Sunday, November 22, 2009

In recession, one road led back home

Missoula native Melissa Meyer never expected that she would return home to Montana to rethink her future plans. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from George Washington University, moving home has become an unexpected time out to rethink future plans and the various roads she could take in the coming year.

The Washington Post - Her parents redecorated her bedroom soon after she left for college, as sure as everyone else in this town that Melissa Meyer would not be moving back. They took down the photos of Melissa meeting the Dalai Lama and laughing alongside Joe Biden, placing them in the closet. They packed away dozens of high school honor certificates -- valedictorian, class president, outstanding chemistry student -- and stored them in plastic boxes under the bed.

Melissa had always been too big for this town, her father liked to say. She was editor of the school newspaper, an intern in the U.S. Senate and the only student from Sentinel High School's Class of 2005 to attend college on the East Coast. On her rare visits home from George Washington University, longtime friends liked to tease her: "Hey, Melissa, are you president yet?"

So, how to explain this? Each morning, Melissa wakes up in her old bedroom, scans the foreign decor and thinks: This is the guest room now. I am the guest. I am not supposed to be here.

She graduated magna cum laude from the GW Business School in May, applied for 30 jobs at some of the nation's best-known companies, and it went nowhere. After visiting the campus career center and redesigning her résumé, she applied for 10 more jobs. Still nothing. The lease on her Foggy Bottom apartment expired in June. There was no place to go but home, with a collection of rejection letters and a haunting sense of betrayal. For 23 years, she had advanced down America's path to success -- perfect grades, a $200,000 college degree, a folder overstuffed with business cards -- only to have it dead-end back where she started.
"What was the point?" she asks.

For Melissa, that question is the legacy of the recession as she rises one Tuesday morning in early fall and begins her day with the same routine that defined her adolescence. She rummages through the refrigerator, eats leftovers from a dinner party her parents threw the night before and then retreats upstairs to prepare for a fill-in shift at the same job she held throughout high school. After changing into cowboy boots and a skirt, she borrows her parents' car and drives three minutes to work at Rockin Rudy's, a record store with a peace sign hanging at the entrance.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At Bloomberg, Modest Strategy to Rule the World

Michael R. Bloomberg, right, with Matthew Winkler in 1991. Mr. Winkler has overseen the Bloomberg news operation from its beginning.

The New York Times - PLOPPED in a white leather chair in a small office in Bloomberg L.P.’s Manhattan headquarters, Andrew Lack knows exactly how to articulate the aspirations of this 28-year-old media and technology company.
“We want to be the world’s most influential news organization,” says Mr. Lack, who oversees Bloomberg’s television, radio and dot-com endeavors.
Very clear. The most influential. On the planet.
It’s a goal several other Bloomberg executives have already mentioned to a pair of visitors. And when Mr. Lack, 62, a former head of NBC News, hears his guests wonder if something funny is in his company’s coffee — a special sauce that keeps all Bloombergians marching so efficiently and effectively to the same tune — he looks a tad chagrined.
“Oh, my! I don’t want to sound as if I’m on message,” he says, laughing apprehensively while also sending a “help me” look to a Bloomberg spokeswoman nearby.
These days, truth be told, the entire company is on message. That’s because the data behemoth that Michael R. Bloomberg created and named after himself in 1981, long before he became mayor of New York, finally has the reach, resources and appetites to try snaring the mantle of Most Influential — at least in the rarefied world of business news.
After years of being an underdog pushing its troops to be better and faster, Bloomberg now has an upper hand. Publishing giants like Condé Nast, Time Inc. and The New York Times, with their veteran scribes and rich histories, have laid off people and scaled back. Bloomberg may lack the pedigree and gloss of some of its rivals, but it has one thing they don’t right now: money to throw around.
This year alone, Bloomberg, deploying the cash spouting from its data business, has recruited refugees from The Wall Street Journal and Fortune and opened bureaus in places like Ecuador and Abu Dhabi. Its editorial staff (which includes radio, TV and Web site workers) now numbers 2,200, compared with 1,250 journalists at The Times and 1,900 at Dow Jones (a figure that includes the newswires and the Journal staff).
When the 80-year-old BusinessWeek went on the block, Bloomberg opened its wallet and snatched it away from circling private equity firms in October for just $5 million in cash — a relatively small sum that still represents a big change. For the last decade, Bloomberg has barely bothered to venture outside the realm of high finance; its news was produced to help subscribers to its terminals make more money for themselves.
With BusinessWeek, likely to be renamed Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the company is setting its sights on a much broader audience. That includes Main Street readers and, much more important for Bloomberg, senior executives, government leaders and other global movers and shakers. It’s also trying to revamp its Web site and television programming — long neglected inside the company — into services that appeal to people who don’t trade securities for a living.
At a time when most media companies can barely pay for cake at going-away parties, Bloomberg appears to be rolling in dough.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From Treasury, an Invitation to Financial Bloggers

The New York Times - The Treasury Department opened its doors to economic bloggers this month, and the meeting was productive in at least one respect: as John Jansen of the blog Across the Curve concluded, “After meeting them, I feel I cannot refer to them as Timothy Geithner and his minions” anymore.

Mr. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, was among the senior officials who talked with bloggers at an outreach session on Nov. 2. The two-hour round table was held on background, meaning that the bloggers could describe the sessions, but not attribute quotes to specific officials. Lengthy posts about financial system reforms — and the bloggers’ disagreements with the Treasury’s strategies — ensued.

New-media scribes have gradually made their way inside most governmental institutions over the years, but the meeting was the first for bloggers at the Treasury. Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University who has written at the Marginal Revolution blog for six years, said it was the first time he had heard from any Treasury official.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bills Would Set Limits on Financial Companies to Alleviate Risk

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Glass-Steagall Act, passed in 1933, separating commercial and investment banking.

Wall Street Journal  -  Democrats are advancing proposals in Congress designed to limit the size and complexity of financial companies so that any collapse wouldn't damage the broader economy, a sign that lawmakers are responding to anti-Wall Street sentiment by toughening the administration's rewrite of finance rules.
The proposals would allow the government to break up healthy financial companies, and in some cases, would reassert rigid demarcations within finance that were cleared away in 1999, such as barring commercial banking firms and investment banking firms from merging.
Large financial companies, and even some Obama administration officials, are nervously watching the debate. Lobbyists for large financial-services companies, including J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Prudential Financial Inc., and MetLife Inc. scrambled in recent days to reach out to Capitol Hill aides, people familiar with the matter said.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Health Care Bill Is Good For The Economy

U.S. Unemployment Rate Hits 10.2%, Highest in 26 Years

The Labor Picture: October 2009

Unemployment Rate Grew 0.4 percentage points in Oct.
Sample chart
One month change
+0.4 pts

One year change
+3.6 pts

Number of Jobs 12-month change, in thousands
Sample chart
One month change

One year change

Discouraged WorkersNot looking for work because of the economy, in thousands
Sample chart
One month change

One year change

Duration Length of unemployment, in weeks

1 month change
1 year change
People With Jobs Percentage of people who are employed

1 month change
1 year change
-0.3 pts.
-3.2 pts.
'Hidden' Unemployment In millions

1 month change
1 year change
Part time, but want full-time
Avg. Weekly EarningsFor rank-and-file workers

1 month change
1 year change
DemographicsTeenagers continue to have the highest unemployment rate.

1 month change
1 year change
+0.5 pts.

+0.3 pts.

+0.4 pts.

+1.7 pts.

Education The unemployment rate has risen the most for those with less than a high school diploma.

1 month change
1 year change
Less than high school
+0.5 pts.
+5.1 pts.

High school
+0.4 pts.
+4.7 pts.

Some college
+0.5 pts.
+3.7 pts.

Bachelor's or higher
-0.2 pts.
+1.6 pts.

As the unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October, reaching double digits for the first time in 26 years, it suddenly seemed possible that the nation might yet confront the worst joblessness since the Great Depression.


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