Friday, June 1, 2012

What We’re Reading, 6/1/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. On our minds as we wrap up the short week: Job numbers, the long-term unemployed, and George H.W. Bush’s questionable taste in socks.

"U.S. Added 69,000 Jobs in May; Jobless Rate at 8.2%," by Shaila Dewan (New York Times). The new jobs numbers are out, and they’re far worse than anyone expected. The unemployment rate is up very narrowly, from 8.1%, new jobs fell to 69,000, and The Labor Department revised its April jobs number down, from a measly 115,000 to a measlier 77,000. Analysts suspect all these ups and downs could have more to do with number-crunching flukes and euro fears than with the actual U.S. economy. In either case, it will take many years to close the jobs gap. Perspective: Euro-zone unemployment just hit 11%!

"Back to Work" (Businessweek). We rarely recommend photo stories, but Businessweek’s latest cover package is a must-view: The magazine sent photographers to follow 17 long-term unemployed people, from lawyers to poker dealers, as they return to work. 

"For Many Teens, Summer Jobs May Be Thing of the Past," by April Fehling (NPR). Your friendly curator wishes she had the “it’s the economy” excuse when her mother made her get a summer job at the ripe age of 14. In either case, kids these days might not have a choice: Teen employment is expected to hit a new post-World War II low. Last year it was 29.6%, down from more than 50% in 2001.

"U.S. Steps Up Pressure on Europe to Resolve Euro Crisis," by David Jolly (New York Times). Circling around from one crisis to another, President Obama renewed pressure on German, French and Italian leaders to get their respective economic acts together. He’s not the only one. In Greece, multinational companies are changing contracts and moving cash reserves to prepare for the worst. In Brussels, the European Central Bank pushed for a joint guarantee on bank deposits. Sounds like these guys could use a long weekend.

"Anatole Kaletsky on A New Capitalism" (The Browser). Anatole Kaletsky (econ consultant, Times columnist, all-around pro commentator) goes long on the context and history of Europe’s economic crisis. If you’re looking for some light summer reading, he also suggests five books on modern capitalism. Beach reads, if you will! 

Further #longreads for your weekend:

"The Amazon Effect," by Steve Wasserman (The Nation). Jeff Bezos hasn’t just changed the way you read books and watch movies — he’s also wrecked the brick-and-mortar book business and revolutionized online retail.

"Tyrone Gilliams: Ivy League Scam Artist," by Stephen Fried (Philadelphia). Ordained minister, UPenn grad and Philadelphia golden boy Tyrone Gilliams is charged with running a complex Ponzi scheme.

And in other news: Men do in fact have cooties (according to science!), Spanish banks will do anything to keep your money, and George H.W. Bush has weird taste in socks.

Happy reading, Tumblers!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What We’re Reading, 5/18/12

Happy Friday, Tumblr! Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. Today’s list is getting up a little late, courtesy the Facebook IPO — but since the weekend’s almost here, please cut your curator some slack.

On our radar today: Facebook, Facebook and … more Facebook! If we played the Facebook IPO drinking game, we’d all be pretty buzzed.

"Facebook Falls Near to IPO Price," by Jacob Bunge, Jenny Strasburg and Ryan Dezember (Wall Street Journal). It would have been hard for Facebook’s first day of trading to live up to the hype that proceeded it. But even by lower standards, this launch felt a little “meh” — shares opened at $42 and closed at $38.16, just a bit above their Thursday offering price. 

"For Average Investors, Long Odds on a Big Facebook Payday," by Nathaniel Popper (New York Times). The little guys who got in on Facebook probably shouldn’t expect big returns. (Hey, that’s what we said about IPOs!)

"How Mark Zuckerberg Hacked the Valley," by Brad Stone and Douglas MacMillan (Businessweek). Facebook hasn’t just changed the way we use the Internet, keep up with friends and creep on old acquaintances. The social network’s unconventional business strategies may also change the way tech start-ups operate. In the words of Stone and Macmillan, “Zuckerberg and his crew have made a series of high-risk moves … that were far more daring than wearing a hoodie to an IPO roadshow.”

"Facebook’s Growth and Reach at a Glance," by Avie Schneider and Melanie Taube (NPR). The infographic gurus at NPR have come up with a fascinating look at Facebook’s financial history. Fun fact: None of the cities with the most Facebook users are in the United States. 

"Facebook IPO Makes Zuckerberg Richer Than Google Founders," by David De Jong and Devon Pendleton (Bloomberg). Mark Zuckerberg is now the 29th-richest person on Earth — a ranking that makes your friendly curator wonder who the heck cracks the top 10. The company’s other co-founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Saverin, will also become billionaires.

And in other (Facebook) news: PC Mag rounds up 10 very strange things that cost the same amount as Facebook stock and the Huffington Post has launched a “Tech Bubble Death Watch" — worth it for the jokes alone.

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?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What We’re Reading, 4/4/12

Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. Making the office rounds this morning: Romney, income inequality and the so-called “war against youth.”

"Romney, Obama Get Ready to Rumble," by Jonathan Martin (Politico). Martin’s lede says it all: “It’s really, truly over,” he writes of the Republican primary battle that seems to have stretched on forever. Romney’s wins in Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. last night effectively made him the nominee. 

"The Reckoning: Romney After Wisconsin," by John Cassidy (The New Yorker). The primary may effectively be over, but what happens next? “This is an interesting analysis of what the morning after is really looking like for the Romney campaign,” says Letter reporter Neema Roshania. Interesting and, dare we say, pretty down on Mitt.

"Income Inequality is Killing the Economy, Obama Says — Is He Wrong?" By Derek Thompson (The Atlantic). In a speech yesterday, Obama blamed income inequality for “drag[ging] down our entire economy.” Thompson handily rounds up the arguments on both sides.

"Paul Ryan Betrays His Own Views on Income Inequality," by Ezra Klein (The Washington Post). Speaking of income inequality, Rep. Paul Ryan’s recently passed budget plan proposes $5.3 trillion in budget cuts. But where are those cuts coming from — and what does that say about Ryan’s values? “Paul Ryan has been a champion of social mobility, but his budget plan encourages just the opposite,” says Kip’s social media maven Amanda Lilly. To quote Klein: “No millionaire’s child will find that Ryan’s budget ends her hopes of a college education. But plenty of lower-income children will.”

"We Need ‘Imported from Detroit 2.0,’" by David Kiley (The Huffington Post). We’ve all seen those gritty new Chrysler ads: the city scenes, the snowy sidewalks, the gleaming Chrysler cruising under a pro-Detroit voiceover. The ad campaign’s catchphrase — “imported from Detroit” — might say more than we think. “This is a nice exploration of Detroit’s complicated relationship with the car industry, written from a advertising perspective,” says digital director Doug Harbrecht. “Dave Kiley has covered both autos and advertising for decades.”

"Women Funding Women Opens the Door to Responsible Investing," by Alex Goldmark (Good). Here’s a novel take on socially responsible investing: Through the WIN-WIN initiative, women investors can fund women-owned businesses for as little as $20.

"The War Against Youth," by Stephen Marche (Esquire). Marche’s provocative essay breaks down the widening economic gap between the young and the old — and doesn’t shy away from assigning blame. Look no further than the sub-headline: “The recession didn’t gut the prospects of American young people. The Baby Boomers took care of that.”

"The Secret to Germany’s Low Youth Unemployment," by Eric Westervelt (NPR). Speaking of young people and prospects, maybe Marche would appreciate this approach: Germany’s medieval-style apprenticeship system has earned it the highest youth employment rate in Europe.

What are you reading today?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What We’re Reading, 3/20/2012

Good morning, Tumblr! Every day, we round up the favorite morning reads of the Kiplinger staff. On the list this sunny Tuesday: Budget proposals, Madoff’s prison letters, and what your hair has to do with the economy.

"The GOP Budget and America’s Future," by Paul Ryan (The Wall Street Journal). Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan released the GOP budget proposal this morning to great fanfare. He also penned this hefty WSJ editorial, which lays out the Republicans’ “new Path to Prosperity.” The Washington Post sums it up here.

"U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran," by Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker (The New York Times). We’re all following the Iran/Israel conflict, but no one more closely than Ken Bazinet, who covers politics for the Letter. “This spells out the perils of an uncertain strike against Iran’s nuclear sites and why the Pentagon isn’t sure an attack will work,” he says. “But there is still a belief that Israel could launch a strike in the next year.”

"The Secret Madoff Prison Letters," by Diana Henriques (Forbes). Madoff’s best-known biographer drops several pages of emails Madoff sent her from jail — his attempt, she says, to rewrite his history.

"Vatican Bank Image Hurt as JP Morgan Closes Account," by Philip Pullella and Lisa Jucca (Reuters). Staff writer Lisa Gerstner sent this link with a note: “Apparently the Holy See is too opaque for JP Morgan Chase, which shut down one of the Vatican’s bank accounts for lack of transparency.” We’ll leave further puns to you.

"Breaking Down the Mortgage Settlement: How Far Does $26 Billion Go?" By Cora Currier (ProPublica). ProPublica lays out the numbers from last week’s settlement over mortgage servicing abuses, with some interesting results. For instance: Only five percent of underwater mortgages will qualify for modification.

"How Do Racial Attitudes Affect Opinions About the Health Care Overhaul?" By Shankar Vedantam (Morning Edition). A new paper by Brown University researcher Michael Tessler suggests that attitudes toward race and health care policy are linked.

And to end on a light note, as we often do: Disney’s John Carter may rank among Hollywood’s biggest flops of all time, costing the studio some $200 million. In better news, beauty salon sales are up, which indicates a growing economy. 

Did we miss anything? Tweet us your links!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Also worth noting, from the same great Planet Money piece: Our top exports to the U.K. include artwork, antiques and stamps. (Who knew!)

What America Sells To The World

Also worth noting, from the same great Planet Money piece: Our top exports to the U.K. include artwork, antiques and stamps. (Who knew!)


What America Sells To The World