Investors head into the second quarter with a focus on the employment picture and how consumers are feeling about the U.S. economy.
LAGUNA BEACH, CA–(Marketwire – Jan 2, 2013) – “Lights! Camera! Inaction!” Excitement is already building for the 2013 Pageant of the Masters as it celebrates the 80th birthday of living pictures. In preparation of next summer’s show, The Big Picture, the Pageant is looking for men, women and children to volunteer. People of all sizes and ages are needed to be cast members in the world’s most famous presentation of tableaux vivants.
Continued here: Can You Stand Still? Pageant of the Masters Casting Call 2013
Social networking site to make settings easier to manage, giving users the ability to review every publicly available picture
Facebook is to make sweeping changes to its privacy controls, making them easier to find and offering people the means to review every publicly available picture of them on the site.
The move follows repeated criticism that the site made it too hard to keep information private, and kept shifting default settings to open up more data.
The change is the biggest overhaul to its privacy settings in more than a year, and will begin appearing to the site’s 1 billion registered users over the next few weeks. The most visible change will be “privacy shortcuts” which will show up as a tiny lock at the right-hand side of the screen, at the top of the “news feed”, with a menu offering answers to questions such as “Who can see my stuff?” and “Who can contact me?”
Another tool will let people review every publicly available picture on Facebook that includes them, with suggestions on how to ask for them to be removed. “If you spot things you don’t want on Facebook, now it’s even easier to ask the people who posted them to remove them,” the company said in a blogpost.
Users will also get more precise control when they first use most apps (though not games apps) of how much it can do – such as reading their profile and friends list, but stopping it from posting into their public feed.
Facebook has come under repeated fire from privacy advocates because it kept shifting the boundaries of where privacy ended and publicly visible data began, and made it hard to understand how to change those back.
Critics also said that Facebook made the changes intentionally to expose more data about people publicly so that it could benefit from selling adverts to them.
Facebook’s move, which it said is unconnected with a poll that ended at the weekend over users’ right to vote on changes in the service, is in effect an acknowledgement that its privacy settings had been hard to understand and control. This includes “rogue apps” which would post unwanted content into users’ feeds to try to pull in their friends.
Samuel Lessin, Facebook’s director of product management, said in the post: “We continue to strive toward three main goals: bringing controls in context where you share, helping you understand what appears where as you use Facebook, and providing tools to help you act on content you don’t like.”
Being able to remove embarrassing or unpleasant photos has become increasingly important for users of the nine-year-old service, many of whom first started using it while they were still at university in the US – but who are now discovering that their digital history has followed them around.
For many younger users now, Facebook has become a record of who they are – but also a source of potential disruption in their first work interviews or careers. Getting rid, or hiding, photos that might show them in compromising or unpleasant situations may be a high priority.
Company says airbrushing women out of pictures showcasing company’s products goes against its values
Ikea, the global furniture company, has apologised for deleting images of women from the version of its catalogue circulating in Saudi Arabia.
The issue was highlighted on Monday by the free newspaper, Metro, which compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the catalogue and showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company’s products.
Ikea’s Saudi catalogue, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, except for the absence of women.
One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth in the bathroom. However, a pyjama-clad woman standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version. Another picture of five women dining has been removed in the Saudi edition.
Ikea released a statement expressing regret over the issue, saying: “We should have reacted and realised that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the Ikea Group values.”
Women appear only infrequently in Saudi advertising, mostly on Saudi-owned television channels that show women in long dresses, with scarves covering their hair and long sleeves. In imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman’s body including arms, legs and chest.
When Starbucks opened its coffee shops in Saudi Arabia, it removed the long-haired woman from its logo, keeping only her crown.
Sweden’s equality minister, Nyamko Sabuni, said Ikea was a private company that made its own decisions, but added that it also projected an image of Sweden around the world.
“For Ikea to remove an important part of Sweden’s image and an important part of its values in a country that more than any other needs to know about Ikea’s principles and values, that’s completely wrong,” Sabuni told the Associated Press.
Ikea Group, one of the many branches in the company’s complicated corporate structure, said it had produced the catalogue for a Saudi franchisee outside the group.
“We are now reviewing our routines to safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point-of-view in the different versions of the Ikea catalogue worldwide,” it said.
Getting a clearer picture of today’s $3.3 billion buyout.
Continue reading here: Carlyle explains why it bought Getty
Short selling is a healthy way for the market to regulate itself. There is nothing inherently wrong with betting that a stock will go down when the fundamentals for a company paint an unhealthy picture.
Read this article: Short selling bans won’t stop bears – Opinion
Don’t be too hard on the poor bankers, or our hard-working criminals. They’re all doing their bit to help the economy
✒You probably haven’t read them but there’s been a rash of articles in the papers arguing that we should stop being beastly to the bankers. All right, there are a few bad apples but they do vital work for the economy. If they relocated to the Cayman Islands, we’d all be living in penury. That’s the gist. It’s a fair point. And it also applies to another all too frequently vilified group: Britain’s criminals.
It’s easy to let the unacceptable actions of a few – pulling out toenails to make people hand over pin numbers, gassing guards etc – colour our judgment. But in Britain we have the finest criminals in the world. By liberating vast sums of money that would otherwise lie fallow in banks or under old ladies’ mattresses, they increase demand and help kickstart the recovery. It’s a form of quantitative easing. Criminals employ many people in highly skilled jobs, such as safebreaking, computer hacking and personal security. If those jobs went abroad, we would all be losers. And every time they steal a car, another car rolls off the production line in Swindon or Sunderland. So let us show a bit of respect.
✒I bumped into Boris Johnson at the Spectator party. I asked him if he wasn’t embarrassed that the highly successful London bike rental scheme was sponsored by Barclays. Apparently not. He said solemnly: “If they give me another £50m, I will change my name to Barclays Johnson.”
✒A lot of Tory MPs are muttering about David Cameron’s failure to solicit their views. Because he doesn’t spend time with them, their protests, rebellions and glum mutterings come as a terrible surprise, causing him to make another screeching U-turn, as he did on the Europe referendum.
I was chatting about this to Chris Moncrieff, retired doyen of the parliamentary press gallery. He reminded me of a story about Ted Heath, who if anything was even more distant. Peter Walker, an adviser, told him he ought to spend more time talking to the troops, rather than simply laying down the law.
So he was delighted when he went into the tea room and found the prime minister in conversation with a backbencher. Walking past, he heard Heath say: “You do realise that your speech yesterday was absolutely dreadful…”
✒On Monday I went to the memorial service for Jack Ashley, the Labour MP who was deaf for 25 years but who didn’t let it slow him down at all. Jack worked with incredible energy for the disabled, of whom plenty turned out, including probably dozens of thalidomide victims, for whom he fought ferociously against the Distillers Company, alongside Harry Evans of the Sunday Times.
Jack (he was the father of our columnist Jackie Ashley) applied to Cambridge, and explained that he had left school at 14 without taking any exams. He had read only two books since then. When they looked surprised, he said: “That’s why I want to come here – to read all the books I’ve missed,” or words to that effect. Caius College took him in, and he became president of the union. He was an atheist, but as someone said: “If he was wrong, then next to the stairway to heaven there’s now a ramp.”
✒We drove up to Derbyshire last weekend so I could speak at the excellent Ashbourne festival. Driving with a radio becomes more surreal these days. You’re listening to Radio 4, or PopMaster on the Ken Bruce show, perhaps a talking book. Suddenly you’re interrupted by someone on local radio banging on about a burst pipe in Milton Keynes, or something stranger. On Saturday we heard that there was “very slow traffic near Goodwood, owing to the Festival of Speed.”
We stopped for an excellent lunch in the garden of the Three Horseshoes at Breedon on the Hill. The hill is a limestone outcrop, topped by a fort and an ancient church. It can be seen from miles away; it’s rather like the Dordogne.
There’s a tiny stone lock-up at the foot of the hill, which was used into Victorian times for drunks, petty criminals and stray cattle – I don’t suppose they bothered cleaning the place before shoving in the people. But it is a pleasing reminder that some parts of this country are still unwrecked.
✒On Sunday we decided to visit Chatsworth. Our host in Ashbourne, an architect, told us not to waste our time. Haddon Hall, about five miles away, was far more interesting. And he was right. It’s a gorgeous moated manor house, which is not only beautiful and beguiling, but also staffed by amazingly friendly people. In many of these places they won’t let you take pictures. At Haddon Hall, one of the attendants offered to take ours.
It’s fortified against a siege that never happened. Now even the buttresses are covered in roses. You expect to see a sign saying: “Welcome invaders! While you’re with us, don’t forget to visit our restaurant with a wide selection of home-cooked dishes. And do take time to look in our well-stocked gift shop!”
Chatsworth, by contrast, is a gigantic money-maker. It even looks slightly like an old-fashioned cash register. I did some sums, and I don’t see how a family of four could get out – if they had a snack lunch, a guided tour of the house and a trip to the gift shop – for less than £100. It’s spectacular, the maze is fun, but you do feel that it is basically a well-oiled machine for opening your wallet.
The fashion these days seems to be for the owners to put their picture on the front of the leaflet, with a message welcoming you to their lovely home. I might make one myself.
“Hello, I’m Simon Hoggart, and my wife and I are delighted that you have chosen to visit us today. Your family ticket will cost nothing, and our award-winning lunch will be free. Please enjoy our home. The unisex toilet is on the first floor …”
Despite promising signs earlier this year, America’s jobless picture today is actually worse than many us thought.
See the original post here: Why American workers are worse off today
Though academic research suggests that the stocks of companies that make political donations perform worse than ones that don’t, this year’s elections could see corporate political spending skyrocket with a Supreme Court ruling having opened the door for unlimited spending on campaigns. Shareholders at Boeing (BA), IBM, PepsiCo (PEP) and BofA (BAC) seem to get the picture – having put forward motions to curb political spending. But their resolutions failed, so execs may squander more resources on campaigns with no benefit to investors. Post your comment!
Go here to read the rest: Though academic research suggests that the stocks of companies that make political donations perform worse than ones that don’t, this year’s elections could see corporate political spending skyrocket with a Supreme Court ruling having opened the door…
Slump in financial services, building and the high street mean it is unlikely economic growth can be regained until 2014
Britain’s economy has sunk into recession for the second time in three years after a dramatic slump across the financial services and construction sectors and a poor start to the year on the high street.
Official figures showed the economy contracted in the first three months of the year after a poor performance before Christmas. This meant it registered two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the standard definition of a recession. The economy is now in its longest depression for 100 years, with little sign of regaining its previous record output before 2014.
A silver lining was provided by a CBI survey of the manufacturing sector that pointed to a recovery in sales and confidence, albeit from one of its worst slumps on record in January. And a survey by the British Retail Consortium found an increasing willingness by shop owners to hire workers. More than 3,000 jobs were created, mainly by large supermarkets opening new stores.
But HSBC, Britain’s largest bank, offset this news when it announced plans to shed 2,000 staff in its UK retail division over the next year as part of a worldwide redundancy programme. Banks have cut thousands of jobs in the past few years to reduce costs and cope with a sharp slowdown in business caused by the financial crisis and subsequent drop in lending.
The business and financial services sector fell by 0.1% in the first three months of the year. The once all-powerful financial services sector, which accounts for a whopping 29% of GDP, “made the largest negative contribution”, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The CBI said it was concerned that poor GDP figures would persuade other employers that a recent improvement in sentiment across several sectors was misplaced, leading them to reverse plans to add jobs and increase investment. Forecasters have pencilled in growth of around 0.8% this year followed by a jump to 2% next year. But several economists argue that, without a rethink of its austerity measures by the Treasury and limited plans for investment, growth could evaporate next year as quickly as it did over the past two years.
After a series of small ups and downs, output has flatlined since September 2010, according to the ONS, shortly after the coalition government took office. Its latest survey of output showed a contraction of 0.2% in the first quarter after a 0.3% decline in the last three months of 2011.
Several European countries have been hit by double-dip recessions following turmoil in the eurozone and the fallout from the Greek crisis. Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands have all seen growth turn negative in the past six months. Spain, in particular, is expected to remain in difficulty throughout the year as it wrestles with soaring unemployment, rising debt levels and a fall in consumer spending after wage and benefit cuts.
Concern over Spain’s future and the possibility it will need a multibillion-euro bailout from Brussels and the International Monetary Fund has weighed heavily on global growth. While the situation in the UK is less acute, the government could face a similar squeeze towards the end of the year once welfare benefit cuts, limits on tax credit payments and persistently high inflation have taken their toll.
Pay rises have lagged behind inflation for more than two years, cutting disposable incomes and hurting high street spending, with a knock-on effect for the Treasury in lower tax receipts. But the US economy has grown strongly. Ben Bernanke, the central bank chief, said on Wednesday that the outlook remained on course for moderate growth, although he cited Europe as a reason to be cautious. The US economy is expected to have grown 2.5% in the first quarter when estimates are published on Friday. The ONS said that Britain’s service industries, which make up more than three-quarters of the economy, grew by just 0.1% in the first quarter, after declining by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of last year. Industrial output was 0.4% lower, while construction shrank by 3% – the biggest drop since the start of 2009.
Like the US Fed, the Bank of England has refrained from pumping more money into the economy under its quantitative easing programme, which currently stands at £325bn.
“The biggest surprise – and perhaps the most worrying element of this report – was the disappointment in services output,” said Alan Clarke at Scotia bank. “Ironically, construction, which had the most potential to determine whether or not the UK is in recession, proved much less negative than feared. The Bank [of England] recently highlighted that it cares most about underlying growth. Our gauge of underlying GDP showed zero growth – still very disappointing.”
The GDP figures conflict with other recent surveys, which have painted a steadily improving economic picture.Economists also question the reliability of the construction numbers. Joe Grice, the statistics office’s chief economist, said the bigger picture is that the UK economy, in volume terms, was flat between January and March compared with the same period last year. Looking at the UK since last summer, he added that the picture is of “a flattish economy”. Britain is the first major economy to report GDP data for the first quarter of 2012.