Matthew Philips

Stories by Matthew Philips

  • Boeing Dreamliner Delays Spelling Trouble

    After six delays and nearly a decade of an­tic­i­pation, Boeing says its 787 Dreamliner will finally make its first flight by the end of the year and that deliveries of the next-generation airliner will begin in late 2010. Sounds good, but Wall Street's not buying it. In a scathing downgrade, Morgan Stanley analyst Heidi Wood cast serious doubt on Boeing's ability to achieve either goal, citing concerns that the 787 won't get airborne until 2010, and that Boeing won't start delivering any of the 840 planes on order until spring 2011. In a conference call last week announcing a $1.6 billion third-quarter loss, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney concluded, "We know we can and must do better on our development programs."  ...
  • The Wild West of Weed

    The city of angels is rife with pot shops, but that may be about to change.
  • Tracking the $19 Trillion Bailout Funds

    It took $19 trillion in public funds to save the financial system. That came out of your pocket. But here's who doled out the money, and exactly where it went. Where the Money came From Federal Reserve $8.2 trillion; included bank loans and asset guarantees. Treasury Dept. $6.8 trillion; included TARP funds, stimulus spending, and tax benefits. Other $654 billion; included $134 billion from FHA to guarantee residential mortgages. Joint Treasury, Fed set aside $1.3 trillion to buy bad bank assets and help Citigroup. FDIC $2.3 trillion in liquidity guarantees; beefed up deposit insurance. Where It Went Wall Street $17.5 trillion; much of it went to banks and to supporting Fannie and Freddie. U.S. Citizens Got $1.8 trillion in tax benefits, subsidies, indirect mortgage guarantees. Source: It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street by Nomi Prins
  • Why the Solar Industry Is Struggling

    Last summer the future of the solar industry looked bright. Demand was high thanks to generous government subsidies, and solar stocks were soaring. But now it resembles a classic bubble. The solar industry overbuilt and is now struggling under the weight of excess capacity and falling prices. As the global recession took hold, credit dried up and governments cut subsidies, most notably in Spain, where the world's largest subsidy program blew up after spurring nearly 10 times the growth it had intended. When Spain capped it last year, the world's second-biggest solar market collapsed─and so has the price of solar panels, down 50 percent in 2009. That's great news for consumers but terrible news for manufacturers now sitting on warehouses full of overpriced panels. Most companies took huge write-downs in the second quarter, driving their stock prices even lower. Germany's biggest solar company, Q-Cells, had traded near 100 euros early last year; it's now about...
  • Private-Equity Firms Face Turning Point

    Desperate for help in cleaning up the banking mess, the FDIC last week loosened rules to make it easier for ­private-equity groups to buy failed banks. Score one for the barbarians. The new rules require firms to hold on to banks for three years, an acknowledgement of how private equity likes to operate: gobble up companies using cheap, borrowed money, strip them for parts, then spit the pieces back onto the market at a profit.  But for many buyout firms, that business model died with the credit crisis. And now some $430 billion borrowed during the buyout boom by big companies like Bain, KKR, and Blackstone will start coming due in 2012. Private-equity shops are also having a tough time raising cash--new fundraising for buyouts was down 78 percent in the first quarter compared with last year. Unable to sell companies they acquired for big bucks during the boom, buyout kings must now learn how to run the businesses they bought. Not all of them will catch on in time. Boston Consulting...
  • A Bounce in Consumer Confidence

    Rising foreclosures, unemployment near 10 percent, a $1.5 trillion budget deficit, and Americans are actually feeling better about things? Apparently so. According to The Conference Board’s latest Consumer Confidence Index, American consumers are more bullish on the future of the U.S. economy then they’ve been since December 2007, which is the exact month this whole Great Recession thing got started. The Confidence Index, which had retreated in July, bounced back in August and now stands at 54.1, up from 47.4 in July. When it comes to the present situation, consumers are less excited, 24.9 compared to 23.3 in July. Looking forward though, our expectations are considerably higher, up ten points from 63.4 in July to 73.5....
  • How Advertisers Would Sell GM and Chrysler

    When General Motors executives heard the pitch for a mea culpa TV commercial titled "Reinvention"—which is airing now and ends with the line "The only chapter we're focused on is chapter one"—the brass needed convincing. "They had to man up and own their mistakes," says Eric Hirshberg, president of ad maker Deutsch LA. For GM and Chrysler, getting people to buy their cars is a marketing challenge for the ages. Here's how a few advertising gurus would go about it. ...
  • Fast Chat: Darryl Strawberry

    In 1983, Darryl Strawberry was New York's rookie sensation—a tall, skinny, 21-year-old slugger with the sweetest swing since Ted Williams. But a blossoming career soon shriveled in a haze of substance abuse. In 2000, after a stint in prison and battling cancer, he told a judge he'd lost the will to live. A sad obituary seemed imminent. But Strawberry recuperated and cleaned himself up. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips about his new memoir, "Straw: Finding My Way." ...
  • Yellin's Book on the Problem with Customer Service

    After death, taxes and inclement weather, it's one of life's most inescapable downers: the customer-service call. Getting help can be an automated hell, an eternity of Muzak, code punching and security questions. Which is why the title of Emily Yellin's customer-friendly romp through this unfriendly world rings so true: "Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us." ...
  • Bo Jackson the Banker

    For about five years, Bo Jackson was the best athlete on the planet: a two-sport stud who belted homers all summer for the Kansas City Royals then ran over linebackers in the fall as a tailback for the L.A. Raiders. In his heyday, Jackson was the subject of Nike's classic "Bo Knows …" ad campaign. A fluke hip injury effectively ended his career in 1991, but his legend lives on. Now Bo knows something new: banking. He just signed on as a director at the recently opened Burr Ridge Bank and Trust near his home in suburban Chicago. He's off to a fiscally prudent start. For his interview with NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips, he called us collect. ...
  • 'The Next Hundred Years' Sees Steady U.S. Power

    Forecasting is, to put it mildly, an inexact science. But George Friedman, a political analyst who launched the intelligence-gathering company Strategic Forecasting in 1996, has gotten pretty adept at it. His one- and 10-year geopolitical and economic forecasts have become hot commodities at the Pentagon and on Wall Street. For his latest book, Friedman wanted to see how far into the future he could predict —so he decided to try the entire 21st century.The idea: Ignore the doomsayers, Friedman says—the age of American power has only just begun. In the next century, the United States will fight (and win) a second Cold War with a re-emergent Russia, enjoy a midcentury age of opulence and become the world's largest energy producer through a space-based system of solar panels.The evidence: With birthrates down across the industrialized world, a 300-year population boom is ending. Going forward, power will reside with the nations that are best able to attract immigrants—such as the...
  • Even to Friends, the Goose Is Cooked

    Ever since us airways flight 1549 made its miraculous safe landing on the Hudson River in January, America has had a new public enemy—a villain so resilient that annihilation through open war appears to be the only way to save ourselves. This scourge's name? The wild goose. "Get rid of the geese so that humans can live!" a frothing Sean Hannity cried on Fox News; the New York Post followed suit, advocating an all-out avian assault. In the weeks that followed the near disaster, people offered new weapons for the fight, including a technique called egg addling, which one proponent, David Feld, explains thus: "You find their eggs and cover them in corn oil. It shuts down the embryonic process." (It also gives new meaning to the phrase "your goose is cooked.") Feld, by the way, is the founder of GeesePeace, an organization devoted to the birds' humane treatment, meaning he's supposed to be on their side. But that's the life of a goose today: even your friends want you dead. Just imagine...
  • Cheat Sheet on John Maynard Keynes

    The name of vaunted British economist John Maynard Keynes has been invoked so much in recent months—as hero and whipping boy—you'd think he was a member of President Obama's economic team. In a way, he is, even though he's been dead for 62 years. With the economy in ruins, his ideas are back in vogue. But if all you know about Keynes is his name (which, for starters, rhymes with "brains"), here's a cheat sheet on the man so you can sound smart at cocktail parties. ...
  • Conservative Anglican Martyn Minns

    In 2003, after openly-gay priest Gene Robinson became the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, many congregations began breaking away from the church in protest and realigning with conservative African bishops. Now they're coalescing into the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop Martyn Minns spoke about it with NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips. ...
  • George Friedman: 'The Next 100 Years'

    Forecasting is a fancy word for trying to predict the future, and it is, to put it mildly, an inexact science. But George Friedman, a political scientist who in 1996 launched the intelligence-gathering company Strategic Forecasting, has gotten pretty good at it. His one- and 10-year geopolitical and economic forecasts have become hot commodities at the Pentagon and on Wall Street. For his latest book, Friedman wanted to see how far into the future he could predict. So he decided to try the entire 21st century. Hence, "The Next 100 Years." ...
  • "Sex and War" Examines Primitive Instinct For Both

    They are primal urges, sex and violence, but they seem like polar opposites. They define almost every species, but humans seem capable of keeping them apart. Or maybe not. In their new book, "Sex and War," research biologist Malcolm Potts and journalist Thomas Hayden (a former NEWSWEEK writer) probe the biological basis for the two acts and argue that, in fact, they're more closely connected than we might think. ...
  • Politics: Do Robo-Calls Work?

    These days, answering your phone often means listening to a recorded political message. But do robo-calls work?