Monday, September 10, 2012 Thursday, May 17, 2012

What We’re Reading, 5/17/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our radars this fine Thursday: a boatload of stuff about tomorrow’s Facebook IPO. (Plus more bad news from J.P. Morgan and Justin Bieber, the investor.)

"Facebook Insiders Boost Plans to Cash Out in IPO," by Shayndi Raice, Anupreeta Das and Lynn Cowan (Wall Street Journal). Well, this looks less than promising! Just days after Facebook raised its expected IPO price range, some of the company’s biggest investors announced plans to sell as much as half their stakes.

"Facebook: The Ultimate Dot-Com," by John Cassidy (New Yorker). The dream of the nineties is alive in Facebook, which Cassidy considers the quintessential “dot-com.” “The bursting of the bubble discredited the term ‘dot-com,’ which was understandable but, in a way, unfortunate, because the term itself had come to be the expression of an attitude that saw in online communication and online commerce boundless possibilities,” he writes. “Facebook’s I.P.O. represents a return to that mindset.”

"The Mystery of the Vanishing IPO," by Matthew Yglesias (Slate). Between 1980 and 2000, an average of 311 companies went public per year. Since 2000, that number’s dropped to 102. Blame start-up culture, Yglesias argues — it’s not what it was 15 years ago.

"J.P. Morgan’s Trading Loss Is Said to Rise at Least 50%," by Nelson Schwartz and Jessica Silver-Greenberg (New York Times). That puts the loss at $3 billion or more, for those of you who are counting. The White House reacted with a call for tougher reforms

"Experts Try to Chart Path for Exit from Currency," by Gabrielle Steinhauser (Wall Street Journal). Europe’s abuzz with rumors that Greece may drop the euro and return to a local currency. But here’s the big question: Is that legally possible? And if it is, can Greece bow out without further wrecking its economy? (Answers on both counts: Probably not.)

"What Mitt Romney Is Really Worth," by Edwin Durgy (Forbes). In short, roughly $230 million. (Perspective: That would buy 6.4 million shares of Facebook, or 19 million Etch A Sketches.)

"Ted Sarandos’ High-Stakes Gamble to Save Netflix," by Nick Summers (Newsweek). Netflix has seen plenty of drama over the last few years, as controversial decisions by CEO Reed Hastings caused customers to flee and share prices to plummet. But the company’s chief content officer plans to save Netflix with a different kind of drama — risky, big-budget, all-star original programming, of the kind you usually see on HBO.

"Google Revamps Search with Massive ‘Real World Map of Things,’" by Ryan Singel (Wired). Your friendly curator was casually Googling Game of Thrones last night when she chanced upon a strange, picture-based results page. Lo and behold, Google’s launched a new widget that it thinks will map the relationships between results — and change the way we search.

"Pinterest Raises $100 Million with $1.5 Billion Valuation," by Pui-Wing Tam (Wall Street Journal). Facebook? Old news! Picture-sharing site Pinterest raised a whopping $100 million in its latest financing round.

In other news: In Zimbabwe, a bus ticket runs about 100-trillion dollars; in the Bay Area, Facebook’s upcoming IPO packs upscale restaurants and boutiques; in Hollywood, Justin Bieber sings, dances, makes pre-teens cry … and, apparently, invests; and finally, across the Internet, caffeine addicts rejoice over research claiming that coffee might actually help us live longer. (Says mag writer Susannah Snider: “Thank goodness!”)

Happy reading, Tumblers!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What We’re Reading, 4/11/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. What we’re reading on an overcast Wednesday: Santorum, subprime loans, and an economic theory for finding good food.

"Rick Santorum’s 10 Best Quotes," by Tim Mak (Politico). Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican primary yesterday, making Mitt Romney the de facto GOP nominee. To celebrate, Politico rounded up 10 of Santorum’s more memorable moments. (In more serious news, they also have stories on what the Romney and Obama campaigns should do next.)

"Mitt Romney Can’t Leave Women Voters to His Wife," by Ruth Marcus (The Washington Post). Women, Hispanics, and low-income voters are among Romney’s biggest hurdles in the general election. But thus far, Romney has outsourced much of the women’s outreach to his wife. “Women are not a foreign country,” Marcus point out. “You don’t need an interpreter to talk to us.” 

"Lenders Again Dealing Credit to Risky Clients," by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Tara Siegel Bernard (The New York Times). So much for lesson learned: As banks and creditors recover from their recession-era losses, they’re once again reaching out to clients with less-than-impressive credit. “Even I wouldn’t make a loan to me at this point,” says one bankrupt woman with piles of credit card offers.

"Fannie, Freddie Weigh Mortgage Write-Downs," by Chris Arnold (NPR). Yesterday the mortgage giants came one step closer to reducing the principal on thousands of mortgages. But depending on whom you ask, the move won’t actually help.

"The Creepiness Factor: How Obama and Romney Are Getting to Know You," by Terrence McCoy (The Atlantic). If you’re reading this, then high-tech campaign strategists already know everything about you — from most visited websites to “which soda’s in the fridge.” Digital data-mining allows strategists an unprecedentedly clear picture of how voters act and think.

"Unemployment Falls Fast in U.S. If Men Get College Degree," by Craig Torres (Bloomberg). Men lag behind women in terms of educational attainment. Closing that gap could lower unemployment, jumpstart marriage rates — and staunch the growing number of men leaving the labor force entirely.

"Gilt Groupe: Big IPO Looms for the Amazon of Luxury," by Nancy Hass (Newsweek). The woman who brought you the flash sale is about to watch her game-changing fashion company go public.

"Economic Theory Plots a Course for Good Food," by Damon Darlin (The New York Times). A George Mason economist thinks he’s solved the puzzle of picking a good restaurant — and it has nothing to do with Yelp. Among his tips: “Avoid restaurants with beautiful women, hipsters and smiling and laughing people.” (At this point, you might as well eat at home.) 

And finally, some more fun fare: all phones will be smartphones within five years (and we can all post our Instagrams to Facebook!), your friendly curator’s job ranks at the very bottom of this ranking of best and worst jobs, and a Dunkin’ Donuts ad in South Korea sprays coffee scent on city busses.

What are you reading?