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NetWire arrowsMarch 1, 2012
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Gasoline for $5 a gallon? The possibility is hardly far-fetched. With no clear end to tensions with Iran and Syria and rising demand from countries like China, gas prices are already at record highs for the winter months – averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally on Wednesday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. As summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon. (New York Times)
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That's it. They win. He's giving up on privacy. Trying to maintain privacy in contemporary America is just too time consuming, too complicated, too exhausting. He can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore. He doesn't know whom to trust. (NPR)
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Financial innovation has a dreadful image these days. Paul Volcker, a former chairman of America’s Federal Reserve, who emerged from the 2007-08 financial crisis with his reputation intact, once said that none of the financial inventions of the past 25 years matches up to the ATM. (The Economist)
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I recently interviewed more than 60 chief executives of very large global companies. Virtually all of them said that recruiting and promoting general managers with true leadership potential was the key ingredient to their organization's long-term success. Fair enough. But the CEOs were then quick to admit that this task is much easier said than done. (CNN)
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Dell Computer Corp.
Career
Ever since my team merged with a different one, about a year ago, my job has become a nightmare. My new coworkers are hostile, controlling, and go out of their way to belittle and intimidate others. They also undermine the work my group is trying to do, partly by denying us access to the support staff we are all supposed to be sharing. (Fortune)
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We are living in a period of extreme uncertainty – business model uncertainty, technological uncertainty, political uncertainty. There is enormous pressure to have a workforce that you can reshape ... to meet unknown conditions. This means more insecurity at work for the ordinary worker. (Financial Times, registration required)
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Education
The best part about winter is that I no longer have to endure the fall conversations with parents about how well their freshmen are "fitting in" at college. I may lose a few friends for saying so, but Americans are too concerned with whether their kids are "finding themselves" – at an average yearly tab of $17,100 (public, in-state) to $38,600 (private). (CNN/Money)
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Business professors from several top universities in the U.S. are among a dozen instructors participating in one of the online education market’s latest experiments, a new website called the Faculty Project. Like many free online course offerings, the program, launched in late January, allows professors to upload free courses and supplementary course material. (Bloomberg/Businessweek)
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International
Since 2009, the cell phone company Nokia has worked to use cell phone technology both to empower and to target the world’s rural poor. It’s a big market: for instance, almost 70% of India’s 1.2 billion people live in rural areas, but only an estimated 23% of the rural population have cell phones (according to Deloitte, as reported in Indian Express). (MIT/Sloan Management Review)
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A leading British banker has warned that the huge sums of money being pumped into western economies to underpin banks and promote financial stability risk "laying the seeds for the next crisis". (The Guardian, UK)
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NBMBAA
Congrats to Amber Simpson, Immediate Past President and Michael Whitley, Leaders of Tomorrow Co-Chair, for receiving this honor. (St. Louis American)
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Technology
Nonstandard digital currencies have been around for almost as long as there has been a digital world. My first exposure to them was back in the late ‘80s, when I hoarded rupees, the currency of the fictional land of Hyrule in the Legend of Zelda. You could carry up to 255 rupees at any given time (the maximum quantity that can be stored in 8 bits of memory). Every time you fired an arrow it cost you a rupee, and rupees could be used to buy in-game items. (Slate)
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These days much of the action in the world of gadgets is happening in smartphones – like their sophisticated design and the apps that run on them. That has left desktop and laptop computers looking a little dull in comparison. So computers are suddenly getting more phonelike. (New York Times)
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Entrepreneurship
Facebook, a company known for creating and continuously improving the ways that marketers connect with customers, is at it again. Today, Facebook announced the launch of its new Timeline Brand Pages to an audience of thousands of marketers, who were immediately put on notice that they have 30 days to embrace this new marketing practice or be automatically "upgraded." (Fast Company)
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For good or ill, unreasonable individuals run things. They are the ones who care the most, shout loudest, want it more and get their way – in politics, in life and in business. Entrepreneurs are very much of that breed: they are more stubborn, more radical, resilient, manic – more intense than Joe Average. I know, for I have spent 30 years trying to cope with them as business partners. (Financial Times, registration required)
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The Economy
Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions. The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat. But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea. (NPR)
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Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded in February at a slower pace than forecast as orders cooled. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index dropped to 52.4 from 54.1 in January, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed today. Readings above 50 signal growth. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a gain to 54.5. (Bloomberg)
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Personal Finance
If you're among the 75 million or so Americans who have yet to complete a 2011 tax return, it's time to figure out exactly what share of your income will go to the IRS. At this point, about the only way to hold down your bill is to avoid missteps that would drive it higher than it needs to be. So get to work. (Kiplinger's)
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Uh-oh. We’re falling back into our old bad habits of not saving money and it’s time to tighten those purse strings again. In three years there’s been a noteworthy drop in the number of people who spend less than they make and sock away the rest, according to a recent survey assessing savings habits. (MarketWatch)
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Corporate America
The Power of Habit, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, examines habits good and bad. Duhigg talks us through four companies that found success by swapping business-as-usual routines with smarter habits. (Fast Company)
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Just a few weeks after telling shareholders it would find more efficient ways to reach consumers, Procter & Gamble Co. is enjoying a prodigious hunk of free media from that Monday night NASCAR crash that forced crews to clean up jet fuel with Tide powdered detergent. (Cincy Biz Journals)
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Government
Consumers pay about 21 percent more in fees for basic checking accounts than they did six years ago, according to a study released today. An average consumer may pay about $7.72 a month in a combination of monthly and automated teller machine fees this year compared with about $6.36 in 2006, according to the study by Pleasanton, California-based Javelin Strategy & Research, which looked at fees on basic checking accounts offered by 30 financial institutions. (Bloomberg)
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Leadership
We live in a world mad for talent. From Hollywood and sports to executive search firms and HR departments around the globe, everyone seeks that special mix of natural abilities and attitudes that will make performance pop. (Harvard Business Review)
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You’ve probably never heard of Pattie Sellers. But Warren Buffett has. And so have Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and Indra Nooyi. It’s an enviable list, really. They’re among the many who’ve joined Sellers at the Most Powerful Women summit. (Washington Post)
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Lifestyle
Leslie Keely and her family have gone from Des Moines to Fort Lauderdale in December for several years on standard 25,000-mile, airline-award tickets. She starts shopping for flights 11 months in advance, is flexible on travel dates, checks airline inventory several times a day and is willing to split up her family of three on different flights if necessary to get tickets. This year, she's coming up dry. (Wall Street Journal)
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As Black History Month in the US and Canada draws to a close, the little-known story of the first free black town established during the Civil War is being rediscovered and re-told - casting a new light on the end of slavery in America. (BBC News)
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