Monday, May 21, 2012

What We’re Reading, 5/21/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our radar this drizzly Monday: Nasdaq, higher ed, and the economic benefits of a rocking music scene.

"Nasdaq’s Facebook Problem," by Jenny Strasburg, Jacob Bunge and Gina Chon (Wall Street Journal). I know, I know — we’re all sick of Facebook. But Nasdaq still has some explaining to do re: the embarrassing technical difficulties that held up Friday trading. The exchange may reimburse investors who lost money on glitchy trades. Still, Nasdaq says it’s not to blame for the stock’s lackluster performance. (As of this posting, shares have fallen below their $38 issue price.)

"Mitt Romney Could Best Obama in Fundraising," by Chris Cillizza (Washington Post). Both Romney and Obama raised around $40 million in April, meaning Romney’s campaign funds could eclipse the president’s. You know what they say: Money is power!

"The Battleground," by Alec MacGillis (New Republic). Fun fact: No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio. This year, that critical swing state could also determine who’s in power on the Hill.

"College Graduates Enjoy Best Job Market in Years," by Michael Diamond (USA Today). Finally, some good news for grads! The unemployment rate is down, hiring is up, and college job fairs saw an attendance surge this spring. (To which this 2011 grad says — aren’t you lucky.)

"How Competition is Killing Higher Education," by Mark Taylor (Bloomberg). College rankings are meant to help students find the school that’s right for them. (We make some great college rankings ourselves.) But Taylor, a department chairman at Columbia and the author of a book on college reform, argues that universities big and small are trying hard to game the system — and ultimately, that it’s students who lose out.

"Jumping Through Hoops," by Michael Joseph Gross (Vanity Fair). Among the bills London must foot to host the 2012 Olympic Games: 40,000 hotel rooms, 250 miles of Olympic-dedicated traffic lanes, and 500 air-conditioned limousines (plus uniformed chauffeurs!). The price tag will top $14.5 billion, leading some to question whether it’s all worth it.

"How Apple and Microsoft Armed 4,000 Patent Warheads," by Robert McMillan (Wired). A team of engineers in Ottawa takes apart routers, smartphones and other consumer electronics, looking for proof of patent infringement. It sounds like a pretty fun job. Unfortunately, it could also stifle innovation and entrepreneurship elsewhere. 

"CEO Pay Moves with Corporate Results," by Scott Thurm (Wall Street Journal). That’s a shift from 2010, when CEO pay and share prices were not closely correlated.

"When a Music Scene Leads to a Boom," by Michael Seman (Atlantic Cities). A handful of good bands and a big-time music festival have changed the economic tune in Denton, Texas.

And in other news: headphones are the new office walls and no one really has any idea if coffee is good or bad for you.

Happy reading, Tumblers!

Friday, April 20, 2012

What We’re Reading, 4/20/12

Happy Friday, Tumblr! Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our collective radar this morning: economic forecasts, China’s demographic woes, and Earth’s trade deficit with outer space.

"Fears Rise that Economy May Falter in the Spring," by Annie Lowrey (New York Times). European bond yields are climbing, unemployment claims have risen and oil prices remain high. Does that mean the economy won’t recover as hoped?

"Nine U.S. Banks Said to Be Examined on Overdraft Fees," by Carter Dougherty and Margaret Collins (Bloomberg). Two years ago, the government passed reforms to give consumers more control over their checking accounts and the costly overdraft fees that come with them. Now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and six other banks to see if the protections went far enough. 

"No Deal," by Timothy Noah (The New Republic). Virtually everyone thinks the federal tax code should be reformed — Democrats, Republicans, pundits, Tumblr curators. Everyone except Timothy Noah, that is. He writes that “the best tax reform would be … nothing.” Hm.

"China’s Achilles Heal" (The Economist). If America’s demographics scare you, China’s are on another scale entirely: A huge number of Chinese are aging into retirement, and thanks to the country’s one-child policy, no one is replacing them. That means China’s population could peak in 2026 (… but not before Shanghai grows to 27 million people).

"Two-Paycheck Couples, Working Because They Must," by E.J. Dionne Jr. (Washington Post). Dionne’s take on the so-called “mommy war” between Ann Romney and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen: It’s not about feminism or conservatism. It’s about money.

"What Does the Battle Over California’s High Speed Rail Project Mean for America?" By Carl Franzen (Talking Points Memo). California has an ambitious, $68-billion plan to become the country’s first high-speed hub. But the controversy surrounding the project means that major changes to American transportation and infrastructure could still be many years away.

And in other news: Earth (sort of) has a $374-billion trade deficit with outer space, you can pay your bills with gold and silver in Utah, and the New Yorker has dreamt up some very entertaining (if rather far-fetched) new bank security questions. A sample: “What is your favorite Will Smith golf movie? Who is your all-time favorite city comptroller?”

What are you reading?