Archive | March 7, 2013

Subscribing to Office, Now and Forever

Microsoft Office is running out of ideas and ways to innovate. Yearly they are faced with the task of making a better product. Microsoft Word for example is already a word processor, web design program, and a database and a floor wax. It seems with all these options there is nothing really left to add. Mainly the updated versions were just the reorganization of already present features. However, what has changed was the way you purchase Microsoft Office. You can either buy the basic Office package for $140 or you can upgrade to get more advanced programs for $400. Recently they enacted an annual subscription that costs $100 a year. This new subscription offers multiple benefits however it also has some setbacks. When you purchase this annual subscription you are able to download and run office programs at five different computers. The downside is that if you only have one computer, this $100 annual fee really adds up and becomes a nuisance.

I have person experience with Microsoft Office 365 as I had to repurchase it as my trial ended. I currently spent over $200 and it is extremely outrageous to pay this amount just for basic Microsoft programs.

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/technology/personaltech/pogue-microsoft-office-365.html?pagewanted=all

-Jonathan Chan

Banks Pass Fed’s Tests; Critics Say It Was Easy

In light of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, there has been an outcry for stricter regulation on the institutions that maintain the stability of the financial world. Recently the need for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to perform tests on large banks to ensure that they will not collapse as they did during the crisis.

Many banks passed the Federal Reserve’s most recent test, but there is concern that the test was too lenient, and is allowing banks to approach more aggressive strategies too soon. Citibank, who passed the test by a large margin, has already begun to celebrate and announced a share buyback plan of $1.2 billion. Critics worry that Citibank should maintain their capital reserves in order to avoid another possible crisis.

Other banks failed the test to a worrying degree, or failed portions of the test. JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs would still lose significant portions of their capital during “turbulent times.”

The banks have also performed the same tests on their own, and while some were close to accurate, others had much more positive results, indicating overconfidence by the banks.

Banks have made the argument that the tests are fair, and that there is no possible method that could capture the market effects of the implosion of two major financial institutions on the markets. Also, many investors find optimism in the results, and the bank stocks have increased in recent months.

Source:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/feds-stress-tests-point-to-banks-improving-health/?ref=business

China Drives Record Solar Growth Becoming Biggest Market

The forecast for China’s solar-energy industry is aggressive growth, expanding at a record pace. There is potential for the $77 billion industry to become the biggest market in the world. China’s forecast is the opposite of Europe’s and is expected to continue to growing despite shrinking markets in other parts of the world.

The price of the materials themselves have gone down; “Silicon-based solar panels sank about 20 percent to 79 cents a watt in the past 12 months, after dropping by half in the previous year.” Lower costs should allow China to expand at an even faster rate, and the increased supply from China’s factories should help offset the extreme amounts of demand. In addition, the excess reserves of supplies will also keep prices down.

I find this turn of events to be surprising, in that “China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is forecast to unseat Germany as the largest solar market in 2013.” In the long run, however, China’s decision to invest in other sources of energy will greatly benefit the country as its demand for energy grows.

Written by: Constantine Kostikas

Source: Bloomberg.com

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-08/china-drives-record-solar-growth-becoming-biggest-market.html

Tracking Sensors Invade the Workplace

A study of workers wearing badges that had tiny sensors to record their movements and the tone of conversations proved to be a productive method as it raised productivity by at least 10%.  The tracking sensors provide data about how groups work well together, how long coffee breaks are taken, and the collaboration between workers together.  A benefit of having the sensor trackers, allows employees to stay on task and increase productivity. A negative aspect of the trackers is that it can be understood as violating the privacy of people and not giving the limited freedom that they deserve as an employee. Since the sensor can also track an employee’s location, it can be beneficial to make sure that everyone is doing his or her job adequately. Small companies are beginning to adapt this idea of new technology in the workforce, as it will change the way employees take their job seriously and how they interact in the office.

I agree with having sensor badges in the workplace if it will encourage workers to be more productive and discourage them from slacking off. It makes sure that workers are focused on their work rather than mingling with fellow coworkers or going off course. Including this new technology in offices will create more efficient and productive work as well as work ethics.

Written by: Samantha Chin

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Silverman, R. E. (2013, March 7). Tracking Sensors Invade the Workplace. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324034804578344303429080678.html?mod=WSJ_mgmt_LeadStoryCollection

Icahn Said to Have Floated $15-a-Share Tender Offer for Dell

03-07-2013 - Michael Dell

Recent technology headlines are buzzing about Michael Dell’s attempts to take the company private, but it would seem that Carl Icahn has other plans. Icahn, an activist investor, has opposed the previous deal that valued shares at $13.65 a share. Icahn’s first offer valued shares at $15 a share, and he expressed interest in buying more of the stock and leaving the company public. However, now, Icahn is proposing a special dividend and has voiced that he will not allow the buyout to happen. If things do not go his way, Icahn has threatened to call a vote to replace the company’s directors. There are others who feel the same way as Icahn, and many have agreed to vote against the buyout. Other possible bidders have begun to look at Dell, including Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and the Blackstone group.

Recently, I have noticed a lot of activity from Carl Icahn. His recent actions include arguing with other investors, trying to force bankruptcies, and now, he is using his influence to prevent the buyout of Dell. This latest attempt has probably prevented Michael Dell from getting a great deal in buying out the company, and the markets reflect that Dell is worth more than the original buyout price. Once again, I will be waiting to see the effects of investor intervention. These events truly make Wall Street more fun to follow.

Sources:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/in-letter-icahn-promises-to-fight-dell-over-sale/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/icahn-said-to-have-floated-idea-of-15-a-share-tender-offer-for-dell/

Beauty and the Geek

Geek-GirlWantsYou

The percentage of females going into the field of technology is already low, and it might get even lower. According to Eurostat, the European statistics agency, Britain’s technology sector is populated by only 20 percent females and the National Center for Women & Information Technology claims that for the United States that number is only 24 percent. For the United States, this is a severe dip from the 36 percent female technology workforce that was present during 1991.

To address this issue, Belinda Parmar founded Lady Geek and Little Miss Geek, Lady Geek being a consulting firm, the Little Miss Geek a non profit organization. Both of these organizations aim to increase the number of women in the technology field, with one targeting adults and the other young females as their name implies. Ms. Parmar attributes part of the reason for the declining number of females is the misconception that they have of the field. When she asked a bunch of children to draw someone who worked with technology, all of them drew men, many of whom who looked disheveled and “geeky” as well. This demonstrates that children already have an idea that females do not belong in the technology sector, a misconception not helped by the fact that children are already forced into gender roles at a young age. According to Ms. Parmar, girls are also offended by the bikini wearing models that often appear in technology expos similar to car shows, and she remarks “The technology industry is 30 years behind the car industry” in their attempts to recruit females.

Retailers Report Sales Gains

Because taxes were increased in January, it came as a surprise that many retail chains, such as Costco, Limited Brands, and Victoria’s Secret, reported strong sales for February. The month of February typically gains the least amount of sales because it is right after the holiday season and right before spring shopping begins. Wall Street analysts expected a 5.1 percent increase in Costco sales, but it increased by 6 percent from last year. The Limited Brands were also surprised with a 3 percent increase. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx also increased in sales by 1 percent. Sales would have been even higher had it not been for the snowstorms according to Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. Teenage stores such as, The Buckle and Zummies, though, struggled in February. Wall Street Analysts expect an average of a 3.3 percent increase in other retail reports.

The economy is in an indefinite position, confusing analysts as to what should be expected in sales. Because the economy is the determining factor in the retail market, it is imperative that consumers know how prices are being formed. Therefore consumers will know how this cycle operates and if the price fits an item’s value.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/business/economy/retailers-report-sales-gains.html?ref=business

Hybrid Car Charging Stations Team Up

A trending idea among the automobile industry is the production of electric, or hybrid cars. Manufacturers are becoming more aware of environmental issues that traditional gas-fueled cars have caused. Although the hybrid car industry is still in its early stages, companies are teaming up to provide more charging stations for cars running on electricity. These companies include ChargePoint and ECOtality, which are the two biggest providers of electric car charging stations. They hope to combine 15,000 charging stations so that consumers are more willing to purchase electric or hybrid automobiles. This new system will allow drivers to recharge their vehicles with the swipe of a card. This convenience would be an incentive for people to consider this emerging industry. Examples of such cars are Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Specialists who track the progress of this industry find that it is growing at a slower pace than earlier expectations. They are hoping that these stations will “stimulate sales of plug-in electric vehicles” and possibly increase in popularity by next year. With enough advertisement, automobile retailers may be able to convince the public to purchase more environmental-friendly vehicles. However, since it is still in its early stages, consumers have little incentive to go out of their way to track charging stations across the nation.

 

Written by: Melody Mark

Source:

Smith, Rebecca. “Hybrid Car Charging Stations Team Up.” Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 7 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2013.

Meet Facebook’s New News Feed

It’s finally here! The update you all have been waiting for! Or the update you never wanted to see. Nonetheless, Facebook has released the update for our “News Feed” and it will begin taking over your computer screens starting today then within the next few weeks it will take over your mini-computers also known as your smartphones. 

According to this article, one of Facebook’s main focuses for this update is to have the same outlook across all mobile devices. No longer will you see two different lay outs on your Ipad and your Android phones. Secondly, the images and content is now bigger than ever and last but not least we can customize our feeds. 

As much as all these updates seems like is for the users, for the most part is for ads, Zuckerberg did not say much when he was asked about how this will change how advertisers could take advantage of using the news feed with bigger content. How will this affect Facebook’s stocks and profits? I guess we will find out in the next few weeks.

Hope all of you are going to love your new “news feed” because I don’t want to start losing friends on Facebook just because of an update. Facebook has become part of our everyday lives and it will probably continue until the next Zuckerberg creates a new phenomenon.

 -Derby Ng

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/03/07/meet-facebooks-new-news-feed/?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

Life Tip: Adapt to Survive

The German company Adidas is starting to become the next big thing in China; having increased 12% in fourth-quarter sales with an overall 27% for the year. The company has expanded its target markets to teen and casual wear recently and even produces products “like $3,100 fur-trimmed leather trench coats” according to Laurie Burkitt of the Wall Street Journal. Adidas has been hiring designers from Swedish Fashion Company Hennes & Mauritz AB and the increasingly popular Zara from Spain to diversify their product line. Adidas’ is adapting to a changing market and is doing an exceptional job which cannot be said for their rival company, Nike. Their rival company, who has always dominated the sportswear industry in China, just posted a 12% sales decline in the last fiscal quarter.  

Nike is without a doubt scrambling to catch up and regain their dominant position in China; it is unimaginable that they would ever make the same mistake as Eastman Kodak and not cater to a changing market.  I’m sure that sometime in the near future; I will be able to walk into a Nike store to pick up a $3000 fur-trimmed leather trench coat of my very own… (Fingers crossed).

Evan Chang

Source:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324034804578345741263753994.html?mg=id-wsj

The Truth About the New Dow Jones Record High

Two days ago the Dow Jones Industrial Index hit a record high, at first glance it may have seemed like our economy is starting to get back on its feet and stand strong again, but due to inflation the current Dow Jones Index is still relatively low. With inflation taken into account Tuesday’s closing price would have been approximately 12,900 as opposed to 14,253.77, which is a low amount compared to our previous record high. Though the Dow Jones Index may be a very important factor to the stock market, it is not the most important factor and should not solely determine how our stock market is doing. The Dow Jones Index only measures the growth of 30 companies while the United States is home to many. The stock market sells shares of many different businesses, and just 30 of the top businesses cannot reflect all the others.

Of course we want the Dow Jones Index to continue to rise, but this rise may just be giving people false hopes. As opposed to making the public think that these companies are doing extremely well, the Dow Jones Index should here on take into consideration the inflation rate, since it does make a large impact on how the Index is interpreted.

Written by: Jessica Ho

Source: The Wall Street Journal

 

Lahart, Justin. (2013) Keeping Up With The Dow Jones. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324539404578342620938525646.html?mod=markets_newsreel

A Respite in Efforts by Wal-Mart in New York

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world is pulling back its effort to open a store in New York City. It was rumored to be opened in a new development in Brooklyn but did not go through because of financial agreements with the developer. If the plans went through, it would have been a huge accomplishment for Wal-Mart. Although Wal-Mart and the developer could not come to an agreement, Wal-Mart is still expecting to expand its store all across the US. The behavior of Wal-Mart has brought many negative feedbacks to New Yorkers, Christine Quinn, the city council speaker and candidate for mayor says “As long as Wal-Mart’s behavior remains the same, they’re not welcome in New York City”.

Opening a Wal-Mart in New York City could be a huge problem for the economy. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer is able to undercut all its competition. While it may offer consumers lower prices on a variety of items, the destruction of its competition could lead to the loss of many jobs. In the current economy, there is a need for more job creations, not job losses. Until Wal-Mart learns to play nice with others, it will not be welcomed in New York City.

Written by: Wilson Tang

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/business/a-respite-in-efforts-by-wal-mart-in-new-york.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&adxnnl=1&ref=business&adxnnlx=1362633318-hIhhW4huZthzdJEJXBxdTQ