26 Time Management Hacks

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work [Hardcover]

Mason Currey (Editor)


Release date: April 23, 2013

Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”

Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations”. . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”

Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).

Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.

How to Live Like an Artist, by Author Mason Currey

How to Live Like an Artist, by Author Mason Currey

By Mason Currey on April 11, 2013

You’d do well to find a supportive spouse. While there are people who had day jobs—Anthony Trollope worked at the post office for 35 years—most were either independently wealthy or had a spouse (a wife, usually) who took care of day-to-day operations so they could go about writing or painting or composing. Sigmund Freud’s wife even put toothpaste on his toothbrush.

You do have to carve out a few hours a day to work. Most artists don’t work long hours, often just three or four a day, but they work every day. They have routines. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his buildings around 4 a.m. Ernest Hemingway stopped when he felt he could go on. He believed in leaving something in the tank, so to speak, that makes you want to pick up the next day where you left off.

You don’t have to cultivate an eccentric habit, but if you have one, you’re in good company. Friedrich Schiller kept rotting apples in his workroom. He said he needed their decaying smell to feel the urge to write, whatever that’s about.

Not many drink while they work, but a lot seem to pull off an amphetamine habit. W.H. Auden took Benzedrine every morning like a multivitamin. Jean-Paul Sartre used Corydrane, fashionable among Parisian intellectuals at the time. He’d take 20 a day, chewing them like candy. It made him really, really productive. It’s tempting to look into that.

• Currey is author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. As told to Claire Suddath

How to Follow Your Instincts, by Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

How to Follow Your Instincts, by Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

By Natalie Massenet on April 11, 2013


Before I launched Net-A-Porter I came up with a number of different ideas that business associates deemed ridiculous, and I ignored my instinct and lost opportunities. When it came to starting Net-A-Porter, I found strength in being a loner, initially, and then even more strength in finding and hiring people who shared my vision. At the beginning it’s better to have fewer people who are on your side than many people who want to change what you feel is right.

In our early days, instinct was everything. Slowly experience took over, and I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I value experience but allow it to coexist with gut reaction. My instinct has told me to hire people I trust—those who have strong belief in their own convictions and the experience to back it up, but not necessarily the relevant résumé. Sometimes I make mistakes, and with hindsight I can say those decisions were made when I didn’t listen to the voice inside. The priority is creating time for silence so we can process ideas, react instinctively to them, give them strong business foundations, and ensure they are in line with the idea that launched us in the first place.

• Massenet is the founder and executive chairman of the Net-A-Porter Group.

How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator, by former governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardso

How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator [Hardcover]

Bill Richardson (Author), Kevin Bleyer (Author)

Release date: October 15, 2013


Former governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson has engaged in high-stakes, face-to-face negotiations with Castro, Saddam, the Taliban, North Korea leaders, Slobodan Milosevic, and many other of the world’s “crazy people”—and done it so well he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Now he tells these stories—from Washington, DC to the Middle East to Pyongyang—in all their intense and sometimes absurd glory.

Readers also get a fine lesson in the art of negotiation: How to prepare, how to size up your opponent, understanding the nature of power in a standoff, how to give up only what is necessary while getting what you want, and many other strategies Richardson has mastered through at-the-table experience.

Richardson’s co-writer, Kevin Bleyer, is an Emmy Award-winning writer on The Daily Show, so this book will be as entertaining as it is revelatory. It’s part memoir, part instructional guide, part humor book, and the perfect read for anyone who wants to understand how the world really works.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

BILL RICHARDSON is a two-term governor of New Mexico, former US ambassador to the UN, and former secretary of the Department of Energy. He spent 15 years in Congress and has successfully won the release of hostages, American servicemen, and prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, and Sudan.

KEVIN BLEYER is an Emmy Award-winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and author of Me The People: One Man’s Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America.

How to Get People to Listen, by Newark Mayor Cory Booker; “Statistics tell, and stories sell.” The real communicators are the ones who can motivate people to act—and ultimately to lead themselves.

How to Get People to Listen, by Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Cory Booker on April 11, 2013


My mom told me very early in life, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.” What she meant was you’ve really got to embody what you’re trying to communicate. Ultimately, that’s more important than mere words. You also have to have passion and belief. My dad worked for IBM (IBM). He said, “Look, I can’t sell products I don’t believe in. People will see right through me. But if I’m passionate and have a deep conviction about what I’m doing, I’m the greatest salesman there is.” I’ve found it to be the same way for me.

If that doesn’t work, sometimes you have to do things that push people out of their comfort zone. I’ll ask for a handheld microphone because I don’t want to be behind that podium. Sometimes I’ll jump off the stage and walk in the audience. I’ll start with a joke and get people laughing, or I’ll tell a story. Again, I go back to my father. He used to say, “Statistics tell, and stories sell.”

When I was a Newark councilperson in my late 20s and felt impotent because I couldn’t get anything done, I had to use my creativity to get people’s attention. I engaged in a hunger strike at a housing project to get people to listen. I moved into a mobile home and parked it on the worst drug corner to get people to pay attention and address the issue. My goal is to motivate people to act.

In the end, it’s not about you; it’s not about getting people to listen to you. That’s just an ego indulgence. As a society, we’ve gotten into this state of what I call sedentary agitation—we’re often upset about what’s going on but not getting up and taking action. The real communicators are the ones who can motivate people to act—and ultimately to lead themselves.

• Booker is mayor of Newark, N.J. As told to Devin Leonard

How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave, by Google’s Christopher Coleman

How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave, by Google’s Christopher Coleman

By Christopher Coleman on April 11, 2013

The No. 1 thing is to listen to what employees need. We found that they need a lot of diversity. There are so many ways to work—as a team, solo—and so many kinds of workers, from introverts to extroverts and so on. We create many different places so people can be as productive as possible—from formal and informal conference rooms to open spaces to stretching and yoga areas and gyms. One trick is to design spaces with a diversity of scale, light, and mood. It’s really hard to do, and it looks like we’re just making up these crazy spaces, but it’s very scientific. We have information from Googlers on what works and what doesn’t, we do post-occupancy surveys, we ask questions, and we listen very closely. When we design a space, we usually offer a few solutions people can react to. We go back to the drawing board, go down to two or three options, and pick one. Next we define aspects like mood, lighting, and furniture. Then we build it, and people are happy—hopefully.

With all this input, they’re basically designing their own space. One of the earlier amenities we provided were micro-kitchens. It was an amazing, vibrant place where people connected before they started their workday. Now we have micro-kitchens that are libraries, micro-kitchens that are game rooms. Also, health is very important. A few years ago we introduced sit-stand desks, and they’re used extensively now. It changes the worker’s environment all through the day and gives them flexibility to work how they want to work.

We look at every single detail through the Living Lab, which is a space where the Real Estate and Workplace Services team can experiment with innovative ideas for the office. We’re trying out three ventilation systems, six lighting systems, and furniture from 10 manufacturers. In the end, though, we’re actually very frugal in our approach to design. It’s more about creating character than money spent.

• Coleman is global design director at Google (GOOG). As told to Venessa Wong

How to Overcome Fear, by Skydiver Felix Baumgartner

How to Overcome Fear, by Skydiver Felix Baumgartner

By Felix Baumgartner on April 11, 2013

Fear isn’t something to be eliminated. It’s something to be managed. In my line of work, skydiving, fear is what keeps you from getting careless. A healthy amount of apprehension has helped me to stay safe over a 20-year career. I am cautious enough to plan each one of my jumps carefully and to reject ideas when the risks were unacceptably high. Fear gets problematic when it becomes your focal point, dominating your thoughts and distracting you from the task at hand.

Training for my Red Bull Stratos jump, I went through a period where I hated wearing the spacesuit. It’s something a lot of high-altitude pilots deal with. The suit creates a sort of sensory deprivation, and in my case its rigidity made it impossible to use techniques I’d worked my whole life to develop. Subconsciously, I think maybe the suit came to represent everything that could defeat me. It became a trigger for what was fear. As soon as I put it on, I was itching to take it off.

Photograph by Redbull/CorbisThat fear itself wasn’t irrational: It pointed out some significant operational challenges we had to address. What I needed was to get out of the endless loop of negative thinking. Our psychologists taught me some simple techniques. Sometimes in training they’d ask me a question totally unrelated to the mission, maybe a question that didn’t even make sense, just to break the cycle of negative thoughts in my head. Then I could come back to see the situation more objectively. Another technique was to actively look for the positives. At 24 miles above earth, where my blood would boil without protection, the benefits of that suit were going to far outweigh its drawbacks. Eventually the suit came to represent not potential problems but the technological solution that would keep me alive and let me accomplish my goals. We moved forward, and the program was a success.

Let your fear inform you. Get outside help if you need it. And be patient with yourself. Dealing with it might be one of the smartest things you do.

• During his record-breaking, nine-minute fall from a balloon more than 24 miles above the earth, Baumgartner broke the speed of sound, reaching almost 834 miles per hour.

How to Ask Difficult Questions, by Senator Carl Levin; A lot of people can’t afford to lose their job by being too harsh or unsubtle with questioning

How to Ask Difficult Questions, by Senator Carl Levin

By Carl Levin on April 11, 2013

In the workplace, you’ve got to consider your relationships and impacts on your career. A lot of people can’t afford to lose their job by being too harsh or unsubtle with questioning. Regardless of the environment, it’s best to be direct and clear. Don’t be arrogant or domineering; be firm.

I put an awful lot of time into preparing questions. We’ll spend days before a major hearing, like for JPMorgan (JPM) or Enron or any of the other dozen hearings we’ve had in recent years. The point of the hearing is to gather information. I master the material, to know as much as the witness. Then I listen very carefully. You’ve got to focus on what someone is saying to determine whether they’re being responsive. That’s part of listening, but that’s also part of being determined to not allow a witness to avoid answering. I focus on words. I believe that words matter. It’s important that you have time. Being chairman on a subcommittee is a big advantage: I can keep a hearing going as long as necessary—we can go hours. Time becomes the essence.

• U.S. Senator Levin (D-Mich.) is chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. As told to Keenan Mayo

How to Read a Financial Statement, by Oracle’s Mark Hurd

How to Read a Financial Statement, by Oracle’s Mark Hurd

By Mark Hurd on April 11, 2013

We covered over the company name, Smith & Wesson (SWHC), on the statements and asked Hurd how he would review them.

There are two sets of financial statements, the income statement and the balance sheet, and they work in concert. If you want to get to the health of a company, you have to look at both. What we have here is an income statement. It’s going to take you through things like revenue and expenses and tell you about the profitability of the company. That profitability generally turns into cash flow and brings you to the balance sheet.

The more years of financial data you can get, the better, because you get to see a flow. You look at things like revenue, and you look at expenses, and you can start to ask, “What happened year to year?” and start looking at the deltas between the numbers. That’s one methodology for looking at a business.

Another is to simply take the expenses and say, “If you’ve got $1 of revenue and 80¢ of expenses and your profit is 20¢, just tell me what you spend the 80¢ on.” How much on sales? How much on overhead? How much of it do you spend on R&D?

Instead of taking a line-by-line view, take a look at the relationship between expenses to revenue and gross margin to revenue. It will tell you a lot about the choices the company is making about where to invest.

This all comes with a note of caution. Even when you start to analyze these lines for their incremental ups or downs, you may not get clarity. People see a sales expense go up and assume that means there are more salespeople or more selling effort like advertising. Well, frankly, that may not be true, because inside sales expenses there could be other costs that are categorized in sales expenses, but they’re not giving you sales effort in the marketplace. Like office overhead or IT upgrades for the sales team, for example. It’s the same thing with R&D. People think R&D being up or down is some surrogate for the amount of innovation in a company. Not necessarily so: There are things that go on in the R&D line that could be overhead or some other kind of spending that’s not valuable, such as duplicative real estate or human resources costs inherited as part of an acquisition.

There are a lot of people who don’t want to spend time on this type of stuff, but the great thing about numbers is they typically don’t mislead you. They don’t purposely lie to you. If you interrogate them, they’ll reveal things to you, so you have to be able to have enough different looks at them that you can get absolute clarity.

Clearly, what we have here is a manufacturer. They have a large cost of sales, so they’re building a product of some type. They’re not a services company. I would guess they sell their products through some sort of channel. So because they have big [general and administrative] costs, and G&A exceeds their sales and marketing, my inclination would be they must sell at retail or sell through some sort of aggregator process. They have a small relative R&D bill. When you look at this from an R&D perspective, they’re spending less than 1 percent, so this must be a conveyor-belt-oriented branded product. It’s some sort of hard good.

But again, even with those two statements you may never get a complete picture. As I’m here to tell you, many people even inside have a hard time getting all the detail you’d like to get a full view of the health of the company. Then the thing always when you’re running these companies is the quality of the people driving this income statement.

The nice thing about the income statement is that if you understand the strategy, the income statement is the X-ray that shows the health of the patient.

• Hurd is president of Oracle (ORCL) and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). As told to Ashlee Vance

How to Lie, by Novelist Jesse Ball

How to Lie, by Novelist Jesse Ball

By Jesse Ball on April 11, 2013

To lie effectively, it’s crucial that you remove all feelings of discomfort and moral quandary so you can control your demeanor. If you do not, they will hang from your tail like a tin can, and you’ll be found out.

Step 1. Profile your mark. Go over him with a fine-toothed comb and figure out as many things as you can. The more you know about him, the easier it will be to deceive him.

Step 2. Decide on what you want to achieve with the lie. Then find a way to tie that lie into a concept that supports the world the mark believes in. An easy way to understand this is to imagine the mark saying the phrase that contains the lie to someone else. Imagine overhearing the mark repeating what you’ve said because it supports the basic tenets of his life. Your lie should be embedded in such a phrase. The effect of this is that the mark will not consider the truth or falsity of your claim because he accepts the truth of the entire statement.

Step 3. Do not add to the lie in a weak-kneed way in order to repair it while in the midst of your deception. Simply let it stand. Never be the one to delineate the lie’s silhouette. Permit the silhouette to stand in obscurity. If the mark wants to figure out what’s true or not, let him do that work. People are often too lazy to think illogical propositions all the way through, and that’s why they don’t realize the propositions are incorrect.

Step 4. Don’t feel that in lying you’re trying to persuade. Lying isn’t about persuasion, it’s about manipulation. If you try to persuade someone, you’re trying to change a person’s belief. That’s hard work. You don’t want to do that. You want to trick the mark into believing that your lie fits with everything else he already believes. Nobody likes to be persuaded of things. Every person believes himself stubborn. Don’t fight that! Just make the mark believe you are agreeing with him when you lie to him.

Remember, to lie well is to take advantage of the mark’s faulty perception. A great liar is a great perceiver of truth. A mark has a romanticized idea of the world. To keep that idealistic view, the mark must lie to himself. He probably does that every day, just to stay sane. In fact, everyone does this. To be human is to lie!

• Ball is an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He teaches courses on lying and wandering, among other subjects.

How to Argue Like a Pundit, by PR Expert Rich Masters

How to Argue Like a Pundit, by PR Expert Rich Masters

By Rich Masters on April 11, 2013


There are two schools of thought on how to win an argument on television. You can memorize the talking points that the DNC or the RNC sends you and spit ’em out at whoever you’re up against. We call that rip and read, which gets a little stale. The other school is the Joe Biden school of extemporaneous blather. It has the virtue of appearing more genuine and helps you connect with your audience. Face it, Biden is everybody’s favorite D.C. interview. But message discipline and Joe? Oxymoronic.

So how do you combine the message discipline of school No. 1 with the spontaneity of school No. 2? By using something I call the message diamond. When the host asks a question, the very first thing you do is answer it. Don’t duck it, don’t hide, don’t run from it. Then pivot to your message, and back that with a little Biden: an interesting anecdote, an example that amplifies the major point you’re making. Then you close out by restating your message. That way, no matter how it’s edited, no matter how it comes out, you’ve hammered home your message and added a story to make it stick.

Now, for debate shows, it takes a little something extra. First: Smile while you swing. If folks don’t like you, they won’t care if you win. Next: You want to know your opponents’ arguments as well as your own. If you know what they’re going to say in advance—and 99 percent of the time you know exactly what they’re going to say—you’ll be able to take their own argument, twist it around their neck, and kick ’em off the bridge with their own words. And finally: a big zinger, something unusual that they weren’t anticipating. That’s what viewers will take away, that something special. In Louisiana, where I cut my teeth debating, it’s what we call a lagniappe.

• Masters is a partner at public relations agency Qorvis Communications. As told to Joshua Green

How to Reinvent a Brand, by Coach CEO Lew Frankfort; Coach (COH) was a $550 million business in 2000 when it went public and a $5 billion one a decade or so later

How to Reinvent a Brand, by Coach CEO Lew Frankfort

By Lew Frankfort on April 11, 2013

Coach (COH) was a $550 million business in 2000 when it went public and a $5 billion one a decade or so later. Now we’re transforming it again into a lifestyle brand for women, with shoes, outerwear, and capsule collections of tops and bottoms. A transformation has to be careful, nurtured. You have to understand what’s distinctive about your brand and build on who you are. Consumers are smart—if you try to be something you’re not, they’ll see you as an impostor. Modify your product first and build interest and loyalty into what is coming. Understand your consumers and what motivates them. It’s generally a fatal mistake to believe you can leave your customers behind and find new ones. The opportunity is to bring them along with you. You should also know your employees and what they’re capable of. To help pull off our current transformation, we brought in three additional creative leaders from Paul Smith, Nike (NKE), and Selfridges. We do an enormous amount of research. Don’t bet the ranch without any consumer insights or experience. We triangulate between research and instincts, or gut feelings. If we do research that doesn’t reinforce our instincts, we go back and do more research. We pause. We might take a different turn. A full transformation generally takes five times what you think it will. Not time, not money, but reach. It has to be comprehensive. And you’re never done. You can’t accept any applause for things that are going well. You have to fear failure.

• Frankfort is the chairman and chief executive of Coach. As told to Susan Berfield

Ten-Year Old Girl Appeals for Help from China’s First Lady

Ten-Year Old Girl Appeals for Help from China’s First Lady

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Yaxue Cao

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In my recent blog “Lock Up and Lock Down” about crackdowns on dissidents and activists during the Two Meetings, I mentioned an incident about a ten-year-old girl whose father is a dissident in Hefei, Anhui (安徽合肥):

“In a particularly egregious episode of this year’s clamping down on dissidents, on February 27 in Hefei, Anhui (安徽合肥), four men kidnapped Zhang Anni (张安妮), the 10-year-old daughter of Zhang Lin (张林), after the school let out, and took her to the local police station. There she was detained for 20 hours without being given food or water, or even a blanket to stay warm. Later, the police also searched Zhang Lin’s home, taking away his computer, cell phone, cash, and other important necessities. The father and daughter have since been deported to Bengpu (蚌埠) where Anni, scared and refusing to talk for days, has no school to go for the time being.

“A Tsinghua-trained nuclear physicist, Zhang Lin is a veteran dissident who has served three prison terms since the 1980s, totaling 13 years.”

Anni (安妮) still has not been able to go back to school. Before the Two Meetings, Zhang Lin lived in Hefei where Anni went to Hupo Elementary School (琥珀小学) and Anni’s older sister attends college in the same city. For Zhang Lin, a single father now (I believe), Hefei is where he wants to live to be close to both children, but he has been repeatedly forced out of the city and back to Bengbu (安徽蚌埠), his hometown. For Anni, she has made it clear to her dad that she wants to go back to Hupo ES because “there are only 23 kids in my class!” (the typical class size in China is twice as big.)

Monday, in an action called “Sending Anni Back to School,” 40 some lawyers and netizens from across China arrived in Hefei to protest on behalf of Anni, demanding that the child be allowed to resume school in Hupo ES. The school’s representative came out on Monday telling the father to go to the “relevant organ” to get a guarantee that the child will never be taken away from school by unidentified people. Today the school said that Zhang Anni does not meet the requirements for enrollment. The crowd protested in front of various government sites in Hefei, including the Public Security Bureau and the Education Bureau, but no one has come out to speak to them except for scores of plain clothes and uniformed policemen watching over the crowd, videoing taping them, getting into a couple of scuffles with them, and taking some to police stations to interrogate. Having no place to turn, Anni wrote a letter today to Peng Liyuan, China’s first lady, appealing for help:

“Grandma Peng, how do you do? I’m a student at Hupo Elementary School in Hefei, Anhui. I’m ten years old. In the afternoon on February 27 this year, several policemen came to my school and took me away. A few days ago, many uncles and aunties who are concerned about me wanted to send me back to school, but the teachers in my school won’t let me. Grandma Peng, I really want to go back to school. Please, can you and Grandpa Xi tell uncle policemen and the teachers to let me go back? Zhang Anni, April 10, 2013.”

The letter is a hot topic on Tencent Weibo and has been re-posted many times. Will Grandma Peng hear Anni and help her out? We shall see. Meanwhile, I’ll let out a deep sigh: China Dream.

Boomers Push Doctor-Assisted Dying in End-of-Life Revolt

Boomers Push Doctor-Assisted Dying in End-of-Life Revolt

Claudia Burzichelli doesn’t want to die like her dad. Nine years ago, her father, already afflicted with Parkinson’s, killed himself with a gunshot to the head days after his release from a hospital where he had been treated for a heart attack.

Burzichelli, 54, now suffering from kidney and lung cancer, is haunted by her father’s violent death, even more so as she contemplates her own mortality. She hopes to find a more peaceful way to end her life, if it comes to that.

“On those days when I’ve struggled to breathe, when I think about the stresses on my family, I would hope that I might have more options than starving myself or taking my life in a violent way,” she told a panel of New Jersey lawmakers during a hearing in February on a bill to legalize assisted dying. “It comforts me to think there could be a process, a way to offer options that would not hurt my family.”

Baby boomers, like Burzichelli, a former eduction manager at Rutgers University, are at the forefront of a new movement. They brought on the sexual revolution, demanded natural childbirth, fought for legalized abortion and turned the mid- life crisis into a force for self-improvement. Now they’re engaged in transforming how Americans experience death. Read more of this post

Orphan Drugs Could Lose Their Government Subsidies; The $86 billion market for drugs that treat diseases affecting relatively few patients faces pressure from cost-conscious governments.

Orphan Drugs Could Lose Their Government Subsidies

By Simeon Bennett on April 11, 2013


Treatments for rare diseases are hot properties for drugmakers, who covet the medicines for their tax breaks, through-the-roof prices, and the exclusive marketing rights granted by government regulators. Lately, though, those orphan drugs—so named because they treat rare conditions for which there are no other approved treatments—are being slammed by an unlikely culprit: the European economic slump. As more medicines win approval to treat such diseases, affecting no more than 5 in 10,000 people, Europe’s austerity-conscious governments are applying the same pricing scrutiny to orphan drugs that they do to widely prescribed medicines for heart disease and diabetes. That’s putting the brakes on an $86 billion sector of the pharmaceutical industry that’s been growing twice as fast as the market as a whole.

“We have seen countries which were providing good access to orphan medicinal products now questioning the continuation of reimbursement,” says Yann Le Cam, chief executive officer of Eurordis, a Paris-based group that represents patients with rare diseases. Read more of this post

EU Sounds Alarm on Spain; Portugal to Request Extension on Bailout Loans; Momentum Seen Slipping in Madrid; Slovenia, France, Italy Also Raise Concern

Updated April 10, 2013, 2:00 p.m. ET

EU Sounds Alarm on Spain

Momentum Seen Slipping in Madrid; Slovenia, France, Italy Also Raise Concern


BRUSSELS—Spain’s efforts to rein in spending and improve its economic performance are running out of steam despite much work yet to do, the European Commission warned Wednesday in a report that also singled out Slovenia as a potential trouble spot. “Spain should…maintain the reform momentum” to deal with “formidable challenges ahead,” Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said after presenting an annual health check of the competitiveness of several countries in the European Union.

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In Japan, Politics Propels a Stock Market Rally

In Japan, Politics Propels a Stock Market Rally

By Nick Summers on April 11, 2013


“Let’s do it,” Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s prime minister, said Nov. 14, during a political debate with his opponent Shinzo Abe. Noda meant that it was time to dissolve parliament and hold a new election. Investors heard it as the kickoff to a rally that hasn’t stopped, with the Nikkei 225 stock index gaining more than 50 percent and returning the market to levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. The Nikkei’s best performer since Nov. 14, with a 194 percent gain through April 10, is Tokyo Tatemono, a real estate developer. Nomura (NMR), the $445 billion financial-services company, has advanced 146 percent.

Politics and prices are deeply entwined in the rally. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in December on the strength of his “Abenomics” stimulus proposals, which aim to jolt Japan out of decades of lethargy. Even at a four-year high of just over 13,000, the Nikkei is worth only a third as much today as it was at the end of 1989, when Japanese corporations seemed poised to take over the globe. What felt like a permanent recession followed, with years of deflation and anemic growth. Read more of this post

The Age of Bite-Size Entertainment; As the world goes mobile, get ready for more movies, books and music that can be snacked on in a single sitting

April 11, 2013, 11:06 p.m. ET

The Age of Bite-Size Entertainment

As the world goes mobile, get ready for more movies, books and music that can be snacked on in a single sitting.


When soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” come back to life online later this month, episodes will run for 30 minutes, about half as long as the hourlong blocks that ran on broadcast television for most of the shows’ 40-year run. Why? Because they’re likely to be watched on the go. Everyone is talking about the binge-viewing craze, but as people increasingly consume TV, movies, books and music on mobile devices, briefer is better. Shorter formats “are in-betweeners, the cream in the middle of the Oreo,” says Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation. Some of the biggest forces in entertainment are rushing out bite-size portions, not just to adapt to mobile technology but to test the appetite for heartier versions. If a serialized e-book catches fire, publishers will print the novel. A short film that goes viral on YouTube can lead to a feature film or television series. A well-received EP might prompt an album. Here’s a look at efforts underway across the entertainment industry to capitalize on the new snack-size portions.


Two Firms Amass Much of World’s Copper Supply

Updated April 11, 2013, 10:06 p.m. ET

Two Firms Amass Much of World’s Copper Supply

Commodities Traders Pay to Divert Shipments From Other Warehouses; Manufacturers Worry About Access


Two major commodities-trading firms have amassed much of the world’s copper supplies in their warehouses, partly by paying to divert shipments away from other storage hubs, traders and analysts say.

Red Alert: Some trading firms have stashed the world’s copper supply in warehouses in New Orleans, Antwerp and Johor. The moves have sparked worries about the possibility of delayed deliveries and higher costs for industrial consumers.

This concentration of copper supplies has sparked concerns among industrial consumers of the metal. Some manufacturers and builders say they are worried that those stockpiles of copper—which is used in goods including automobiles, circuit boards and plumbing fixtures—could prove tough to procure if demand were to pick up sharply or output from mines were disrupted.

TAYLOR_TEMPLATEMI-BV316_COPPER_G_20130411170905 Read more of this post

Mainland Chinese are the fastest growing tourist population in the world, spending $102 billion in 2012

April 11, 2013, 9:31 a.m. ET

China’s Travelers Bring Gifts Abroad



Mainland Chinese are the fastest growing tourist population in the world, spending $102 billion in 2012. The WSJ’s Wei Gu tells Deborah Kan how spending patterns are changing as more Chinese travel abroad.

Bad air, a new strain of bird flu at home and easier visa rules in countries like Japan and the U.S. are adding to the incentives for Chinese to take an overseas holiday.

Those who do will join the millions of Chinese tourists already remaking the global travel industry.

Chinese travelers have become the world’s top source of tourist spending, according to the World Tourism Organization, with outlays of $102 billion in 2012. That flood seems likely to keep swelling. Less than 3% of China’s 1.4 billion people are passport holders, according to China’s Ministry of Public Security. By contrast, U.S. Travel Association figures show, 30% of Americans and 75% of Britons are.

As the Chinese numbers climb, there will be some surprising winners and losers. Read more of this post

Boom-Bust Vietnam Beats Emerging Stocks as State Considers Role

Boom-Bust Vietnam Beats Emerging Stocks as State Considers Role

Vietnam, the world’s most volatile stock market since 2009, is leading developing-nation gains this year as the Communist government slows inflation and considers easing its grip on the economy.

The benchmark VN Index (VNINDEX) posted more 20 percent swings than every major equity market in the past four years as policy makers grappled with consumer prices, currency devaluations and bad bank loans. Their efforts helped cut inflation to 6.6 percent in March from 23 percent in 2011 and produced the first annual trade surplus since 1992.

Now the government is preparing to remove bad debt from lenders, ease restrictions on foreign ownership of listed businesses and change the constitution to limit the “leading role” of state companies that comprise about a third of gross domestic product. The VN Index has climbed 22 percent in 2013, the most among equity gauges in 47 frontier and emerging markets. After adjusting for volatility, the measure had the 16th-biggest gain, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Read more of this post

Brazilian oil services provider Lupatech missed interest payments on $275 million of perpetual bonds two weeks after reporting annual losses doubled from a year earlier

Brazil’s Lupatech Misses Dollar Bond Payment After Loss Doubles

Lupatech Ezion

Brazilian oil services provider Lupatech SA (LUPA3) missed interest payments on $275 million of perpetual bonds two weeks after reporting annual losses doubled from a year earlier. Read more of this post

Bitcoin Trade Halted by Mt. Gox Exchange After Price collapsed by 46 percent to $123.40 from $230 in the past 24 hours

Bitcoin Trade Halted by Mt. Gox Exchange After Price Drop

Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based exchange that handles bitcoin transactions, halted trading of the virtual currency to let the market “cool down” after a plunge in price.

The price of bitcoins collapsed by 46 percent to $123.40 from $230 in the past 24 hours, according to quotes on Mt. Gox’s website. In a statement, the company cited an increase in trade volume and not a cyber-attack, which has caused shutdowns in the past.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to buy and sell a broad range of items — from cupcakes to electronics to illegal narcotics. Online exchanges across the world offer a market for bitcoins to be bought and sold against dollars, euros, yen and other currencies. Bitcoin has been subject to large swings in value in recent days.

“People started to panic, started to sell bitcoin in mass (panic sale) resulting in an increase of trade that ultimately froze the trade engine,” Mt. Gox said in the statement. Read more of this post

Meet the Bitcoin Millionaires; As of April 2, there were about 250 wallets with more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins

Meet the Bitcoin Millionaires

By Max Raskin on April 10, 2013


Many people have lost some data while reformatting a computer hard drive. Jered Kenna lost more than that. In 2010 he erased from his computer 800 Bitcoins that have been worth more than $200,000. Kenna isn’t upset: He has plenty more. He says he bought his first batch of virtual currency, 5,000 coins, at 20¢ each. On April 10, Bitcoins traded for as much as $258 each, according to Tradehill, a Bitcoin exchange in San Francisco, before plunging more than $100. Like other enthusiasts, Kenna shrugs off the volatility. While he won’t disclose his total holdings, he says, “I’m happy to be considered a member of the Bitcoin millionaires’ club.” Read more of this post

Tata’s Nano, the World’s Cheapest Car, Is Sputtering

Tata’s Nano, the World’s Cheapest Car, Is Sputtering

By Siddharth Philip on April 11, 2013


The old adage says a person can’t be too rich or too thin. Given Tata Motors’ (TTM) disappointing experience with the Nano, the $2,000 compact it introduced with great fanfare in 2008, it’s clear a car can be too cheap—at least for consumers who don’t want to be associated with a low-end ride. Ratan Tata, then chairman of parent Tata Group, made headlines a decade ago when he ordered up a “people’s car” that would appeal to Indian families who previously could only afford to travel by scooter. But Tata Motors has sold just 229,157 Nanos since deliveries began in 2009, and sales in March were off by 86 percent from a year earlier.

Tata Managing Director Karl Slym insists the company won’t kill the tiny, egg-shaped car. It will soon add improvements to breathe new life into the model, a move that would ultimately bring its price closer to those of rivals. The Nano’s marketing “didn’t jell with anybody,” Slym says. Scooter drivers weren’t attracted because others “don’t think I’m buying a car, they think I’m buying something between a two-wheeler and a car. Anyone who had a car didn’t want to buy it, because it was supposed to be a two-wheeler replacement.”

Slym points to the Pixel, a Nano-based concept vehicle Tata first showed in 2011, as an example of how the brand could evolve. The two-door hatchback takes the skeleton of the Nano and adds innovative doors that rotate up rather than open out, automatic transmission, and a diesel engine. Yet Haritha Saranga, an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, says in an e-mail that “just creating variations is not going to help increase sales. It is important to change the current image of Nano as a cheap car.” Read more of this post

Vaccine to Fight New Bird Flu Strain Could Be Elusive

April 11, 2013, 8:09 p.m. ET

Vaccine to Fight New Bird Flu Strain Could Be Elusive


Developing a vaccine to protect people from the new H7N9 flu virus that recently emerged in eastern China could prove to be especially difficult, flu experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a paper Thursday.

As with many new flu viruses, it isn’t clear yet whether the new flu will create only “sporadic human infections from an animal source” or whether it will “signal the start of an influenza pandemic,” CDC flu scientists Timothy Uyeki and Nancy Cox wrote in an article published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition, they wrote, “there are many challenges to making H7N9 vaccines available.” Vaccines against H7 avian flu viruses that have already been studied haven’t produced a strong immune response in humans, they wrote. And like any new vaccine, it would likely take many months to produce and distribute, they wrote, adding “extensive efforts” to develop vaccines are under way. Read more of this post

UN fears bird flu virus may spread

UN fears bird flu virus may spread

BEIJING — Another person died from a new strain of bird flu in China yesterday, state media said, bringing to 10 the number of deaths from the H7N9 virus, as a United Nations body said it was concerned the virus could spread across borders in poultry.


BEIJING — Another person died from a new strain of bird flu in China yesterday, state media said, bringing to 10 the number of deaths from the H7N9 virus, as a United Nations body said it was concerned the virus could spread across borders in poultry.

The latest victim was in the commercial hub of Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency reported, where several of the 38 cases to date have been found. All of the cases so far have been found in eastern China. Read more of this post

Surge in Loans Puts Beijing in a Quandary; Stubborn Lending Spree Confronts Leaders With Choice of Cracking Down, and Risk Slowing Growth—or Face Crisis Later

Updated April 11, 2013, 3:33 p.m. ET

Surge in Loans Puts Beijing in a Quandary

Stubborn Lending Spree Confronts Leaders With Choice of Cracking Down, and Risk Slowing Growth—or Face Crisis Later



BEIJING—A surge in lending that defied Beijing’s efforts to mop up liquidity presents China’s new leaders with the tough prospect of risking a budding growth revival by cracking down too hard to head off a bad-loan crisis.

China has been on a credit binge since the global financial crisis of 2008, initially a deliberate strategy by leaders to finance investment and support economic growth. But the growing level of debt—domestic debt has topped 200% of gross domestic product, by some estimates—has prompted concerns that China faces a banking bust in the coming years. To forestall that prospect, Chinese regulators have tried to get banks and other financial institutions to somewhat dial back credit.

So far, those efforts have failed. Data Thursday showed that bank loans rose sharply in March to 1.06 trillion yuan ($171 billion) from 620 billion yuan a month earlier. A broader measure of credit that includes bonds and nonbank lending—also called total social financing—hit 2.54 trillion yuan in March, up from 1.07 trillion yuan the month before and just shy of January’s record.

“This is a reflection of the fact that China now has a much more diverse credit system” than it once did, said Charlene Chu, a Fitch Ratings Inc. senior director. “In the past, the authorities could give guidance to banks and it would be quickly followed. Now there are many other financial institutions out there” that don’t necessarily follow informal directions of the regulators. Read more of this post

A global shakeup of share markets, flow of funds and indices looms with the opening up of China’s US$3 trillion mainland share market, one of the world’s last big investment frontiers

Published: Friday April 12, 2013 MYT 8:37:00 AM

A global shakeup of share markets, flow of funds and indices looms

LONDON: The opening up of China’s US$3 trillion mainland share market, one of the world’s last big investment frontiers, is setting the stage for a huge shake up of equity indices and global fund flows.

The A-shares of the giant stock markets of Shanghai and Shenzhen have long been no-go areas for international investors, who have been largely confined to the offshore, Hong Kong-listed H-shares that represent China in global equity indices.

These have taken most of the $50 billion or so that EPFR Global estimates has flowed to China equity funds since 1995.

That is about to change. Beijing is expanding its QFII and RQFII quotas, schemes that allow foreigners to buy local assets. Just under 200 foreign money managers now hold total quotas worth nearly $42 billion. Regulators signalled earlier this year that a 10-fold quota increase is on the cards. Read more of this post

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