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, 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?
What We’re Reading, 4/5/12
Every morning, we poll the staff and round up their favorite economic, financial and political reads of the day. What we’re talking about over our coffee this morning: China, billionaires and psychopath investors. (Oh, and the four-year low in new jobless claims, which is good news all around.)
"The Dragon’s New Teeth" (The Economist). China’s defense spending could overtake America’s by 2035 — and the implications of that growth are far from theoretical. “Don’t be fooled into believing a Reaganesque arms race will leave China broke and divided as it did the Soviet Union. Beijing is ready for that scenario,” says Letter editor Ken Bazinet. “It’s another argument for wrapping up business in the Middle East and preparing for potential conflict in the Far East.”
"The 401(k): Americans ‘Just Not Prepared’ to Manage Their Own Retirement Funds," by Jia Lynn Yang (The Washington Post). Americans need their 401(k)s now more than ever. Unfortunately, most Americans also need the financial know-how to manage their accounts — and advocates aren’t quite sure how to teach them.
"A Lot of Gas," by Elizabeth Kolbert (The New Yorker). Gas prices have become a major point of rhetoric for Republican candidates, who accuse Obama of failing to bring them down. The problem? “Oil, as it is well known, is a global commodity traded on a global market,” Kolbert writes. “… the Obama Administration gas-price-hike conspiracy theory is nearly a hundred-per-cent hokum.”
"How Investing Turns Nice People Into Psychopaths," by Lynn Stout (The Atlantic). We’re won’t endorse this headline — none of us are psychopaths, after all (!) — but the excerpt from Stout’s recent book takes a very interesting turn through investor psychology. “What, exactly, do shareholders value?” she asks. And how did those values evolve?
"Low Ratings Could End Cable Deal for Gore’s Current TV," by Peter Lauria (Reuters). Have you watched Current TV lately? Neither have we. The channel’s ratings are so low, in fact, that they barely meet the requirement to stay on Time Warner Cable.
"Twitter, Facebook Now Tools for Big Brother," by David Saleh Rauf (Politico). Mind your Tumbles — Uncle Sam now mines Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a host of other social networking sites for intelligence information. ”Keep in mind they only mine data you make public,” says reporter John Miley. Then he adds, as an ominous aside: “… well, or so they say.”
"Living Like a Billionaire, If Only for a Day," by Kevin Roose (The New York Times). Roose takes on your friendly curator’s dream assignment: He spends one day living like the Wall Street execs he typically covers, then comes back and writes about it. Chaffeurs, private planes and operas are involved.
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?
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!