The rape of a mattress company

The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run … Continue reading

Corporate Governance: Stakeholder Theory

Comparative studies of corporate governance: Anglo-Saxon (Shareholder) model vs. German/Japanese Stakeholder model. Notes from Allen, Franklin and Douglas Gale. “A Comparative Theory of Corporate Governance.” Anglo-Saxon corporate governance (US, UK) is based on the Adam Smith model of organizing the economy. “The role of the firm in society is precisely to create wealth for shareholders … Continue reading

Warren Buffett

See here for Buffett’s influential NYT op-ed, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich” Buffett’s TIME 100 2012 profile (written by Barack Obama, because why not) In the spring of 1942, an 11-year-old boy from Omaha made his first big investment, putting nearly his entire fortune — about $120 — into three shares of Cities Service Preferred. By June, the … Continue reading

The Economist – “Cash Machine”

A recent article in The Economist had a few choice bits of information we haven’t come across yet. My notes: Although demand for physical cash had been in decline over the course of the 20th century (due to the growing popularity of checks and then credit cards), there was a spike in demand for paper currency after … Continue reading

Skynet will take over the NYSE first

From this morning’s New York Times: The trading firm Knight Capital recently rushed to develop a computer program so it could take advantage of a new Wall Street venue for trading stocks. But the firm ran up against its deadline and failed to fully work out the kinks in its system, according to people briefed … Continue reading

Street parking and the law of supply and demand

San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand, raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded … Continue reading

Wired — Emulating Steve Jobs

There’s an article in the most recent Wired that discusses the Steve Jobs mythos — especially as presented in Walter Isaacson’s biography — and the effect that’s had on the management styles of today’s entrepreneurs. It’s sort of an irritating article, reads like just another excuse to write a cover story about Jobs, largely disregards the existence of … Continue reading

Description of the Crane papermaking plant

Crane tells us that currency paper is made of more durable linen and cotton fibers. When NPR visited, the company was preparing tons of dull-brown linen fibers to be an ingredient in the paper. One of the first things we see is a giant iron ball swinging from the rafters. If you’re at all familiar … Continue reading

Arb: quantity vs. price

Here’s another, very handy resource on Arb (PDF attached), with handy line drawings but also a lot more text describing what’s happening. It also makes clear the difference between indicating quantity and price in the hand signals: To signal price, extend the hand in front of and away from the body. To indicate quantity – the … Continue reading

Good Jobs are Good Practice

notes on Ton, Zeynep. “Why Good Jobs are Good for Retailers.” Harvard Business Review. Jan-Feb 2012. Highly successful retail chains — such as Quick-Trip convenience stores, Mercadona and Trader Joe’s supermarkets, and Costco wholesale clubs — not only invest heavily in store employees but also have the lowest prices in their industries, solid financial performance, and better … Continue reading

The UPS Approach

notes on Soupata, Lea. “Engaging Employees in Company Success: the UPS Approach to a Winning Team“. Society for Human Resources Management Online. The UPS company-wide vision is based on founder Jim Casey’s philosophy of good management, and on UPS principles and priorities. UPS has a “Winning Team” strategic initiative, an “effort to attract, develop, and … Continue reading

American Dreams

notes on Speth, James Gustave. “The American Dream vs. The Gospel of Wealth.” Yes! Magazine. 29 June 2011. What is the American Dream and what is its future? There are three dualities that Speth examines in this article. 1. The Pursuit of Happiness: Public Good or Personal Pleasure? The ‘pursuit of happiness’ was launched in different, … Continue reading

Reclaiming the Commons

notes on Bollier, David. “Reclaiming the Commons,” an essay based on material included in Bollier, David. Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of our Common Wealth (New York: Routledge, 2002). Who shall control the commons? There is a kind of enclosure process happening to the American commons as it’s being converted into market resources — private appropriation of collectively owned … Continue reading

America Beyond Capitalism: Emerging Context and Key Issues

notes on Alperovitz, Gar. 2006. “America Beyond Capitalism: Emerging Context and Key Issues.” The Good Society 15. (3): 51-56. Our current crisis is more than political — it’s systemic. Truly fundamental values — equality, liberty, meaningful democracy, ecological sustainability — are all increasingly being thwarted by real world practices. The American labor movement is in a state … Continue reading

New-Economy Movement

The idea that we need a “new economy”—that the entire economic system must be radically restructured if critical social and environmental goals are to be met—runs directly counter to the American creed that capitalism as we know it is the best, and only possible, option. Especially after the recent financial crisis, many new-economy organizations have … Continue reading

Woolley’s Ten-Point Manifesto

A 10-point memorandum targeted at what Woolley calls giant funds, the custodians of social wealth, which he defines as sovereign funds, corporate and public pension funds and university foundations and endowments. Woolley’s thesis is that these giant funds have become unwittingly complicit in the creation of a vast unstable monster that the global financial system has … Continue reading

What good is Wall Street?

notes and quotes from Cassidy, John. “What Good is Wall Street?” The New Yorker. 29 November 2010. Big banks have transformed themselves from businesses whose profits were tied to the needs of their clients to huge trading houses whose focus is exploiting daily movements in markets. Constant need to invent new financial products to sell — this … Continue reading

Triple Bottom Line

The idea of the “triple bottom line” (TBL or 3BL) goes back to 1994, when the phrase was coined by John Elkington. He argued that companies should we working toward three equally important bottom lines: profit, people, and planet (3P). This is a major component of the stakeholder value movement of the 21st century. TBL has become … Continue reading

Alt-economy article roundup

Alperovitz, Gar. “The New-Economy Movement.” The Nation. 13 June 2011. Harris, Lissa. “The Economic Heresy of Herman Daly.” Grist. 10 April 2003. Johnson, Robert. “The 100 Most Influential People in the World: Elinior Ostrom.” Time. 18 April 2012. “Dave Korten: Capitalism’s Threat to Democracy.” Cooking Up A Story. “Dave Korten: ‘Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.” Democracy … Continue reading

Is the Party Over?

[commenting on Sherman’s “The Emasculation of Wall Street”] notes on Lavelle, Louis. “Wall Street: Is the Party Over for MBAs?” Bloomberg BusinessWeek (online). 7 February 2012. – Big cuts in compensation have been accompanied by a decrease in recruiting and hiring of baby investment bankers. -Probably has the most to do with an oversupply problem — there … Continue reading