Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, BRAZIL — A warm summer Saturday in Brazil. The field is freshly lined. Fans of both teams take their places, wearing the shirts of their favorite teams. the players stretch and prepare for the match ahead. As anticipation builds to a fever pitch, the game begins. [Read more]
My morning commute these days takes me through a shopping center; the train lets me off underneath it. It's been Christmas in the mall since the first day of November. That's no surprise. Christmas has become the crutch our retail economy leans on. Many stores run in the red for eleven months and see Christmas put them in the black for the year. A bad year calls for a big Christmas, and a string of bad years calls for bigger and bigger Christmases. If shoppers don't keep finding more and more money for Christmas presents, the whole economy shrinks. It doesn't sound sustainable, but I don't blame local merchants for wanting to start Christmas early and hoping to extend that sweet jolt of retail steroid. We are out of other ideas.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Over the river and through the woods to grandson's house we go. I wrote this last night, so if there's confusion about the time line, that's why. Any Vegetarians in the crowd might want to skip this one.
Early in my career at Forbes an editor introduced me to the quotation, "Everybody ought to be right," attributed to a 1929 Ladies Home Journal article by John Jakob Raskob, a financier for General Motors and Dupont and a darned good boom times investor. What Raskob meant was:
"...a man is rich when he has an income from invested capital which is sufficient to support him and his family in a decent and comfortable manner - to give as much support, let us say, as has ever been given by his earnings." [Read more]
On that day I was up in my sewing room, away from the TV. My four-year-old son was napping, and my 7-year-old daughter was in school. My husband was at work. It was early afternoon.
I heard the back door open and before I could start to the stairs, I could hear my neighbor, Gwen, shouting something, sobbing. I thought something must have happened to her mother, who had been ailing. By the time I got to her she could barely speak. "They shot the president! They shot Kennedy!"
Back in 2005, when I was still a financial journalist, I attended the Investment Company Institute's annual gathering in Washington, D.C. The end of retirement was a theme of the event. Ken Dychtwald of Agewave argued that the idea of retirement, wherein you stop working in your sixties and get to live a few decades in pursuit of your own ambitions before dying, was a post World War II prosperity phenomenon and that it played such a brief role in our history that you could count on it enduring no more than you could count on always being able to make money by investing in Internet stocks. [Read more]
A few weeks ago, an NFL player named Jonathan Martin, offensive left tackle for the Miami Dolphins, walked off the team and sought counseling for emotional health issues. This has led to the suspension of his teammate, the incongruously-named Richie Incognito, on charges of outlandish workplace harassment; an official NFL investigation into the team, now reaching to behavior by the coaches; and the kind of publicity you just can't buy. Plenty of NFL players, sports pundits, and armchair tough guys have denounced the 6'5", 312-pound Martin as soft and weak and proclaimed that outsiders just can't understand what goes on in an NFL locker room. [Read more]
Everybody knows the Walton family, the people who put the "Wal" in "Walmart", is the richest family in America. They're so rich you would have to pile up more than 40% of the wealth in the entire United States to even be on the same level. If each member of the family lived to be a thousand years old, they couldn't even begin to spend all of their fortune. So asking them to pay their employees a living wage and a few measly benefits is like asking them to give up, say, 1/10,000th of their fortune. (Don't quote me on that; I don't know that for absolute sure.)
But I'm ever the optimist, so I put these questions to them:
Timothy Geithner is getting what some on Wall Street will jokingly refer to as his first "real job" as a President and Managing Director at private equity house Warburg Pincus. At Business Insider, Joe Weisenthal's take is that it could have been worse from a conflict of interest standpoint -- at least he's not as a Too Big To Fail bank, lobbying against regulations. [Read more]
Yesterday I wrote about Opening Day for Michigan’s deer hunting season. But yesterday was also opening day for a hunting season not seen in Michigan for almost 50 years. Despite pushback from many different organizations, and petitions set up on a whole lot of petition sites, our grand Poobahs in Pure Michigan caved once again to special interests and instituted a hunting season for wolves.
Today marks the opening of hunting season here in Michigan’s north woods. The schools are closed in most upper state communities, including ours.
Opening Day is an annual holiday for the kids, even though only a small percentage of them will be out in the woods with guns. For many of them, today will be their initiation in deer camp, and it’s a day they’ve been waiting for all year. I don’t quite know when it started but I do know that up here it’s one of those holidays that is so sacrosanct nobody questions it.
They’ve elected a new mayor in Detroit, which, in other circumstances, might be a big deal, but since Detroit is under the thumb of a state-appointed emergency manager (who promptly–and probably unconstitutionally–took away all authority from every elected city official), the new mayor, Mike Duggan, will likely be mayor in name only. He’ll be invited to be in the first car in Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and, as the city’s Goodwill Embassador, he’ll be entrusted with handing out city souvenirs [Read more]
We're an odd bunch, we Americans. We've had a hate-hate relationship with the very rich for as long as we've existed as a country, but, damn their black hides, we can't stop taking care of them.
After all these years we've become used to sparring with the super-rich over how much they get to keep and how much they should share. They want to keep it all, and we know that. We want them to behave like responsible citizens, and they don't think they should have to.
At least you get better coverage out of the deal. I still had to pay for my ER visit because it fell under my $3000 deductible. But what could I do? This America. Private companies are supposed to wring people out like dirty washcloths. It's called a free market.
But this is different, isn't it? It's not the free market that's squeezing you dry. It's the government. Government isn't supposed to squeeze people. It's supposed to get out of the way and let the free market squeeze people. [Read more]
Coming back from the gym this morning, I encountered an 18 wheeler with a flatbed trailer, stuck on a narrow West Village street, trying to navigate between the fancy cars parked on both sides. I asked the driver if eyes outside the truck would help. He was happy to tell me where to look while he steered the truck back and forth in an effort to straighten out the trailer without smooshing anybody's fine examples of German luxry auto manufacturing.  [Read more]
Ted Cruz, that notorious commie-hunting senator from Texas channeling a certain notorious mid-20th century commie-hunting senator from Wisconsin, is just one in a long line of rock star politicians who think they've latched onto the best way to get their cockamamie ideas across: Get out there and make shocking accusations against either individuals or authority with such astounding stagecraft, the press, the media--indeed, a sizable section of the population--will become such slathering groupies they wo [Read more]
The NSA's answer to charges that it spies on the phone calls of citizens in the European Union is that it isn't spying, it is analyzing information provided to it by the intelligence agencies of allied governments. See, the NSA doesn't spy on Spanish people's phone calls. Spain does. Then they tell the NSA all about it. Glad we cleared that up.
This is very close to a defense of the metadata collection that the NSA engages in at home -- the NSA doesn't "collect" the data, says the argument, the phone companies do. Then they tell the NSA all about it. I'm not sure why that's supposed to make me think differently about the whole endeavor, but it works for some people. [Read more]