Cool Stuff Archives

2011

  • The video game Modern Warfare 3 has set a sales record for the entertainment industry by grossing $775 million in global sales during its first five days on the market. The game, which retails for about $60, sold 6.5 million copies in North America and the United Kingdom on its first day alone (New York Post, The WEEK, December 2, 2011)
  • Of the top 100 most innovative companies in the world from 2005 to 2010, 40 are from the United States, 27 are from Japan, and 11 are from France, according to a new report from Thomson Reuters on patent activity. The semiconductor industry is the most innovative, followed by chemicals and computer hardware (The Economist, The WEEK, December 2, 2011)
  • What teens don’t know about Google: Young people are supposedly our most Web-literate citizens, said Clive Thompson. “But just how savvy are they?” Not very: They simply swallow whatever they find on Google. To study kids’ online-search skills, scientific researchers asked a group of students to look up answers to a series of questions. Not surprisingly, the kids relied on Web pages at the top of Google’s results list. When researchers switched the order of the results, most students were easily tricked, and relied on the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Other studies have also shown that students really don’t bother trying to assess the credibility of information found online. Is an “article” a disguised advertisement? Was that profile of Martin Luther King Jr. actually posted by white supremacists? The average high school and college student is unable to discern the hidden agendas. This naivete is largely the fault of schools, which rarely teach critical thinking. And mastering “crap detection 101″ isn’t easy; you need to be savvy about the world and how it works. Ultimately, a broad-based education is the only “true key to effective search,” (Clive Thompson, Wired.com, The WEEK, November 25, 2011)
  • Since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protest, published mentions of the term “income inequality” have increased more than fivefold. There were 500 instances of the term last week, according to a survey of print articles, Web stories, and broadcast transcripts, compared with just 91 the week before the protests began (Politico.com, The WEEK, November 25, 2011)
  • Taxpayers spend $800,000 a year to house each prisoner at Guantanamo Bay – 30 times what it costs to keep a prisoner on U.S. soil (The Miami Herald, The WEEK, November 25, 2011)
  • Americans last year filled 254 million prescriptions for pain-killing opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Percocert – enough to mediate every American adult around the clock for a month (Fortune, The WEEK, November 25, 2011)
  • The CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which had 300 employees on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, now has more than 2,000 people on staff – more than al Qaida’s core membership around the world (The Washington Post, The WEEK, Sept. 16, 2011)
  • The U.S. has wasted up to $60 billion in payments to contractors who aided war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, an independent commission found. That’s one of every four dollars spent on war-zone contractors in the past decade (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, Sept. 16, 2011)
  • News International CEO Rupert Murdoch received a 47 percent pay increase for the last fiscal year. Murdoch took home $33 million, including a $12.5 million cash bonus. His son, James, who is an executive at News International, declined a $6 million bonus “in light of the current controversy” over phone hacking at the News of the World (London Guardian, The WEEK, Sept. 16, 2011)
  • European banks have shed more than 40,000 jobs in the past month, as the continent’s sovereign-debt crisis eats into trading profits and new regulations lead banks to cut costs. “It’s a blood-bath,” said the head of a London headhunting firm (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, Sept. 9, 2011)
  • Despite being largely unknown in the West, China’s Snow beer has been the world’s most popular brew for the past three years running, selling 16.5 billion pints last year. That’s twice the sales volume of Bud Light, which held the top spot until 2008 (London Telegraph, The WEEK, Sept. 9, 2011)
  • Boardrooms in emerging markets are increasingly populated by women. In China, women account for 32 percent of senior managers, compared with 23 percent in the U.S. and 19 percent in Britain. In India, 11 percent of CEOs are women, compared with 3 percent of Fortune 500 bosses in the U.S. and 3 percent of FTSE 100 bosses in Britain (The Economist, The WEEK, Sept. 9, 2011)
  • The financial crisis reduced the roster of American millionaires by nearly 40 percent, according to the IRS. In 2007, 390,000 people filed taxes reporting incomes of $1 million or more. In 2009 just 237,000 did. The number of fliers with incomes of $10 million or more dropped by 55 percent (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • One in every 11 store sites at traditional American malls is empty, the highest vacancy rate in a decade. Outlet malls, which are cheaper to operate and offer lower prices for shoppers, are thriving (Time.com, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • Thanks to the popularity of craft beers, the number of U.S. breweries has increased from fewer than 50 in 1980 to 1,759 today. That’s more than the pre-Prohibition high of 1,751 (Mother Jones, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • American TV viewing has reached an all-time high, with the average person glued to the box for 158 hours and 47 minutes every month – or 5 hours and 13 minutes a day (The Nielsen Company, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • About 450,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border last year – down from 1.6 million in 2000. Over the past decade, federal spending on border and immigration enforcement has increased from $4 billion to $17 billion, and the number of border agents has more than doubled, to 18,000 (Miller-McCune.com, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • During the August recess, 81 members of the House of Representatives – nearly 20 percent of the entire body – visited Israel, courtesy of the American Israel Education Foundation (The Jerusalem Post, The WEEK, Sept. 2, 2011)
  • U.S. banks had a record $981 billion in cash reserves at the end of July, according to the Federal Reserve. That is more than three times the cash banks had in July 2008. Fears about U.S. financial stability and the European debt crisis have led to a surge in deposits (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, Aug. 19-26, 2011)
  • The poorest fifth of Americans spend roughly 42 of their annual incomes on transportation. Middle-income Americans, by comparison, spend an average of 22 percent (Wired.com, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • New York City experiences two extra cocaine-related deaths in every week that temperatures top 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The drug raises body temperature and interferes with the body’s ability to cool down, making it particularly dangerous during heat waves (Time.com, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • Quickie marriages in Las Vegas are declining. In 2010, only 91, 890 marriage licenses were issued in Nevada’s Clark County, down from 128,250 in 2004, when more baby boomers were tying the knot (Associated Press, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • One in five older Americans has been sold an inappropriate investment, paid excessive fees, or been a victim of financial fraud, according to the Investor Protection Trust. Insurer MetLife estimates that seniors lost $2.9 billion last year to financial predators and scam artists (Money, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • McDonald’s plans to greatly increase the number of its outlets in China, to 2,000 by 2013, up from 1,300. Hoping to grow its 16 percent of the country’s fast-food market, it also plans to recruit 50,000 employees in China this year (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • The total tax burden on Americans in 2009, as a percentage of GDP, was 24 percent, lower than it was in 1965. In comparison, Canadians pay 31 percent of GDP in taxes, Britons 34 percent, Germans 37 percent, and the French 42 percent (Toronto Globe and Mail, The WEEK, Aug. 12, 2011)
  • Foreclosures in the U.S. now take an average of 318 days to complete, up from 277 last year. The process is shortest in Texas, at an average of 92 days, and longest in New York, at 966 days (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, Aug. 5, 2011)
  • The wealth gap between whites and minorities in America has reached a new high, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. The median net worth of a white household is now 20 times that of a black household, largely because of the housing market decline. The gap has doubled since the beginning of the recession (The Washington Post, The WEEK, Aug. 5, 2011)
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expects wind and solar power to provide 60 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. between now and 2019 (The New York Times, The WEEK, August 5, 2011)
  • The use of food stamps in the United States has skyrocketed since the recession began, with one in seven Americans now participating in the program. The cost to the government has nearly doubled, to $65 billion a year (The Economist, The WEEK, July 29, 2011)
  • Eleven states earned more revenue from lotteries than from corporate income taxes in 2009. Americans spent more than $50 billion on lotteries that year, the latest for which complete data are available (Reuters.com, The WEEK, July 29, 2011)
  • Women make more successful investors than men, according to a new study, because they don’t take risks with their money. Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research found that women tended to buy stocks and hold them, trading less and more likely earning more (MarketWatch.com, The WEEK, July 29, 2011)
  • Between 2004 and 2009, the median net worth of black households fell by 83 percent, according to a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. For white households, the median net worth fell by 24 percent (Chicago Sun-Times, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • Only 24 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 had summer jobs last year – the lowest rate since the government began keeping records, in 1948. In 2001 42 percent of teens in that age group held summer jobs (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • Some 30 percent if U.S. households have no landline telephone, up from 14 percent in 2008. Males, Hispanics, and the poor are more likely to rely only on cell phones (The Washington Post, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • Only 28 percent of Americans think their financial situation will improve in the next year, according to a Marist College poll. Fifty-two percent believe they’ll be roughly the same shape, and 20 percent fear they’ll be worse off (DailyFinance.com, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • For 43 percent of small-business owners and managers, the workweek is frequently longer than 40 hours, and for 13 percent of them it’s often twice as long. Almost a third of small-business people work right through holidays, and 15 percent through dinner (Inc., The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • China’s exports reached a record level of $874 billion in the first half of the year, 20 percent more than the country exported during the same period in 2010. The surge occurred despite the economic woes in its key U.S. and European markets and the dislocations caused by the tsunami in Japan (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • To save money in recent months, 67% of Americans say they have been buying more generic brands, and 46% say they’ve been bringing their lunch to work. 31% have canceled one or more descriptions, 22% have canceled or cut back on cable television service, and 21% have stopped buying coffee in the morning (Harris Poll, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • 58% of Americans say one or two children is the ideal size for a family. 33% say three or more children are ideal (Gallup Poll, The WEEK, July 22, 2011)
  • Most casual restaurant chains are hurting, but not “breastaurants.” Eateries such as Hooters – which just passed $1 billion in annual sales – Twin Peaks, and Tilted Kilt are packing in male customers with burgers, beer, giant-screen TVs, and scantily clad waitresses (BusinessInsider.com, The WEEK, June 17, 2011)
  • About 70 percent of the student finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search were children of immigrants, though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born. Most of these finalists have parents from India and China who entered the U.S. on work visas (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, June 17, 2011)
  • Last year, for the first time ever, America’s annual wine consumption surpassed that of France, but it took a U.S. population almost five times as large as France’s to do so (Chicago Tribune, The WEEK, June 17, 2011)
  • Airlines hauled in $21.5 billion last year from charges for add-on fees such as checked baggage, food, and buying a little more legroom. That’s a 38 percent jump in revenue from such fees in a year (CBSMoneyWatch.com, The WEEK, June 17, 2011)
  • Under a new patent settlement, Microsoft gets $5 for every handset the Android smartphone maker HTC sells. Microsoft is suing other Android handset makers and aims to collect $7.50 to $12.50 per phone sold (The Seattle Times, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • Although executive pay is trending skyward again as corporate profits rebound, shareholders at more than 20 companies, including Occidental Petroleum and Jacobs Engineering, have rejected top officers’ compensation plans in nonbinding “say on pay” votes mandated by the new financial-reform law (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • Sales of cooking sauces rose 20 percent from 2005 through 2010, says market researcher Mintel, as recession-squeezed consumers cooked at home more often and used sauces to add flavor to cheap cuts of meat (DailyFinance.com, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • The stock portfolios of members of the U.S. House of Representatives outperformed the market by an average of 6 percent annually from 1985 to 2001. A previous study found that senators do even better with their investments, “significantly outperforming even hedge-fund managers” (TheAtlantic.com, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • The Army has spent $32 billion since 1995 on advanced weapons that were canceled before they could be built, including the Comanche helicopter. Most of the weapons turned out to be too complex for ordinary battlefield use (The Washington Post, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • A quarter of fish in U.S. supermarkets are fraudulently labeled, DNA testing has revealed, and the rate rises as much as 70 percent for desirable species like red snapper, Atlantic cod, and wild salmon. Cheaper cuts of Vietnamese catfish, thresher shark, and tilapia are routinely passed off as more expensive fillets (The New York Times, The WEEK, June 10, 2011)
  • Thirty-five Internal Revenue Service agents are assigned full-time to ExxonMobil headquarters in Houston, where they conduct a nonstop audit of the company’s tax accounting. In 2009, Exxon paid no U.S. income taxes on profits of $19.3 billion, receiving instead a $156 million credit. The company paid $15.2 billion in foreign taxes (Fortune.com, The WEEK, June 3, 2o11)
  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the world’s top philanthropist, having donated $28 billion to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to date (Forbes, The WEEK, June 3, 2011)
  • The average cost of health care for an American family of four insured through an employer is now $19, 393 – up to 7.3 percent since last year (CNNMoney.com, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • Despite arrests and military action by Western nations, piracy on the high seas is up 177 percent this year, with 97 pirate attacks in the region of Somalia and 142 worldwide. At the moment, more than 480 people are being held hostage for ransom on more than four dozen ships in Somali waters (Bloomberg Businessweek, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • In a survey that correlated Americans’ incomes with their religious affiliations, Reform Jews emerged as the most affluent group, with 67 percent making more than $75, 000. Hindus were second, with 65 percent at that income level, and Conservative Jews were third, with 57 percent. Pentecostals, Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were the least affluent, with less than 20 percent making $75, 000 (Pew Research Center, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • Kraft said last week that it had raised prices 3.7 percent, enough to offset input costs that have outpaced last year’s by $375 million. Most other food producers are struggling to pass along higher costs that have sliced profits (MarketWatch.com, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • The nation’s mortgage debt declined by $100 billion in the first three months of the year, falling to $10.3 trillion from a peak of $11 trillion in 2008, as borrowers refinanced at lower rates, paid down principal, or defaulted. The additional cash in homeowners’ pockets has stimulated the economy in many parts of the country (USA Today, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • Iraq says it will miss its goal of pumping more than 12 million barrels of oil a day by 2017, up from its current output of 2.6 million barrels. The new dashes hopes that Iraqi output would rein in oil prices (Financial Times, The WEEK, May 27, 2011)
  • White men were better represented on corporate boards of large public companies last year than they were in 2004. Their share of board seats rose from 71.2 percent to 72.9 percent in that period, while that of minority men fell from 11.9 percent to 9.1 percent. The share of women’s seats rose modestly (TheAtlantic.com, The WEEK, May 20, 2011)
  • Last year a record 105, 900 women in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam took the GMAT exam, a prerequisite for most U.S. business school applications. That’s 40 percent of all test takers from those countries. The uptick in Asian women students has helped U.S. business schools boost their overall female enrollment numbers (BloombergBusinessweek.com, The WEEK, May 20, 2011)
  • Higher temperatures in Europe, Africa, and Asia have reduced grain yields in recent years, costing consumers about $60 billion a year, according to a new scientific study. Researchers say their calculation is a conservative estimate of climate change’s impact on food prices, since it doesn’t include the impact of heat waves or flooding exacerbated by changing temperatures (The New York Times, The WEEK, May 20, 2011)
  • Almost half the adults in Detroit (47 percent) are functionally illiterate, a new study found. Only 10 percent of those who are unable to read have made attempts to learn how (Associated Press, The WEEK, May 20, 2011)
  • At the current birthrate, the world’s population, now 7 billion, will reach 10 billion before the end of the century, the U.N. estimates. But if the global birthrate increases even slightly, the global population could soar to 15.8 billion by 2100 (Beijing People’s Daily, The WEEK, May 20, 2011)
  • American undergraduates are flocking to petroleum engineering, where the average starting salary for those with bachelor’s degrees has doubled since 1997 to $86,220. The percentage of foreign students in undergraduate petroleum engineering programs is lower than it’s been for 15 years (Miller-McCune, The WEEK, May 13, 2011)
  • McDonald’s received more than 1 million applications for jobs during a recent, much-publicized employment drive; it ended up hiring 62,000 people, 24 percent more than planned (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, May 13, 2011)
  • In Mexico, more houses have televisions (93 percent) than sewerage (90 percent), refrigerators (82 percent), or showers (65 percent). Nevertheless, the Mexican home has been transformed in recent years. In 1990, one in five homes had a bare earth floor. Now, only 6 percent do (The Economist, The WEEK, May 13, 2011)
  • U.S. adoptions of Chinese babies have fallen dramatically, from 7,903 in 2005 to 3,401 in 2010. China has made fewer children available for adoption, partly because of embarrassment that so many girl babies were being given away, and partly because prosperity has enabled parents to pay the fine for having a second child (The Philadelphia Inquirer, The WEEK, May 13, 2011)
  • Viewpoint: “Over the past few months, we’ve seen a fascinating phenomenon. The public mood has detached from the economic cycle. In normal times, economic recoveries produce psychological recoveries. At least at the moment, that seems not to be happening. There are structural problems in the economy as growth slows and middle-class incomes stagnate. There are structural problems in the welfare state as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations. As these problems have gone unaddressed, Americans have lost faith in the credibility of their political system. This loss of faith has contributed to a complex but dark national mood. The country is anxious, pessimistic, ashamed, helpless, and defensive.” — David Brooks (The New York Times, The WEEK, May 6, 2011)
  • U.S. consumers spend $1.2 trillion on nonessential goods and services annually, according to the Commerce Department. Consumer spending on discretionary luxury items, including jewelry, yachts, sports cars, alcoholic beverages, and candy, has risen to 11.2 percent of total consumer spending – up from 4 percent in 1959 (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, May 6, 2011)
  • Apple’s quarterly profits nearly doubled, to $5.99 billion, from $3.07 million for the same period a year ago. The company sold 4.7 million iPads and 3.8 million Mac computers in the three months ending March 26 (ABCNews.com, The WEEK, May 6, 2011)
  • U.S. venture capitalists invested $6.4 billion in 661 startups in the first quarter of 2011, a 35 percent increase in capital commitments over the year-earlier period. The largest investments were in software, biomedical devices, and alternative energy (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, May 6, 2011)
  • U.S. multinational companies increased employment overseas by 2.4 million in the 2000s, even as they cut their U.S. workforces by 2.9 million. Overall, big-name firms employed 21.1 million people in the U.S. in 2009, and 10.3 million abroad (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 29, 2011)
  • Chief executive officers at 299 U.S. companies earned a combined total of $3.4 billion in 2010, a 23 percent increase from the year before. That amount would support 102,325 workers earning a median wage (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 29, 2011)
  • The drug-making industry is expected to report its biggest drop in quarterly profits since 2006, as a record number of patents are set to expire this year. The 11 largest drugmakers, which include Pfizer, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb, are likely to have seen earnings fall 1.4 percent in the first quarter (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 29, 2011)
  • American student-loan debt outgrew credit card debt for the first time in 2010, and is likely to top a trillion dollars this year. The average U.S. graduate now owes $24,000 in debt (The New York Times, The WEEK, April 29, 2011)
  • Corporate America’s profits rose 29.2 percent in 2010, the fastest growth in more than 50 years. While the return to profitability has resulted in hefty raises for many CEOs, the improved results have yet to trickle down to most employees (The New York Times, The WEEK, April 22, 2011)
  • China posted its first quarterly trade deficit in seven years as the cost of imported commodities offset gains from exports. The first-quarter excess of imports over exports amounted to $1.02 billion. China is still expected to post a trade surplus for the full year (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 22, 2011)
  • Consumer borrowing rose by $7.6 billion, or 3.8 percent, in February, despite a 4.1 percent decline in credit-card debt. A 7.7 percent surge in car loans accounted for the entire increase (USA Today, The WEEK, April 22, 2011)
  • Since 1971, the life expectancy of the average 65-year-0ld in the developed world has increased by four to five years. Over the same period, the average retirement age has fallen to 63, almost a full year lower than in 1970 (The Economist, The WEEK, April 22, 2011)
  • Microsoft’s Bing has gained 30.01 percent of the U.S. search market, slightly denting Google’s lead (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, April 22, 2011)
  • The average ticket price in major league baseball has more than tripled since 1991, to $26.74 last season from $8.34 (Time, The WEEK, April 15, 2011)
  • India’s population has grown 17.6 percent over the last decade, to 1.2 billion people. India is now on course to pass China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030 (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, April 15, 2011)
  • Since January, employment for Americans with a college degree or higher has grown by 521,000 jobs. For those with only a high school diploma, employment has fallen by 318,000 jobs (USA Today, The WEEK, April 15, 2011)
  • Kidney for College: The “double whammy” of rising tuition costs and dwindling financial aid has forced college kids to get creative, said Jilian Mincer in SmartMoney. More than 70 percent of college-bound high school students surveyed by the College Savings Foundation plan to help pay for college. But “forget toiling for minimum wage.” To make a real dent in five-figure annual college costs, some students are starting businesses, soliciting online donations, or selling their sperm or eggs – the latter for up to $10,000 a pop. One desperate parent recently posted an ad on Craigslist offering to sell his body for research or “anything legal” in exchange for having his kids’ $200,000 in student loans paid off (The WEEK, April 15, 2011)
  • Median pay for CEOs of large U.S. corporations rose 27 percent in 2010, according to federal data. Three quarters of CEOs received raises in 2010, to a median salary of $9 million, including $2.2 million in bonuses. Pay increases for all workers in private industry averaged 2.1 percent in 2010 (USA Today, The WEEK, April 15, 2011)
  • The value of corporate takeovers topped $256 billion in the first quarter of 2011, the most since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, as CEOs spent some of their record $940 billion in cash reserves. CEOs are trying to keep profits growing; in 2010 U.S. corporate earnings increased more than they had since 1988 (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 8, 2011)
  • Despite creating an “early warning system” to sniff out problem lenders, the Federal Housing Administration continues to guarantee loans made by problem lenders. At least six times in the past three years, state or federal authorities brought mortgage-fraud accusations against companies the FHA had previously flagged as potentially fraudulent (USA Today, The WEEK, April 8, 2011)
  • Santa Fe Springs, Calif., enjoys the world’s highest concentration of Starbucks outlets. There are 560 Starbucks stores within 25 miles of the town (BusinessInsider.com, The WEEK, April 8, 2011)
  • U.S. households have cut their debt burden to the lowest point in six years. At $13.4 trillion, total consumer debt, including mortgages and credit cards, is equal to 116 percent of disposable income – well off the peak of 130 percent attained in 2007 – and is the lowest proportion since the last quarter of 2004 (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, March 25, 2011)
  • On March 31, the last CD will roll off the assembly line at Sony’s plant in Pitman, N.J., leaving the international music giant with just a single U.S. CD-pressing plant, in Indiana. CD sales have fallen by half since they peaked in 2000 (NPR.org, The WEEK, March 25, 2011)
  • Four in 10 American millionaires do not feel wealthy, according to a survey of more than 1,000 “millionaire households” by Fidelity Investments. To feel wealthy, the survey found, millionaires require $7.5 million in investable assets. The median U.S. household income in 2009, the latest year for which data are available, was $49, 777 (NPR.org, The WEEK, March 25, 2011)
  • Due to soaring energy demand in India and China, the world’s current stock of 443 nuclear reactors is expected to double over the next 15 years. India hopes to supply a quarter of its electricity through nuclear power (The New York Times, The WEEK, March 25, 2011)
  • A New York City woman is suing her daughter’s preschool for hurting the child’s chances of making it into the Ivy League. Nicole Imprescia says that “getting a child into the Ivy League starts in nursery school,” and that the $19, 000-a-year York Avenue Preschool dumped her 4-year-old daughter, Lucia, into a class of 3-year-olds, where undue emphasis was placed on “shapes and colors” (The WEEK, March 25, 2011)
  • Virginity is regaining its popularity among young people. The percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds who’ve never had sex has risen to 28 percent, up from 22 percent in 2002, a new federal survey says (Chicago Sun-Times, The WEEK, March 18, 2011)
  • Wealthy Chinese are buying up rare French wines, driving up the price of elite Bordeaux by 40 percent in one year. More fine wine was sold in Hong Kong last year than in New York and London combined (Time, The WEEK, March 18, 2011)
  • Nearly a third – 31 percent – of people surveyed by the website ForensicPsychology.net say they have lied on a resume (Forensic Psychology, The WEEK, March 18, 2011)
  • In 2011, more than 10 blockbuster drugs, whose combined annual sales approach $50 billion, will go off-patent, exposing major pharmaceutical companies to greater competition from generic drugs and wiping out a key revenue source. Analysts at Morgan Stanley recently downgraded its investment ratings on several European pharmaceutical makers, warning that “the operating environment for pharma is worsening rapidly,” (The New York Times, The WEEK, March 18, 2011)
  • Financial planners and accountants work in one of the 10 most depression-prone job categories, according to a new study. Experts say the planners’ responsibility for clients’ financial well-being, combined with a lack of control over volatile markets, add up to low spirits (Health.com, The WEEK, March 18, 2011)
  • Venture capitalists last year invested $1.1 billion in startups that track online behavior to send targeted advertising to consumers. Despite concerns of privacy advocates and congressional threats to rein in the practice, “it’s a huge market and it’s growing,” says investor Chris Fralic of First Round Capital (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, March 11, 2011)
  • Hollywood accounting departments are a hotbed of creativity, says disgruntled directors and performers who have been promised a share of movie profits. Although the 2007 hit Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix raked in $938 million worldwide, says Warner Bros.’ accountants, it lost $167 million after distribution and promotion costs were deducted from the take (Financial Times, The WEEK, March 11, 2011)
  • About 60 percent of the population of the Middle East is under 30 years old. In recent history, including the 1960s in the U.S., social unrest and revolutions have often occurred when the younger generation has attained that proportion in a population (Time, The WEEK, March 4, 2011)
  • Home ownership is on the decline. The Census Bureau reported that 66.5 percent of U.S. households owned their homes at the end of 2010, down from 67.2 percent 12 months earlier. The rate was 69 percent at the end of 2005 (MarketWatch.com, The WEEK, February 18, 2011)
  • Credit-card interest rates, now averaging 14.72 percent, are closing in on their all-time highs. Credit-card reforms that took effect last year limit some fees and mandate fuller disclosures, but they do not cap interest rates. So card companies are upping rates – many exceed 20 percent – to make up for revenue lost due to lower fees (CNNMoney.com, The WEEK, February 18, 2011)
  • Lenders originated $110 billion in commercial mortgages last year, a 36 percent increase over 2009′s activity. Lenders have returned to the market after fears of a commercial-property meltdown proved overblown (TheAtlantic.com, The WEEK, February 18, 2011)
  • Last year, profits at Goldman Sachs fell 38 percent, and the investment bank paid the U.S. government $550 million to settle charges of misleading investors. Goldman is marking the s0-so year by more than tripling the base salary of CEO Lloyd Blankfein, to $2 million, and awarding him shares worth $12. 6 million, up from $9 million last year (Fortune.com, The WEEK, February 11, 2011)
  • U.S. economic output has finally regained the high reached before the recession struck in 2007. In 2010, U.S. gross domestic product reached $13.38 trillion, slightly more than 2007′s total output of goods and services. The GDP in 2009 totaled $12.81 trillion (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, February 11, 2011)
  • Higher-wage jobs – paying $17.43 to $31 an hour – accounted for almost half the jobs lost during the recession, according to the National Employment Law Project. Of the jobs created during the first seven months of 2010, 76 percent paid $8.92 to $15 an hour (CNNMoney.com, The WEEK, February 11, 2011)
  • The Tevatron, America’s largest atomic-particle accelerator, will shut down its operations in Batavia, Ill., later this year for lack of funding, putting 1,200 physicists out of work. Their next stop could be Wall Street, where math whizzes are in high demand (Associated Press, The WEEK, February 11, 2011)
  • For the first time in General Motors’ 102-year history, the carmaker last year sold more cars in China than it did in the U.S. GM sold 2.35 million vehicles in China, compared with 2.21 million in the U.S. (USAToday, The WEEK, February 4, 2011)
  • Nearly one in five children ages 2 to 5 – 19 percent – can operate a smartphone application, according to a survey by security-software developer AVG. Only 9 percent of children that age can tie their own shoelaces (TheAtlantic.com, The WEEK, February 4, 2011)
  • The 18 banks and securities firms that trade directly with the Federal Reserve are sharply cutting their holdings of U.S. Treasury debt. Since Nov. 24, the firms’ net holdings of federal debt have fallen from $81.3 billion to $2.3 billion. In a bet on faster growth, their holdings of corporate bonds have risen steeply (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, January 21, 2011)
  • Consumer credit grew a scant $1.3 billion in November, with most of the loans going toward car purchases or education. Total consumer indebtedness stands at $2.4 trillion, nearly 7 percent below July’s 2008 peak of $2.6 trillion (USA Today, The WEEK, January 21, 2011)
  • Although Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not add to his holdings of company stock in 2010, his shares increased in value by more than $620 million, to $1.79 billion. Apple’s per-share price rose from $210.73 at the end of 2009 to $322.56 at the close of 2010 (247WallSt.com, The WEEK, January 21, 2011)
  • A Massachusetts cat has been summoned for jury duty, after it was listed by its owner on the census form. Anna Esposito says that after her cat, Sal, received his summons, she contacted the jury commission to request disqualification on the grounds that Sal’s language skills are limited. In response, the commission told Esposito that Sal “must attend” jury selection, and that “jurors are not expected to speak perfect English” (The WEEK, January 28, 2011)
  • Hollywood may need a new business model. Sales of DVDs fell 13 percent last year, compared with sales in 2009, while movie-theater attendance was flat. Movie-studio revenue from video rentals has fallen by some $1.3 billion since 2001, to around $1.7 billion in 2009 (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, January 28, 2011)
  • Creditors filed foreclosure papers on 2.9 million U.S. properties in 2010, a 2 percent increase from 2009 and a 23 percent jump from 2008. The increase came despite a sharp slowdown in foreclosure filings in December, as a result of controversy over shoddy record keeping by lenders (RealtyTrac.com, The WEEK, January 28, 2011)
  • Shoppers spent a record $462 billion during the 2010 holiday season, topping the $453 billion spent in 2007, says the National Retail Foundation. But because the U.S. population has expanded by 8 million since 2007, per-person spending actually declined last year (USA Today, The WEEK, January 28, 2011)
  • Only 6 percent of Americans use Twitter. Of those who do have Twitter accounts, 40 percent look at tweets rarely or not at all (Pew Research Center, The WEEK, December 24, 2010-January 7, 2011)
  • Life-size cardboard cutouts of female police officers in miniskirts have been placed alongside Czech roads to slow down speeding drivers. And, yes, they work (Associated Press, The WEEK, December 24, 2010-January 7, 2011)
  • More high school seniors now smoke marijuana than tobacco, a new survey found. In 2010, 21.4 percent of seniors said they’d smoked pot in the last month (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, December 24, 2010-January 7, 2011)
  • Public education shed the most jobs of any sector in 2010, with payrolls falling from 8, 054, 100 ti 7,910,400, a loss of 143,700 jobs. Many school systems around the country are near insolvency because property-tax receipts, their main funding source, have plummeted (BusinessInsider.com, The WEEK, December 24, 2010-January 7, 2011)
  • In a sign of the shift from print to digital media, Netflix, the video-streaming and -rental service, has been added to the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index of  large companies; NewYorkTimes Co. has been demoted from the S&P 500 to Standard & Poor’s index of medium-size companies (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, December 24, 2010-January 7, 2011)

2010

  • Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Nissan all reported sales gains of 21 percent or more in November, compared with November 2009, as customers responded to sweetened incentives and a late-month ad blitz. With business looking up, GM and Chrysler each intend to hire about 1,000 engineers and technical workers (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, December 17, 2010)
  • Last week, a train testing the recently completed rail route between Shanghai and Beijing set a new speed record for unmodified passenger trains – 302 mph. The high-speed route, scheduled to begin service next year, will cut travel time between the two cities from 10 hours to four (Foxnews.com, The WEEK, December 17, 2010)
  • At least $140 million in federal stimulus funds went to faith-based groups, purchasing, among other things, a new heating system for a Methodist church, new windows for a Wyoming Catholic church, and food for a Pennsylvania Christian organization’s homeless program. “It was unbelievable that we had this much extra money,” said an official of the homeless program. “It kind of fell from the sky,” (Politico.com, The WEEK, December 17, 2010)
  • The 52 current members of Congress’ Tea Party caucus, which vows to cut federal spending, requested a total of 764 earmarks valued at $1 billion over the last fiscal year (NationalJournal.com, The WEEK, December 17, 2010)
  • At least 15 percent of the 94 incoming members of the House of Representatives plan to sleep in their offices rather than brave the Washington rental market. As a result, proximity to the House gym has become a central criterion in the scramble for congressional offices, which do not have showers (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, December 10, 2010)
  • The government of Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe signs off on weather reports before they are broadcast. In the wake of Mugabe’s disastrous agriculture policies, the government considers the weather – especially news of continued drought – a sensitive topic. “The public are not thought to be ready for bad weather,” the Zimbabwe Independent reported (The Scotsman, The WEEK, December 10, 2010)
  • In the past 12 months, 14.4 percent of American adults have moved their accounts from large commercial banks to community banks or credit unions, according to a Zogby International poll. Of those who switched, 60 percent said they did so to protest the policies of large banks (The Boston Globe, The WEEK, December 10, 2010)
  • Wall Street bonuses are set to rise 15 percent this year from 2009. That may help explain why luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. has raised its full-year earnings estimate to $2.77 a share from $2.65, on strong growth in retail transactions of $500 or more (HuffingtonPost.com, The WEEK, December 10, 2010)
  • The Treasury Department’s Public-Private Investment Program, in which the government partnered with private money-management forms to invest in devalued mortgage securities, has returned 36 percent in its first year. Stocks returned about 10 percent during the same period; bonds, about 8.2 percent (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, November 5, 2010)
  • A boom in U.S. agricultural exports is generating an unexpected side benefit: with farmers’ incomes rising, sales of new pickup trucks are up 14 percent so far this year, compared with a 10 percent increase in new-car sales (USAtoday.com, The WEEK, November 5, 2010)
  • The average financial industry employee earned slightly more than $100,000 in the first three months of 2010, a 20 percent improvement over the first quarter of 2009. The average American worker earned $10,668 in the same period (The New York Times, The WEEK, November 5, 2010)
  • The 400 largest U.S. charities raised by $68.6 billion in 2009, an 11 percent drop from the previous year and the sharpest decline in two decades. Only four charities in the top 10 – Catholic Charities USA, the AmeriCares Foundation, World Vision, and Feed the Children – reported an increase in donations last year (The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The WEEK, October 29, 2010)
  • The New York Yankees, with a 2010 player payroll of $207 million, contended this week for the American League championship against the Texas Rangers, whose player payroll totals $55 million. The $152 million difference is the largest payroll disparity in the history of baseball’s postseason (GossipSports.com, The WEEK, October 29, 2010)
  • Adding to the worries that the economic recovery has stalled, U.S. industrial production fell in September, for the first time in more than a year. Output at mines, factories, and utilities fell 0.2 percent, according to the Federal Reserves (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, October 29, 2010)
  • In 2008 and 2009, at least 72 congressional aides bought or sold shares in companies their bosses oversee. One staffer bought shares in Bank of America after getting advance word that it had passed its federal “stress test.” There’s no law against congressional staffers trading on nonpublic information they learn on the job (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, October 22, 2010)
  • President Obama’s nomination of economist Peter Diamond to a seat on the Federal Reserve has been held up for months by Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who claims Diamond is unqualified. Diamond won the Nobel economics prize this week (WashingtonMonthly.com, The WEEK, October 22, 2010)
  • The number of private-sector job openings increased 33 percent in the 12 months ended in August, but hiring increased only 4 percent. With the economy recovering slowly, employers are taking extra time to find the best-qualified employees (USA Today, The WEEK, October 22, 2010)
  • The average debt on bank-issued credit cards in this year’s second quarter dropped to $4,951 from $5,719 in the year-earlier period. It’s the first time average card debt has fallen below $5,000 since early 2002 (The Washington Post, The WEEK, October 1st, 2010)
  • The U.S. hunting industry generated $28 billion in economic activity last year, up from $19 million in 2008. In New York, hunting-license sales have risen more than 10 percent from 2007 to 2009, even though the cost of a license increased 52 percent (USA Today, The WEEK, October 1st, 2010)
  • Employment at foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations increased 1 percent in 2008 – including a 15 percent gain in China. Domestic U.S. hiring at those same companies fell 2 percent in 2008 (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, September 24th, 2010)
  • Defaults on student loans are climbing, with 7 percent of borrowers in 2008 falling behind within two years of beginning repayment. That’s up from 6.7 percent in 2007. The default rate for students at for-profit schools rose to 11.6 percent from 11 percent (Associated Press, The WEEK, September 24th, 2010)
  • The U.S. has slipped from second to fourth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, supplanted by Sweden and Singapore. The rankings, with Switzerland in first place, factor each nation’s infrastructure, education, health care, record of innovation and more (London Guardian, The WEEK, September 24th, 2010)
  • Since 2000, the number of women working in financial services has fallen by 141,000, while the number of men in the industry has grown by 389,000, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts say women were laid off in disproportionate numbers after the financial crisis, and women also may be less willing than men to work in an industry with a negative image (WSJ.com, The WEEK, September 17th, 2010)
  • Nursing is the hot occupation of the next decade, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of registered nurses is expected to swell to 3.2 million by 2018, up from 2.6 million today (Fortune, The WEEK, September 17th, 2010)
  • Domestic airfares rose more than 20 percent in the second quarter, compared with last year’s second quarter, while international fares rose more than 30 percent, according to travel site Orbitz.com (The New York Times, The WEEK, September 17th, 2010)
  • The average worker spent nearly $4,000 for employer-sponsored family health care last year, 14 percent more than the year before. Since 1999, workers’ contributions to health-care premiums have increased 158 percent, while pay has risen 42 percent (Marketwatch.com, The WEEK, September 17th, 2010)
  • While interest rates on mortgages and other debt have declined to new lows, credit card rates spiked to their highest since 2001, with an average interest rate of 14.7 percent (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, Sept. 3-10, 2010)
  • Nearly 30 percent of all new couples in the U.S. found one another through online dating services or social media, a Stanford University study reported (Time, The WEEK, Sept. 3-10, 2010)
  • An Indian government agency is fighting what it calls “yoga theft” after several U.S. companies said they wanted to copyright their versions of the ancient practice. Yoga is a part of humanity’s “shared knowledge,” India argues, and businesses claiming any postures as their own are violating the very spirit of the discipline (The Washington Post, The WEEK, Sept. 3-10, 2010)
  • More cash-strapped states are giving the green light to casinos, which can generate billions in tax revenue; in the Northeast alone, there are now 41 casinos, with 20 more planned. But analysts warn of diminishing returns, since one gambling state’s gain often translates into a neighboring state’s loss (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, Sept. 3-10, 2010)
  • Mortgage lenders repossessed 92, 858 properties last month, up 9 percent from June and 6 percent from July 2009. More than 1 million American households are expected to be repossessed this year (Associated Press, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • U.S. recalls of prescription and over-the-counter drugs surged last year from 1,742 from 426 in 2008, a sign that drug manufacturing standards may be slipping. One now-defunct company, Advantage Dose, recalls are running 50 percent ahead of 2008′s total (CNNmoney.com, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • With back-to-school shopping season off to a slow start, retailers are going all-out to win sales. American Eagle, whose clothes are popular among the high school set, is offering a free smart phone to customers just for trying on a pair of jeans, which sell for as little as $24.50 (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • Pessimism over Social Security is at an all-time high, with 60% of Americans who don’t currently receive benefits saying they never will. As the program nears its 70th anniversary, 63% of Americans say it won’t last another 70 years (CNN/Opinion Research, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • About 4 million children in the U.S. are born to illegal immigrants, a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center found. In 2008, about one in 12 of all children born in the country were those of illegal immigrants (USA Today, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, built to control annual flooding on the Yangtze River, has been sorely tested by recent torrential downpours and millions of gallons of water pouring into its 400-mile-long reservoir. Government officials used to boast that the dam could withstand the worst flood in 10,000 years, but are now saying, “the dam’s flood-control capacity is not unlimited,” (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • Some $275 billion in federal stimulus funds from the $862 billion allotted by Congress last year have yet to be spent. Some state and local officials who’ve received federal dollars are reluctant to spend them, fearful of being accused of wasting the money on pointless projects (The Washington Post, The WEEK, August 27, 2010)
  • Operators of BP’s U.S. filling stations are actively considering a name change. The BP Amoco Marketers Association is leaning toward rebranding with the Amoco logo, which BP obtained when it acquired Amoco in 1998 (Marketwatch.com, The WEEK, August 13, 2010)
  • AT&T and Verizon are taking a shot at Visa and MasterCard by developing a system that would allow consumers to pay for their purchases with a wave of their smart phones. Payments would be processed through Discover Financial Service’s payment system (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, August 13, 2010)
  • After losing all three games in the World Cup, North Korea’s national soccer team was subjected to a six-hour, public “reprimand” at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, and accused of betraying the country “in the great ideological struggle.” The team’s coach was assigned a new lob as a laborer (Toronto Star, The WEEK, August 13, 2010)
  • Three out of four lobbyists who represent oil and gas companies previously worked for the federal government, more than twice the usual “revolving door” rate. The industry’s lobbying roster includes 18 former members of Congress and dozens of their former aides (The Washington Post, The WEEK, August 6, 2010)
  • Movie studios have started using inflatable dolls instead of paid extras for crowd scenes. Five-hundred dolls were used to simulate a crowd in a scene in Salt, Angelina Jolie’s new action movie (The New Yorker, The WEEK, August 6, 2010)
  • The U.S. has been at war for 47 of the 230 years it has existed, or 20 percent of its history (The New York Times, The WEEK, August 6, 2010)
  • More than 43 million consumers – or a quarter of all U.S. consumers – have credit scores of 599 or lower, making them poor risks for lenders, says credit-scoring firm FICO. The number of people in the lowest credit score categories has risen by 2.4 million in the past two years (USA Today, The WEEK, July 23, 2010)
  • Four of the world’s 10 biggest banks, as measured by market value, are Chinese. In 2000, none of the banks on the top 10 list were Chinese (The Economist, The WEEK, July 23, 2010)
  • The biggest defaulters on mortgages are wealthy people who took out huge loans to buy mansions they assumed they could sell at a profit. More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of $1 million are seriously delinquent, compared with one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark (The New York Times, The WEEK, July 23, 2010)
  • To fuel its economic growth and soaring demand for electricity, China this year will mine and burn 50 percent of the coal produced throughout the world (TheOilDrum.com, The WEEK, July 23, 2010)
  • The teaching profession is usually thought of as recession-proof, but with many state and local governments in severe financial distress, teachers are facing their worst job market since the Depression. More than 150,000 teachers are expected to lose their jobs over the next year (The New York Times, The WEEK, June 4, 2010)
  • More entrepreneurs launched businesses in 2009 than any time in the past 14 years, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. The surge is being drive by people who can’t find work in existing companies, said research analyst Dane Stangler. “As people got more discouraged, it’s possible they take things into their own hands,” Stangler said (The Hill, The WEEK, June 4, 2010)
  • Since the recession began, the average “job footprint” – a measure of what a worker is expected to produce – has increased by a third, says the Corporate Leadership Council, while pay has stagnated. A separate survey found that 63 percent of workers feel their bosses do not appreciate their extra effort (The Economist, The WEEK, June 4, 2010)
  • Google is the most sought-after employer among newly minted MBAs; more than 20 percent of new MBAs say they want to work there. McKinsey & Co. ranks second, followed by Goldman Sachs (Fortune, The WEEK, June 4, 2010)
  • Despite leading their companies into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, 92 percent of the senior officers and directors of the 17 top recipients of federal financial bailout funds are still in their posts (American Progress, The WEEK, January 15, 2010)
  • Facing new limits on overdraft charges and late fees, banks are devising new charges to make up for the lost revenue. Many banks are eliminating free checking, raising fees for stop-payment orders, and slapping annual fees on previously free credit cards (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, January 15, 2010)
  • Layoffs at big companies get most of the attention, but firms employing 50 people or fewer account for 45 percent of the U.S. jobs lost since the recession began, in 2007 (The Economist, The WEEK, Dec. 25, 2009-Jan. 8, 2010)
  • One of every five American men ages 25 to 54 does not hold a job. Economists say most of the jobs these men had are never coming back (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • During the past decade, 83 percent of U.S. population growth came from nonwhites, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Nearly one out of four Americans under 18 has at least one immigrant parent (The Washington Post, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • The U.S. military burns 22 gallons of diesel fuel per soldier per day in Afghanistan to power vehicles and electrical generators, at an annual cost of more than $100,000 per person (Foreign Policy, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • White flight is reversing. With affluent whites moving back into cities, a majority of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians now live in suburbs outside major cities (Associated Press, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • Consumer credit posted a surprise $1.95 billion increase in March, marking only its second gain in 14 months. Except for the March rise and an increase in January, consumer borrowing has fallen steadily since last year, as households repaired their balance sheets (Associated Press, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified the 30 occupations most likely to post the greatest growth in the next decade. Seventeen of the 30 are in health care (DailyFinance.com, The WEEK, May 21, 2010)
  • The number of U.S. residents who speak a language other than English at home more than doubled over the past 30 years, to 55 million, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. That’s 20 percent of the population (Chicago Tribune, The WEEK, May 14, 2010)
  • Nearly 20 percent of girls age 8 to 12 regularly wear mascara — double the number from just three years ago, reports consumer research company NPD Group. Fifteen percent use lipstick, up from 10 percent. “They’re not sneaking this stuff,” said NPD’s Karen Grant. They’re doing the shopping with their moms,” (The New York Times, The WEEK, May 14, 2010)
  • Consumer spending increased 0.6 percent in March, the largest gain in five months, the Commerce Department reported. Increased purchases at retailers as diverse as Macy’s and Starbucks were fueled by a 0.3 percent gain in personal income in March (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, May 14, 2010)
  • The FDIC closed seven banks in recent days, including three in Puerto Rico, bringing the total number of U.S. bank closures this year to 64. The FDIC closed 140 banks in 2009 and just 25 in 2008 (Zacks Equity Research, The WEEK, May 14, 2010)
  • Employment increased in only 13 of 393 major U.S. metropolitan areas in 2010. Jacksonville, N.C., led the way, buoyed by a 3.3 percent increase in public-sector hiring (Forbes, The WEEK, May 14, 2010)
  • Goldman Sachs’ new 43-story, 2.1 million-square-foot headquarters building in downtown Manhattan cost $2.1 billion to build. It contains six trading floors, each larger than a football field, and 54,000-square-foot gym (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • Factory production rose 0.9 percent in March, accelerating from a 0.2 percent increase in February, the Federal Reserve reports. But that increase was not accompanied by a boost in employment. First-time applications for jobless benefits last week rose an unexpected 24,000 (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • Women own 40 percent of the small businesses in the U.S. but only 8 percent of high-tech start-ups backed by venture capital. Although outright sexism in the tech industry is rare, many female entrepreneurs say the old-boy network subtly limits their opportunities (The New York Times, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • The average American pays 20.7 percent of his income in federal taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Federal taxes have remained essentially flat over the past 30 years (USA Today, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • More than half the people competing in half-marathons and other road races around the country are now women, up from 21 percent in 1987. This year, 42 percent of the runners in the Boston Marathon were women. “Thirty years ago, women weren’t even allowed to run this race,” said Boston Marathon director Dave McGillivray (The Philadelphia Inquirer, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • Based on global temperatures, last month was the warmest March recorded in the 130 years that the National Climatic Data Center has kept records. Warming was notable in northern Canada and the Arctic, where temperatures were 15 degrees higher than normal (USA Today, The WEEK, April 30, 2010)
  • Nearly 2,000 House of Representatives staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 who earned the maximum $172, 500 – more than three times the median U.S. household income (Politico.com, The WEEK, April 9, 2010)
  • With movie attendance at its highest level in years, many cinemas around the country have raised ticket prices. Typical increases for conventional movies are less than 5 percent, but the ticket price of a 3-D movie is soaring to $20 at many IMAX theaters and is even higher in Los Angeles and New York (CBSnews.com, The WEEK, April 9, 2010)
  • Last year was one of the worst ever for the newspaper business. Advertising revenues fell 27.2 percent, or more than $10 billion from 2008, which at the time was billed as the worst year for newspapers since the Great Depression (NYTimes.com, The WEEK, April 9, 2010)
  • There are an average of 34 car recalls a year due to faulty electronics. Yet only two engineers out of 125 employed by the National Traffic Safety Administration specialize in electronics (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 9, 2010)
  • The economic recovery that wasn’t: Reports of the U.S. economy’s robust recovery are greatly exaggerated, said Robert Higgs. True, industrial production rose modestly in February, thanks to “the winter weather, which boosted mining and utility production by increasing energy demand,” rather than to any government stimulus program. But a more telling indicator of the economy’s health is in the numbers on personal income, which fell in 42 states last year. Nationally, personal income stands at around $12.2 trillion, not far from its 2008 peak of $12.3 trillion. But wages and salaries fell to $5.2 trillion in the final quarter of 2009, well below the 2008 peak of $5.4 trillion. What has grown though, are government transfers to individuals, which has risen 24 percent, to $2.1 trillion, in just two years. Such payments, including unemployment and welfare benefits, now constitute 17.5 percent of personal income, up from 14.2 percent in 2007. “This rapidly growing dependence on the dole does not suggest a healthy recovery.” Rather, it is evidence of a hollow recovery – “like a pinata with no candy inside” (Robert Higgs, The Washington Times, The WEEK, April 9, 2010)
  • With its exports up 46 percent in February, China is experiencing a shortage of workers to staff its factories. One reason for the shortage is that the number of Chinese college graduates has jumped from 1 million in 2000 to more than 6 million this year, decreasing the pool of potential laborers (Forbes.com, The WEEK, April 2, 2010)
  • In a survey of 1,000 laid-off people who recently landed new jobs, 290 said they’d been rehired by the same companies that fired them. Nine of 10 companies questioned in another survey said they were open to hiring their former employees (New York Post, The WEEK, April 2, 2010)
  • A lack of clean water is killing 1.8 million children under 5 each year, according to a new U.N. report. More people die from polluted water than from all wars and other violence (MSNBC.com, The WEEK, April 2, 2010)
  • About 87 percent of all private insurance policies cover abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But only 13 percent of abortions are paid for by insurance, because most women who get them have no insurance or are on Medicaid (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 2, 2010)
  • Some 6.6 million U.S. households include at least three generations, a 30 percent increase since 2000. The poor job market has pushed millions of “boomerange kids” to move back with their parents after college (Associated Press, The WEEK, April 2, 2010)
  • About 43 percent of Americans have saved less than $10,000 for retirement, a new study found (CNNmoney.com, The WEEK March 26, 2010)
  • About 48 percent of the children now born in the U.S. are nonwhite, and demographers say 2010 could be the “tipping point,” when the number of babies born to Hispanics, blacks, and Asians collectively surpasses that of babies born to whites (Associated Press, The WEEK March 26, 2010)
  • Americans lost an estimated $560 million last year to Internet fraud, the FBI reported. The most common frauds involved scammers impersonating FBI agents (Associated Press, The WEEK March 26, 2010)
  • Consumer lending last year shrunk by 4.7 percent at the nation’s biggest banks, but grew by 3 percent among the smaller institutions. Experts say smaller banks are more willing to lend on the basis of longstanding relationships with their borrowers (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK March 26, 2010)
  • The unemployment rate in February among people with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among people whose education stopped short of a high school diploma, the rate stands at 15.6 percent (BusinessWeek, The WEEK March 26, 2010)
  • 58% of Americans say that the debt the U.S. owes to China is a bigger threat to the long-term security of the U.S. than is terrorism. 27% consider terrorism the larger threat (Zogby, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • 25% of Americans who are married or living with someone say they are so sleep-deprived they are often too tired to have sex (National Sleep Foundation, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • It will take years and $1 billion to cart away the broken blocks, twisted metal, and shards of concrete of the 245,000 ruined structures from January’s earthquake in Haiti. There’s enough rubble to fill the Louisiana Superdome 17 times (The Washington Post, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • A national campaign to improve nutrition in schools has made a sharp dent in soft-drink sales by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other beverage companies. Soft-drink sales to schools have fallen 72 percent since the 2004-05 school year, an industry report found (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • In a sign that world economic activity is heating up, global trade rose a record 4.8 percent in December. International trade has expanded 15 percent since hitting bottom in May 2009 (The Economist, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • Thanks to companies squeezing more output from fewer workers, productivity rose 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, while labor costs fell 5.9 percent, the Commerce Department reported (USA Today, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • With their budgets bleeding red ink, several states, including Alabama, Hawaii, and North Carolina, are planning to delay income-tax refunds to businesses and individuals. “It’s essentially an involuntary, no-interest loan from the taxpayer,” says political scientist Ivan Kenneally (CNBC.com, The WEEK March 19, 2010)
  • More than $3.47 billion was spent lobbying the federal government in 2009, a 5 percent increase over 2008. “Lobbying appears recession-proof,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group (The Hill, The WEEK Feb. 26, 2010)
  • Eight of the top 10 cities in a survey of Americans’ satisfaction with their lives and optimism for the future are in Western states, with Boulder, Colo., coming in first. Huntington, W.Va., was last (Gallup, The WEEK Feb. 26, 2010)
  • Utah legislators, faced with a $700 million budget shortfall, are considering a proposal to make senior year of high school optional for students who complete their required credits. “The more options we give to students to accelerate,” said one state legislator, “the more beneficial it is to students and taxpayers,” (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK Feb. 26, 2010)
  • The components in Apple’s cheapest iPab tablet computer cost an estimated $229.05. The device will retail for $499 when it goes on sale in March, giving Apple a gross profit margin of 54 percent. Typical gross profit margins in the industry range from 15 percent to 25 percent (BusinessWeek, The WEEK Feb. 26, 2010)
  • Forty percent of AT&T’s wireless-broadband capacity is taken up by just 3 percent of the network’s users (The Economist, The WEEK Feb. 26, 2010)
  • Due mostly to effects of the recession, the U.S. took in only $3 billion more in Social Security taxes last year than it paid out in benefits – a decline of $60 billion from 2008. Social Security is now projected to run out of funds in 2037, two decades earlier than previously predicted (USA Today, The WEEK Feb. 19, 2010)
  • The University of Southern California has offered a football scholarship to schoolboy David Sills, who can’t sign a binding letter of intent until 2015. That’s because Sills, 13, is in the seventh grade (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK Feb. 19, 2010)
  • The average American family will spend nearly $1,000 this year on cable television, internet connectivity, and video games, up from about $ 770 in 2004. When annual cell phone charges of $1,000 or so are added in, the average family now spends as much each year to stay wired as it does on gasoline (The New York Times, The WEEK Feb. 19, 2010)
  • America’s love affair with credit cards may be waning. Not only did credit card debt fall sharply last year, but the number of newly opened credit card accounts fell 46 percent in 2009 from the year before (USA Today, The WEEK Feb. 19, 2010)
  • Business students are deserting Wall Street for health care. Ten percent of the class of 2009 at Duke University’s Fuqua School have taken health-care-related jobs, up from 3 percent in 2007. At Indiana’s Kelley School, the percentage of M.B.A.’s taking health-care jobs doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent between 2007 and 2009 (BusinessWeek, The WEEK Feb. 19, 2010)
  • Presidents of public universities saw little increase in their paychecks last year. Raises averaged 2.3 percent, breaking the trend of the past six years, when double-digit increases became the norm. One in 10 presidents took a pay cut – Associated Press (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • The consumer price index, the government’s key inflation indicator, rose 2.7 percent in 2009, compared with only .1 percent in 2008. Gasoline prices, up more than 50 percent over 2009, drove the index higher – CNNmoney.com (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • Retail sales defied analysts’ forecasts and took a surprising tumble in December, falling 0.3 percent. Analysts said sales volume was up, but deep discounting held down total store receipts – Financial Times (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • About 55 million Americans have become ill from the swine flu so far, the federal government reported. About 11, 160 died. Only one in five Americans received the swine flu vaccine – Associated Press (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • In the 174 minutes of an average football telecast, viewers see about 60 minutes of commercials, 75 minutes of players huddling or milling about between snaps, 17 minutes of replays – and just 11 minutes of actual football – The Wall Street Journal (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • At least 13 states have active secessionist movements – The Atlantic Monthly (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • Before 1950, similar-size earthquakes produced comparable damage in both industrial and developing nations. Today, due to earthquake-savvy design and construction in the developed world, the loss of life is typically 10 times higher in developing nations such as China, Pakistan, and Haiti, with physical damage as much as 100 times higher – Los Angeles Times (The WEEK, Jan. 29, 2010)
  • In a sign that the credit crunch is finally easing, the Small Business Administration guaranteed $3.8 billion in loans in the final quarter of 2009, doubling its loan volume from the last quarter of 2008 – CNNmoney.com (The WEEK, Jan. 22, 2010)
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson last week predicted that 9,000 bankers would leave the city to avoid Britain’s new 50 percent tax on financial-industry bonuses. The tax is “music to the ears of rival global financial centers,” he said – London Evening Standard (The WEEK, Jan. 22, 2010)
  • Twenty-six percent of American workers have “nonstandard” jobs, says the Iowa Policy Project, meaning they’re temps, part-timers, freelancers, or independent contractors. Of those workers, 61 percent have no employer-sponsored health insurance – BusinessWeek (The WEEK, Jan. 22, 2010)

2009

  • The U.S. government handles 4.4. million Medicare claims each day, but examines less than 3 percent of them before paying them within the legally required 30 days (BusinessWeek, The WEEK, Dec. 25, 2009-Jan. 8, 2010)
  • In 1997, the pay of U.S. CEOs was twice that of CEOs in other countries, according to compensation consultant Towers Perrin. Today that gap has narrowed, with U.S. CEOs earning only a third more than their overseas counterparts (Marketwatch.com, The WEEK, May 29, 2009)
  • Consumers spent $1.6 billion less in casinos in 2008 than the $34.1 billion they dropped in 2007, the first decline in at least a decade. In addition to the recession, smoking bans in Colorado and Illinois reduced the casinos’ take in those states (BusinessWeek, The WEEK, May 29, 2010)
  • Over the past six months, while the U.S. economy was shedding more than 500,000 jobs a month, the accounting profession was adding 3,000 jobs a month. Amid heightened scrutiny of companies’ financial books, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs for accountants and auditors will increase 18 percent between now and 2016 (Forbes, The WEEK, May 29, 2010)
  • New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that for the first time, more U.S. households have only cell phones – about 20 percent – than only landlines, at 17 percent. About 60 percent still have both, but the trend is clear (San Jose Mercury News, The WEEK, May 22, 2009)
  • Between 50 million and 100 million animals are used every year for scientific and cosmetic research, according to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, a British think tank (The Economist, The WEEK, May 22, 2009)
  • About 1 million immigrants became U.S. citizens last year – the largest one-year surge in history (Los Angeles Times, The WEEK, May 22, 2009)
  • Over the past two decades, General Motors posted losses of $60 billion – more than its total profits amassed during the previous 80 years (Financial Times, The WEEK, May 22, 2009)
  • Since the beginnings of 2009, 11, 600 securities brokers have left the industry. In all of 2002, the worst year for brokers in recent history, 11,500 bailed out of the business (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, May 22, 2009)
  • The $100 million President Obama has ordered cut from his $3.5 trillion budget represents a reduction of 0.0029 percent. If a family income of $100, 000 cut a comparable amount from its budget, it would spend just $3 less over the course of a year (The Christian Science Monitor, The WEEK, May 8, 2009)
  • Due to flooding and melting permafrost blamed on global warming, the coastal Eskimo village of Newtok, Alaska, has voted to relocate to new homes nine miles inland. Officials say Newtok is the first of scores of threatened Alaskan communities that could be abandoned because of climate change (CNN.com, The WEEK, May 8, 2009)
  • Taking advantage of the stock market rally, corporate insiders are selling stock at the fastest pace since October 2007. In the first three weeks of April, insiders of Big Board-listed companies sold $353 million worth of shares (Barron’s, The WEEK, May 8, 2009)
  • With Americans losing sleep over the economy, sales of over-the-counter sleeping pills are soaring. Advil PM sales jumped 16 percent during the four weeks ended March 22, compared with the year-ago period (The New York Times, The WEEK, May 8, 2009)
  • YouTube will lose $470 million this year, even though visitors to the site will download about 75 billion videos, according to an estimate by Credit Suisse. YouTube has to pay for a massive broadband connection and expensive licensing fees, while few advertisers want to be associated with goofy, lewd, or bizarre videos (Slate.com, The WEEK, May 1, 2009)
  • Sales of wine, beer, and other alcoholic products are on pace to rise 4.8 percent this year, to $79 billion. Many drinkers are doing their drinking at home, to save money on bars and restaurants (Associated Press, The WEEK, May 1, 2009)
  • Illegal immigrants have given birth to about 4 million children on U.S. soil, a Pew study found. These children are U.S. citizens by right of birth, making about 8.8 million people members of “mixed status” families, in which some members are citizens and some face potential deportation (San Jose Mercury News, The WEEK, May 1, 2009)
  • A glut of stolen credit- and debit-card numbers is driving down the black-market price of illicit financial data. Identity thieves now make about 50 cents per stolen number, down from as much as $16 per number in mid-2007 (Washingtonpost.com, The WEEK, May 1, 2009)
  • Automobile dealers in China sold 1.1 million vehicles in March, solidifying China’s position as the world’s largest car market (London Times, The WEEK, May 1, 2009)
  • In a novel cost-cutting move, the New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom is offering its 1,300 associates one-third of their base pay to take the year off. Associate Heather Eisenlord plans to use her stipend of $80,000 to travel the world doing pro bono work (The New York Times, The WEEK, April 24, 2009)
  • The median salary and bonuses for the CEOs of 200 large U.S. companies fell 8.5 percent in 2008, to $2.24 million, according to management consultant Hay Group. Corporate profits fell 5.8 percent over the same period.  It’s only the second pay decline since 1989 (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 17, 2009)
  • Student lender Sallie Mae is closing down call centers and IT operations in India and other foreign countries and bringing the jobs back to the United States. Sallie Mae, which employs 8,000 people nationwide, expects to add 2,000 jobs to its U.S. payroll within 18 months (Yahoo Finance, The WEEK, April 17, 2009)
  • Of the 400 richest taxpayers in the U.S., 31 paid taxes at an effective rate of less than 10 percent last year, thanks to tax deductions, tax-free earnings, and other maneuvers, according to the IRS (The Economist, The WEEK, April 17, 2009)
  • More than 86,000 Americans go to the emergency room each year because of falls caused by pets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dogs cause 88 percent of the injuries and cats 11.7 percent (CNN.com, The WEEK, April 10, 2009)
  • Some celebrities are hiring ghostwriters to write Twitter feeds to fans. Britney Spears, politician Ron Paul, and rappers Kanye West and 50 Cent are among those who have staffers writing their Twitter posts, or “Tweets.” “He doesn’t actually use Twitter,” said Chris Romero, 50 Cent’s ghostwriter, “but the energy of (his Tweets) is all him,” (The New York Times, The WEEK, April 10, 2009)
  • The AIG bailout has reached $186 billion so far, significantly greater than the annual GDP of the Philippines, home to 96 million people (Bloomberg.com, The WEEK, April 10, 2009)
  • The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. shifted most of its $64 billion in assets from bonds to stocks and real estate last fall – just in time for the crash. The move led to billions of dollars in losses, leaving the agency underfunded as corporate pension-fund failures are rising (The Boston Globe, The WEEK, April 10, 2009)
  • The credit crunch is bypassing many midsize American cities. Consumer loan balances in Huntsville, Ala., (pop. 376,000), increased 13.2 percent in last year’s fourth quarter, while balances in Yakima, Wash., (pop. 84,300), rose more than 8 percent (The Wall Street Journal, The WEEK, April 10, 2009)
  • Consumer borrowing dropped for the third straight month in December, falling by $6.6 billion to $2.562 trillion in loans outstanding. Credit card debt recorded its largest-ever monthly plunge, falling 7.8 percent (CNNmoney.com, The WEEK, February 20, 2009)
  • Only 22 percent of Americans trust financial firms, according to the newly unveiled Financial Trust Index compiled by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Only 20 percent trust the government’s handling of the financial system bailout (The Economist, The WEEK, February 20, 2009)
  • The personal savings rate of Americans is now 3 percent, roughly double that of a year ago. But with interest rates approaching zero, interest income has fallen 7.4 percent a month in the past three months – Associated Press (The WEEK, Dec. 4, 2009)
  • Twenty years ago, South Korea did so little business with China that only one weekly flight connected Seoul and Beijing. Today, China is South Korea’s top trading partner, and flights to China have soared to 642 per week – Financial Times (The WEEK, Dec. 4, 2009)
  • The most depressed U.S. housing market is Las Vegas, where prices have fallen for 37 straight months. Prices have sunk 55.4 percent from their 2006 peak – Marketwatch.com (The WEEK, Dec. 4, 2009)
  • The recession and housing collapse have halted four decades of double-digit growth for the nation’s suburbs. Twenty-four of the 53 fastest-growing bedroom communities, which grew by at least 10 percent every decade since 1970, lost population in the last two years – USA Today (The WEEK, Dec. 4, 2009)
  • More than half the members of Congress own stocks, including 68 House members who each own $100,000 worth of shares. Lawmakers’ portfolios outperform market averages by more than half a percentage point a month – The Washington Post (The WEEK, Dec. 4, 2009)
  • Every year, Americans eat 35 million cows, 115 million pigs, and 9 billion chickens and turkeys – The New York (The WEEK, Nov. 13, 2009)
  • Last year, 23 private college presidents earned total compensation of $1 million or more. Over the past five years, presidents of large universities have seen their pay rise 19.6 percent, adjusted for inflation – The New York Times (The WEEK, Nov. 13, 2009)
  • Higher living standards and rising levels of women’s education have dramatically cut fertility rates in developing world, with the average number of children dropping from six or more per family to between two and three. If current trends continue, says the U.N., the world’s population will level off at 9 billion by 2050 – The Economist (The WEEK, Nov. 13, 2009)
  • Despite the economic downturn, college keeps getting more expensive. Tuition and fees for the current school year at a private, four-year college averages #26, 273, a 4.4 increase from a year earlier. In-state tuition and fees at public, four-year schools rose 6.5 percent, to $7,020 – Time (The WEEK, November 6, 2009)
  • With the failure of seven more banks last week, the number of banks seized by the FDIC this year has reached 106. It’s the first time since the depths of the savings-and-loan crisis in 1992 that more than 100 U.S. banks have failed in a single year – American Banker (The WEEK, November 6, 2009)
  • The federal income tax rate for businesses is 35 percent, but few companies pay that much. After factoring in deductions, loopholes, and special incentives, large businesses on average paid less than 27 percent in 2006. Goldman Sachs, which recently reported a record #3 billion profit, paid an effective tax rate of 0.6 percent last year – BusinessWeek (The WEEK, November 6, 2009)
  • Fewer than one-third of young adults can calculate interest or define inflation. The young people most likely to be financially literate are college-educated males from families owning stocks and retirement savings – The NewYorkTimes (The WEEK, November 6, 2009)
  • Why a college education is overrated – Americans now believe that every young person can benefit from going to college, said Marty Nemko. It’s just not so. For students who graduate high school in the bottom 40% of their class, college is usually a waste of money: More than two-thirds of such students who enroll as freshmen, research shows, fail to earn a college degree. Colleges, which are businesses first and foremost, gladly admit these ill-prepared students, cashing their tuition payments but doing little to prepare them for the real world. When they wind up dropping out, these failed students leave campus “with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles.” When high school students show no aptitude for or interest in academics, their parents do them no favors by insisting on college. Such young people are far better off earning a career-oriented associate degree at a community college, joining the military, or enrolling in job-training programs in a thriving small business. They may not get an expensive diploma to hang on the wall – but they will get the skills they need to hold good jobs and lead happy, productive lives (THE WEEK, October 31, 2009)
  • Nearly 26 percent of wives now earn more than their husbands in households where both spouses work, up from 17.8 percent two decades ago. Among all married couples, 33.5 percent of the women make more than their husbands – MSNBC.com (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • The federal deficit has hit the $1.42 trillion mark – more than the total national debt for the first 200 years of the republic, and more than the entire economy of  India – Associated Press (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • Throughout the American West, aspen trees – beloved for their slender branches and heart-shaped leaves – are dying off by the tens of thousands, due to an influx of parasitic insects that are flourishing because of rising temperatures – LosAngelesTimes (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • More than half of adults in New York City are single. The 3.8 million singles in that city outnumber the entire population of Chicago – The NewYorkTimes (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • In 2005, Dell Computer had a market value of $100 billion, more than Hewlett-Packard and Apple combined. Today, the market values Dell at $30 billion, less than a third of the value of HP or Apple – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • What real estate crash? Hong Kong apartment prices are at a record high, with an apartment changing hands last week for $9, 197 per square foot. Real estate experts say that’s the highest price ever paid in the world’s priciest real estate market – Marketwatch.com (THE WEEK, October 30, 2009)
  • Nearly half of all U.S. workers do not receive paid sick days, making it unlikely they’ll stay home if they feel early symptoms of the flu – The Boston Glode (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • With Americans driving less due to economic hard times, deaths on U.S. highways dropped to a record low during the first six months of 2009; 16, 626 people died in traffic accidents, a 7 percent decline from the same period last year – Minneapolis Star Tribune (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • The unemployment rate of 16- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. climbed to more than 18 percent, from 13 percent a year ago. Only 46 percent of people in that age group held a job in September – the lowest proportion since the government began to keep track of such data, in 1948 – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • Since 2004, U.S. newspapers have collectively reduced their investment in news gathering by approximately $1.6 billion annually, according to an analysis by the journalism think tank Poynter Institute – Poynter.org (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • Outstanding consumer credit in the U.S. fell in August at an annualized 5.8 percent to $2.46 trillion – the seventh straight monthly decline. Most of the drop came as a result of consumers paying down revolving debt, such as credit cards – Financial Times (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • Foreign workers sent $328 billion from richer countries to poorer countries last year, the World Bank says. Such remittances dwarf the $120 billion in direct aid doled out to poorer countries by Western democracies – The Economist (THE WEEK, October 23, 2009)
  • In 2009, roughly 47 percent of all U.S. households, or 71 million, will owe no federal income tax. Most of the households that pay no taxes earn less than $30,000 a year – CNNmoney.com (THE WEEK, October 16, 2009)
  • The top 10 U.S. airlines collected $670 million in checked-baggage fees in the second quarter of 2009, a 276 percent increase from the prior year. The world’s airlines took in $101.3 billion in such “ancillary revenue” last year – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, October 16, 2009)
  • Prepackaged ground beef and hamburger patties are an amalgam of various grades of meat from multiple slaughterhouses, contain heavily treated fatty scraps and trimmings, and sometimes are contaminated with cow feces. Most meat processors do not test each batch of burger for E. coli bacteria – The NewYorkTimes (THE WEEK, October 16, 2009)
  • Traffic accidents caused by “driver distraction” – including talking on the phone, texting, putting on make-up, and looking away from the road – resulted in 5,870 fatalities in the U.S. last year, as well as 515,000 injuries, federal officials reported – Associated Press (THE WEEK, October 16, 2009)
  • Having closed a record 94 banks so far this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is running out of cash. To refill its coffers, the deposit-guarantee agency will ask member banks to prepay $45 billion in premiums – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK October 9, 2009)
  • Exelon, which operates the country’s largest fleet of nuclear reactors, has quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing the chamber’s opposition to climate-change legislation. It’s the third utility to do so, following Pacific Gas & Electric and New Mexico’s PNM Resources – The New York Times (THE WEEK, October 9, 2009)
  • CEOs’ median take-home pay in 2008 fell an average 6.4 percent from 2007, according to the Corporate Library, a research firm. Over the same period, the stock market lost 37 percent, and 2.6 million people lost their jobs – U.S. News & World Report (THE WEEK, October 9, 2009)
  • Applications to begin Social Security retirement payments are up 23 percent this year, driven by people in their 60s filing for benefits because they’ve lost their jobs – The Boston Globe (THE WEEK, October 9, 2009)
  • The $700 billion being proposed for the Wall Street bailout is about $175 billion more than school districts, states, and federal government spent last year on all forms of public education – Associated Press (THE WEEK, October 3, 2009)
  • About 583, 000 of the nation’s 15 million college students are foreign nationals. India, China, and South Korea rank highest in the number of students in the U.S – USA Today (THE WEEK, October 3, 2009)
  • Psychiatrists now spend 71 percent of patient visits prescribing antidepressants and other drugs, and only 29 percent on talk therapy, according to a John Hopkins University study. Insurance companies provide more reimbursement for medication visits than for psychotherapy – Associated Press (THE WEEK, October 3, 2009)
  • Five states – Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, Oregon and California – posted unemployment rates of 12 percent or more in August. Michigan’s 15.2 percent jobless rate was the highest in the nation. In all, 27 states and the District of Columbia reported that unemployment rose in August – CNN.com (THE WEEK, October 2, 2009)
  • Investors outside the U.S. have bought 43 percent of the $1.4 trillion in bonds issued by the Treasury so far this year; at this point last year, foreigners had purchased just 27 percent of U.S. bonds – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, October 2, 2009)
  • There are 3,300 registered lobbyists working the halls of Congress on health-care reform legislation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s six lobbyists for every member of Congress – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2009)
  • Within 10 years, for the first time in the history of mankind, the number of people 65 and older will be greater than the number of people age 5 and younger, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report – The Washington Times (THE WEEK, Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2009)
  • Toxic assets are still plaguing the nation’s banks. At least 150 U.S. lenders have 5 percent or more of their assets tied up in nonperforming loans, a level that could wipe out their equity and threaten their survival – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, Aug. 28-Sept. 4. 2009)
  • For the first time in more than a decade, the size of the average newly built American house has shrunk, to 2,065 square feet. The 7 percent decline is the equivalent of one average-size room – CNNMoney.com (THE WEEK, Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2009)
  • The family of a New York City teenager who fell down an open manhole while texting is planning to sue the city. Alexa Longueira, 15, admits she was typing on her cell phone she walked in the manhole; she suffered only a few scrapes in the 5-foot fall. But Longuiera’s mother, Kim, says the city must compensate Alexa for the trauma of landing in a sewer. “Oh my God, it was putrid,” said Mrs. Longueira. “One of her sneakers is still down there.” (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • Hard economic times have produced a major drop in the number of people filing for divorce, for the simple reason that people can’t afford to split up their households. In an industry surey, lawyers estimated that the number of divorce cases had dropped 40 percent this year – The Wall Street Journal (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • The average American man owns seven pairs of shoes, while the average woman owns 15 – USA Today (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • The 435 lawmakers in Congress belong to a total of 250 caucuses devoted to special issues, including the Songwriters Caucus; the Bourbon Caucus; the Motorcycle Caucus; and the Caucus on Qatari-American Economic Strategic Defense, Cultural, and Educational Partnership – The New York Times (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • With the recession and improved energy efficiency squelching demand for oil, the OPEC countries will cut investment in exploration and production by as much as $55 billion through 2013, the group says. Member countries have already canceled $35 billion in long-term projects – The Wall Street Journal (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • Despite the worldwide recession, metal prices are soaring. The price of scrap steel, has jumped 46 percent recently, and could force carmakers to raise prices regardless of weak demand – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • When the General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., closes down in July 27, it will end the auto industry’s 62-year presence in Delaware. GM was long the state’s second-largest employer, after DuPont – USA Today (THE WEEK, July 24, 2009)
  • Due to the recession and rising gas prices, the U.S. is in the middle of the longest and steepest decline in driving since the invention of the automobile. The 12-month total has plummeted by 123 billion miles from its peak in 2007, or more than 4 percent. That’s the equivalent of taking some 10 million drivers off the road – USA Today (THE WEEK, July 17, 2009)
  • Surging demand from mobile phone users for pornographic videos, films, and photos is straining Japan’s wireless Internet infrastructure. With millions of Japanese downloading content from more than 1,000 pron merchants, mobile Internet providers might have to ration downloads during peak periods – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, July 17, 2009)
  • Since 1997, the number of medical school graduates going into pediatrics or family medicine has dropped by 50 percent. New doctors are opting instead for specialties such as orthopedic surgery, which pays an average of #480,000 a year, instead of pediatrics, which pays $171,000 – The Dallas Morning News (THE WEEK, July 17, 2009)
  • The nation’s largest insurers, hospitals, and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staffers and retired members of Congress to help them shape health-care reform legislation. The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than #1.4 million a day on lobbying – The Washington Post (THE WEEK, July 17, 2009)
  • Italy and Switzerland have agreed to redraw their border because global warming is melting the Alpine glaciers that mark their respective boundaries. The border had been fixed since 1861 – London Daily Telegraph (THE WEEK, July 3-10, 2009)
  • Despite bans on cell phone use in many schools, one-fourth of teenagers’ text messages are sent during class, according to a new industry survey. The survey also found that many students look at information stored on their phones during tests, and that they text friends for answers – USA Today (THE WEEK, July 3-10, 2009)
  • In the last quarter alone, the volume of U.S. mail plummeted 14.9 percent, thanks to both the recession and electronic communications. The U.S. Postal Service now stands to lose up to $12 billion this fiscal year – The Washington Post (THE WEEK, July 3-10, 2009)
  • Almost one-quarter of U.S. employers that offer 401(k) plans have eliminated matching contributions. Eighty-seven percent of employees say that their employers’ matching contributions are the plans’ most important feature – FO.com (THE WEEK, July 3-10, 2oo9)
  • The median price of homes sold in Detroit in December was $7,500 – Chicago Tribune (THE WEEK, March 13, 2009)
  • Business at the California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland fell 18 percent to 22 percent in February from a year earlier, the steepest drop-off in memory. The plunge was even worse in Washington; Seattle and Tacoma were down 39 percent and 29 percent, respectively – Los Angeles Times (THE WEEK, March 13, 2009)
  • Irish discount air carrier Ryanair, the largest low-fare carrier in Europe, said it is considering charging passengers to use the restrooms aboard its planes. “One thing we’ve looked at is the possibility of maybe putting in a coin slot on the toilet door,” said CEO Michael O’Leary – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, March 13, 2009)
  • Endowments at U.S. colleges and universities fell 23 percent last yearm according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Harvard’s alone fell by $11 billion, or 30 percent – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, March 13, 2009)

2008

  • Since Russia’s invasion of Georgia in early August, the Russian stock market has fallen 30 percent, and foreign investors have pulled $35 billion out of the country. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had ordered the government to do “everything necessary” to reassure foreign investors – Bloomberg.com (THE WEEK, September 26, 2008)
  • Nicole Kidman is this year’s “most overpaid celebrity.” Kidman’s films earned just $1 for every $1 she was paid. Landing in the No. 2 slot was Jennifer Garner, whose movies earned $3.60 for every dollar she was paid. Kidman’s ex-husband, Tom Cruise, came in third; his films grossed $4 for every dollar he was paid – Forbes.com (THE WEEK, September 26, 2008)
  • 22% of hiring managers say they now screen potential employees’ profiles on Facebook and other social networking sites, up from 11% in 2006. 34% of employers who screen candidates on the Internet say they have found content that made them drop the candidate from any shortlist – CareerBuilder.com (THE WEEK, September 26, 2008)
  • 23% of married couples in the U.S. sleep in separate beds or rooms to avoid conflicts over snoring and bed-hogging and to get a good night’s sleep – National Sleep Foundation (THE WEEK, September 26, 2008)
  • In the 36 years that Merrill Lynch has been a publicly traded company, it has racked up cumulative profits of $56 billion. In the past 18 months, the financial services firm has lost about $14 billion, or about 25 percent of those profits – Financial Times (THE WEEK, September 17, 2008)
  • Hispanics, who make up about 14 percent of the U.S. labor force, represent a third of the people involuntarily shifted from full-time to part-time work in the past 12 months, the Labor Department reported – The Washington Post (THE WEEK, September 12, 2008)
  • Twenty-nine percent of people in their late 60s were working in 2006, up from 18 percent in 1985, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly 6 million workers last year were 65 or older – USA Today (THE WEEK, September 12, 2008)
  • Despite soaring housing foreclosures and turmoil in financial markets linked to easy credit, banks mailed 1.54 billion solicitations for new credit cards from April to June. The total represents a 14 percent decline from the same period last year – The New York Times (THE WEEK, September 12, 2008)
  • More American women than ever are choosing not to have children, a new Census Bureau study found. Twenty percent of women ages 40-44 have no children, double the level of 30 years ago – The New York Times (THE WEEK, September 5, 2008)
  • Every gold medal captured in the Olympics typically costs a country $37 million in training costs, according to a University of South Australia study. That could explain why the lion’s share of the medals in the Beijing Games was won by the 10 nations with the biggest economies, including the U.S., China, and Russia – MSNBC.com (THE WEEK, September 5, 2008)
  • Men and women agree that women are more honest, intelligent, compassionate, and creative. But men still get a significant edge as leaders – and from both genders. 69% of all respondents said men and women made equally strong leaders. But only 6% said women made better leaders while 21% said men did. Men and women held those views almost equally – Princeton Survey Research (THE WEEK, September 5, 2008)
  • Coca-Cola this week rolled out 10 hybrid trucks to cover delivery routes in Florida. It’s the first wave of what will eventually be a 142-truck fleet of hybrids. Compared to conventional trucks, the $85,000 hybrids cut fuel consumption by 37 percent and emissions by 32 percent – The Miami Herald (THE WEEK, August 8, 2008)
  • How to make fools of men – Just seeing a woman in a bikin so discombobulates men that their judgment is impaired, leading them to make foolish decisions about money, alcohol, and other short-term “rewards,” says a new study. Belgian researchers let a group of men fondle women’s bras and shirts and look at photos of bikinis. As their sexual arousal climbed, the men became more likely to seek immediate gratification through any means available. In the brain, the same region registers rewards from pleasurable activities such as sex, eating, drinking, and winning money. So when men are sexually stimulated but not rewarded with sex, researchers said, men crave an alternative reward. The findings explain why so many advertisers use photos of sexy women, researcher Brian Van den Bergh tells LiveScience.com. “Being exposed to a sexy girl may influence what stock you invest in or what candy bar you buy.” (THE WEEK June 27, 2008)
  • Why so many college grads move home – Now that college seniors are coming home, said Debra Bruno, we parents are paying the price for years of coddling. Ever since our kids were in nursery school, we “helicopter parents” of the baby boom have been swooping down at every sign of trouble, helping them write that paper on Othello, using flash cards to test them on French conjugation, and pushing them to realize our dreams of success. As a result, many graduates are returning from years of high-pressure education with no dreams of their own, no real taste of independence, and “absolutely no blooming idea of what they should do next.” Nearly three out of five college graduates are moving back home, so Mommy and Daddy can continue to take care of them. Instead, it’s time for us to back off. “Maybe we need to let these kids face a few years of dead-end jobs,” while sharing filthy, bug-infested apartments with other confused 20-somethings. If we don’t stop jumping in and saving them from their own mistakes, they’ll never learn to stop making them. “In fact, they’ll never even get the dirty T-shirts off the floor of their bedroom.” (THE WEEK, June 27, 2008)
  • Employees at information-intensive companies waste 28 percent of their time on unnecessary e-mail and other interruptions, according to a survey by research firm Basex. The study found that these workers spend just 25 percent of their day on “production content creation,” squandering most of it on meetings, daydreaming, and other unproductive activities – The New York Times (THE WEEK, June 27, 2008)
  • From 204 through the first half of 2007, Citigroup earned about $74 billion in profits. Since then, Citi has seen half those profits vanish, as it has written off $37.3 billion in bad debts – The New York Times (THE WEEK, June 27, 2008)
  • Companies with active political-lobbying departments return 8 percent more to investors than companies that spend little time or money courting politicians – BusinessWeek (THE WEEK, June 27, 2008)