What We’re Reading, 5/31/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our collective radar for Thursday: More euro-drama, the incomprehensible wealth of Walmart, and the relative pros/cons of keeping an ATM in the kitchen.
“Europe Fears Bailout of Spain Would Strain Its Resources,” by Landon Thomas Jr. (New York Times). If you thought the Greek bailout was stressful, Spain is a problem of an entirely different scale. It’s Europe’s fourth-largest economy, which means a theoretical Spanish bailout would leave very few funds in the EU’s $867-billion emergency fund. Added complication: These endless economic spats are weakening the ties between euro-zone countries. (But look, optimism! The Peterson Institute’s Jacob Kirkegaard sees signs of European progress.)
“After Facebook, Kayak IPO Stalls,” by Anupreeta Das, Gina Chon and Brett Philbin (Wall Street Journal). Will the Facebook fallout ever end?! Early evidence suggests that the botched offering was bad not only for small investors, but for the state of California, the stock market, and now, new IPOs — Kayak is stalling its offering until things look up.
“Older Americans Learn New Trades in Tough Jobs Market,” by Lucia Mutikani (Reuters). A quarter of Americans aged 50+ lost their life savings during the recession, and 43% of those still haven’t earned it back. That’s led many to seek a new job (or jobs) in unconventional, often minimum-wage fields. Bad news for job-seekers of all ages: HR software may be working against them.
“On Campus, New Deals With Banks,” by Andrew Martin (New York Times). Despite reforms, financial institutions are creeping into schools — and they’re banking on students for new customers and profits. Student IDs double as credit cards, banks disburse financial aid, and consumer advocates predictably freak out.
“Woman Who Couldn’t Be Intimidated by Citigroup Wins $31 Million,” by Bob Ivry (Bloomberg Markets). Sherry Hunt is the unlikely woman who sounded the alarm on bad mortgages at Citigroup, where she worked as a senior manager for more than eight years. Intriguingly, Hunt grew up in rural Michigan, married at 16, and never went to college. Now she’s won $31 million in a highly publicized lawsuit against her former employer.
“The One Percent’s Problem,” by Joseph Stiglitz (Vanity Fair). The combined wealth of the six Walmart heirs equals the combined wealth of the bottom 30% of Americans. (… I’ll just let that sink in for a second.) That’s obviously a bummer for we little folk, Tumbling away for starting salaries. But Stiglitz argues it’s rough on the top earners, as well — in the long-term, inequality will make their lives and work more difficult.
“Facing Down the Bankers,” by Annie Lowrey (New York Times). On Dennis Kelleher: Wise guy and powerful finance-reform lobbyist.
“Some Teens Aren’t Liking Facebook as Much as Older Users,” by Jessica Guyn and Ryan Faughnder (L.A. Times). Lyke ZOMG, Tumblr is the new Faceook, guys.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
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!
What We’re Reading, 5/16/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. In our inboxes this morning: Greek bank runs, the debt ceiling sequel, and several funny videos. (So make sure you make it to the end!)
“Greek Banks See Steady Deposits Outflow,” by Kerin Hope, Robin Wigglesworth and Quentin Peel (Financial Times). Spooked by the ongoing economic turmoil and their government’s failure to form a coalition, Greeks withdrew 1.2 billion euros from banks on Monday and Tuesday. (That’s .75 percent of all deposits.) Your friendly curator is reminded of the bank run scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” although Greek bankers say there’s no panic yet.
“Why Republicans Are Flirting with Debt Limit Debacle 2.0,” by Brian Beutler (Talking Points Memo). It’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day around here, but the House is indeed revving up for yet another showdown on the debt ceiling. Beutler’s explainer covers the hows and whys of Speaker Boehner’s recent posturing on the issue.
“Needy States Use Housing Aid Cash to Plug Budgets,” by Shaila Dewan (New York Times). February’s $25-billion mortgage settlement was a win for struggling homeowners across the country. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones struggling. States like California and Texas contend with huge budget gaps — and they’re diverting the mortgage funds to cover them.
“Hedge or Bet? Parsing a Trade,” by Katy Burne, Aaron Lucchetti and Gregory Zuckerman (Wall Street Journal). The J.P. Morgan controversy, in a nutshell: Was the bank’s disastrous strategy designed to take risks or avoid them?
“Jamie Dimon’s Hubris Unshakable as J.P. Morgan Reelects Him to Two Top Posts,” by Nomi Prins (Daily Beast). Nomi Prins clearly falls on the “take risks” side of the J.P. Morgan question. Her thesis: “A self-inflicted loss conjures up images of someone shooting himself or herself during a game of Russian roulette. Sure, the shooter might have shot the gun into his or her brain, egregiously mistaken in the belief it wouldn’t be loaded. But he or she also chose to play.”
“Blood in the Water,” by Bethany McLean (Vanity Fair). While we’re talking bankers, Bethany McLean has a great piece in next month’s Vanity Fair re: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and who could replace him if he’s forced out.
“Slowly, as Student Debt Rises, Colleges Confront Costs,” by Andrew Martin (New York Times). Students aren’t the only ones facing rising college costs — colleges themselves are restructuring to contend with state aid cuts and demand for cheaper tuition. Martin quotes Lawrence Lesick, of Ohio Northern University: “We know the model is not sustainable. Schools are going to have to show the value proposition. Those that don’t aren’t going to be around.”
And in other news: Yankee Candle wants to market to men by selling scents like — we kid you not! — “Man Town,” “Riding Mower” and “2x4.” New York Times reporter Kevin Roose has assembled a collection of “sad Jamie Dimon” photos. And for the video-minded among us, here are mash-ups of Jamie Dimon railing against regulation and Mitt Romney talking about things he likes.
What We’re Reading, 5/2/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. Our top picks for Wednesday: Fundraising, Wall Street, and love letters from Obama.
“Obama’s Not-So-Hot Date with Wall Street,” by Nicholas Confessore (New York Times). By January 2008, Obama had raised $7 million from Wall Street. Fast-forward four years, and he raised only a fraction of that amount. Confessore quotes a top Romney bundler, talking about banks: “Most of them are scared stiff of the president … including the ones on our side.”
“Money, Power and Wall Street” (Frontline). The last part of PBS’ much-feted financial documentary aired yesterday, and all four episodes are now available online. If you’re not the documentary type, the accompanying timeline of the meltdown and the live chat on stopping it are also worth checking out.
“How Elite Colleges Still Feed Wall Street’s Recruiting Machine,” by Laura Newland (New York Times). Newland graduated from Duke in 2010, landed a “coveted offer” on Wall Street, and walked away from it all — a response to a culture she calls “toxic.” Her reasoning: If we want Wall Street to change, students and universities have to change first.
“Is Gen Y’s Live-at-Home Lifestyle Killing the Housing Market?” By J. Maureen Henderson (Forbes). In a nutshell, yes — a phenomenon that plenty of outlets have written up before. But Henderson argues that greater cultural shifts among young people might also effect the market long-term: “If the housing industry is waiting for Millennials to get back on their financial feet and take their rightful place as America’s next generation of homeowners, they might be in for a surprise,” she writes.
“Becoming Obama,” by David Maraniss (Vanity Fair). The Internet is abuzz with gossip from Obama’s youth — thanks largely to an ex-girlfriend, who surfaced all kinds of letters, poems and journal entries from his twenties. Your friendly curator hopes none of her exes are ever so inclined.
“Big Maconomics: How McDonald’s Explains the World,” by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic). Lessons in innovation, currency valuation and marcoeconomics — courtesy everyone’s favorite late-night snack!
“IamA Nobel Prize-Winning Economist and New York Times Columnist,” by Paul Krugman (Reddit). Krugman departed the Ivory Tower of his popular econ blog and treated the masses to a lengthy Reddit Q&A yesterday. Of note: His favorite “minor innovation” is the self-flushing toilet, which “has made life significantly less disgusting.” Times economic policy reporter Annie Lowrey also did a great Reddit session last month.
And in other news: Hillary Clinton shot down Jason Segel, some California college students have launched a hunger strike to protest rising costs, and some Occupy protesters planned to take their complaints all the way … to a series of Lower East Side nightclubs.
Happy reading, Tumblers!
What We’re Reading, 4/24/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. Making the round this morning: Social Security, youth unemployment, and health insurance “hustlin’.”
“Social Security Heading for Insolvency Even Faster,” by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (Associated Press). We, like most of the Internet, are still reeling from the new government forecast that predicts the Social Security Trust Fund will run dry in 2033, three years earlier than previously predicted. The Medicare prediction stayed steady at 2024. (Politics editor David Morris emailed with this comforting note: “The payroll tax from employers and employees would still bring enough to pay 75 percent of the full benefit at that point, even if no changes are made between then and now. So a benefit cut, yes, but not a benefit elimination. The problem will be fixed, at some point. It always is. Too risky politically to let the reduction come about, and still plenty of time to fix it.”)
“Report Finds Wave of Mexican Immigration to U.S. Has Ended,” by Paloma Esquivel and Hector Becerra (LA Times). America’s sluggish economy hasn’t just impacted its homegrown workforce. A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center finds that Mexican immigration has slowed to a “standstill,” largely because of the economic downturn.
“53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed — How?” By Jordan Weissman (The Atlantic). A recent AP analysis found that one in two young college graduates are out of work or underemployed. Mitt Romney seized on the report as evidence of Obama’s failure on economic policy. But Weissman has another take: He argues that, economically speaking, college just isn’t for everyone.
“Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%,” by Joseph Stiglitz (Vanity Fair). An unusually lyrical look at what income inequality means now — and how it could topple the economy in the future. Regarding the Middle East protests, Stiglitz writes: “As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America? In important ways, our own country has become like one of these distant, troubled places.”
“No Sympathy for the Creative Class,” by Scott Timberg (Salon). On the economics of making it as an artist. (They’re not great.) And on that note…
“Out of Work, Out to California,” by Rachael Maddux (The Billfold). A music critic reflects on the time she spent unemployed after her magazine folded.
In other news: Some state governments save money by legalizing fireworks, one Good writer goes to extraordinary lengths to make it without health insurance, and Forbes has some interesting advice for job-seeking young men. (Your friendly curator likes number two: “Don’t be a bro.”)
What are you reading?
What We’re Reading, 3/19/2012
It’s Monday again, for better or worse, but we’ve got some good reads to get you through it. On our collective radar this afternoon: Apple’s dividends, Ben Bernanke, and how the weather could be warming the economy.
“Apple to Pay Dividend, Plans $10 Billion Buyback,” by Jessica Vascellaro and Mia Lamar (The Wall Street Journal). Apple’s on a bit of a news-making streak this month: After releasing the iPad3 last week, the company announced this morning that it plans to pay its first dividend since 1995.
“The Villain,” by Roger Lowenstein (The Atlantic). Lowenstein’s lengthy profile of embattled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke describes a man calmly — and successfully — striving to save the economy.
“Obama’s Evolution: Behind the Failed ‘Grand Bargain’ on Debt,” by Peter Wallsten, Lori Montgomery and Scott Wilson (The Washington Post). Last summer’s debt talks, as seen from the White House back rooms where they began to fall apart.
“Is the Weather Helping the Economy?” (All Things Considered). We all know the weather impacts our moods, but a University of Pennsylvania economist suspects it skews economic data, as well.
“Prime Time’s Class Warfare,” by James Wolcott (Vanity Fair). “Wolcott argues that television today reflects changing income inequality — the really rich and the rest,” writes reporter John Miley. John’s take: “Well, there’s certainly no more Sanford and Son.”
Read anything interesting this morning? As always, send us a tweet!