Thursday, May 24, 2012

What We’re Reading, 5/24/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On the agenda this morning: Europe’s crisis spills over, Google does evil, and the economics of all-you-can-eat buffets.

"Euro Woes Will Cross Pond," by David Wessel (Wall Street Journal). Fun fact: Greece’s economy is roughly the size of Massachusetts’. Less fun fact: If Greece drops the euro and  Europe suffers, we’ll feel a crunch in credit and imports here at home. (WSJ has also rounded up the forecasts and suggestions of several major banks; they vary in their pessimism. Deutsche Bank recommends the creation of a parallel currency called the “Geuro,” which sounds ugly, if nothing else.)

"Facebook’s IPO Debacle: Fear, Greed, Hubris …," by Heidi Moore (Guardian). If you read one more Facebook IPO autopsy, make it this clever, biting takedown from Marketplace’s Heidi Moore — she considers the failed IPO “a tale of financial chaos fit for the history books.” Why, you ask? “At nearly every junction where wisdom, care and moderation ought to have intervened, they did not.” Welp.

"Some Big Firms Got Facebook Warning," by Gina Chon, Jenny Strasburg and Anupreeta Das (Wall Street Journal). Not all investors are created equal. Before the Facebook IPO — and, more importantly, before IPOs in general — major firms score access to reports and warnings that the average investor never sees.

"Can Anything Take Down the Facebook Juggernaut?" By Steven Johnson (Wired). We’re a week late to this, but it makes especially interesting reading after all the Facebook fallout. Short answer: Yes, another service could displace Facebook. Slightly longer answer: Yes, but Johnson remains upbeat about the social network’s prospects. (Perhaps too upbeat: “… the company charges toward what will likely be the most successful public offering in the history of capitalism,” he writes.)

"As Computing Changes, Hewlett-Packard Struggles to Follow," by Quentin Hardy (New York Times). From one digital meltdown to another … the old-school stalwart HP just underwent a major restructuring, cutting 7.7% of its global workforce. (That’s a sobering 27,000 jobs.) But there’s a silver lining! HP’s shares rose sharply after the cuts. 

"Google Privacy Inquiries Get Little Cooperation," by David Streitfeld and Kevin O’Brien (New York Times). Google Street View made life easier for travelers and stalkers the world over. Unfortunately, those cute little camera cars aren’t just taking photos — they also collect data from personal, unprotected Wi-fi networks, downloading as much as 250 kilobytes of information per network. Moral of the story: Put a password on it!

"Vallejo, Calif., Once Bankrupt, is Now a Model for Cities in the Age of Austerity," by Ariana Eunhung Cha (Washington Post). You might remember Vallejo as the setting of Michael Lewis’ stark 2011 story on economic collapse in California. Well, there’s good news on that front: Four years after the city declared bankruptcy, it’s used technology, referendums and an increased sales tax to scrape its way toward solubility. Now, for the first time since 2007, “the city expects to have enough money to do such things as fill potholes, clear weeds, trim trees and repair tennis courts.” (Hey Greece, didja see this?)

"How We Got the Crash Wrong," by William Cohan (The Atlantic). Stop talking about leverage, start talking about risk.

"Writing Chapter One in Life’s Sequel," by Lindsay Cunningham (The Local). The Times’ Local project picked up a quirky, pseudonymous and rather sad new columnist. From her bio: Lindsay had “a great job, a good apartment in Fort Greene and a life in the fast lane of young Brooklyn. But then she lost her job and her boyfriend — and now she’s doing this column.”

In other news: All-you-can-eat buffets should not exist (according to econ), “extreme fear” is driving the market right now (according to CNN’s new “Fear & Greed” index), and $24 omelettes are fueling New York’s rich and powerful (according to this 27-slide “Power Breakfast” slideshow, which your friendly curator, God help her, clicked through in full.)

Happy reading, Tumblers!