Wednesday, May 30, 2012
May 29th 2012, 14:10 by The Economist online
Despite high unemployment companies say they find it hard to hire people
UNEMPLOYMENT has reached record levels in many countries. Yet more than a third of employers around the world are still having trouble filling vacancies, according to a ManpowerGroup survey of nearly 40,000 employers in 41 countries. Workers in skilled trades (electricians, plumbers, bricklayers and so on) are in shortest supply, followed by engineers and sales people. Talent shortages are most acute in Asia, particularly in Japan where an ageing population is exacerbating the problem. Only in France has the proportion of employers struggling to find appropriate talent increased significantly since last year (from 20% to 29%). In Italy, by contrast, it has halved from 29% to 14%. Overall, employers are less concerned about the impact of skills shortages than they were in 2011. This may be because companies are becoming more comfortable conducting business in an uncertain environment where talent shortages persist.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
That cheerleading spirit and honesty was on display in Heins’s letter to investors ahead of its first quarter earnings to come out next week. He touted the attendance at the company’s BlackBerry Jam earlier this month, the excitement around BlackBerry 10, the developer ecosystem (BlackBerry App World is now up to 80,000 apps) and the RIM’s global user base (78 million). We know RIM is not doing well, but it still has $2.1 billion in the bank and a little runway in which to smooth things out.
At the end of Heins’s letter, he acknowledged RIM’s talks with banks about its financial position.
“To further enhance our commitment to successfully completing our transformation, after the release of our year-end financial results, we engaged J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and RBC Capital Markets to assist the Company and our Board of Directors in reviewing RIM’s business and financial performance. These advisors have been tasked to help us with the strategic review we referenced on our year-end financial results conference call and to evaluate the relative merits and feasibility of various financial strategies, including opportunities to leverage the BlackBerry platform through partnerships, licensing opportunities and strategic business model alternatives,” Heins said.
This may come as no surprise to industry watchers, but BlackBerry is looking to do whatever it takes to remain solvent. But, what exactly are, “partnerships, licensing opportunities and strategic business model alternatives?”
Companies do not go seeking the help of J.P Morgan on a whim. Essentially, what Heins was saying is that RIM approached the banks to test the waters for a sale. If not a sale, per se, then the ability to license the actually manufacturing of BlackBerry smartphones to a different equipment manufacturer or to partner with companies to make equipment for them. For instance (and purely theoretical), a Facebook Phone built by BlackBerry.
Strategic business model alternatives could mean just about anything. That includes getting out of the manufacturing business entirely and becoming a pure software platform provider. RIM has assets to pull that off in the areas of communications (through BlackBerry Messenger), security (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and application development. If RIM were to choose that road, it would be a painful transition for the company and thousands of employees.
In the letter, Heins said that RIM would be becoming a leaner machine in the near future. That means layoffs and probably a lot of them. The company has already lost a significant portion of its top executives but many of the average jobs at the company will likely go in the not-so-distant future.
“We will also continue to review RIM's organizational structure and clearly define accountabilities for all key businesses and business processes with a goal of eliminating fragmentation, duplication and inefficiencies. While there will be significant spending reductions and headcount reductions in some areas throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, we will continue to spend and hire in key areas such as those associated with the launch of BlackBerry 10, and those tied to the growth of our application developer community,” Heins said.
Essentially, RIM is cutting itself back to core competencies. BlackBerry 10, which will have to be the company’s saving grace (or it will have to sell for sure), will be getting the lion’s share of resources in the near term. International sales and BlackBerry Messenger are two of RIM’s remaining strengths and will likely get a boost too. Marketing will see a bump as well, especially as BlackBerry 10 comes to off the assembly line. Anything else outside of those areas will be ripe to be sold, lose employees or outright shut down.
All the hopes for RIM rest with BlackBerry 10. Until that is released, RIM will be hurting and shedding money. Heins’s job until that point is to keep the company afloat and explore all options, including a sale of all or part of the business.
May 28th 2012, 16:54 by R.A. | WASHINGTON
ROSS DOUTHAT revels in the disappointing Facebook IPO and takes the opportunity to slam the economic impact of the internet. His column gives me an opportunity to push back a bit at those questioning the contribution of the current tech boom to real growth. Here's the takeaway:
Despite nearly two decades of dot-com enthusiasm, the information sector is still quite small relative to other sectors of the economy; it currently has one of the nation’s higher unemployment rates; and it’s one of the few sectors where unemployment has actually risen over the last year.None of this makes the Internet any less revolutionary. But it’s created a cultural revolution more than an economic one. Twitter is not the Ford Motor Company; Google is not General Electric. And except when he sells our eyeballs to advertisers for a pittance, we won’t all be working for Mark Zuckerberg someday.
This badly misunderstands the economic impact of the internet. A few points.
First of all, I think it's worth considering just how wrongheaded is criticism of Facebook as a flop. By now, the pure unoriginality of Mark Zuckerberg's idea is legendary. Not only did he possibly maybe borrow the idea for Facebook itself from would-be co-founders, but his social network followed in the path well-worn by sites like MySpace and Friendster. Mr Zuckerberg's extraordinary accomplishment, and it is extraordinary, was to take the prosaic idea of a place to hang out online with networks of friends and turn it into a profitable, billion-dollar company that employs thousands of people. That's amazing! So successful has Mr Zuckerberg been that he has actually confused people into thinking that Facebook is the apotheosis of the new internet economy, rather than just a particularly successful diversion. That's like imagining that the big hit of the industrial revolution should have been a company that made money giving tours of factories.
Which brings me to a second point: the web is a general-purpose technology, like electricity. Maybe some people imagined that the arrival of the web would launch an internet economy in which we all worked for internet companies producing internet. That's akin to a belief that the development of electricity should have given rise to an electricity era in which we all worked for electrical companies making electricity. Of course, there were big, successful electrical companies, just as there are big, successful internet companies; Google, the best example, is a hugely profitable, enormously valuable firm that employs tens of thousands of people. But the web, like electricity, is mostly a means to make the rest of the economy vastly more productive. Mr Douthat thinks he's making a killer point in writing:
It’s telling, in this regard, that the companies most often cited as digital-era successes, Apple and Amazon, both have business models that are firmly rooted in the production and delivery of nonvirtual goods.
No kidding! Was someone arguing that we were going to begin eating applets? What Mr Douthat is missing is that companies like Apple and Amazon embody the economic power of the web in transforming existing industries, like media and retail. This will only continue as we become better at learning how to deploy the power of the web. Ultimately every company, from food co-ops to banks to manufacturing firms, will be an internet company, relying on the web to guide production, market, sell, and distribute goods.
That takes us to a third point, which is that people mistake the impact of the internet economy because they are confused about the meaning of scale in economics. The size of the large firms of the past was a function of technology, not of economic impact. It was a function of the technology of shipping, which made it attractive to focus industrial production in massive agglomerations. It was a function of the technology of production, which made it possible and necessary to employ thousands of workers at high wages turning out enormous production runs. And it was a function of the technology of communication and organisation, which made it attractive and necessary to locate much of a long supply chain in one firm under one roof, rather than across hundreds of firms and tens of countries.
Technologies have changed. It has become vastly easier for very small firms to coordinate production of highly tailored products as part of extended supply chains. The internet is part of the process of technological change that has enabled this shift. The shift itself is not indicative of a lack of economic importance. It is less impressive to some when someone supplements their income by selling niche products through Amazon than when Henry Ford builds the River Rouge plant. Not to me. What the internet is accomplishing is a huge increase in the extent of the marketplace for many different kinds of goods and services. That increase allows for extraordinary levels of specialisation and trade, which are facilitating a step change in the efficiency of economic activity. Focus on the size of the markets rather than the size of the firms or the factories, and you begin to see the internet economy in a somewhat different light.
Then there is a fourth point, which is that the jobs of the internet economy are more impactful at the local level than is manufacturing work. Adam Ozimek writes:
Ross complains that Facebook, and the internet sector in general, don’t create many jobs. But as Enrico Moretti emphasizes in his book The New Geography of Jobs, the importance of the innovation sector is not just how many jobs they create directly, but how many jobs they create indirectly. Most of the jobs in an economy are local services. Increasing earnings in innovation and other tradeable sectors raises spending in non-tradeables sectors like services, and thus increases jobs and wages there. People sometimes dismiss talk of indirect jobs as PR, and done incorrectly it sometimes is, but Moretti is a serious academic economists and he is correct here. His research suggests that every new manufacturing job creates 1.6 jobs in the local service economy. But in the innovative sector the corresponding effect is more than three times larger.
There is a reasonable critique to be made of the internet economy, to which Mr Douthat glancingly refers in mentioning Tyler Cowen's book "The Great Stagnation". Mr Cowen makes the point that the highly educated rich are better able to capture both the producer and consumer surplus associated with the internet economy. The web, in increasing the extent of the market, amplifies the superstar effect; the difference in earnings between great producers and the best producers, who dominate the global market, is enormous. As supply chains break up, it may become easier for knowledge workers to capture much of the value-added in a product or service; designers and inventers with original ideas can capture monopoly returns to those ideas while sourcing production to workers in a highly competitive manufacturing sector. Apple employees get rich; manufacturing employees earn their marginal product. And educated workers may benefit most from the flow of cheap information over the web. The problem with the internet economy isn't that it is unimportant or jobless, but that its benefits are highly unequal in their distribution.
Perhaps. It is a little early yet to say. It would not be surprising, however, if something as transformative as the internet economy provoked a demand for institutional change to mitigate distributional consequences. That is precisely what occurred during the industrial revolution, after all, when the rise of the urban manufacturing economy prompted the corresponding development of the labour movement, the social welfare state, and the environmental movement. Similarly, the internet economy may encourage a rethinking of the nature of the welfare state and the importance of progressivity in taxation. If the knock-on employment effects of high-tech are the most important way in which the gains from the internet economy are transmitted to low-skilled workers, then suddenly the scope and expense of metropolitan areas become a critical factor. Just as important as the economic impact of the internet economy will be the social and political response it provokes. Social change is a measure, in many ways, of economic importance.
And of course, one has to remember that the web is still in its infancy. It wasn't very long ago that most Americans lacked an email address. A majority of Americans have yet to purchase a smartphone or order broadband internet. I suspect people will underestimate the importance of the internet economy right up to the point at which they simply start referring to it as "the economy".
Facebook shares fall below $30 as US authorities begin investigation into IPO
Shares continue to slump on Wall Street as lawsuits against founder Mark Zuckerberg allege company misled investors
Electronic screens show the price of Facebook shares after they began trading in New York earlier this month. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
Dominic Rushe in New York
guardian.co.uk, Tue 29 May 2012 17.14 BST
Facebook's shares dipped below $30 Tuesday as the company's shares hit new lows and continued to struggle in the wake of its massive initial public offering (IPO).
Even as US stock markets bounced back from falls last week, Facebook's shares slumped over 6% in early trading, to $29.78 – more than $8 below the $38 price set at their IPO earlier this month.
The share sale has proved a disaster for Facebook and its bankers. US authorities are investigating allegations that the company gave critical information to some investors and not others. Shareholders have launched class action lawsuits against founder Mark Zuckerberg, the company and its bankers, including lead bank Morgan Stanley.
Walter Zimmermann, senior technical analyst at United-ICAP, said there was plenty of evidence that the stock could fall further. He said the share sale had represented "a mania of historic proportions".
"This was an IPO that was going to save California and uplift the western world. It was so overhyped and overvalued that it could only fall," he said.
Some traders pointed to technical reasons for the stock's continuing woes. Trading in Facebook options – contracts that allow investors to make bets on the direction of a company's shares – started Tuesday. Traders can now also "short" Facebook shares, betting that the price will fall.
Sam Hamadeh, founder of analyst PrivCo, said most of the options were "bearish" meaning traders were betting on price falls and that popular contracts were putting Facebook's share price in the mid $20s for June and July. PrivCo estimated Facebook's shares were worth $25 ahead of the IPO.
"The shares would have probably fallen anyway but this probably sped the process up a little bit," he said.
Zimmerman said discussions of technical issues missed a wider point. He said Facebook had sold so many shares – 96m – that there was little appetite from investors who had not bought shares. "Who is left to buy?" he said.
News that the company is considering building its own mobile device, an area where it has struggled to make money, seems to have been shrugged off by investors.
Last week law firm Robbins Geller launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of Facebook investors against the company and its bankers. Massachusetts' secretary of commonwealth William Galvin has sent a subpoena to Morgan Stanley demanding more details of what the bank and Facebook executives told select investors ahead of the IPO.
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Garry Marr, National Post
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Echo generation appears to be finally making its mark with new statistics showing the population of those four or under growing at a pace not seen since the 1950s.
Statistics Canada, in its report called the Canadian Population in 2011: Age and Sex, says the population in the group grew by 11% from 2006-2011, the highest growth rate since the 1956 to 1961 period.
Craig Alexander, chief economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank, says the trend has the potential to change the financial industry, noting how mutual funds once defined Boomers.
“As the Baby Boomer goes through its life cycle, there will be increasing attention paid to what the echo generation needs,” said Mr. Alexander. The Baby Boomers throughout their entire life cycle had a profound impact. They changed product markets. Why were minivans created, we had the technology long before they appeared but they appeared because they had kids and there was demand.”
Education costs continue to soar across the country. TD’s own study in 2009 found for a child born in that year the cost of a four-year university degree would be $137,000 to go away to school and still $101,000 even to stay at home.
RESPs may become more popular. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
The Registered Education Savings Plan could become more popular. “They will have a big impact on shaping the Canadian economy,” says Mr. Alexander.
In the interim, Boomers continue to dominate the census data and the job market. For the first time there were more people aged 55 to 64 than aged 15 to 24 in the labour force. Many economists speculate those older Canadians will stay in the work force if just on a part-time basis, something that is also being driven by the fact old age security qualification is being moved up to age 67.
The census data also seems to give some ammunition to a retirement strategy that is an option for many Canadians who have watched the value of their homes skyrocket. In Vancouver, the average price of a home is $735,315 and in Toronto $517,556, based on the latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Some of those people appear to be packing it in and moving to smaller towns based on the StatsCan data which shows the population of people 65 and over growing in small towns.
Seven of the 10 municipalities with the highest proportions of persons aged 65 and over are located in British Columbia. The agency noted 47.2% of the population of Qualicum Beach, located in the census agglomeration of Parksville, British Columbia, were 65 or over.
Elliot Lake, Ontario, which has long billed itself as retirement spot in the north part of the province, has a population with 35.1% of people 65 of over. To the east of Toronto, Cobourg now has a population made up of 26.5% seniors.
Certified Financial Planner Ted Rechtshaffen, who is president of TriDelta Financial, says many of his clients have looked to small towns with close proximity to Toronto so they can have the best of both worlds.
Peterborough, said Mr. Rechtshaffen, has become major destination for his clients and even CFPs. “It’s seniors heaven. It’s cheaper, no far from Toronto and pretty.”
StatsCan noted one in five people in Peterborough, northeast of Toronto, are now seniors. “Here’s the thing: You sell your house in Toronto for $700,000 and move into a condo for $600,000. After all the costs involved, you downsized and don’t pull out $200,000 or $300,000 in equity as you expected,” said. Mr. Rechtshaffen. “They just retire better [in small towns].”
Posted in: Personal Finance Tags: Census
Monday, May 28, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Microsoft wins ban on Motorola Android devices from the ITC http://t.co/CIJbSrq9 -- The Verge (@verge)
Should be interesting how Rubens finds the demands of qualifying at an iconic track such as Indianapolis.
With his experience, should be no problem. Still must be exciting the first time....
Barrichello Indianapolis 500 - live timing here (no video): http://t.co/NOLp0rfI #indycar -- F1 Fanatic (@f1fanatic_co_uk)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I've been online following various channels for awhile, and I find it interesting that Android has been singled out for malware. Granted it seems to grabbing the majority of headlines over the net as of late, since Android currently is the most popular mobile phone OS.
I sometimes feel other blog postings have short term memories, since creating and distributing malware really isn't anything new. Just follow what had been happening to Nokia's OS (not Windows) or Blackberry's over the years and obviously the same game applies. If there is money to be made, then of course there will be malware developed for it. Just ask Microsoft.
However with the tools available these days, and the technical abilities, (especially from a phone standpoint) things are changing drastically, especially since smartphones and tablets are all the rage these days, so its understandable that more instances of Malware are bound to show up.
Also, (most significant and obvious) the whole world is going mobile at quite a rate. What will be more interesting is how Google and the various phone manufacturers will work to together to resolve this growing issue.
What do you guys think out there?
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Next MacBook Air Update to Focus on Retina Displays Too? http://t.co/oVFs7iWn -- MacRumors.com (@MacRumors)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Just a few thoughts to a man whom I have admired since I was a kid (reading through my dad's piles of car magazines). To have gone through as many transitions as he had (with not insignificant health challenges) and contribute in the way he did for so long...it is people like him who shape a much more robust and interesting world.
To Carroll and his family
Thanks and my appreciation