities are trying a different method: shaming.

From The Independent:

Things like swimming in the canals, attaching “love locks” to bridges, picnicking in public places and riding bikes through the city – which Mar says she’s seen personally – can now be met with hefty fines of up to €500. Equally, people are encouraged to keep to the right when walking, not pause on bridges, recycle, and buy from artisans rather than the trashy souvenir shops which many locals say are the final straw for the city.