What Dell tells us about the entrepreneur’s endless fight

What Dell tells us about the entrepreneur’s endless fight

ON JUNE 14, 2013

What is it about the barrier between public markets and private companies? Traversing it in either direction seems fraught with peril. Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, and others saw their fortunes take a turn for the worse once they became public. And Dell is nowundergoing a battle to take the company private again.

Entrepreneurs are used to fighting for the companies they are building, and Michael Dell’s recent experience shows that in many respects that fight is never really over. To recap: After announcing a leveraged buyout intended to take Dell private and retool the company for a long-term recovery (free from those vexing quarterly performance targets), Michael Dell faced a counter-bid from longtime activist investor Carl Icahn. Read more of this post

Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results

Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results [Hardcover]

Drew Boyd (Author), Jacob Goldenberg (Author)


Release date: June 11, 2013

Want a truly creative organization? Then think Inside the Box. The traditional view says that creativity is unstructured and doesn’t follow rules or patterns. That you need to think “outside the box” to be truly original and innovative. That you should start with a problem and then “brainstorm” ideas without restraint until you find a solution. Inside the Box shows that more innovation— and better and quicker innovation—happens when you work inside your familiar world (yes, inside the box) using a set of templates that channel the creative process in a way that makes us more—not less—creative. These techniques were derived from research that discovered a surprising set of common patterns shared by all inventive solutions. They form the basis for Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT, now used by hundreds of corporations throughout the world, including industry leaders such as Johnson & Johnson, GE, Procter & Gamble, SAP, and Philips. Many other books discuss how to make creativity a part of corporate culture, but none of them uses the innovative and unconventional SIT approach described in this book. With “inside the box” thinking, companies and organizations of any size can creatively solve problems before they develop—and innovate on an ongoing, systematic basis. This system really works! Read more of this post

Think Inside the Box: Forget brainstorming: People are at their most innovative when they work within the constraints of what they know

June 14, 2013, 6:59 p.m. ET

Think Inside the Box

Forget brainstorming: People are at their most innovative when they work within the constraints of what they already know.



The most consequential ideas are often right under our noses.

When most CEOs hear the word “innovation,” they roll their eyes. It conjures up images of employees wasting hours, even days, sitting in beanbag chairs, tossing Frisbees and regurgitating ideas they had already considered. “Brainstorming” has become a byword for tedium and frustration. Read more of this post

In Glittering Gems, Reading Earth’s Story; Gems — each forged with its own recipe of elements, temperature and pressure — offer precious clues to some of the most profound questions about the life of our planet.

June 13, 2013

In Glittering Gems, Reading Earth’s Story


A jewelry store is an archive of the Earth. Every gem fixed to every ring or necklace was forged deep inside our planet, according to its own recipe of elements, temperature and pressure. But it has taken a while for geologists to decode the cookbook for gems. Jade, for example, puzzled geologists for decades. “For a long time people looked at this crazy rock, and it didn’t make any sense,” said George Harlow, a geologist at the American Museum of Natural History. But thanks to the research of Dr. Harlow and other geologists, jade now has a back story: It formed in dying oceans. The discovery of gems like rubies and jade thus signifies more than just a new supply of bling in jewelry stores. It tells geologists some important things about the planet.

Read more of this post

From spiders, a material to rival Kevlar; Synthesizing spider thread—which is stronger than nylon and even some metals—has been a vexing problem. Until now

From spiders, a material to rival Kevlar

June 14, 2013: 12:40 PM ET

Synthesizing spider thread—which is stronger than nylon and even some metals—has been a vexing problem. Until now.

By Michael Fitzpatrick

FORTUNE — A Japanese startup claims it has cracked the knotty problem of commercializing the production of spider thread, which, gram for gram, is stronger than nylon and even many metals. As one of nature’s super-substances — tougher than Kevlar yet significantly more elastic — scientists have been trying to recreate it in significant quantities in labs but failed for over a decade. By using synthetic biology techniques and a new spinning technology, Spiber Inc. says it is now able to produce many hundreds of grams of synthetic spider silk protein where past efforts have produced less than a few grams over a day. One gram of the special protein produces about 9,000 meters (29,527 feet) of silk.

Read more of this post

Diminutive Dads of the Animal Kingdom; Fathers in many species play a minor role—and they don’t always survive the act of mating

June 14, 2013, 7:24 p.m. ET

Diminutive Dads of the Animal Kingdom

Fathers in many species play a minor role—and they don’t always survive the act of mating


This weekend, children across the country will honor their dads with the usual assortment of cards, tools and ties, thus paying tribute to the influential role that fathers play in our lives. But human dads are unusual in their devotion to family, especially when compared with the rest of the animal kingdom. Though most bird fathers help care for their offspring, absentee dads are the rule in 90% of mammal species. Fatherly care is even less common in other animal groups. Also atypical is our expectation that the dad is the larger and stronger parent. Males are the larger sex in most birds and mammals, but among the vast majority of other animal groups, females are usually larger—often very much larger. Female deep-sea anglerfish, for example, outweigh males by a multiple of as much as 500,000. This makes sense when you think about the biology. Most female animals produce tens to hundreds of thousands of eggs at one time. Their bodies have to be large enough to accommodate these eggs, which can comprise as much as 25% to 75% of the mother’s weight. By contrast, reproductive tissues generally make up less than 1% of a male’s body weight.

Read more of this post

Lululemon Posts Hilarious Open Call For CEO Position

Lululemon Posts Hilarious Open Call For CEO Position

ASHLEY LUTZ JUN. 14, 2013, 12:27 PM 9,377 6

Lululemon CEO Christine Day announced this week that she’s leaving. Now, the yoga-wear retailer must find her replacement. Where is Lululemon recruiting for one of the most sought-after jobs in retail? The Internet.  The company posted a job description on its website calling for CEO applicants. Check it out:


You report to no one, you are the CEO (duh). You are passionate about doing chief executive officer type stuff like making decisions, having a vision and being the head boss person.

a day in the life of a chief executive officer

-You communicate powerfully, often through Sanskrit

-You are disciplined, focused and can hold headstand for at least 10 minutes

-You’re a long-term thinker. You already have a plan to bring yoga and luon to Mars by 2018

-You break all the rules like getting your OM-on (loudly) whenever the urge arises

-You elevate and cultivate the level of talent within the senior leadership team by holding The Bachelor lululemon. Only one successful SVP will get the final rose

-Not only do you lead the organization to create components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives, you know the secret to how they got the caramel in the Caramilk bar

-You wear The Mansy to lead our company-wide morning chant and kombucha ritual

the finer print 

-Your go-to party trick is your dead-on impression of the yogi in “Sh*T Yogis Say”

-You voted for Pedro

-You have Chip Wilson, Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey on speed dial

-You actively live and breathe the lululemon culture – on Friday afternoons you hit up wheatgrass and tequila shots (it’s called work/life balance)

-You use your third eye to channel innovation

-Your lineage is directly related to Phidippides

-You own yoga

Mexico’s Spoiled Rich Kids: The entitled children of the country’s elite are now coming under fire

June 14, 2013, 6:13 p.m. ET

Mexico’s Spoiled Rich Kids

The entitled children of the country’s elite are now coming under fire


The sons and daughters of Mexico’s elite are known as “Juniors.” Filmmaker and former Junior Gary Alazraki explains how to spot a Junior and why he ultimately decided to reject the Junior lifestyle.

You can spot them prowling the streets of Mexico City’s wealthy enclaves in sports cars. The guys wear their hair slicked back and designer shirts with the top three buttons open. The women have expensive bags and sunglasses. They are nearly always followed by a black SUV packed with armed bodyguards.

They are known in Mexico as “Juniors”—the sons and daughters of the country’s elite, young people whose love of brand names is surpassed only by their sense of entitlement. Juniors grow up to dominate the upper echelons of business and politics. They live behind high walls, travel in private jets and seem utterly untouchable—and out of touch in a country that struggles with poverty and violence. Read more of this post

Glocalization of hallyu

2013-06-05 17:21

Glocalization of hallyu

By Shim Jae-yun

Psy seems to have largely failed this time, despite his flamboyant remark over the possible repeat of his success in the United States, following his release of the sensation “Gangnam Style.” “Gentlemen” lagged far behind at 46th on the Billboard Chart as of May 31, compared to the fifth rank on May 4. This is a sharp dip from the second place registered by his previous hit “Gangnam Style.”  Read more of this post

Deutsche Bank “horribly undercapitalized”: U.S. regulator

Deutsche Bank “horribly undercapitalized”: U.S. regulator

3:26am IST

By Emily Stephenson and Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. banking regulator called Deutsche Bank’s (DBKGn.DE:QuoteProfileResearch) capital levels “horrible” and said it is the worst on a list of global banks based on one measurement of leverage ratios.

“It’s horrible, I mean they’re horribly undercapitalized,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig in an interview. “They have no margin of error.”

Hoenig, who is second-in-command at the regulator, said global capital rules, known as the Basel III accord, allow lenders to appear well-capitalized when they are not. That is because the rules allow the banks to use complicated measurements of how risky their loans are to determine the capital they must hold, he said. Read more of this post

Bill Gross: Which way for bonds? Mapping a path forward

June 2013

Which way for bonds? Mapping a path forward

William H. Gross

Q: Can you explain what is happening in markets now?
Gross: In 1980, the Federal Reserve, led by Paul Volcker, tightened the quantitative noose to tame double-digit inflation, fueling an unprecedented tailwind for bond prices. Thirty years later we find ourselves at the other extreme, as central banks print money in the trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth, and inflation is abnormally low. While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds. Rather, what we’re seeing is the continuation – and acceleration, in some respects – of the de-levering process, a key distinction that may be getting lost in some of the noise over the past few weeks. The Fed, the Bank of England, and now the Bank of Japan have all committed to holding their easing stance until growth targets are hit. We don’t see the Fed raising rates in a meaningful way for at least the next few years.
That said, we believe caution is warranted not just for fixed income investors, but for investors in all risk assets. Central banks have reached a critical inflection point in which the negatives of their aggressive policies may be outweighing the positives and in fact hampering growth. Where their monetary repression has succeeded, however, is in forcing investors to take increasing amounts of risk, but for lower yields and more volatile returns.

Q: When do you expect the Fed to begin to take its foot off the QE pedal? Are rising rates a concern?
Gross: The Federal Reserve has cited an unemployment rate of 6.5% as its threshold for pulling back on monetary policy. At the same time, Chairman Bernanke wants to avoid the mistake of premature tightening, as occurred disastrously in the 1930s. While we agree with this reasoning, we are concerned by the growing downside of zero-based money and QE policies – among them a worrisome distortion in asset pricing, the misallocation of capital and ultimately a dis-incentivizing of risk taking by corporations and investors. The Fed shares these concerns as well, which is why some members are considering a reduction or tapering of purchases. From a technical perspective, the Fed may also be forced to taper its purchases to match the shrinking U.S. budget deficit. But there’s a difference between a mild reduction and a decision by the Fed to materially scale back its bond purchase program. The economy has yet to achieve escape velocity, and unemployment is still stubbornly high and structural in nature. So while we may see some tapering, possibly by the end of the year, we do not expect the Fed to remove the trough for some time or for this to signal a dramatic increase in rates. Rates will fluctuate over the shorter term, of course, and it’s our job as active managers to effectively position our clients’ portfolio if that occurs. This is something we have done for our investors for decades.
Q: How are you positioning Total Return to navigate this environment?
Gross: While it’s natural to want to reach for higher returns, an investment strategy’s success depends on carefully weighing potential rewards against the long-term costs, using the insights you’ve gathered on the ground and on a macro level through rigorous analysis. Today, given the economic uncertainty and rich market valuations, we think that the fortitude to wait for more attractive opportunities is a valuable attribute. Our goal for the Total Return strategy is to enhance our dry powder, seek prudent alpha and reduce risk – not dramatically, but to average or slightly below-average levels. Fortunately, PIMCO has a wide array of tools at our disposal to accomplish that. So, among other things, we’re avoiding long durations, reducing credit risk away from economically vulnerable companies and sectors, managing volatility and increasing exposure to countries with higher-quality balance sheets such as the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Australia. And we are seeking out and taking advantage of opportunities in the market. For example, we believe intermediate Treasuries are currently attractively priced at around 2%.

At the forefront, PIMCO’s first and most important objective is preserving our clients’ capital, as it has been since Total Return was launched more than a quarter-century ago. In a market environment such as the one we’re currently navigating, this risk management priority becomes even more essential. In the meantime, we believe our portfolios are well positioned for future opportunities. If “traditional” bond beta is likely to be subdued, as we are forecasting, there are still ways for a resourceful and experienced investment manager to generate alpha from less traditional sectors.

Q: With bond markets so uncertain, what steps can investors  take to ensure they’re prudently pursuing their financial  goals?
Gross: It’s important for investors to remember the reasons they own bonds in the first place – namely for the potential for the preservation of capital, income and growth, relative steadiness and typically low to negative correlations with equities. These needs – which will only become more urgent as millions of baby boomers head to retirement over the next decade and a half – are long term, regardless of what markets are doing today. So fixed income should always have a place in a portfolio. Still, there are ways to navigate challenging markets without feeling stuck. One is to expand your investment universe by going global. Here at PIMCO we like to say that there is no “bond market,” but rather “a market of bonds.” So, you should prize flexibility in your fixed income manager or core bond strategy.

Finally, be patient. Times are challenging, to be sure, but PIMCO has been successfully investing through more than four decades of market and economic cycles, which gives us some perspective, as well as the confidence that we’re going to be around to fight for the next 40 years. We certainly hope our clients take some comfort in that.

Bill Gross: Wounded Heart; Low yields, low carry, future low expected returns have increasingly negative effects on the real economy. Perhaps the beating heart is pumping anemic, even destructively leukemic blood through the system

June 2013

​Wounded Heart

William H. Gross

Joseph Schumpeter, the originator of the phrase “creative destruction,” authored a less well-known corollary at some point in the 1930s. “Profit,” he wrote, “is temporary by nature: It will vanish in the subsequent process of competition and adaptation.” And so it has, certainly at the micro level for which his remark was obviously intended. Once proud, seemingly indestructible capitalistic giants have seen their profits fall short of “everlasting” and exhibited a far more ephemeral character. Kodak, Sears, Barnes & Noble, AOL and countless others have been “competed” to near oblivion by advancing technology, more focused management, or evolving business models that had better ideas more “adaptable” to a new age.  Read more of this post

BOND FUND CARNAGE: Investors Stage An Exodus From Emerging Markets As Equities Suffer Collateral Damage

BOND FUND CARNAGE: Investors Stage An Exodus From Emerging Markets As Equities Suffer Collateral Damage

MATTHEW BOESLER JUN. 14, 2013, 10:31 AM 1,684 2

screen shot 2013-06-14 at 10.27.08 amscreen shot 2013-06-14 at 10.25.14 am

It was another insane week for asset managers. After huge redemptions from bond funds last week – during which investors pulled the most money in a single week from Treasury funds ever – the onslaught of outflows continues. In the week ended June 12, bond funds as a whole saw $14.5 billion in redemptions, the second-largest weekly outflow from the asset class ever – for the second straight week in a row. BofA Merrill Lynch Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett calls it “bond fund carnage,” writing in a note to clients that a “record $27 billion in 2 weeks shows complete washout in fixed income.” Hartnett also flags an “exodus from [emerging markets] assets” – emerging market debt and equity funds saw $9 billion in redemptions, the third largest weekly outflow on record – and calls the $9 billion of redemptions across global equity funds this week “collateral damage … on big ‘risk-off’ trade.”

Read more of this post

The Mortgage Refinancing Boom Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes

CHART OF THE DAY: The Mortgage Refinancing Boom Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes



Mortgage rates have been climbing for five straight weeks, and the latest data from the Mortgage Banker’s Association shows that the average 30-year fixed rate is now at 4.15%, up from 3.59% in the first week of May.

Meanwhile, the MBA’s refinancings index is down 36% from its peak at the beginning of May.

The rise in mortgage rates has been driven by concerns about when the Federal Reserve will begin to slow its $85-billion-a-month bond purchase program, which is designed to keep interest rates low. Those fears have sparked a sell-off in the Treasury market, which has caused yields on fixed income instruments of all shapes and sizes – including mortgages – to rise. Read more of this post

In Japan, Aversion to Mergers Runs Deep

June 14, 2013, 11:48 a.m. ET

In Japan, Aversion to Mergers Runs Deep



TOKYO—The Japanese government’s new “growth strategy” includes measures designed to encourage consolidation in manufacturing sectors notoriously overcrowded with inefficient companies averse to merging or combining overlapping production lines. A sign of the difficulties that lie ahead in promoting that reform came in the form of a 35-minute boardroom fight this week at Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.,7012.TO +4.25% Japan’s second-largest heavy machinery maker. The battle ended with the ouster of the company’s president in order quash his plans to merge with rival Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co.7003.TO -5.52% Read more of this post

Stanley Druckenmiller On China’s Future And Investing In The New Normal

Stanley Druckenmiller On China’s Future And Investing In The New Normal

Tyler Durden on 06/14/2013 19:38 -0400

From Goldman Sachs

Stan Druckenmiller is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Duquesne Family Office. He founded Duquesne Capital Management in 1981, which he ran until he closed the firm in 2010. Previously, he was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management, where he served as Lead Portfolio Manager of the Quantum Fund and Chief Investment Officer of Soros

Interview with Stan Druckenmiller

Hugo Scott-Gall: What are the risks of investing in China that are not well understood in your view? Read more of this post

Paulson Gold Fund Falls 13% In May, Down 54% In ’13

Paulson Gold Fund Falls 13% In May, Down 54% In ’13

Jun 11 2013 | 12:19pm ET

Earlier this month, Paulson & Co. said it would restrict the distribution of its Gold Fund’s performance—and for good reason. The $360 million fund—Paulson’s smallest—fell a further 13% in May. The fund, which manages primarily firm founder John Paulson’s own fortune, is down 54% this year. Despite the huge losses, which follow a 25% decline last year, New York-based Paulson urged investors to stick with the gold fund, noting that valuations offer “significant upside.” It added that it would not close the fund, which it has renamed the PFR Gold Funds, using the initials of Paulson and his gold specialists, Victor Flores and John Reade. Paulson has been a gold bug for years, arguing that inflation will soar when the Federal Reserve begins to cut back on its quantitative easing program. But the precious metal last month entered bear-market territory for the first time in a dozen years as the Fed’s bond-buying continues unabated. Paulson, which allows investors to buy gold-denominated shares of all of its funds, said earlier this month that it would stop reporting the gold funds’ results to all investors, complaining that their struggles were overshadowing strong returns by its other, larger products.

The race to destroy your data; Companies like Silent Circle, which promises to secure or get rid of consumers’ private information, have seen a surge in the wake of government spying reports

The race to destroy your data

June 14, 2013: 10:24 AM ET


Companies like Silent Circle, which promises to secure or get rid of consumers’ private information, have seen a surge in the wake of government spying reports.

FORTUNE — Silent Circle, an app that allows users to place encrypted phone calls, makes money on paranoia. Paranoia like, say, the fear that the government might build a massive surveillance operation in cooperation with major tech companies and then keep it secret from the public for years.

So naturally, after news broke that the government really was gathering large amounts of data on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails, Silent Circle found itself in a sweet spot. The company says reports of the National Security Agency’s data-gathering activities drove a huge increase in sales — up 480% in the last seven days. Read more of this post

From Silicon Wadi to Silicon Valley: How Waze found its way to Google; Nitzan Hirsch-Falk, the lawyer who headed map startup’s legal team, recounts each twist and turn that led to most exciting exit seen in Israel in recent years

From Silicon Wadi to Silicon Valley: How Waze found its way to Google

Nitzan Hirsch-Falk, the lawyer who headed map startup’s legal team, recounts each twist and turn that led to most exciting exit seen in Israel in recent years.

By Amir Teig and Inbal Orpaz | Jun.14, 2013 | 3:38 AM

Last Friday, after eight intensive days negotiating with Google, attorney Nitzan Hirsch-Falk left Google headquarters in California and went to the San Francisco International Airport. Just as he was about to board a return flight to Israel, Waze CEO Noam Bardin send him a text message asking him to come back.

“Afterward I realized they were just stressed,” says Hirsch-Falk, describing what happened on the day of the most exciting exit seen in Israel in recent years. “They basically needed me to hold their hand. We worked until 6 A.M. Saturday morning and closed the deal.”

By Tuesday evening the money was in Waze’s Israeli bank account. The man who has been with Waze for five years, from infancy to its phenomenal, $1.15 billion exit, can now relax. Together with Bardin, it was Hirsch-Falk who zipped in and out of the conference rooms of all the global technology giants. Read more of this post

How the NSA Could Get So Smart So Fast; Modern Computing Is Helping Companies and Governments Accurately Parse Vast Amounts of Data in a Matter of Minutes

Updated June 12, 2013, 7:51 p.m. ET

How the NSA Could Get So Smart So Fast

Modern Computing Is Helping Companies and Governments Accurately Parse Vast Amounts of Data in a Matter of Minutes

Five years ago it would have been unimaginable for a government agency such as the National Security Agency to efficiently parse millions of phone, text and online conversations for keywords that could have warned of an impending terrorist attack. Today, it’s much easier. Michael Hickins joins the News Hub.


Five years ago it would have been unimaginable for a government agency such as the National Security Agency to efficiently parse millions of phone, text and online conversations for keywords that could have warned of an impending terrorist attack. Today, a set of new technologies make it relatively affordable and manageable for it do so. These technologies can store vastly different types of data in a single database, and can be processed rapidly using inexpensive hardware, without an analyst having to formulate a hypothesis. “They’ve substantially reduced the cost and greatly increased the [government’s] ability to analyze this type of data,” says Tom Davenport, an expert on analytics and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. The technology needed to outfit data centers to perform these tasks has become “orders of magnitude” less expensive than in the past, he said. Read more of this post

How Location Data Is Being Collected And Transforming The Mobile Industry

INFOGRAPHIC: How Location Data Is Being Collected And Transforming The Mobile Industry

JOSH LUGER JUN. 14, 2013, 2:30 PM 1,214


With over 770 million GPS-enabled smartphones, location data has begun to permeate the entire mobile space. The possibilities for location-based services on mobile go beyond consumer-facing apps like FourSquare and Shopkick. It’s powering advertisements, and many other services — from weather to travel apps. In a recent report from BI Intelligence on location-based data, we analyze the opportunities emerging from this new local-mobile paradigm. We specifically examine how location-enabled mobile ads have generated excitement, look at how location-based feature have boosted engagement for apps, and demystify some of the underlying technologies and privacy issues. A pure GPS approach and the “lat-long” tags it generates is considered the standard for location data. But there are at least four other methods, sometimes used in combination, for pinpointing locationRead more of this post

Big data meets the Bard: A ‘literary lab’ that believes reading with computers is the future

June 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Big data meets the Bard

By John Sunyer

A ‘literary lab’ that believes reading with computers is the future

Here’s some advice for bibliophiles with teetering piles of books and not enough hours in the day: don’t read them. Instead, feed the books into a computer program and make graphs, maps and charts: it is the best way to get to grips with the vastness of literature. That, at least, is the recommendation of Franco Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English at Stanford University and unofficial leader of a band of academics bringing a science-fiction thrill to the science of fiction. For centuries, the basic task of literary scholarship has been close reading of texts. But for digitally savvy academics such as Moretti, literary study doesn’t always require scholars actually to read books. This new approach to literature depends on computers to crunch “big data”, or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights. Read more of this post

Obama’s Lost AAA Brings Falling Yields-to-Deficits on Downgrade

Obama’s Lost AAA Brings Falling Yields-to-Deficits on Downgrade

Ever since Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating almost two years ago, the unemployment rate has fallen, household wealth has reached a record and the budget deficit is shrinking. More downgrades may be coming, anyway.

While S&P boosted its outlook for the U.S.’s AA+ grade earlier this week to “stable” from “negative,” Moody’s Investors Service said it’s awaiting lawmakers’ budget decisions this year as it weighs reducing America’s Aaa. Fitch Ratings, which has a “negative” outlook on the U.S., said in February that the debt trajectory isn’t consistent with a AAA borrower. Read more of this post

U.S. plastics from gas threaten European petchem industry

U.S. plastics from gas threaten European petchem industry

6:43am EDT

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The oil-dependent European petrochemicals industry could be in for a body blow as U.S. rivals seek to get a wider range of raw materials out of cheap shale gas to make more plastics, coatings and adhesives.

U.S. players including Dow Chemical (DOW.N: Quote,ProfileResearchStock Buzz) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD.N: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) are building facilities to convert gas into propylene, a key building block for advanced materials that has so far required the oil distillate naphtha as feedstock.

This could further squeeze margins and endanger jobs at European plants that convert naphtha into precursor chemicals ethylene and propylene, the backbone of the more than 130 billion euro ($167 billion) petrochemical industry in Europe. Read more of this post

Singapore most expensive Asian city for visitors

Singapore most expensive Asian city for visitors

English.news.cn   2013-06-14

SINGAPORE, June 14 (Xinhua) — A latest survey shows Singapore is the most expensive Asian city to spend a night, local daily Straits Times reported on Friday. An evening for two costs 495.79 Singapore dollars (396.63 U.S. dollars) in the city state, making it the world’s 14th most expensive city for visitors, according to the survey by travel website TripAdvisor. The survey, known as TripIndex Cities, was based on an overnight stay for two people that would include a return taxi trip, a night’s stay at a four-star hotel, a two-course dinner and cocktails. Some 49 cities were included in the list. Tokyo took the 15th spot globally, with an overnight stay costing travellers 495.64 Singapore dollars (396.51 U.S. dollars). Singapore was the 10th most expensive city worldwide, but remained the priciest Asian city this year. Oslo in Norway came out tops for the most expensive city, costing 717.41 Singapore dollars (573.93 U.S. dollars).

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