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  • Disclose No Evil

    In a much-watched Wall Street ritual, Warren Buffett will release his yearly letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway this weekend, marking the informal kickoff of annual-report season. The task shouldn’t be hard: Berkshire stock returned 21.4 percent in 2010. Other letter-writers aren’t so fortunate, such as BP CEO Bob Dudley, who will have to explain away the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. NEWSWEEK turned to annual-report consultants for suggestions on spinning some of the thorniest corporate issues.
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    How Mary Barra Is Supercharging GM

    When Mary Barra was a senior manufacturing executive a few years ago at General Motors, she spotted another maker’s car decked out in a rich metallic black color. It was unlike anything GM was offering, so she suggested the color be added to the company’s palette—and was promptly rebuffed by fellow engineers, who fretted about potential quality-control difficulties. But Barra wouldn’t take no for an answer, and before long buyers were able to get their Cadillac Escalades and Chevy Malibus in elegant “Carbon Flash.”
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    Ferguson: Selling Off Assets a Good Option for U.S.

    In my favorite spaghetti Western, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," there is a memorable scene that sums up the world economy today. Blondie (Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (Eli Wallach) have finally found the cemetery where they know the gold is buried.
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    Who’s Eating Your Lunch?

    Now as ever, success in business belongs to those ready to eat the lunch of a complacent rival—and the cycle of life completes itself as potential competitors of the future hit the scene.
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    The Credit Power Index

    Consumers are getting the short end of the stick in their dealings with banks. But the pain isn’t felt equally across the country, and the rates you get on your certificates of deposit and home loans differ depending on where you live. We’ve pored through the data to determine which cities offer their residents the best rates.
  • Obama: Taking Care of Business?

    In case you hadn’t noticed, President Obama has been on a mission to love-bomb corporate America in recent weeks, from cutting a deal to extend Bush-era tax rates to peppering the State of the Union address with paens to private enterprise. But are business leaders buying into the courtship?
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    Taking the New Bentley for a Spin in the Snow

    At least I’m not the one who crashed the Bentley. But I nearly did. It wasn’t my fault: a pile of slush, a pleasant conversation, and before I knew it I was swerving toward a snowbank. The landing was soft, and my passengers—a fellow hack and a Bentley representative—thankfully were unscathed. As for the car, well, the baby-blue Mulsanne proved forgiving. As we sat nestled in the snowbank two thoughts came to mind: first, this is what happens when you send a literary editor to do a man’s job. (I should be home skimming galleys, not braving icy country lanes!) And second, the seats are amazingly comfortable, and I would be perfectly happy spending the rest of the afternoon so ensconced. (And this was before I discovered the seat massager.) But tea awaited us, and there were more cars to drive, so my reverie ended and we carried on, gingerly. Little did we know, another snowbank was in our future.
  • Bono’s Silicon Valley Soap Opera

    An ugly fight over money is threatening the future of Bono’s Silicon Valley private-equity firm, Elevation Partners. After several rough years, a key founding partner, Marc Bodnick, is bailing out and fighting with Elevation’s leader, Roger McNamee, over his share of the firm’s profits, according to a person close to the company. The feud, which has been simmering in private, is now erupting into a nasty public battle.
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    What World Economies Can Learn From Google

    Sometimes geopolitical lessons come from the strangest places. With Eric Schmidt stepping down as CEO of Google and replaced by founder Larry Page, I can’t help but wonder if world leaders are taking note.
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    Why Mac's Modernism Is Old

    It could be that Apple’s very latest, very greatest products might not be the last gasp of modernism, after all. They could be the first hints of a design so new, it barely exists.
  • China's New World Order Demands Stronger U.S. Response

    By all appearances, Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington last week changed little in the lopsided American-Chinese relationship. What we have is a system that methodically transfers American jobs, technology and financial power to China in return for only modest Chinese support for important U.S. geopolitical goals: the suppression of Iran's and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. American officials act as though there's not much they can do to change this.
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    Gross: Are We Out of the Economic Slump Yet?

    Pundits will say President Obama’s poll numbers are rising because he can define himself against the GOP, he’s cutting deals, and he’s shifting to the center with new appointments. Bollocks. Most Americans can’t tell Bill Daley (the new, corporate-friendly chief of staff) from Rahm Emanuel (the old, corporate-friendly chief of staff). No, Obama’s slowly improving political fundamentals—just in time for his State of the Union address, thank you very much—can be attributed to steadily improving economic fundamentals. In early January, he said, “We’ve got a big hole that we’re digging ourselves out of.” But how much of the shoveling is behind us—and how much more do we have left? We offer a progress report on the recovery.
  • Marriott Hotels Go Porn-Free

    The U.S. porn industry began vibrating last week when a market-research group reported that Marriott, one of the country's biggest hotel chains, would phase out in-room porn channels--a mainstay of the adult industry. In a press release, Marriott cited changing technology trends, and admitted that revenue from the movies was down.
  • Google's Page Ready to Prove He's a Grown-Up

    For the past decade, Google’s management structure has been something of a three-ring circus. Cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin served as the main attractions—the wunderkind Stanford graduates who created the search engine that changed the world.
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    Behind the Google CEO Shake-Up

    The tech giant’s announcement that cofounder Larry Page will succeed Eric Schmidt as CEO is no shock. But the timing is key.
  • The Shadow of the '60s

    We are, it's said, living through the most wrenching period since the end of World War II. The feelings and facts are genuine, but the conclusion amounts to historical amnesia. At least one other period rivals the present for its disillusion and contentiousness—the 1960s.
  • In-Store Banks Offer Savings for the Poor

    Today, hundreds of millions among the world’s poor have access to microloans—small sums of money borrowed from financial firms, sometimes at sky-high interest rates. What they haven’t been able to acquire is something far more basic: a savings account. Few banks in developing countries have found ways to profit in poor, rural areas, leaving people with a dearth of safe options for accumulating cash. According to one recent survey, nearly 90 percent of adults in emerging markets store money at home, with friends, or with a local co-op.
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    Davos, Women, and Quotas—The Backlash

    A new rule requiring more female delegates among the power elite at the upcoming Swiss gathering isn’t just smart for business. Here's who's benefiting from gender quotas—and it isn’t only women.
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    No Cause for Cheer in Unemployment Drop

    The number of jobless Americans went down last month, but it was mainly because people stopped looking for work, although some more jobs were being filled.
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    Buying Facebook Stock on the Shadow Market

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company probably won't be offering shares to the public until 2012, at the earliest. So it will be tough to get a piece of America's fastest-growing tech company. Unless you're rich.
  • Judging Obama's Economics

    President Obama must take some comfort that the latest economic forecasts are becoming more optimistic about 2011 and beyond. The more upbeat of these (from, say, Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley) have the economy's growth accelerating next year to about 4 percent from less than 3 percent and the unemployment rate dropping from the present 9.8 percent to 8.6 percent by year-end.
  • The Hidden World of Corporate Subsidies

    Transparency and job creation receive great gusts of political lip service. Just not at the same time. Programs for job creation—each state’s unique mix of tax breaks and other inducements to new business—are among the least transparent parts of state government, according to a recent report by Good Jobs First. The D.C.-based watchdog looked at economic-development efforts in all 50 states, a total of 245 initiatives worth more than $10 billion. What it found would make an open-government activist cringe: most states fail to disclose the details of at least one key subsidy program—and 13 states are entirely dark on the subject. That prevents people from evaluating corporate-welfare programs, even as politicians tout their benefits.
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    Montana Takes Travelocity to Court

    In the annals of e-commerce, the last few years may be seen as a regulatory tipping point. Four states passed laws that require Amazon to collect local taxes, eliminating a major advantage for the site’s retailers. Now Montana is leading a similar charge against Travelocity and its ilk, saying that the travel sites evade the “bed tax”—a charge tacked onto the cost of a hotel room. In Montana, for example, the bed tax is 8 percent of the room price. Local hotel owners pay it or pass on the cost to their customers. But the state says online retailers take their cut of each room transaction bed-tax-free. “It’s not a bad gig,” Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer tells NEWSWEEK. But he’s out to make sure these “coyotes” do not get away with it for long.
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    Can Europe Help Brits and Americans Control Debt?

    By rights, the careless consumers of the developed world should be in a chastened mood. After all, it was their binge spending on houses and consumer goods—fueled by credit and mortgages from recklessly indulgent banks—that helped bring the world to the brink of financial disaster back in 2008. Americans and the British, in particular, were done in by their free-spending ways. For years, Americans had been saving only 2 or 3 percent of their income, compared with 10 percent or more in European and Asian countries. The British, in turn, amassed even larger amounts of personal debt. By 2008, average household debt had reached 183 percent of annual disposable income, the highest level of any major economy.