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Breaking News: The Recession has been over since June 2009 (who knew?)


The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) formally announced today that the U.S. recession that started December 2007, actually ended on June 2009.

And that

The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months.

According to the actual report from the NBER site

the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.

As of Friday, 124 U.S. banks have failed, unemployment rate (as of August 2010) is 9.6%, foreclosures are at an all time high, and here’s a fun fact – ‘U.S. poverty rate hits highest level since 1994’.  Is it just me, or does this breaking news not really mean anything at all?

This is how the NBER defines recession:

It’s more accurate to say that a recession—the way we use the word—is a period of diminishing activity rather than diminished activity. We identify a month when the economy reached a peak of activity and a later month when the economy reached a trough. The time in between is a recession, a period when economic activity is contracting. The following period is an expansion. As of September 2010, when we decided that a trough had occurred in June 2009, the economy was still weak, with lingering high unemployment, but had expanded considerably from its trough 15 months earlier.

So I guess it’s too early to say that we’re in the clear, but it’s possibly on the up?  No double-dip…hopefully.

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Filed under: Business, Finance, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Attending a for-profit university, good decision or bad decision?


I’ll admit it, when I first learned about the University of Phoenix, my first thought was “there’s a University of Phoenix in Arizona”??  All skepticism aside, of the for-profit university, the organization (for lack of a better term) is trying to re-brand the public’s perception.

While University of Phoenix is one of the internet’s biggest advertisers, it is first and foremost an educator.  Now, the Fortune 1000 company has tasked itself with re-branding American education, transforming it from an expensive and exclusive club to a high-quality, affordable, and scalable academic experience.

I would like to call your attention, dear reader, to the 2nd sentence in the quote above.  Specifically – a high-quality, affordable, and scalable academic experience. In a random coincidence, I read an interesting (and depressing) article today about how student loan defaults are on the rise.

The default rate on loans for for-profit schools rose from 11 percent in 2007 to 11.6 percent in 2008, while the rate for public institutions went from 5.9 percent to 6 percent and the rate for private schools went from 3.7 percent to 4 percent.

Right, so for-profit schools have the highest default rate.  And…

“While for-profit schools have profited, some of their students have not. Far too many for-profit schools are saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use. This is a disservice to students and taxpayers, and undermines the valuable work being done by the for-profit education industry as a whole.”

The article doesn’t specify which for-profit school the defaulted students have attended, BUT I think it’s safe to say that it will probably behoove the powers to be at University of Phoenix, and other similar schools, to focus on their current students.

Just like companies, in this economy, are focusing on retaining and pleasing their current clients, I think that ensuring that their most recent graduates can use their certificates and degrees to secure jobs in this marketplace, should rank first on their agendas.

Filed under: Business, Finance, Marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The more you bank a year does not mean you’re necessarily happier…


…richer, maybe, but not happier.

According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (right, I looked it up… founded in 1914, the PNAS reports on biological, physical, and social sciences),

Beyond household income of $75,000 a year, money “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness or stress”.

The data was comprised from a sample of 450,000 randomly selected Americans.  While the study found that the individuals’ self assessment of their own lives was strongly correlated to higher salaries, their day-to-day happiness was not equally affected.

“Many people want to make a lot of money, but the benefits of having a high income are ambiguous,” said Professor Kahneman, who is also a Nobel laureate in economics. When you are wealthy you are able to buy more pleasures, he said, but a recent study suggests that wealthier people “seem to be less able to savor the small things in life.”

What is the moral of the story?

In the end, people should pursue what they’re interested in, said Daniel H. Pink, author.

We’re taught that money-makes-the-world-go-round… and to save money for when we’ve retired,… While I understand that the researchers are trying to say that money doesn’t buy happiness, I actually would like to add a personal addendum… it certainly helps.

Filed under: Business, Finance, Random, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook…coming soon to a brick & mortar near you…


So this isn’t breaking news per se, as it already happened, this past Sunday.  BUT, if you didn’t know about this, then…BREAKING NEWS!!

Facebook is officially making their foray into retail stores, by way of gift cards.

The new Facebook gift cards will be available in values of $15, $25 and $50 at all of Target’s 1,750 retail stores and at Target.com. Two or three more national retailers will start selling the cards in coming months.

I know people who like to play those ridiculous games, ie. Oregon Trail, Mafia Wars, and Farmville,..but had no idea that

More than 200 million people play free social games on Facebook each month, according to Facebook.

Or that

(And) many of them are beginning to spend money on premium goods and services associated with those games.

More power to Facebook, for finding new creative ways to get people to spend money on ridiculous crap.  If people are willing to shell out money to play these virtual games (when they could be doing real life things…I mean, farming?? Really, when was the last time you planted a bushel of corn?? Does corn come in bushels? Clearly I’ve never played Farmville, so excuse my lack of knowledge), then why not make it seem like it’s halfway normal…by making the payment in gift card form.

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Social Media, Tech, , , , , , ,

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