Daniel McGinn

Stories by Daniel McGinn

  • Real Estate: Why the Market Will Worsen

    Economist David Lereah was once the housing market's biggest cheerleader. Now he says the bust isn't near over, and home prices still have a long way to fall.
  • MIT’s Green Energy Club

    It's a Monday night at MIT, just a few weeks before final exams. Grad students Tegin Teich and Todd Schenk could be studying or relaxing. Instead, they're hustling through a maze of basement hallways in search of notorious energy hogs: vending machines. The average soda dispenser consumes 3,500 kilowatts a year—more than four times the juice for a home refrigerator. To conserve electricity, MIT's administrators have been installing devices called Vending Misers, which use motion detectors to turn off a machine's lights and cooling systems when people aren't nearby, cutting energy consumption by 50 percent. Trouble is, MIT isn't exactly sure where all its vending machines are located, or which ones already have the devices installed. So tonight it's enlisted the MIT Energy Club to help figure it out.It's just one event on the club's very busy calendar. With 750 students, the four-year-old group is MIT's fastest-growing extracurricular organization. Many of its members aim to build...
  • Retirement Postponed

    Baby boomers who'd expected to quit work by now discover they can't afford it. Blame the meltdown.
  • Green Homes Are Red Hot

    Despite the free fall in housing prices nationwide, green homes are still red hot.
  • DVDs: Sure, We’ve Got That!

    In an age of cable-on-demand, Netflix and BitTorrent, it can be tough running a mom-and-pop video store. But give a few of these independent retailers credit for ingenuity: they've come across a novel trick for turning the competition into part of their supply chain. Instead of paying $20 or more for every obscure foreign or documentary title a customer requests, a few stores have begun using Netflix accounts to procure the title, slip it in a blank case and re-rent it to customers. "It's nice to be able to offer the latest foreign title that no one has heard of," says one Massachusetts store owner, who typically rents out 10 to 15 Netflix discs a month, saving more than $2,000 in annual inventory costs. (The $4.50-per-disc rental revenue more than covers his three Netflix accounts.) Ted Engen, president of the Video Buyers Group, which represents 2,000 independent video stores, says a small number of retailers have been exploiting Netflix in this manner for years. He thinks the...
  • Affording Your Dream Kitchen

    Marc and Nicole Lombardi got a $45,000 renovation for just $7,000 by successfully auditioning for a home-improvement show. Here's how.
  • Real Estate: Downsizing

    How moving from a 6,000-square-foot custom home to a 370-square-foot recreational vehicle helped quell one family's 'House Lust.'
  • New Real Estate Pros

    Caught between your architect and your contractor? Hire a 'renovation consultant.'
  • With Lust In Our Hearths

    The housing boom was driven by more than economics. Our exuberance for lavish renovations, custom mansions and vacation getaways was fueled partly by the media. In a new book, NEWSWEEK's Daniel McGinn explains why.
  • Toys: Webkinz Craze Wanes

    The animal toys seemed destined to be this season's must-have gift. But something happened along the way.
  • How Much for This Old House?

    Until a few years ago, Chuck Teller knew nothing about professional baseball. But in 2004 he joined a fantasy league, and today he knows every National League player. One evening, while he and a friend were obsessing over potential trades, they had a revelation: wouldn't it be great, they mused, if there was a fantasy game that allowed real-estate fanatics to find a similar fix—and in the process, educate themselves about the market?The result of that idea is Realius, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up that this week will start rolling out a series of online real-estate fantasy games. In Price Me Now, users can guess the asking prices of homes for sale, then see their accuracy ranking. Major League Investor lets them assemble property portfolios to make imaginary profits. And Fantasy Flip urges housing addicts to upload photos of their own homes and solicit guesses of how much an improvement will increase their value.With home prices slumping nationally, it seems an odd time to roll...
  • Can Garmin Maintain GPS Lead?

    Garmin is a leader in consumer GPS technology. But it now faces plummeting prices and competition from cell phones. Can the company find its way?
  • When Will the Slump End?

    At the height of the boom, author and former Wall Streeter John Talbott warned of the crisis to come. Unfortunately, his latest predictions aren't promising.
  • A Hil Spoof? It Wouldn’t Be Prudent.

    Hillary Clinton's rivals aren't the only ones feeling pressure from her big lead in the polls. Comics are also scrambling—to figure out how to do a good impression of her. On "Saturday Night Live," star Amy Poehler has yet to nail her Hillary. Poehler's performance during last month's season premiere—the first time she delivered a full-fledged speech as the senator—fell flat.Other skilled impressionists say Hillary's lack of a distinctive accent (her husband's), facial tic (Dubya's squint) or memorable phrase ("Wouldn't be prudent") has made her tricky to capture. "There aren't a lot of sharp angles to Hillary," says former "SNL" star Ana Gasteyer, who played her prior to Poehler. Teresa Barnwell, a professional Hillary look-alike since 1993, doesn't even try to imitate her voice, focusing instead on a perfect haircut, a black pantsuit and an eerie physical similarity. "She doesn't give me a lot to mimic," says Barnwell. Political impressionist Jim Morris, who does a killer (Bill)...