What We’re Reading, 6/6/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our iPads and in our inboxes this morning: further Fed stimulus, the human price of austerity, and the marketing pros/cons of canned and packaged margaritas.
“Fed Considers More Action Amid New Recovery Doubts,” by Jon Hilsenrath (Wall Street Journal). Ben Bernanke & Co. are weighing another round of economic stimulus ahead of their June 19 meeting. There was no such talk at the Fed’s last meeting, when things looked rosier … but in light of Europe’s shenanigans, dour jobs reports, and all the other things we round up here each day, the Fed may make some small, cautionary moves.
“Save Us, Ben Bernanke, You’re Our Only Hope,” by Matthew O’Brien (The Atlantic). This story is accompanied by a photo of Ben Bernanke as Jedi, which everyone should click to for laughs alone. Beyond that, things get a bit more serious (though, er, no less gimmicky). O’Brien’s argument: The Fed is our last hope to improve the faltering economy, and so far, it’s failed to do so. Manipulating interest rates could help.
“Euro Zone on the Brink,” by Roger Altman (Washington Post). Another day, another flood of bummer news from Europe. Today, Greece is pretty close to running out of cash, Spain tells the world straight-up that it really needs that bail-out, and Germany struggles to figure out just what role it wants to play in the whole ordeal. Altman suspects this is mounting to another bump in the recession, a la the Great Depression relapse of 1937. Fortunately, he has a three-step plan! (That seems simple, doesn’t it?)
“Children Lose to Bailed-Out Bankers as Crisis Forces Cuts,” by Ben Sills and Rodney Jefferson (Bloomberg). In Spain, this is what austerity looks like: crowded emergency rooms and children who can’t get access to crucial medications. In fact, the handicapped and terminally ill are suffering across Europe, where safety nets are falling out from underneath them.
“Senate Republicans Again Block Pay Equity Bill,” by Jennifer Steinhauer (New York Times). The Paycheck Fairness Act fell six votes short of the 60 it needed to pass the Senate yesterday. The law would make it easier for women to sue in instances of gender discrimination — an issue that, incidentally, we take on in the June issue!
“Growing Economic Inequality ‘Endangers Our Future’” (Fresh Air). Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz dropped by the Fresh Air studio to talk lobbying, tax policy and student loans with Terry Gross. Fun fact: He’s largely credited with popularizing the phrase “the 1%,” which we will now never be rid of.
“The Fortune 400,” by David Cay Johnson (Reuters). Speaking of tax policy and the 1%, six American families with incomes over $200 million (each!) paid no federal income taxes in 2009. Cue the Occupy outrage!
“Most Recent High School Graduates Not in College Lack Full-Time Job, Study Says,” by Bonnie Kavoussi (Huffington Post). Three out of four high school graduates who took the working route do not actually have jobs, according to a sobering new study by Rutgers’ Center for Workforce Development.
And in other news: Warren Buffett graduated from D.C.’s infamous public schools, New York magazine has some “advice” for Wall Street interns, and a business battle is brewing canned and packaged margaritas. (In a war like this, everybody loses.) Also, the Internet now has 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses (that’s a number?) and Michelle Obama was on Letterman last night.
What We’re Reading, 6/4/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our radar as the week starts up: economic slowdown, existential crisis, and the many money problems of the ultra-rich and famous.
“Investors Brace for Slowdown,” by Jonathan Cheng, Charles Forelle and E.S. Browning (Wall Street Journal). Well, the week is off to a less-than-thrilling start. Investors are getting antsy as Europe, China and the U.S. show fresh signs of economic turbulence. Just a smattering of the rough market news: Asian markets are down sharply, European stocks slumped last week, and on Friday, the Dow dropped to its lowest point in six months. Happy Monday, everyone!
“Euro Zone is Lurching to a Crossroad,” by Landon Thomas Jr. (New York Times). The euro zone faces an existential crisis of the most massive (and massively expensive) kind. Key to the region’s proverbial angst: Should it seek greater fiscal unity or just break up? While Spanish and Italian leaders called for euro bonds and central authority this weekend, they face political opposition from the likes of Angela Merkel, who hesitates to bail Spain out. (If this is all starting to sound rather dizzying and Game-of-Thrones-esque, the Times has helpful interactive charts on the timeline of the crisis and the players in it.)
“Remarks at the Festival of Economics,” by George Soros (GeorgeSoros.com). While your friendly curator can think of no festival more dull-sounding than the “Festival of Economics” — are there demand-curve roller-coasters? Keynesian funnel cakes? — Soros’ remarks in Trento, Italy are certainly worth a read. The billionaire investor argues, in grandiose TED-talk fashion, that the foundations of economic theory fail to account for human mistakes. Significantly, he also says the eurozone has about three months to right itself. If that seems dense, CNBC has the Spark Notes.
“The Mayor of Mayors,” by Gabriel Sherman (New York). He banned trans fat! He shrinks your soft drinks! Michael Bloomberg may be the most visible mayor in the U.S., and certainly one of the most controversial — which leads Sherman to the question, where will he go next?
“Who Has the Spine to Fix the U.S. Economy?” By Fred Hiatt (Washington Post). Spoiler alert: No one. “It’s hard to be optimistic,” Hiatt writes. “Obama has the eloquence, but neither Obama as president nor Romney as governor showed much patience for legislative jawboning or relationship-building … It would be nice to think that the forthcoming campaigns will focus on this issue enough to give voters a basis on which to do more than guess. Judging by the debate so far, any optimism on that score seems even more naïve than refusing to give up on a grand bargain in 2013.”
“Small Fish Burned in Facebook IPO Knew Better,” by William Cohan (Bloomberg). Critics railed against Wall Street, Morgan Stanley, Nasdaq, and Facebook itself — but if you fall in Cohan’s camp, small investors who lost big can only blame themselves.
“Life After the NFL a Struggle for Many Former Players,” by Jeffri Chadiha (ESPN). Today in people-we-don’t-feel-very-sorry-for: “Terrell Owens hasn’t officially retired yet, and he already has blown the $80 million he earned during his career. Warren Sapp recently filed for bankruptcy. Former first-round picks Michael Bennett and William Joseph currently face federal charges of tax fraud and identity theft.” Apparently uber-rich ex-athletes can’t manage their millions! Seventy-eight percent of NFL retirees are bankrupt or financially strained.
“Mitt Romney Reports He’s Worth Up to $255 Million,” by Reid Epstein (Politico). In other breaking news, Mitt Romney’s still rich. (More interestingly, Obama’s tax plan would cost him $5 million. Mo’ money mo’ problems, as they say.)
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 5/29/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. Our our radar as we return from a lovely three-day weekend: unemployment benefits, stock market woes, and the sweet relationship between weird ice cream and the economy.
“U.S. Winds Down Longer Benefits for Unemployed,” by Shaila Dewan (New York Times). If you thought Congress extended long-term employment benefits back in February, then you didn’t read the fine print. New restrictions will unexpectedly shorten aid for half a million people — more than 70,000 in June alone. The drop could put an extra drag on the economy, potentially contributing to a recession next year.
“Stock Market Loses Face,” by Joe Light (Wall Street Journal). Some small investors are dumping stocks in the wake of Facebook’s messy IPO. Like all jilted exes, they’re feeling vindictive: Small investors pulled $3 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds in the week that ended Wednesday, which, if you’re keeping score, is about how much money J.P. Morgan lost.
“Spring Revival for America’s Housing Market,” by Leah Schnurr and Jilian Mincer (Reuters). Finally, some good news! Home sales and prices indicate that the troubled housing market may be ticking up. But don’t call your realtor just yet — even a solid recovery will take some time.
“Dewey & LeBoeuf Files for Bankruptcy,” by Linda Sandler, Sophia Pearson and Joe Schneider (Bloomberg). Dewey & LeBoeuf once employed 1,300 lawyers in 12 countries, advised the L.A. Dodgers on their restructuring … and accumulated $245 million in debt. The high-powered firm’s Chapter 11 filing earns it the dubious honor of being the largest law-firm collapse in U.S. history.
“Hope: The Sequel,” by John Heilemann (New York). A new election issue seems to spring up every day: private equity, jobs reports, dogs on roofs, “interceptions.” But from where Heilemann sits, the only factors that matter for Obama are how the economy fares and where demographics fall. Says one very confident strategist: “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This … guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’” In related news, Talking Points Memo suspects that many voters are a bit more split than that — especially in swing states.
“Obama’s ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” by Jo Becker and Scott Shane (New York Times). The second (very lengthy) installment in the Times’ series on Obama’s record takes us into the White House Situation Room, where Obama personally approves every entry on a military hit list — and oversees unprecedented amounts of the war on al Qaeda. His record is “paradoxical,” to say the very least.
“Mitt Romney’s Economic Failure in Massachusetts,” by Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast). While we’re talking political records, Tomasky has a damning column on Mitt Romney’s job-creation history as governor of Massachusetts. It isn’t worse than Obama’s necessarily, he writes — but Romney’s “record here is so lame from any ideological perspective … [he] can make no claim whatsoever that he has access to some magic tonic that grows jobs.”
“College Dropouts Have Debt But No Degree,” by Ylan Mui and Suzy Khimm (Washington Post). Just when we thought the student debt situation couldn’t get any scarier, it turns out that nearly 30 percent of students who take out loans later drop out of school.
And in other news: This semi-grating “super intern” scored 47 job offers after a four-month interning stunt, this man has ridden an ostrich (and thus thinks you should vote him into Congress), and these chains think sushi, pizza and hamburger ice cream are the key to sales in a slow economy.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 5/22/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. What we’re talking about for Tuesday: Facebook, the cult of Glass-Steagal, and what the Greek gods would think about their country’s present woes.
“As Facebook’s Stock Struggles, Fingers Start Pointing,” by Michael de la Merced, Evelyn Rusli and Susanne Craig (New York Times). Facebook’s third day of trading is off to a rough start — so rough, in fact, that investors are agitating to know who’s to blame. The most likely candidate? Morgan Stanley, the IPO’s lead banker, though Nasdaq and Facebook are also taking some heat.
“Obama Keeps Bain in His Crosshairs,” by Laura Meckler (Wall Street Journal). Speaking of heat, Obama continues to attack Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, even as his allies condemn the attacks. Your friendly curator likes this tweet from Slate’s Matt Yglesias: “Bain debate is the perfect lazy pundit’s controversy, all affect with no policy content.” (We’re on the record as pro-private equity, in case you wondered.)
“Rivals Go to Lunch on J.P. Morgan’s Losses,” by Gregory Zuckerman and Lisa Rappaport (Wall Street Journal). Someone’s enjoying Jamie Dimon’s downfall — and I don’t mean all the finance reporters fiendishly covering this beat. J.P. Morgan’s loss will benefit a dozen banks, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, to the tune of $500 million or $1 billion.
“Reinstating an Old Rule is Not a Cure for Crisis,” by Andrew Ross Sorkin (New York Times). Call it the cult of Glass-Steagal: Thousands of people, including Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, have idolized the Depression-era law they think could have stopped the financial crisis. Sorkin’s take? “The facts — basic facts — just aren’t that convenient.”
“Once Made in China: Jobs Trickle Back to U.S. Plants,” by James Hagerty (Wall Street Journal). Outsourcing — what outsourcing? A number of manufacturers are finding they can make and sell goods more cheaply in the U.S. (But don’t celebrate yet. The impact on job creation has been minimal.)
“The Cost of College,” by Nicholas Lemann (New Yorker). On the economics of American higher education, where too many schools compete for students, too much money is spent on failing programs, and — according to Lemann — too little tuition is charged at top schools.
“George Romney for President, 1968,” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (New York). We’ve already dug through the candidates’ pasts, dredged up their high school dramas, and examined their tax records, which leaves only … psychoanalysis! Wallace-Wells’ long read on George Romney’s failed presidential run examines not only the elder Romney and the ‘68 campaign, but how it might have impacted Mitt.
“Go Small: Why Washington Must Give Up the Illusion of a Grand Bargain,” by David Gordon and Sean West (The Atlantic). The argument for small, practical compromises over wide-sweeping meetings of the mind.
“Boomers and Millennials: Who’s Got It Worse in the Workplace?” By Matthew Philips (Businessweek). Your friendly curator doesn’t want to spoil the big surprise, but let’s put it this way — some boomers still have pensions.
And in other news (there’s a lot today!): Video game consoles account for one percent of all energy use in the U.S., some Congress members are only slightly smarter than fifth graders, Mark Zuckerberg lost $2 billion on Facebook’s second day of trading, Fortune now has a “Fantasy Executive League,” for the really nerdy among us, and the Hairpin imagines how the Greek gods would react to that country’s current crisis.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 5/7/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our agendas this morning: The austerity backlash, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffett playing ping-pong.
“Challenge to Austerity, and Germany, Is Sharpened,” by Matthew Karnitschnig and William Boston (Wall Street Journal). Voters in Greece and France really shook things up this weekend — the French elected Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, and the Greeks voted up a number of fringe parties. Translation: Both countries are sick of strict austerity measures. But even the big elections may not be enough to change those policies.
“Battleground Poll: Obama, Romney in Dead Heat,” by James Hohmann (Politico). Six months until the presidential election and the numbers look “extremely fluid” and incredibly close. The latest poll puts 48 percent of likely voters in Romney’s camp, and 47 percent in Obama’s.
“The Maturation of the Billionaire Boy-Man,” by Henry Blodget (New York). A fascinating profile of Facebook’s semi-infamous CEO, only weeks before the social network’s highly hyped public offering. From the dek: “Incredibly, Mark Zuckerberg has grown up to become an ace CEO — one whose way of thinking might drive Wall Street nuts.”
“The Frequent Fliers Who Flew Too Much,” by Ken Bensinger (LA Times). Steven Rothstein has flown more than 30 million miles in his lifetime. That makes him a bit fanatical, extremely well-traveled — and part of the reason American Airlines no longer offers an unlimited travel pass.
And in other news: Vanilla Ice feels good about the housing market, you could theoretically buy the White House for $110 million, and one brilliant Wall Street reporter is collecting photos of Warren Buffett “doing folksy things.”
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 5/1/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our radar for Tuesday: News Corp., Occupy Wall Street, and the prospect of running a Goldman Sachs Tumblr.
“U.K. Report Condemns News Corp.,” by Paul Sonne and Jeanne Whalen (Wall Street Journal). The U.K. parliamentary committee investigating last year’s News of the World phone-hacking scandal released its final report today. One line pretty much sums it up: Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”
“Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Protests in Resurgence,” by Henry Goldman and Esme Deprez (Bloomberg). The Occupy movement has planned big protests in hundreds of cities around the world today — but don’t call it a comeback. Violence already broke out in San Francisco last night. And our colleagues at the Kiplinger Letter report the movement is essentially too radicalized to go on.
“The Legendary Paul Ryan,” by Jonathan Chait (New York). Mitt Romney may be the de facto GOP presidential nominee, but this guy’s the real face of the Republican party. That could have a profound impact on the budget, the GOP agenda, and — if Romney is elected — the tenor of his presidency. Writes Chait: “To find a parallel to the way Ryan has so thoroughly seized control of the Republican agenda and identity, you have to go back at least to Gingrich in his nineties heyday, or possibly to Reagan.”
“The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy,” by Adam Davidson (New York Times magazine). Your friendly curator eagerly anticipates this week’s money-themed New York Times mag, which will drop on Sunday. But here’s a sneak preview: This killer long read from Planet Money’s Adam Davidson profiles a former Bain Capital partner who “aggressively argues” in favor of income inequality.
“The Death and Life of Detroit,” by Barry Yeoman (American Prospect). Detroit, widely considered one of America’s most blighted cities, may be experiencing a grassroots economic resurgence. (Related, in media business news: The American Prospect announced yesterday that it’s in the red and will fold without a grassroots resurgence of its own.)
“U.S. Economy Behaved Predictably in Crisis,” by Christopher Payne (Bloomberg Government). The economic recovery may seem slow, but according to this new analysis from Bloomberg Government, it’s actually in line with historical crises.
And in other news: Charles Wheelan pens some great — if unconventional — advice for 2012 grads, running social media for Goldman Sachs might be the toughest job in finance, and Vulture has a rundown of the ways theater-owners might try to lure you into theaters.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 4/26/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our iPads and in our inboxes this morning: educational slowdown, Costco mortgages, and another reason for the gender wage gap.
“Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.,” by David Wesel and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Historically, almost every generation has been more educated than the one that came before it. But for today’s 20- and 30-somethings, that’s no longer true: Rising tuition means that fewer kids finish college.
“Chasing Fees, Banks Court Low-Income Consumers,” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess (New York Times). Big banks are adopting tactics typically left to payday lenders: high-fee prepaid debit cards, emergency loans, money wire services. Banks say it’s an effort to attract low-income consumers — but it looks more like an attempt to recoup income lost on fee reforms.
“Romney’s Radical Theory of Fairness,” by Jonathan Chait (New York). Romney’s fundamental economic philosophy, according to Chait: “Fairness is defined by market outcomes.”
“Ready for the Fight,” by Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone). Rolling Stone’s second lengthy interview with President Obama covers Wall Street, the Middle East, and the upcoming campaign. Of note: Obama reads Paul Krugman and “all of the New York Times columnists,” and your friendly curator cannot believe he has the time.
“Occupy’s Big Stakes on May Day: Relevance,” by Josh Harkinson (Mother Jones). Heard anything about Occupy lately? Neither have we! The movement hopes to make headlines again with a May 1 protest on the Golden Gate Bridge. Its current and future relevance might be at stake.
“Why Women Make Less than Men,” by Kay Hymowitz (Wall Street Journal). If you believe Hymowitz, it’s not institutional sexism that drives the gender gap — it’s women cutting hours in order to have kids. “Today, childless 20-something women do earn more than their male peers,” she writes. “But most are likely to cut back their hours after they have kids, giving men the hours, and income, advantage.”
“Mitt Romney’s Dark Knight,” by Jason Zengerle (GQ). Mitt Romney’s right-hand man once worked for a Boston tabloid and very nearly fought a Massachusetts mayor who didn’t like state budget cuts.
In other news: Greece is selling off islands to raise money, Costco is selling mortgages through 11 different lenders, and Rep. Todd Akin basically thinks student loans are socialist.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 4/25/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our radar this morning: Apple, Facebook, and slow-jamming the news.
“Apple Profit Rises 94% on Growing Global iPhone Demand,” by Adam Satariano (Bloomberg). Uneasy investors who saw their Apple shares fall in recent weeks have nothing to worry about: Apple’s profit doubled last quarter, driven largely by global demand for products like iPhones and iPads. Apple has sold 35.1 million iPhones in China since January.
“Facebook’s Status Update,” by Jennifer Schonberger (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance). While we’re talking tech stocks, your friendly curator would like to point you toward a killer piece on our site today. Jennifer ran the numbers on Facebook’s upcoming IPO — with mixed results. “The layup that was Facebook’s initial public offering is no longer a sure thing,” she writes.
“Sugar Daddies,” by Frank Rich (New York). Twenty-five wealthy donors (“sugar daddies,” in Frank Rich parlance) have given more than a million dollars each to the GOP and the Romney campaign. Rich writes: “empowered by myriad indulgent court and Federal Election Commission rulings, an outsize posse of superrich white men will spend whatever it takes to have its way with the body politic and, if victorious, with the country itself.” The full list of donors is here.
“Earth to Ben Bernanke,” by Paul Krugman (New York Times). This excerpt from Krugman’s soon-to-be-released book, “End This Depression Now,” takes a long look at how the Fed chairman could be doing more, and better, for the U.S. economy. Worth reading for the illustration of Bernanke in a spacesuit, if nothing else. (In related news, the Wall Street Journal says the Fed is “likely to provide information but not action” in a series of statements and press conferences this afternoon.)
“Should We Return to the Gold Standard?” By John Waggoner (USA Today). Short answer: Probably not. Despite renewed interest in the gold standard, courtesy politicians like Ron Paul, it remains impractical to attach the value of the dollar to the price of gold. Copy editor Liz Whitehouse flagged this fun fact: There physically isn’t enough gold in the world to equal the economy.
“Marco Rubio Biography Says Grandfather Was Ordered Deported,” by Mike Allen (Politico). An early glimpse inside Manuel Roig-Franzia’s book on Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who looks like a top pick for Mitt Romney’s VP.
And in other news: It’s apparently more difficult to become a Secret Service agent than to get into Harvard, CNNMoney has a cool interactive on the world’s largest economies, and President Obama “slow-jammed” about student debt on Jimmy Fallon last night. (A sample: “The Pell Grant is a beautiful thing, but with college getting more expensive, is it enough by itself to fulfill all our collegiate needs? Aw, Pell no!”).
What are you reading?
What We’re Reading, 3/26/12
Every day, we poll the staff and round-up their favorite economic, financial and political reads. What we read over lunch this afternoon: Health reform, a house made of euros, and how much money interns really make.
“Health Reform at Two: Why American Health Care Will Never Be the Same,” by Sarah Kliff (The Washington Post). This explainer on the Affordable Care Act came out over the weekend, but we’ll be referring to it often as the Supreme Court takes on the law this week. Also worth re-reading, as the arguments unfold: “How They Did It,” The New Republic’s inside look on the making of the controversial law.
“Not Worth the Paper It’s Built On,” by Sarah Lyall (The New York Times). An unemployed Irishman built an apartment from thousands of bricks of decommissioned euros. Now he lives in his metaphor for the country’s financial woes.
“Do College Professors Work Hard Enough?” By David Levy (The Washington Post). At Montgomery College in Maryland, professors work 15-hour weeks for 30 weeks of the year — and make $88,000 on average. “Why are tuition increases the only certainty in our topsy-turvy world?” Asks web editor David Muhlbaum. Levy’s answer: Overpaid professors. “Sure to provoke a healthy backlash!” David adds.
“The True Cost of Lost Phones,” by Mitch Lipka (Reuters). $7 million a day, $30 billion a year. Need we say more?
“The Intern’s Burden” (New York Magazine). New York’s long-running 100-person poll turns its attention to local interns — many of whom make absolutely no money, if this survey is any indication.
What are you reading today?