Here’s What A Physical Map Of The Internet Would Look Like


The interbank repo effect and gold; the gold sell-off could be related to a squeeze on collateral which forced firms to find funding substitutions at short notice including gold-based

The interbank repo effect and gold

Izabella Kaminska | Apr 18 15:05 | Comment Share

Here’s an interesting thought. Could the gold sell-off be related to a squeeze on collateral brought on by a series of very different bank crises in Europe, starting with the SNS Reaal nationalisation and Anglo Irish emergency assistance operation and culminating with the Cyprus crisis? It’s a theory being considered by Jeffrey Snider, chief investment strategist, at Alhambra Investment Partners. The basic point being, when you haven’t got anything to repo and funding becomes tight, gold is likely to sell-off in anticipation of further banking and asset problems. This time the effect may also have been magnified because of the changing nature of the bailout game.

Screen-Shot-2013-04-18-at-15.04.12 Read more of this post

BitCoin Exchange BitFloor Shuts Down

BitCoin Exchange BitFloor Shuts Down

Tyler Durden on 04/18/2013 08:55 -0400
In an amusing development, one of the key alternative BitCoin exchanges, BitFloor, has just announced it is forced to shut down immediately. It is amusing, because one of the primary reasons attributed by the BTC pundits for the recent crash from $260 to $50 was errors and faults in the primary bitcoin exchange MtGox. Well, with alternative exchanges forced to shut down, this may mean the only “faulty” marketplace will sees it monopoly power increase further. It is also ironic because as BitFloor disclosed it “can no longer provide the same level of USD deposits and withdrawals as we have in the past.” Whatever happened to decentralized, and unencumbered by legacy fiat currencies?

bitfloor Read more of this post

Conglomerate Murugappa is sometimes dubbed southern India’s Tata Group,CampdenFB talks to its fourth-gen chairman about his plans for the family business



Conglomerate Murugappa is sometimes dubbed southern India’s Tata Group,CampdenFB talks to its fourth-gen chairman about his plans for the family business.


Walking along Parry’s Corner (pictured, right) in the southern Indian city of Chennai can be an arduous task with its milling crowds, the many street shops selling everything from fake watches to clothes, and the constant whirr of traffic. The wholesale trading district doesn’t come across as the ideal setting for the headquarters of a multi-billion-euro conglomerate, but that is where family-controlled Murugappa Group is based. Read more of this post

Xiaomi Founder Lei Jun on the Pressures and Perils of Doing a Startup; Perhaps everyone underestimates the psychological pressure. 雷军自述:小米神话背后一些不神话的东西

Xiaomi Founder Lei Jun on the Pressures and Perils of Doing a Startup

April 18, 2013 by C. Custer

China’s Xiaomi is now widely recognized as one of the country’s best startups; it’s what happens when you take a good idea combined with experienced team and adequate funding and then insert all that into the perfect market environment. The company took in nearly $1 billion in sales revenue in the first half of 2012, and things are still going well today. But as Xiaomi founder Lei Jun writes in a recent column on his Xiaomi adventure, even for an experienced founder and investor, things don’t always look that rosy when you’re just starting out:

Actually, the decision to do Xiaomi was definitely not an easy one, there were a lot of things I was worried about. For example, I was going to do mobile phones and I had never worked in mobile before. Who would believe I was capable of making a mobile phone? Who would be willing to work with me on a mobile phone? What investors would be willing to give money to me to make a mobile phone? These are the questions I was anxious about. Perhaps everyone underestimates the psychological pressure.

Read more of this post

The battle for the Swiss soul; “If you can’t trust a Swiss banker, what’s the world come to?” asked James Bond in the 1999 film “The World is Not Enough”.

Special Report: The battle for the Swiss soul

2:16am EDT By Emma Thomasson

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland (Reuters) – “If you can’t trust a Swiss banker, what’s the world come to?” asked James Bond in the 1999 film “The World is Not Enough”.

It has come to this: Swiss banks, under pressure from countries such as the United States, France and Germany, have been giving up their secrets, in some cases handing foreign tax authorities the names of their account holders. To avoid being blacklisted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Swiss government has agreed to share more information with foreign authorities hunting tax cheats.

The foreign assault has opened up a huge rift inside the fiercely independent Alpine nation.

Some bankers, as well as many academics and centrist and left-leaning politicians, think the country should bow to the inevitable and abandon strict secrecy. The pragmatists include big banks like UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, which argue that to survive they have no choice but to surrender more information about their customers and close the accounts of those who won’t come clean. Read more of this post

Apple Slowdown Threatens $30 Billion Global Supplier Web

Apple Slowdown Threatens $30 Billion Global Supplier Web: Tech

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s slowing sales are rippling through a supplier network that has long benefited from the company’s ability to churn out iPhones and iPads.

Cirrus Logic Inc. (CRUS), a maker of audio chips that gets 91 percent of its sales from Apple, this week reported an inventory glut that suggested slowing iPhone sales, and forecast fiscal first-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317), Apple’s top supplier, this month posted its biggest revenue decline in at least 13 years, indicating slower sales of smartphones, tablets and computers.

Apple’s breakneck growth to $156.5 billion in revenue last year, from $24.6 billion in 2007 when the iPhone debuted, supports an ecosystem of at least 247 suppliers across the globe. They relied on Apple to deliver $30.1 billion in orders in the latest reported quarter, according to supply-chain data compiled by Bloomberg. As a result, many are now vulnerable after building up inventory in anticipation of continued growth, according to Michael Hasler, a lecturer at the University of Texas in Austin.

“This is the downside of that really positive story of being an Apple supplier,” said Hasler, a former supply-chain executive at Applied Materials Inc. “Your fortune is directly linked to Apple. Until recently, that hasn’t been a bad thing.” Read more of this post

Taxi Driver Tale of President Xi Jinping’s Incognito Ride Causes Stir; “If you take a cab, you’ll hear about lots of pressing problems.”

Taxi Driver Tale of Xi Jinping’s Incognito Ride Causes Stir

A taxi driver’s claim that he gave President Xi Jinping a ride last month was one of the most popular topics on China’s Internet today, with readers comparing it to the secret trips made by emperors centuries ago.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like General Secretary Xi?” the driver, Guo Lixin, told his fare last month, according to a story today in Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao newspaper. “You are the first taxi driver to recognize me,” the passenger was quoted as replying.

The account in the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao was dubbed a tale of “weifu sifang,” or “traveling incognito,” a phrase used to describe emperors’ secret excursions in China’s dynastic period. In an indication that the story was sanctioned by China’s censorship apparatus, it was posted on the official website of the Beijing government and, published under the State Council Information Office.

“Every provincial and country leader should learn from Xi Jinping,” entrepreneur Xue Manzi wrote to his 11 million followers on Sina Corp.s’ (SINA) Weibo service today. “If you take a cab, you’ll hear about lots of pressing problems.” Read more of this post

Nestle reported its slowest first-quarter sales growth since 2009 on a deceleration in emerging markets; “It seems rather odd to us that Nestle claims to be holding or growing its market shares in the region.”

Nestle Has Slowest 1st-Quarter Sales Growth in Four Years

Nestle SA (NESN), the world’s biggest food maker, reported its slowest first-quarter sales growth since 2009 on a deceleration in emerging markets and amid lower prices in Europe.

Sales rose 4.3 percent excluding acquisitions, divestments and currency swings in the three months through March, the Vevey, Switzerland-based maker of DiGiorno pizzas said in a statement today. That fell short of the 4.7 percent average estimate of 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Volume increased 2.3 percent, the slowest growth since the third quarter of 2011.

Nestle said sales were hurt by “softening” in certain emerging markets, which it would not identify, compared to last year. Revenue grew 4.4 percent in the Asia, Oceania and Africa region, below analysts’ estimates and less than half of the 11 percent growth in the same quarter last year. The miss in Asia, Oceania and Africa was the “real stand out” in the results, according to Jeff Stent, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.

“This is not what people own Nestle for,” Stent wrote in a note to clients. “It seems rather odd to us that Nestle claims to be holding or growing its market shares in the region.” Read more of this post

Chinese authorities suspect human-to-human transmission of H7N9 avian flu and has admitted for the first time it’s a possibility; China confirms 82 H7N9 cases, 17 deaths

Chinese authorities suspect human-to-human transmission of H7N9 avian flu

By Adam Pasick @adampasick 4 hours ago

A worrying development in China’s H7N9 outbreak: There is growing evidence that the virus may have the ability to be transmitted between humans, especially close family members, and the Chinese government has admitted for the first time it’s a possibility.

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Thursday it could not rule out human-to-human transmission in the case of a Shanghai family—two brothers, at least one of whom has the virus, and their 87-year-old father, who was the first confirmed H7N9 fatality. A husband and wife in Shanghai also both contracted H7N9.

“Further investigations are still under way to figure out whether the family cluster involved human-to-human transmission,” said Feng Zijian, director of the health emergency center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention,according to the state-run China Daily. “Human-to-human transmission, in theory, is possible, but is highly sporadic.” Some of the H7N9 patients have had no contact with poultry, making human-to-human transmission a real possibility, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. There have been 82 cases of H7N9, with 17 fatalities. Read more of this post

People celebrate Myanmar New Year’s Day; Hnit Thit Ku Mingalar Pa – Happy New Year!

People celebrate Myanmar new year’s day

Xinhua | 2013-4-18


Novices pay homage on the first day of Myanmar new calendar year at the world-famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, April 17, 2013. On Myanmar new year’s day, people in the country used to perform meritorious deeds and Buddhists, who account for the majority of the people, usually go to the pagodas, monasteries and meditation centers where they practice meditation. (Xinhua/U Aung)


People gather on the first day of Myanmar new calendar year at the world-famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, April 17, 2013. On Myanmar new year’s day, people in the country used to perform meritorious deeds and Buddhists, who account for the majority of the people, usually go to the pagodas, monasteries and meditation centers where they practice meditation. (Xinhua/U Aung)

6c5dfa49-7c5e-4402-88cf-cdc4b6c5edac.Shwedagon Pagoda

Is Australia Next in Competitive Currency Debasement? Ross Garnaut, one of the authors of the float of the Australian dollar 30 years ago, warns RBA may have to cap dollar

Is Australia Next in Competitive Currency Debasement?

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 04:00 PM PDT

Japan, the US, the UK, Switzerland, China, and even the EU with the LTRO (and upcoming hinted at rate cuts) are all in on competitive currency debasement.
The question at hand is “who is next?” How about Australia?
The Sydney Morning Herald reports RBA May Have to Cap Australian Dollar Read more of this post

Does Auditor ‘Commentary’ in Unqualified Audit Reports Reflect Financial Misstatement Risk?

Does Auditor ‘Commentary’ in Unqualified Audit Reports Reflect Financial Misstatement Risk?

Keith Czerney University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jaime J. Schmidt University of Texas at Austin

Anne Thompson University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

April 1, 2013

According to auditing standards, explanatory language added at the auditor’s discretion to unqualified audit reports should not indicate increased financial misstatement risk. However, in practice, an auditor is unlikely to add language that would strain the auditor-client relationship absent concerns about the client’s financial statements. Using a sample of 30,825 financial statements issued with unqualified audit opinions during 2000-2009, we find that audit reports containing non-going-concern explanatory language are 17-56% more likely to be subsequently restated than financial statements without such language. This association is limited to “emphasis of a matter” language, references to the application of accounting principles, and discussion of previous restatements. In addition, the financial statement accounts noted in explanatory language typically correspond to the accounts subsequently restated. In sum, our results suggest that some auditor commentary is associated with financial misstatement risk.

15 Career Insights From Benjamin Franklin; “The noblest question in the world is ‘What good may I do in it?'”; “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

15 Career Insights From Benjamin Franklin

Vivian GiangMax Nisen and Gus Lubin | Apr. 17, 2013, 6:21 PM | 44,321 | 5


As one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin played a crucial role in forming America.

But throughout his life, he played several other imperative roles — politician, inventor, scientist, musician, entrepreneur and author. He also gave tons of great advice (which he admitted that he only tried to follow) in his serialized “Poor Richard’s Almanack” and elsewhere.

On the 223rd anniversary of his death (April 17, 1790), we compiled some of his best advice on productivity, the workplace, and careers.

“Plough deep while sluggards sleep and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.”

Franklin claimed to get up every morning at 4:00 a.m. Many of the world’s most successful CEOs also get up early, including GE‘s Jeff Immeltwho’s up at 5:30, or GM‘s Dan Akerson, who rarely makes it past 4:30 or 5 a.m. before he gets up and starts calling Asia. Some tips for turning into an early riser include skipping late day caffeine, stopping the use of technology before bed, and outlawing the snooze button.

“Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure.”

If you want to be done with your work, you must first finish it. This means that you should be as productive as possible during your work hours, and always place work ethics above your leisure time. As a young man, Franklin “seemed to work all the time, and the citizens of Philadelphia began to notice the diligent young businessman.”

“If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Then if you are your own master, be ashamed to catch yourself idle.”

An easy way to motivate yourself is to imagine that you were working for a favorite boss or mentor, and whether you’d be disappointing them.  It’s hard to argue that Franklin spent much time idle. In addition to his accomplishments as a statesman, he was a prolific inventor, notably creating bifocals and the lightning rod.

“At the working man’s house, hunger looks in but dares not enter.”

Born into a humble family, Franklin ran away at a young age to start a new life and worked hard to become one of the most powerful people in the country.

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

In other words, you make your own luck. Franklin certainly worked hard. Though he was ambivalent about religion himself, Franklin was a believer in the Puritan work ethic.

“He that pursues two hares at once, does not catch one and lets the other go.”

Although Franklin pursued an insane variety of careers, he tried to focus on one thing at a time.

Many serial multitaskers would do well to remember that multitasking can make you dumb.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Franklin’s ambivalence toward formal instruction may be why he dropped out of school at a young age. Instead he learned things the old fashioned way, by working for his blacksmith father and apprenticing at the printing shop of his brother James. Franklin left his apprenticeship too, however, and by the age of 17 was living on his own in Philadelphia and learning by trial and error.

“Work while it is called today, for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow.”

This is the reason procrastination is so dangerous. A crisis, meeting, or personal problem can easily eat up huge hunks of a day. When you’re free to work, work hard, and get the most important things done.  Franklin’s schedule, printed in his autobiography, makes it clear he lived this maxim. Not only did he work long hours, he rose early to plan his day, and reflected on his successes or failures at its end.

“Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open.”

Research has found that accepting small thefts in an organization ends up leading to larger fraud. Creating an honest and ethical workplace takes constant work.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”

In other words, be very, very careful when talking trash about people. Gossiping at the office is almost never a good idea. If there are issues, then it’s far better to address them openly. Another Franklin aphorism went even further: “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.”

“To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.”

While being too humble is a mistake, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has observedhumility is a valuable quality. First of all, it’s a good way to get people to like you. Second, a humble attitude is necessary if you want to learn from people around you — whether your boss or your intern.

“Nothing brings more pain than too much pleasure; nothing more bondage than too much liberty.”

An abundance of choice sounds nice in theory, but can actually lead to paralysis, indecision, and stress. The best path is balanced.

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

Franklin helped define the philosophy that defined America at the beginning, both justifying the revolution and preparing a system that was conducive to reform. This is good advice for your career too. As an employee, it is also your duty to come up with your own ideas to give feedback to your bosses about when processes can be improved.

“The noblest question in the world is ‘What good may I do in it?'”

Frankin’s Puritan upbringing made sure he always had a stalwart commitment to values like egalitarianism, hard work, honesty, and charity. Wharton professor Adam Grant’s research focuses on the idea that people aren’t just motivated by money, but by the positive impact they have on others. One study he did found that call center workers brought in 171% more revenue after oen of the students they were raising money for came in and told them how a scholarship had changed his life.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

In other words, keep going until things get better. Don’t give up.

Can Twitter become a multimedia powerhouse?

Can Twitter become a multimedia powerhouse?

By JP Mangalindan, Writer April 17, 2013: 3:02 PM ET


The social network might launch a music service this weekend and seek TV content deals with Viacom and others. What’s the endgame?

FORTUNE — Can a social network once entirely conceived around 140-character real-time updates transform itself into a multimedia hub? Twitter seems intent on trying.

Bloomberg reported this week that Twitter is in final negotiations with networks like Viacom (VIAB) and Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBCUniversal that could let the social network distribute TV clips and sell ads alongside them.

Over the last 12 months, Twitter has made some bold moves — acquiring startups, releasing new features, and reportedly working on TV deals, leaving small hints as to what it’s up to. Analysts agree: The social network is gunning to become a full-featured media platform.

“That’s what it’s going for long-term, but short-term, it’s a communication conduit where information flows through, kind of like a protocol of information,” explains Jeremiah Owyang, a partner with the San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group, a research and advisory firm. “They want to be more than that. They want media content to flow on top of it and to share on top of it. They want to be more than that throughway because they want to monetize that as well.” Read more of this post

Make a Note of It: Speech Recognition Apps Are Getting Better

April 17, 2013

Make a Note of It: Speech Recognition Apps Are Getting Better


Science fiction writers have long imagined a future where we simply voice-command our devices, cars or spaceships. The technology isn’t quite there yet, despite Apple’s best efforts with Siri, its digital personal assistant. But our smartphones and tablets are getting quite good at turning the spoken word into text. This app technology has the power to turn your mobile device into a powerful writing tool, without your having to lift a stylus or type on a touch screen.

Dragon Dictation, a simple speech-to-text app that is free on iOS, is probably the best known. On the left of its main page is a list of Notes you’ve previously entered; on the right is a larger section where you enter or view text inside notes. At the top of the main section is a red Record button. The app records for as long as necessary, showing the audio level of your voice as a graph at the bottom of the screen. Tapping anywhere on the screen turns off recording, or you can adjust the app to automatically detect when you’ve stopped speaking.

The app sends a digital sample of your speech over the Internet to do the speech recognition, so it requires a wireless connection. But this process is speedy, and the app soon displays your transcribed text in the main window. Naturally, it doesn’t get all the words right, perhaps because you mumbled or made some other mistake, but you may be surprised at how accurate it is over all. Read more of this post

The Success Story of Shriram Transport Finance

The Success Story of Shriram Transport Finance

by Shishir Prasad | Apr 18, 2013

R Thyagarajan’s Shriram Transport Finance has kept investors and shareholders happy, several times over. He spells out the small secrets of his huge success

Entrepreneurs create wealth, for themselves and for those who invest money or sweat in their labours. The man who has been held up as icon for wealth creation in liberalised India is Sunil Mittal: Bharti became a world-class organisation in just about 15 years, and the firm that invested in it, Warburg Pincus, made close to six times the invested amount and a profit of almost $1 billion. Though no other company has delivered such a large amount of profits, there are at least five other companies that have delivered huge returns for investors (see graphic). However, there is one firm that is special even within this small club: Shriram Transport Finance has delivered large returns for not one but multiple investors; ChrysCapital made 10 times its investment a few years ago, and TPG made seven times its investment a few weeks ago when it sold its stake in the company. Consider this: Over the past decade, Shriram Transport’s share price has gone up a mind-boggling 70 times, while Bharti Airtel’s has gone up about 25 times. Sure, the two businesses are very different. But if Bharti’s is tricky with regulatory risks, Shriram’s—which started off with financing the small truck owner—is no less treacherous. Ashish Dhawan, earlier with ChrysCapital and now with Central Square Foundation, believes the secret behind Shriram’s success is the formidable R Thyagarajan. He built the company through internal accruals and debt over 20 years before accepting any private equity. By then, his processes were rock-solid. Dhawan points to two key things Thyagarajan did to make this risky business work: “Shriram’s field officers know their customers and their needs really well. Thyagarajan also put in a system where the person who acquired a customer was the one who also collected the money from him.” These are important things, but even more crucial is Thyagarajan’s approach to business itself, which is a mix of the earth and the pragmatic. This is what the 70-year-old had to say about his approach. Not having a cellphone is a beginning.

topimg_21585_r_thyagarajan_600x400img_69689_shriram_transport Read more of this post

Ramesh Tainwala plans to sell Samsonite suitcases to small towns. Along the way, he’s creating an entirely new business model, thanks to the global partner’s policy of local autonomy

Samsonite Goes Beyond Metros With Project Pappu

by Samar Srivastava | Apr 18, 2013

That’s the code name for RAMESH TAINWALA’S plan to sell Samsonite suitcases to small towns. Along the way, he’s creating an entirely new business model, thanks to the global partner’s policy of local autonomy

Deep in Samsonite’s product development centre in Nashik, Maharashtra, the outline of a vast new project is taking shape. It’s a project that has the potential to change the fortunes of the company. If successful, it would significantly accelerate growth in India and could be replicated in other developing markets. Here’s what Samsonite is up to: The company, which has so far aimed at attracting the urban affluent user, will now also open a second front. It plans to woo the rural and mass market consumer with the help of a cheaper product. Code named Project Pappu, it aims to create a set of luggage options that cost as low as $50 (Rs 2,750). These would sell in places like the neighbourhood furniture store and clothing stores—not the usual places where people buy luggage. Leading the charge is Ramesh Tainwala, who has a 40 percent stake in the company’s business in India, the Middle East and Africa. He’s also an executive director on the board.


Samsonite.indd Read more of this post

Keep calm and carry on in India’s slumping car market

Analysis: Keep calm and carry on in India’s slumping car market

Wed, Apr 17 2013

By Henry Foy and Aradhana Aravindan

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Don’t tell Hironori Kanayama that investing almost $500 million in a market enduring its worst slump for 12 years is a questionable business decision. Honda Motor Co’s (7267.T: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) India head sees only one way forward: Keep calm and carry on.

Global carmakers such as General Motors Co (GM.N:QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) that have between them poured billions of dollars into factories, product development and marketing in India’s once-booming car market are now struggling as slow economic growth, high interest rates and rising fuel prices keep their target customers from parting with their cash.

Still, automakers like Honda say they can only grit their teeth and continue to invest – or risk missing out on what experts expect to be the world’s third-biggest car market by 2020 and a foothold in an emerging global small-car export hub. Read more of this post

Brazil begins tightening cycle as it raised interest rates for the first time in nearly two years to combat fierce inflation

Brazil begins tightening cycle to combat fierce inflation

Wed, Apr 17 2013

By Alonso Soto

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil raised interest rates for the first time in nearly two years on Wednesday, starting what is expected to be a modest tightening cycle to counter surging inflation that threatens to wreck a weak recovery in Latin America’s largest economy.

The central bank hiked its benchmark Selic rate to 7.50 percent from an all-time low of 7.25 percent. The move, expected by most economists, follows growing public uproar over rapid price increases and mounting political concerns as Brazil approaches a third year of lackluster growth in the runup to the 2014 presidential election.

The decision by the bank’s monetary policy committee, the first rate hike since July 2011, was not unanimous. Two of the bank’s 8-member board, known as the Copom, voted to hold the rate steady.

The central bank’s decision statement said that high inflation across a variety of goods and services made a monetary policy response necessary. Read more of this post

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Warns Anwar Malaysia Election Win Spells Disaster

Najib Warns Anwar Malaysia Election Win Spells Disaster

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose coalition faces its biggest challenge in 55 years, said the election offers a choice between a reforming government that’s boosted growth and a fractious opposition that could bring “catastrophic ruin” for the country.

“Change, if not managed in a way, can lead to a disastrous outcome,” the 59-year-old leader said in an interview yesterday in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative center outside of Kuala Lumpur, ahead of May 5 polls. “Countries that have been going through Arab Spring, now many people are saying it’s Arab Winter, because the dividends for the change they expected have been very disappointing.”

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is battling a revitalized opposition led by former Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Najib is under pressure to regain some of the ground lost in the last poll in 2008, when the coalition had its closest victory since independence from Britain in 1957. Both have pledged to tackle corruption, with Anwar demanding an end to cronyism and monopolies in what he called a peaceful “Malaysia Spring” in 2011.

Barisan Nasional, also known as the National Front, is fielding new candidates in one-third of parliamentary seats in a bid to woo voters who cite entrenched corruption and living costs among their most pressing concerns. Former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Economic Planning Unit chief Nor Mohamed Yakcop are among veteran politicians making way for fresh blood. Read more of this post

Can New Building Toys for Girls Improve Math and Science Skills? “The old chestnut that girls don’t build is really gone. Now there is considerable interest in girls building”

April 16, 2013, 7:03 p.m. ET

Can New Building Toys for Girls Improve Math and Science Skills?


Amid concern among parents and educators about girls’ math and engineering skills, a growing number of companies say they have an answer: toys.

Construction toys for girls, once a well-intentioned but unsuccessful part of the toy market, are blossoming. Small toy makers littleBits, GoldieBlox Inc. and Maykah Inc. are marketing products they say can bolster spatial skills, which recent research has linked to degrees and careers in these disciplines.


A Maykah Inc.’s Roominate kit, which girls can use to build dollhouses and other products, includes circuits to power a light or fan.


The Lego Friends line launched last year with items like ‘Olivia’s Tree House.’


For the founder of GoldieBlox, one aim is to get girls to love engineering.


LittleBits aims for its snap-together electronic modules to appeal to both genders. Read more of this post

In the Mood for Some Perky Jerky? The World of Caffeinated Snacks; Food products packed with caffeine are growing quickly, with U.S. retail sales up 49% to $1.6 billion since 2008

April 17, 2013, 7:55 p.m. ET

In the Mood for Some Perky Jerky? The World of Caffeinated Snacks



Loud Truck Energy Gummi Bears contain caffeine, B vitamins and other supplements.

The wait for the caffeinated marshmallow is over. In fact, with giant cups of coffee already a national obsession and energy drinks ascendant, companies are exploring whether there might be a viable caffeinated version of almost everything short of a roast suckling pig. This is a world where DoubleKick caffeinated hot sauce, Perky Jerky caffeinated beef or turkey jerky and Wired caffeinated waffles all exist. Large, well-known brands have joined small startups in trying to get a piece of the market for so-called energy products. Frito-Lay Inc., a subsidiary ofPepsiCo Inc., PEP -1.44% launched Cracker Jack’D Power Bites in Cocoa Java and Vanilla Mocha flavors late last year. The Jelly Belly Candy Co. was at the forefront of this trend when it developed caffeinated Extreme Sport Beans in 2007.

The success of caffeine-laced energy drinks like Monster and Amp has demonstrated the appetite for products that deliver a boost. Food products packed with caffeine, though still small compared with energy drinks, are growing quickly, with U.S. retail sales up 49% to $1.6 billion since 2008, according to Euromonitor International. Read more of this post

Expenses Mount for App Launches; Some Games Cost $5 Million to Get off the Ground; Game-app makers, who once relied mostly on word-of-mouth, have been forced to ratchet up the cost and fanfare of their marketing campaignso

April 17, 2013, 7:28 p.m. ET

Expenses Mount for App Launches

Some Games Cost $5 Million to Get off the Ground; ZeptoLab Lines Up Burger King



“It’s amazing what it takes to launch a new game,” says game-app maker ZeptoLab’s CEO Misha Lyalin.

Mobile-game maker ZeptoLab UK on Thursday will release “Cut the Rope: Time Travel,” its first major title in the popular “Cut the Rope” series since 2011. The launch won’t be a quiet one. If all goes as planned, the puzzle game will go live in 125 countries and in a few dozen app stores, including those run by Apple Inc., AAPL -5.50% Google Inc.GOOG -1.36% and Inc. AMZN -1.81% The game will be accompanied by tie-in merchandise including T-shirts, and eventually plush toys, as well as a 10-part animated Web series that was months in the making. The company has been building buzz for the game through a six-week promotion withBurger King Worldwide Inc., BKW -1.78% which began featuring the game in its kids’ meals last month.

Overall, ZeptoLab says it will spend around $1 million launching “Cut the Rope: Time Travel,” which traces the adventures of the green monster Om Nom as he meets versions of himself in time periods like the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. On top of that sum, which includes the costs of animation, the company is counting on some free help by promoting the game inside its other titles. By contrast, the company spent almost nothing to promote the first “Cut the Rope” game when it was released in 2010. It gave the title to a third-party publisher to distribute, then sat and waited.

Now, “it’s amazing what it takes to launch a new game,” said Misha Lyalin, chief executive of U.K.-based ZeptoLab. Read more of this post

Miners Miss Out on the Golden Age

April 17, 2013, 1:58 p.m. ET

Miners Miss Out on the Golden Age


For gold miners, the past five years should have been similar to what tech companies experienced in the late 1990s. Back then, the Internet promised a brighter tomorrow; in recent years, it felt more like there might not be one at all. Such fear suits gold, and it is still up 45% over five years, despite the recent slide. Not so the gold miners, who supposedly offer leveraged exposure to price moves. The Philadelphia Gold & Silver index, down by almost half on a five-year view, is now back to where it was in December 2008. In other words, four years or so of subsequent gold fever may as well have not happened.

MI-BV406_GOLDHE_NS_20130417174504 Read more of this post

Founders Cash Out, but Do Workers Gain? As more entrepreneurs approach retirement, many are choosing to sell their companies to their employees, rather than outside buyers

April 17, 2013, 7:02 p.m. ET

Founders Cash Out, but Do Workers Gain?

U.S. Employee-Owned Firms Top 10,000, With More Expected as Owners Retire; Critics Point to Potential Drawbacks


Mandy Cabot wants to make sure the shoemaking business that she and her husband built over the past 20 years remains in good hands after they’re gone. The 58-year-old co-founder of Dansko, a West Grove, Pa., company with more than $150 million in annual sales, says she fears that selling to a competitor, or a private-equity firm, would result in layoffs or other cost-cutting measures. So last February, the couple transferred ownership of the business to its 180 employees. By “keeping it in the family” and giving workers a real stake in its future, Ms. Cabot says she hopes the company will keep going strong for years to come. “This is our baby, but at some point we have to cease being parents and become grandparents,” she adds. As more entrepreneurs, like Ms. Cabot, approach retirement—about 30% of the nation’s business owners are 55 or older, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration—many are choosing to sell their companies to their employees, rather than outside buyers.

Known as employee stock-ownership plans, or ESOPs, the move is being embraced by smaller firms, especially those struggling to find buyers during the weak economy. Under typical plans, an owner’s interest in a business is bought out, in part or in whole—often through a bank loan—with the stock being held in trust. Employees then cash in their shares as they retire. Read more of this post

P&G, Big Companies Pinch Suppliers on Payments

April 16, 2013, 10:55 p.m. ET

P&G, Big Companies Pinch Suppliers on Payments


Procter & Gamble Co. PG -1.30% is planning to add weeks to the amount of time it takes to pay its suppliers, a shift that could free up as much as $2 billion in cash for the consumer products giant, people familiar with the matter said. P&G could use that cash to fund investments in new factories overseas or to help pay for stock buybacks. That added flexibility, however, will come at the expense of the companies that supply P&G with materials or services. The suppliers will have to tie up more of their own cash in receivables or eat the interest costs charged by banks to bridge the gap until P&G pays its bills.


The move highlights how America’s biggest companies continue to build on the aggressive cash management practices they adopted in the wake of the credit crisis. What began as a way to preserve cash when markets dried up a few years ago has become a means of freeing up money to fund expansions, buy back stock and support dividend payouts at a time of lackluster sales growth and shrinking profit margins. Read more of this post

Apple Loses Throne as World’s Biggest Company

Apr 17, 2013

Apple Loses Throne as World’s Biggest Company

By Steven Russolillo


Apple’s market cap (in blue) compared to Exxon’s over the past two years

Apple Inc. AAPL -5.50% is no longer on top.

Wednesday’s steep slide in Apple’s shares has pushed the tech giant to second place on the list of the world’s most valuable companies. Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -0.61%has reclaimed the throne.

As the chart shows, both companies have been jockeying back and forth for the top spot for much of 2013. Prior to that, Apple had been the clear-cut king from January 2012 through this past January. And before that, Exxon had been the king dating back to 2006. Apple shares recently dropped more than 5% and briefly dipped below $400 for the first time since December 2011. Exxon shares are down less than 1%. One peculiar trend that has taken place this year: The S&P 500 has set new records without its two biggest components contributing to the rally. Apple shares are down 25% this year and Exxon Mobil shares are off 0.5% Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up about 9%. Read more of this post

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicts there will be more than 1 billion Android smartphones in use by the end of the year

Android to reach 1 billion mark this year: Schmidt

April 18, 2013 – 11:05AM

Alexei Oreskovic

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicts there will be more than 1 billion Android smartphones in use by the end of the year.

The five-year-old Android software has been a huge hit for Google, giving the internet search company a strong footing with consumers who increasingly access the web from smartphones and tablets rather than PCs. Android is now the world’s No.1 mobile phone software, with more than 750 million mobile devices featuring Android in use across the world.

At the current rate, Schmidt said that Google should cross the 1 billion mark within six to nine months and will be “nearing 2 billion in a year or two”. Read more of this post

Heading off a China-style Subprime Mortgage Crisis; This debt is worrying not only because of its size. Worse, it is not transparent and we don’t know how it will be handled.

04.17.2013 18:27

Heading off a China-style Subprime Mortgage Crisis

The risk from ballooning local government debt is enormous, and to address this problem the government must learn to play its proper role

Warning of local governments’ high exposure to bad debts, the credit agency Fitch recently downgraded China’s long-term local-currency rating from AA– to A+. Officials should take note: the downgrade underlines how closely international markets are watching developments in the country.

Local government debt is nothing new, but the amount has been modest – until recently. The government’s pursuit in 2008 of a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package has pushed debt levels sky-high. The continuing growth of the shadow banking system is also a source of hidden risk.

Just how big is the debt? The National Audit Office says local governments had 10.7 trillion yuan of debt at the end of 2010. The National People’s Congress budget report, meanwhile, said principal repayment of local government bonds last year totaled 200 billion yuan. Some experts estimated a rise last year of 1 to 2 trillion yuan. Even based on conservative estimates, local government debt may now exceed 12 trillion yuan.

This debt is worrying not only because of its size. Worse, it is not transparent and we don’t know how it will be handled. Particularly of concern is the tendency of Chinese officials to let political expediency override economic sense. Read more of this post

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