Tag Archives | Business

The U.S. Congress Does ‘Abnormally’ Well in the Stock Market

Monopoly ManThis should be more troubling, but it feels like business as usual in Washington. Dan Foomkin writes on the Huffington Post:

Members of the House of Representatives considerably outperform the stock market in their personal investments, according to a new academic study.

Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call “significant positive abnormal returns,” with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.

What’s their secret? The report speculates, but does not conclude, it could have something to do with the ability members of Congress have to trade on non-public information or to vote their own pocketbooks — or both.

A study of senators by the same team of researchers five years ago found members of the higher chamber even better at beating the market — outperforming it by about 10 percent, an amount the academics said was “both economically large and statistically significant.”

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German Insurer Munich Re Rewards Salesmen With Prostitutes

Munich ReBBC News reports:

One of the biggest insurance companies in the world held a party for salesmen where they were rewarded with the services of prostitutes.

Munich Re is the world’s biggest re-insurer — in other words, the company acts as an insurance company for other insurance companies.

One of its divisions, Ergo, told the BBC that the party had taken place to reward salesmen in 2007. A spokesman said the people who organised it had since left.

The gathering was held at a thermal baths in the Hungarian capital Budapest as a reward to particularly successful salesmen.

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Disney Trademarks ‘Seal Team 6′

Disney's Seal Team 6Alex Weprin writes on FishBowlNY:

In a perfect example of a big media company looking to capitalize on current events, The Walt Disney Company has trademarked “Seal Team 6,” which also happens to be the name of the elite special forces team that killed Osama Bin Laden.

The trademark applications came on May 3rd, two days after the operation that killed Bin Laden… and two days after “Seal Team 6″ was included in thousands of news articles and TV programs focusing on the operation.

Disney’s trademark applications for “Seal Team 6″ cover clothing, footwear, headwear, toys, games and “entertainment and education services,” among other things.

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Ten Years From Now, Facebook Will Be Your Bank

bankoffacebook-erica_glasier“Why is its important to have a Facebook profile? They are going to start using that to determine what your credit worthiness is.”

The tin-foil-hatted nuts at BusinessWeek explain how and why Facebook will become the largest bank in the United States. (Perhaps most disturbing is the thought of a universal currency called ‘the zuckerberg’.)

Becoming a financial powerhouse would help Facebook avoid the fate of many once-popular networks. AOL, Friendster, Second Life, and MySpace all dreamed of growing forever, too. To survive, Facebook must become more than glorified e-mail. Sharing photos and gossip with friends might make Facebook hard to leave. But upload your checking account and Facebook may just be forever.

Nongamers may have missed Facebook’s clever foray into the world of “virtual currency,” where Facebook Credits cost 10 cents each and can be exchanged for game points or cartoony gifts. Those dimes are adding up—the U.S. market for virtual goods will reach $2.1 billion in 2011.

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So You’ve Angered The Hive

Stop US Chamber of CommerceKevin Zeese is an attorney and former candidate for U.S. Senate with a law degree from George Washington University. He contributes to a website attacking the agenda of the national Chamber of Commerce (StopTheChamber.com) and ran for office within the Green Party.

Zeese is concerned that malevolent business interests will have undue influence on elections, due to those interests’ expanding ability to influence elections anonymously. On the phone, he took great pains to differentiate the national hub from your local, garden variety chamber of commerce, which Zeese insists can very well represent the interests of local businesses. The local chambers, he said, had attempted to distance themselves from the national hub, the distinction for him lying in his instinct that the national was undermining decentralization of interests.

I asked him, “So I guess I’d just like to start off by asking you to describe in your own words why you think the Chamber of Commerce apparently has a problem with you or doesn’t want you to speak your mind?”

With this, Zeese laughed with glee, and, catching his breath, said, “Well, that’s a good way of putting it.”

“Well, we have a project called StopTheChamber.com, and it’s been for about a year now heavily focused on the Chamber of Commerce and their activities in both elections and lobbying.… Read the rest

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Will Big Pharma Take Over The American Market For Medical Marijuana?

MedMarjIf the hundreds of uses for cannabis doesn’t plead the case for its legalization, the money made from its medical industry just might do it. The Washington Independent reports:

The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.

Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain.

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States To Outlaw Undercover Photos And Videos Of Factory Farms

4944283870_202e5923c1A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility.

In Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota, laws are in the works to criminalize the documenting of animal cruelty and health violations in factory farming. With activists nosing around, “people are scared to death that they might be found in a compromising position,” [says the] president of the Iowa Farm Bureau — it’s about “making producers feel more comfortable.” The New York Times reports:

Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals.

Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.

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Inside The Sad World Of Standardized Test Essay-Scoring

6008578.28Minneapolis’s City Paper delves into a dark corner of the education system: the ever-growing test-scoring industry. Every day, armies of underpaid, disenchanted, hungover slacker-temps slave away in private essay-grading mills, slapping on arbitrary scores which determine whether schools across the country will receive funding and whether students will graduate:

Eventually, DiMaggio got used to not asking questions. He got used to skimming the essays as fast as possible, glancing over the responses for about two minutes apiece before clicking a score.

Every so often, though, his thoughts would drift to the school in Arkansas or Ohio or Pennsylvania. If they only knew what was going on behind the scenes. “The legitimacy of testing is being taken for granted,” he says. “It’s a farce.”

DiMaggio had good reason to worry. His score could determine whether the school was deemed adequate or failing—whether it received government funding or got shut down.

Though the efficacy of standardized testing has been hotly debated for decades, one thing has become crystal clear: It’s big business.

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