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  • Is Carbon Regulation Good for Business?

    Cap-and-trade opponents have tried to portray the legislation working its way through Congress as bad for business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it would set off a "catastrophic cascade" of lawsuits and "choke off growth"—and some economists say that the House bill, if enacted, would shave 1 percent off GDP growth in the near term. But carbon regulation is coming—the EPA last month declared greenhouse gases a danger to public health—and some believe CO2 emissions are poised to become a key performance indicator, like cash flow or supply-chain efficiency. IBM is betting the new rules will boost its business. Since 2007, the company has helped 3,300 companies reduce energy use by an average of 40 percent. Most recoup their investment within 18 months, according to IBM. "For every dollar saved on energy, there's an additional $6 to $8 in operational savings," says Rich Lechner, IBM's VP for energy and environment. Just as firms like SAP made billions in the 1980s and '90s selling...
  • Small Banks Gone Bad

    Of the companies that took TARP money and owe the Treasury a quarterly installment, most have paid on schedule—but the number of banks missing deadlines is on the rise. Small banks at riskTwelve banks have missed three straight payments. The delinquent institutions tend to be small and regional. Many giants, like Goldman and B of A, have paid off their TARP loans fully. An exception is CIT Group, which got $2.3 billion and filed for bankruptcy Nov. 1.
  • Small Business Makeover: How to Manage Growth

    It's hard to complain when your company grows by more than 1,300 percent. But for Clear Align, a maker of surveillance equipment for the military, success is proving to be difficult to manage.
  • Chinese See Environment As Biggest Security Threat

    What does China see as its greatest threat? Beijing may finger the U.S., but a new poll of Chinese public opinion shows that people on the ground are more worried about the environment and domestic woes than geopolitical enemies.Conducted by the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the MacArthur Foundation, the study found that three quarters of Chinese pointed to environmental problems such as climate change as a major threat to China's security, while 67 percent cited water and food shortages, and 58 percent said internal separatists. Only half of respondents thought the U.S. posed a security threat, and 45 percent still worried about Japan (though the survey indicated that would change if Japan were to acquire nuclear weapons). The other big regional players—India, Russia, and South Korea—were seen as relatively negligible risks.Still, there is one area where foreign governments worry the Chinese: sovereign investment. Close to 80 percent opposed the idea of a Japanese...
  • Globalization Slows Down

    In November, I met with an executive at one of the private-equity firms that has sprung up in Beijing. He talked up the firm's investments in energy software and mobile communications. But exporters? He wouldn't touch them.The fact that China's smart money is now looking inward and avoiding the sector that brought it so much growth in recent years highlights a new trend that is likely to continue and spread next year. For the past few decades, goods, services, and people have been whizzing around the world at ever-greater speeds and over ever-greater distances. The presumption was that this was the most efficient way to organize the globe's economic affairs. But a backlash has set in, motivated by economics, politics, and the shift of wealth from West to East. As a result, it seems we are now experiencing a round of deglobalization.In the months after September 2008, pretty much every metric that testified to the growing interconnectedness of the global economy fell off a cliff. The...
  • A Business Idea With Legs

    LittleMissMatched's stores and Web site cater to fashion-forward tweens. But as the company grows, it's struggling to maintain its unique brand identity.