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Current Topic: Business

RE: Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
Topic: Business 8:26 am EDT, Jun 16, 2008

ubernoir wrote:

Some people use the Internet simply to check e-mail and look up phone numbers. Others are online all day, downloading big video and music files.

For years, both kinds of Web surfers have paid the same price for access. But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity.

One of them, Time Warner Cable, began a trial of “Internet metering” in one Texas city early this month, asking customers to select a monthly plan and pay surcharges when they exceed their bandwidth limit. The idea is that people who use the network more heavily should pay more, the way they do for water, electricity, or, in many cases, cellphone minutes.

VERY good discussion of this on the Interesting People list right now. See recent posts particularly the ones with "interesting" in the subject line.

RE: Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?
Topic: Business 12:45 pm EDT, Apr 14, 2008

This guy has got to have one of the coolest jobs in technology.

What amazes Chipchase is not the standard stuff that amazes big multinational corporations looking to turn an ever-bigger profit. Pretty much wherever he goes, he lugs a big-bodied digital Nikon camera with a couple of soup-can-size lenses so that he can take pictures of things that might be even remotely instructive back in Finland or at any of Nokia’s nine design studios around the world. Almost always, some explanation is necessary. A Mississippi bowling alley, he will say, is a social hub, a place rife with nuggets of information about how people communicate. A photograph of the contents of a woman’s handbag is more than that; it’s a window on her identity, what she considers essential, the weight she is willing to bear. The prostitute ads in the Brazilian phone booth? Those are just names, probably fake names, coupled with real cellphone numbers — lending to Chipchase’s theory that in an increasingly transitory world, the cellphone is becoming the one fixed piece of our identity.

Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?

The Next Slum?
Topic: Business 1:05 pm EDT, Apr  3, 2008

Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements.

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge—many once sold for well over $500,000—but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others. Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied.

The Next Slum?

You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss
Topic: Business 1:51 pm EDT, Mar 21, 2008

It's not so much that there's something special about founders as that there's something missing in the lives of employees.

You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss

America was conned - who will pay? | Business | The Guardian
Topic: Business 12:43 pm EDT, Mar 20, 2008

It is somewhat surprising that there is not already rioting in the streets, given the gigantic fraud perpetrated by the financial elite at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The US has just had its weakest period of expansion since the 1950s. Consumption growth has been poor. Investment growth has been modest. Exports have been sluggish. But if you are at the top of the tree, the years since the last recession in 2001 has been a veritable golden age. Salaries for executives have rocketed and profits have soared, because the productivity gains from a growing economy have been disproportionately skewed towards capital.

For ordinary Americans, though, it has been a different story. Real wages have been growing slowly; at just 1.6% a year on average over the latest upswing, well down on the experience of earlier decades. Business, of course, needs consumers to carry on spending in order to make money, so a way had to be found to persuade households to do their patriotic duty. The method chosen was simple. Whip up a colossal housing bubble, convince consumers that it makes sense to borrow money against the rising value of their homes to supplement their meagre real wage growth and watch the profits roll in.

As they did - for a while. Now it's payback time and the mood could get very ugly. Americans, to put it bluntly, have been conned.

This, I think, is a realistic perspective. See my rant here.

America was conned - who will pay? | Business | The Guardian

Free Million Dollar Homes!
Topic: Business 8:41 am EST, Feb 26, 2008

Joe Lents hasn't made a payment on his $1.5 million mortgage since 2002.

That's when Washington Mutual Inc. first tried to foreclose
on his home in Boca Raton, Florida. The Seattle-based lender
failed to prove that it owned Lents's mortgage note and dropped
attempts to take his house. Subsequent efforts to foreclose have
stalled because no one has produced the paperwork.

Judges in at least five states have stopped foreclosure
proceedings because the banks that pool mortgages into
securities and the companies that collect monthly payments
haven't been able to prove they own the mortgages.

More than $2.1 trillion, or 19 percent, of outstanding
mortgages have been bundled into securities by private banks,
according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a Bethesda, Maryland-based
industry newsletter. Those loans may be sold several times
before they land in a security. Mortgage servicers, who collect
monthly payments and distribute them to securities investors,
can buy and sell the home loans many times.

Each time the mortgages change hands, the sellers are
required to sign over the mortgage notes to the buyers. In the
rush to originate more loans during the U.S. mortgage boom, from
2003 to 2006, that assignment of ownership wasn't always
properly completed, said Alan White, assistant professor at
Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana.

``Loans were mass produced and short cuts were taken,''
White said. ``A lot of the paperwork is done in the name of the
original lender and a lot of the original lenders aren't around

More than 100 mortgage companies stopped making loans,
closed or were sold last year, according to Bloomberg data.

These people were literally asleep at the wheel!

Free Million Dollar Homes!

RE: The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2008
Topic: Business 8:47 pm EST, Feb  4, 2008

possibly noteworthy wrote:

Our annual snapshot of the emerging shape of business.

What is all this crap about MMORPG's? In spite of several articles about the subject in this HBR I still don't get it. Yes, games probably have better meritocracies than real life, but that doesn't explain why you'd want to have a meeting in one. I get the impression of a bunch of corporate executives who are just as hooked on this crap as the average MMORPG geek and have somehow rationalized that its constructive. They are involved in a very sophisticated system that is specifically designed to manipulate their instinct to seek positive re-enforcement. Its a drug, and the executive class is becoming addicted. Perhaps its not the only drug that gets passed around the executive bathroom, but frankly, people should not be spending multi-million dollar salaries on hours of video gaming. Its a mockery of the meritocracy these games supposedly teach.

RE: The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2008

Stranded at the airport? Don’t forget Rule 240 - TODAY: Travel -
Topic: Business 10:43 am EST, Feb  1, 2008

A few years ago, at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, I noticed something strange on the departure boards. American Airlines had three flights scheduled that afternoon from ORD to Boston, and all were apparently operating on time. United, on the other hand, had three flights scheduled from ORD to Boston, but none were operating on time. In fact, all three United flights showed "canceled."

I smelled a rat. I went to the United counter and asked the reason for the cancellations. "Weather."

Weather? The airlines couldn't have it both ways. Either American Airlines pilots were irresponsible, crazy air jockeys who were going to tease the gods and fly into the face of serious storms, or United's official cancellation reason was a convenient untruth.

I checked the weather in both Chicago and Boston: totally clear.

I went back out to the United gates and informed the counter agents that I knew the weather was fine and also explained that all the American flights were operating without problem. And then I invoked Rule 240 — which states that in the event of any flight delay or cancellation caused by anything other than weather, the airline would fly me on the next available flight — not their next available flight, which might not leave for another 24 hours.

And guess what happened? A lot of United passengers made it to Boston that day — on American.

Stranded at the airport? Don’t forget Rule 240 - TODAY: Travel -

'Dilbert's' 9-point financial plan worthy of economics Nobel - MarketWatch
Topic: Business 2:46 pm EST, Jan 19, 2008

Fortunately for America's 95 million investors, Adams' secret nine-point formula was finally revealed in "Dilbert and the Way of the Weasels." Notice its simple brilliance in the exact reproduction of his formula:

Make a will
Pay off your credit cards
Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
Fund your 401k to the maximum
Fund your IRA to the maximum
Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio

Adams boldly states that this is "everything you need to know about personal investing." In just 129 words, nine simple points, one page you have the unabridged "Unified Theory of Everything Financial." That's it. Everything!

'Dilbert's' 9-point financial plan worthy of economics Nobel - MarketWatch

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'
Topic: Business 12:55 pm EST, Jan  6, 2008

Here's Larry Kudlow:

The key thing to remember is that businesses drive the economy. Businesses create jobs and incomes for consumers to spend.

Larry Kudlow has managed, unfortunately, to transform himself from an inciteful observer of market events into a fairly one dimensional shill for wall street's political interests. This essay (appearing in NRO, not a business journal) is a perfect example. He cites "facts" that have no relationship to reality (holiday sales suprised on the upside?!?), talks about lazzie-faire economics while pining for government assistance in the form of yet another rate cut, and also, in the passage quoted above, manages to treat his readers like children.

The fact is that we are teterring on the edge of an economic precipice built upon phoney growth and no one is quite sure how deep it is. The current housing crisis, which threatens bank failure, was completely predictable and driven by the extremely irresponsible actions of the creditors whose interests Kudlow here represents. Of course they don't want the government to regulate them, they're rich, but the minute hard times beset them they start screaming for government assistance in the form of rate cuts, literally screaming as Kudlow's former cohost famously did on national television in the late summer, and they get them!

The reason Wallstreet has to generate phoney growth in the form of housing inflation is that we're not getting enough real growth in terms of actual middle class purchasing power, and the fundamental reasons for that aren't addressed by a simple tax cut. Despite Kudlows insistance to the contrary, real wage growth has been anemic through-out this recovery, held back by offshoring and H1-B visas. The reason those programs are required to keep American workers "competitive" is our abysmally stupid healthcare system, wherein employers have to pay truck loads for services that no one can refuse to buy.

Healthcare is not like other market commodities because people who need services cannot refuse to purchase them or choose between acceptible and luxury classes of service. You buy it or you die. So in an unregulated environment there is no force that counteracts price increases. And the vested interests that are making a killing offering those services have hired the exact same libertarian idealogs to defend those interests that Kudlow has now joined.

End the upward spiral of healthcare costs and require job mobility and permanent residency for foreign workers imported into the US and you'll see real, sustainable increases in middle class purchasing power, which will drive real economic growth.

Ultimately, if the rewards of business growth, systemically, aren't seen by employees, consumers don't have money to spend on new products, and so businesses can't grow. Instead you see the money all going to shareholders, and so there is all this excess investment capital out there that isn't going to be spent buying things, but instead wants to fund mortages and the like. This sort of concentration of wealth, which is caused by government intervention on behalf of some people and lazzie-faire for others, can strangle the economy by pulling the liquidity out. Thats exactly what caused the great depression.

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'

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