CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law

CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law

Former fashion jewelry saleswoman Rebecca Gonzales and former Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson have one thing in common: J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) no longer employs either. The similarity ends there. Johnson, 54, got a compensation package worth 1,795 times the average wage and benefits of a U.S. department store worker when he was hired in November 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gonzales’s hourly wage was $8.30 that year. Across the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of companies, the average multiple of CEO compensation to that of rank-and-file workers is 204, up 20 percent since 2009, the data show. The numbers are based on industry-specific estimates for worker compensation. Almost three years after Congress ordered public companies to reveal actual CEO-to-worker pay ratios under the Dodd-Frank law, the numbers remain unknown. As the Occupy Wall Street movement and 2012 election made income inequality a social flashpoint, mandatory disclosure of the ratios remained bottled up at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which hasn’t yet drawn up the rules to implement it. Some of America’s biggest companies are lobbying against the requirement.

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Why the China Dream Might Be a Mirage; Will the vested interests getting obscenely rich in Beijing let President Xi rewrite China’s model?

Why the China Dream Might Be a Mirage

If global economists are distraught over the gloomy numbers coming out of China, imagine how Xi Jinping must feel. China’s president, officially in the post for barely a month, is still consolidating his power. At home, he confronts a widening rich-poor gap and endemic pollution, not to mention bird flu and rivers overrun with dead pigs. Abroad, China’s erstwhile ally North Korea is looking increasingly unhinged. Now Xi faces intense pressure to retool the Chinese economy if he wants to build on gains the Communist Party has delivered over the last 30 years. Xi could be excused for feeling a tad bitter. He’s in this awkward position largely because of the failings of his predecessor, Hu Jintao. That may sound like an odd way to characterize Hu’s tenure. During his decade in office, China grew at rates of more than 10 percent, surpassed Japan to become the world’s No. 2 economy and matured into a key diplomatic actor. Hu and his premier, Wen Jiabao, should have used this time to wean the Chinese economy off its obsessive reliance on exports and investment. Yet too many well-placed figures were getting too rich. Modestly paid politicians mysteriously became multimillionaires. Local governments amassed mountains of debt for boondoggle projects. Hu and Wen presided over a robber-baron era that would have made Cornelius Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan blush.

By contrast, Xi has been saying all the right things about revamping the economy so that domestic demand, not sweatshop labor, drives growth. He talks about the need to attack chronic graft and to preserve the environment. He has made noises about increasing spending on research and development, and has promised to institute a more inclusive urbanization strategy. One of the most tantalizing questions in economics is whether Xi has the courage to oversee such an ambitious rewriting of China’s model. Yet the real question is this: Will the vested interests getting obscenely rich in Beijing let him? Read more of this post

Japan’s “Abenomics” detractors brace for “I told you so” moment

Japan’s “Abenomics” detractors brace for “I told you so” moment

Mon, Apr 29 2013

By Tomasz Janowski and Chikako Mogi

TOKYO (Reuters) – In the shadows of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s formidable PR machine, a small, tenacious group of “Abenomics” detractors is battling to be heard and waiting for their “I told you so” moment. Being a contrarian in a society that values consensus and conformity is hard enough, but it is even harder for academics, commentators and investors who are attacking Abe’s economic revival plan as misguided and potentially dangerous. The plan relies so much on changing attitudes formed during years of decline that critical voices are more than just part of the political debate. Criticism could undermine Abe’s efforts and there are many skeptics reluctant to openly challenge policies that are giving Japan long-forgotten optimism and hope.

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New gene therapy trials aim to mend broken hearts

Published: Tuesday April 30, 2013 MYT 8:06:00 AM

New gene therapy trials aim to mend broken hearts

LONDON: British scientists are stepping up clinical tests of gene therapy in a bid to help people with advanced heart failure pump blood more efficiently. Researchers said on Tuesday they planned to enrol patients into two new clinical trials using Mydicar, a gene therapy treatment made by privately held U.S. biotech company Celladon. After more than 20 years of research, the ground-breaking method for fixing faulty genes is starting to deliver, with European authorities approving the first gene therapy for an rare metabolic disease last November. In the case of heart failure, the aim is to insert a gene called SERCA2a directly into heart cells using a modified virus, delivered via a catheter infusion. Lack of SERCA2a leads to ever weaker pumping in people with heart failure. Although drugs offer some relief, there is currently no way of restoring heart function and the prognosis for those with advanced disease is worse than for many cancers. Read more of this post

Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home

April 29, 2013, 8:06 p.m. ET

Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home

Firms Are Helping Brands Like Expedia Serve Ads to Users Across PCs and Mobile Devices

By SPENCER E. ANTE

Advertisers already know what people are up to on their personal computers. But understanding their online whereabouts on smartphones or tablets has remained elusive. A number of companies are trying to better pinpoint mobile users’ online activity with new software and techniques they say could help advertisers track users across devices. By harvesting cross-screen identities, the ad industry could serve ads to mobile phones based on the interests people express when surfing the Web on their PCs. “Every retailer is trying to figure out cross-platform activities,” said Jeff Warren, vice president of mobile and online partner marketing at online travel company Expedia Inc.EXPE -4.27%

MK-CC833_mobile_G_20130429180034 Read more of this post

Iris Scans Seen Shrinking $7 Billion Medical Data Breach

Iris Scans Seen Shrinking $7 Billion Medical Data Breach

Iris scanners aren’t just for airport border-control agents and spy movies anymore.

Clinics and hospitals around the world are acquiring technology that identifies people based on physical traits to improve patient safety and stamp out fraud. HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA) hospitals in London, as well as health-care providers across the U.S., are buying so-called biometric technologies.

Biometrics makers, such as Safran SA (SAF), Fujitsu Ltd. (6702) and closely held AOptix Technologies Inc. and M2Sys Technology, say demand from health-care providers is growing. While ensuring the right person gets the right treatment is the main reason for buying biometrics, hospitals and patients see another benefit: reducing the risk of data breaches that can lead to identity theft.

“It’s a form of health-care fraud,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a San Diego-based nonprofit research organization. “You can make a lot of money very quickly as a criminal with a low probability of getting caught. It’s a far easier crime to commit than robbing a bank.”

Identify theft is leaving hospitals with unpaid bills and consumers on the hook for costly treatment they didn’t receive. Data breaches, which include lost and stolen information, may cost the health-care industry in the U.S. as much as $7 billion a year, according to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a Traverse City, Michigan-based organization that studies privacy, data protection and security. Read more of this post

Goldman Sachs Jim O’Neill’s Farewell Letter

Jim O’Neill’s Farewell Letter

Tyler Durden on 04/29/2013 12:03 -0400

Over the years, Jim O’Neill, former Chairman of GSAM, rose to fame for pegging the BRIC acronym (no such luck for the guy who came up with the far more applicable and accurate PIIGS, or STUPIDS, monikers, but that’s neither here nor there). O’Neill was correct in suggesting, about a decade ago, that the rise of the middle class in these countries and their purchasing power would prove to be a major driving force in the world economy. O’Neill was wrong in his conclusion as to what the ultimate driver of said purchasing power would be: as it has become all too clear with the entire world drowning in debt (and recently China), it was simply debt, which moved from the funding developed world consumption to handing out credit cards to consumers in the developing world. O’Neill was horribly wrong after the Great Financial Crisis when he suggested that it would be the BRIC nation that would push the world out of depression. To the contrary, not only is the world not out of depression as the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating economic data confirms (long since disconnected with the actual capital markets), but it is the wanton money (and bad debt) creation by the central banks of the developed world (as every instance of easing by China has led to an immediate surge of inflation in the domestic market) that has so far allowed the day of reckoning, and waterfall debt liquidations, to take place (and certainly don’t look at the stock index performance of China, Brazil, India or Russia). Despite his errors, he has been a good chap having taken much of the abuse piled upon him here at Zero Hedge somewhat stoically, as well as a fervent ManU supporter, certainly at least somewhat of a redeeming quality. Attached please find his final, farewell letter as Chairman of the Goldman Asset Management division, as he moves on to less tentacular pastures.

From Jim O’Neill

The World.

For my last Viewpoint, I have chosen to focus on the world. Attached is the opening presentation I gave at the 2013 GSAM Growth Markets Summit last Thursday in New York. It was a brilliant event and I wanted to thank all our guests who joined us as speakers, panellists, and in particular our clients who attended. The main theme was the growth that has taken place in the evolving world and the challenges that go with it.

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