Almost everyone loves to hate TARP. It’s a favorite political sport of liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats—and the public. A Bloomberg poll last October asked how TARP had affected the economy. Forty-three percent of respondents said it weakened the economy; 21 percent said it made no difference; only 24 percent said it helped, with 12 percent unsure one way or another. Commentators in newspapers from The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times disparage TARP. ...
After years of remarkable growth, the iconic coffee chain started to look bad. Even smell bad. In an excerpt from his new book, CEO Howard Schultz tells how he reinvented the company from the coffee bean up.
For me, the most symbolic representation of how Starbucks in 2007 was losing
its magic was the warm breakfast sandwich. I’d resisted the idea of serving sandwiches in our stores from the start, though I understood why they made financial sense. Our warm sandwiches gained a loyal following and drove up sales and profits. The more popular they became, the more our baristas had to heat them in warming ovens. And when they did, the sandwiches would inevitably drip and sizzle in the ovens, releasing a pungent smell. The rich, hearty coffee aroma in the stores was overwhelmed by singed Monterey Jack, mozzarella, and, most offensively, cheddar. Where was the magic in burnt cheese?
What we are witnessing in Wisconsin and elsewhere is the death knell of Big Labor. Once upon a time, most Americans could identify the head of the AFL-CIO. He was George Meany, the cigar-chomping ex-plumber who ran the union federation from 1955 to 1979. He was one of the nation's great power brokers, much quoted and wooed by presidents. It's doubtful that as many Americans can name Meany's present successor. (Answer: Richard Trumka, former head of the mine workers' union.) ...
Sonja Kohn never had trouble reaching Bernie Madoff, whether by phone or in person. “I would always put her in to Bernie, because he always wanted to talk to her,” recalls Eleanor Squillari, Madoff’s personal secretary for 20 years. When Kohn ventured from Europe to visit Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, a warm welcome always awaited her at his 19th-floor office in the high-rise known as the Lipstick Building on Manhattan’s East Side.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.