Showing posts from November, 2012

Boeing Renews Labor Talks

Boeing Co and the union that represents its 23,000 engineers and technicians agreed to resume labor talks earlier this week. Both sides have now been sparring over mediation of the talks as well as dates and times to meet.  Boeing stated late Friday that the union declined its offer to attend meetings with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Monday.  The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, said that it contacted the mediator before Boeing, and have been accommodating in the places to meet. It has taken a bigger initiative in setting up dates, and has been the one waiting for Boeing to confirm these meetings.  "I've responded that we have a mediator assigned to us ... but if Boeing is dissatisfied with that mediator, they need to take that up with FMCS not us," Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said. "We also don't see the need to meet in a hotel. I offered to meet on Boeing property if that would make them comf

New Hope for a Fiscal Cliff Solution

                       President Barack Obama met with a group of CEOs from some of America’s largest companies yesterday regarding the upcoming fiscal cliff. Approximately 14 CEOs participated in the meeting, including Llyod Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo.             The CEOs want the government to act fast before a combination of over $500 billion of spending cuts and tax hikes takes effect in 2013. Economists predict that the policies could cut GDP growth by up to four percent and raise unemployment by one percent, sending the US back into a recession. Losses from the economy are estimated at $280 billion from ending the Bush era tax cuts, $125 million from the expiration of the payroll-tax holiday, $40 million from expiring emergency unemployment benefits, and $98 billion from spending cuts under the Budget Control Act, as estimated by J.P. Morgan analysts.             Republican and Democratic party leaders in Congre

Disney and the Biggest Entertainment Franchises

At the beginning of this month, Disney announced their acquisition of Lucasfilm, keeper of the Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion. Once again, the mass media giant is proving that it is willing to pay huge money to land a big franchise. Three years ago, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion and that led directly to the production and release of a series of massively successful superhero movies, including Thor and Captain America last year and The Avengers earlier this year, which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide in box offices. In addition, Disney and Marvel currently have a number of sequels to these movies and even more related films in the pipeline. Dating back even further, Disney’s acquisition of Pixar for $7.6 billion brought with it the animation studio’s list of film series, including Toy Story and Monsters franchises. With the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney is hoping to take over, revive, and build upon the existing Star Wars franchise in a similar fash

Apple Takes US Market Back

                 I’m sure you’ve seen them everywhere—on the bus, on train, people going to work, kids, your professor, etc. Yes, you guessed it, the iPhone. Living in NYC, one of the most iPhone dense cities in the world, you really cannot miss this device. The noticeable white earbuds, people taking quick photos and the variety of protective covers are ubiquitous in this small city, and even more prominent amongst NYU students. Even more so with the most recent launch of the iPhone 5, to the extent that Apple’s smartphones now, once again, lead the entire US market.                 If you go to NYU and you see all of these people with iPhones, it might be hard to believe that Android phones had actually controlled the highest percentage of the market for a period of time, up until the release of the iPhone 5. According to Kantar, Apple will continue to amass even more of the market with the holiday season coming up. In Western Europe, demand for iPhones remains high but authorized de


Last week, in each of my three classes, we were covering some extremely difficult material.    The students came to class well prepared for the most part.    They did a good job of analyzing and discussing the issues.    They came up with reasonable solutions.     They were certainly not perfect but they demonstrated a solid understanding of some truly complicated concepts.    I was proud of them.    They had come a long way. We are now down to the last few days of the semester.    I was extremely happy to see such a good effort here near the end.    Even a grump like me had to be pleased.    Virtually every student in class had demonstrated a real improvement since we began back in August.    They not only knew more financial accounting but, just as importantly to me, they knew more about how to be good students.    At times like these, I am always reminded of a quote that I heard a number of years ago, one that I think is terribly relevant to teaching:    "In the confrontati

The Cyber Monday Deal No One Was Looking For

On Cyber Monday, shoppers found deals on laptops, cameras, phones, ... and even Amazon's debt! Today, along with many online deals on consumer goods, Amazon also sold bonds to raise over $3 Billion for what what the company calls "general corporate purposes". Taking advantage of low interest rates, Amazon tapped into the bond market to build its cash reserves for the first time since May 1998, when the company was junk-rated. The bonds were met with mixed reactions. S&P rated the bonds double-A-minus, a relatively strong rating just 2 notches below the US government's rating. The company is expected to generate strong revenues with its products such as the Kindle over the next few years. Moody's however, rated the debt at Baa1, 2 notches lower than S&P's rating. Amidst the chaos of the start of the holiday shopping season, it seems most people were concerned with the hottest deals on electronics. According to a few investors, however, these

The End of an Era: Bal Thackeray

Bal Thackeray, the controversial Hindu leader, died this past Saturday, November 17, at the age of 86. He had been sick in the weeks leading up to his death and ultimately passed from cardiac arrest. Thackeray is known throughout India for his Hindu nationalist beliefs and for inciting violent riots on their behalf. Many supporters refer to him as Hindu Hriday Samrat (emperor of Hindu hearts), while critics refer to him and his followers as thugs. Thackeray, who was originally a cartoonist, became involved in politics during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (United Maharashtra Movement) in the 1950s. It championed the creation of an Indian state named Maharashtra that would unite all Marathi speaking people and bolster their identity. The capital of the state would be the city of Bombay, India’s financial capital. This goal was achieved in 1960. Thackeray then founded the political part, Shiv Sena (Shiva’s Army), in 1966, and has led it since then. The Shiv Sena and Thackeray are

The Expiration of Hostess: Who's at Fault?

It is very likely that many of you have already run to your nearest supermarkets and bought the remaining few boxes of Twinkies. After all, the iconic company, with whom our childhoods are associated with, has come to an unfortunate demise. Hostess filed for liquidation today, after a hard-fought battle with the baker’s union over contract negotiations, ending all business operations immediately. It is only natural after today’s events to determine who the real culprit at fault is. Some blame it on poor financial decisions made by management to raise their own salaries multiple times despite declining customer demand. This explanation is justified given a lack of improvement to Hostess’ financial statements after three previous sales and two prior bankruptcies. But that answer seems almost too simple and straightforward for such complicated failed negotiations. Hostess had warned its bakers that a strike would force the company into filing for liquidation. The union nonetheless decide

The Global Player Exchange

With the global football transfer market worth an estimated $3 billion, financial holding companies are increasingly interested in buying up the transfer rights of the world's biggest stars. And the returns can be enormous. The transfer market is a complicated system but can be simplified to this: most football teams have "youth systems" that train young talent of all ages. Barcelona's La Masia Academy, from which Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta were developed, can be considered the pinnacle of these youth systems. If players are good enough, they can make the first team as teenagers. In some cases, opposing teams do youth transfers to continue developing a young player but to also bring them to the club for cheaper than a full fledged star. From then on, each time the young player changes clubs, his original club that developed him will get a "development fee" and the rest of the money involved in the transfer will be given to the team transferring t

East versus West -- No Pain, No Gain

A few days ago, this blog moved over 65,500 page views since its inception.    It is amazing how often I receive emails from teachers (around the world) who start out by saying “A friend of mine who teaches at my school told me about your blog.”    Consequently, I like to stop now and then and say Thanks!!! to everyone who passes along a good word about this blog.    If not for you, I would be writing all this stuff to myself.    Whether you agree or disagree, I really appreciate your passing along the blog entries. ** One of the things that I try to do in my classes is talk with my students about my teaching philosophy.   I want them to understand that I do not do things randomly.    I try to have a reason for what I do and I want that reason to be logical.    I think students appreciate being brought into the conversation about their own education.    I think they are more likely to do what the teacher asks if they understand that there is a reason.    To use an overused cliché, I

The Gray Depression

     In the next few years, the average age of the US population is going to start drastically increasing. By 2025, the population of people over 65 will almost double in the United States, while the population of working-age adults and children will only rise by about 15%. Clearly, since the older-aged population is growing faster than the middle-aged and youngsters, the American population’s average age will rise. The reason that the growth rate of the older population is so high is because the first of the people born in the baby boomer era have just begun retiring and will continue to do so until 2029. The baby boomers were people born after World War II, in the years 1946 to 1964 (marked in red on the graph below). These years were marked by high post-war birth rates, and now, 65 years later, they are aging and perhaps also taking a toll on the US economy, which is just now getting back on track.      The graying of the US population has serious implications on the economy. As a p


Joe’s Top Ten List This past Thursday, I had the great good fortune to lead a 3 ½ hour discussion of teaching at the New Faculty Seminar put on by the Virginia Community College System.    The VCCS had about 150 folks there who had joined their teaching ranks in the last year or so.    We spent our time together chatting about how to become a better college teacher. Whenever I lead this type of discussion, I always like to give the participants something at the end that will keep the thought process moving forward even after we have parted.    Here is what I typed on Wednesday night and then distributed to these folks after our time together on Thursday. ** One of my favorite class assignments is to ask my students to read a chapter and pick the top 5 or 10 things they found important in the material.    I think that does a lot for them.    It forces them to think more deeply about the subject as they read.    It also requires them to make an evaluation, something that is not often