Shoppers around the world may have tightened their belts, but the world’s biggest clothing retailer is doing the opposite -- it is expanding fast. The Spanish company Inditex, which owns Zara among other chain stores, has just unveiled an impressive set of figures: a 22 percent jump in profits.
Large does not necessarily mean unwieldy, and Inditext is the proof. The world’s biggest clothing retailer is also one of the nimblest; it invented fast fashion. By manufacturing more than 50 percent of its products itself the Inditex chains can respond quickly to changing tastes.
“There’s something new in the stores almost every couple of weeks which gives shoppers a reason to go back to those stores every couple of weeks," says Rahul Sharma, a retail analyst with Neev Capital. "This makes it a very exciting place to shop; brings people in.”
In spite of the recession in Europe and economic malaise elsewhere, the model seems to be working everywhere from China to Russia to the U.S. Inditex now has 6,000 stores in 86 countries -- a rare success story for Spain. The company’s founder, Amancio Ortega , has just leapfrogged Warren Buffet as the world’s third richest man.
With the Masters less than a month away and two PGA wins this season, a win in two weeks would mean Tiger is again number one in the world. And it shows, says Jay Coffin, editor at Golfchannel.com.
"He's got the swagger, he's got the look, he's got the confidence, he's got the name," Coffin says. And last week on a golf course in Doral, Florida, Coffin says the stands were flooded with fans.
"Just about everybody that was at that golf course wanted a piece of what it was that he was doing, because they feel that he's back. Because it looks like he has the potential to do things that he used to do," says Coffin.
But has Tiger gotten his sponsorship mojo back? That depends, says David Schwab, senior vice president at Octagon, a sports and entertainment marketing agency.
"Nobody agrees with what he did," Schwab says. "The question is, is he a legitimate, authentic, true endorser for a product that one would buy? And for products that are performance related, he is."
Tiger's indiscretions cost him his wife, and some huge endorsement deals like Gatorade and Gillette. But remaining are lucrative contracts with Nike, Rolex, and EA Sports.
Woods is still in a position where he can pick and choose endorsement deals, Schwab says. But it's unclear whether he'll ever win back the deals where moms are often doing the shopping, especially grocery items and other consumer goods.
The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project has a new study that looks at teens and their use of computers, tablets and smartphones. Looks like smartphone use by teenagers is skyrocketing. As of late last fall, 37 percent of U.S. teens have smartphones, up from 23 percent just in 2011.
Pew's Mary Madden and Amanda Lenhart wrote the study, and offered other tidbits from their research on teens and how they're using technology.
- Nine in ten (95 percent) U.S. teens ages 12-17 use the Internet. About three in four (74 percent) say they access the Internet on cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices at least occasionally.
- 78 percent of teens now have a cellphone, and almost half (47 percent) of those own smartphones. That translates into 37 percent of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23 percent in 2011.
- One in four teens are “cell-mostly” Internet users -- far more than the 15 percent of adults who are cell-mostly. Among teen smartphone owners, half are cell-mostly.
- Most teens have at least a basic cellphone by age 12 or 13. Among teens ages 12-13, 68 percent have a cell phone. Just 23 percent of younger teens have a smartphone.
- More than 4 in 5 teens with cellphones sleep with the phone on or near the bed.
- 75 percent of all teens text, and 63 percent say that they use text messages to communicate with others every day.
- 26 percent of American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving, and 48 percent of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel.
- One in four teens (23 percent) have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
- Nine in ten (93 percent) teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71 percent) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
- Eight in ten teens use social networking sites. Two in three (65 percent) social media-using teens have had an experience on a social network site that made them feel good about themselves, while 15 percent say they have been the target of online meanness.
So what might this mean for businesses looking to market to teens? Click on the audio player above to hear more.
On Wednesday night, President Obama speaks to big money donors and activists at an event for Organizing for Action, the group former top Obama aides run to support the President’s political agenda. Tickets went for $50,000 per person. OFA is a 501(c)(4) group, so it’s able to raise unlimited money, without telling where it comes from.
Dark money groups are nothing new on the left or right. They spent a fortune in the last election. But this one’s got something special.
“The problem is they’re a dark money group with a direct tie to the president,” says Lisa Rosenberg of the open government group Sunlight Foundation. “It’s an opportunity to sell access to the president to the highest bidder.”
Rosenberg and many like her have been sounding the alarm about a new wave of money in politics since Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling declaring open season on political spending by corporations and unions. President Obama joined the chorus during his 2010 State of the Union speech, prompting Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to famously shake his head from his second row seat.
Critics cried hypocrisy when the OFA launched. In response, the organization recently said it won’t take corporate, foreign or lobbyist money, and it promises some quarterly disclosure. But critics say the disclosure is disturbingly infrequent and incomplete.
“We will never really know if they are disclosing what they say they’re going to be disclosing,” says Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics. “Because 501(c)(4)s aren’t required to disclose their donors.”
Her group tracks money in politics, something made increasingly difficult by the explosive growth of dark money groups. But, following the money is a growth industry.
Mark Garrison: These organizations are nothing new, but OFA has something special.
Lisa Rosenberg: The problem is they’re a dark money group with a direct tie to the President.
Lisa Rosenberg is with the Sunlight Foundation.
Rosenberg: It’s an opportunity to sell access to the President to the highest bidder with really minimal disclosure.
Of course an open government activist would complain. But so did this guy.
President Obama: I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests.
At the 2010 State of the Union, the President attacked the Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited corporate and union political spending. Responding to criticism, OFA said it won’t take corporate, foreign or lobbyist money. And it promises to ID big donors.
Viveca Novak: We will never really know if they are disclosing what they say they’re going to be disclosing because 501(c)(4)s aren’t required to disclose their donors.
Viveca Novak is with the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money. Her field is a growth industry. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Mayor Cory Booker in the headline. The text has been corrected.
South By Southwest might be a festival of rock, movie, and technology stars. But the festival in Austin, Texas also had a visit from a politician. Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker spoke at a hack-a-thon event put together by some of Lady Gaga's social media team. Booker hopes to join the festival’s tech stars with a startup called #waywire, which aims to help regular people create multimedia content that can be searched easily.
Marketplace Tech caught up with Booker at the Festival to find out more about his new start-up and social media philosophy.
"The problem with these massive utilities like Youtube is that it is very hard to discover the video that you really need," Booker said. "What I started realizing with things like Pandora, was creating algorithms better brought music that I really enjoyed. I said wait a minute, why isn't there something like this for video?"
Booker is also known for tweeting around the clock and painstakingly documenting his adventures -- including an instance when he saved a neighbor from a burning building. Though recognized for his heroics, some criticize him for over-sharing.
"I get yelled at all the time," Booker said, also noting that his own staff worries he tweets too much. Nevertheless, Booker advises people to be authentic.
"If you are up at two in the morning and you are thinking something, consider sharing it with people,” he said. “If you have a corny joke -- Corny and Cory are one letter apart -- put them out there. Let's stop putting our politicians up on a pedestal and start realizing they are just like us, they have insomnia, they drink too much caffeine, they get frustrated sometimes."
Booker sees social media as a powerful way to connect government to constituents. The mayor even remembers the the tweet that first carried him across what he called "the Rubicon." When welcoming troops back from Afghanistan, he received a tweet from a veteran in California who needed support services and was able to lend a hand.
For his part, Booker is clearly is more impressed with the transformative power of technology and less worried about what it does to you. Even so, he said tech companies need to work harder on boosting diversity and supporting diverse enterprises.
"I believe in humanity's ability to create [and] innovate," Booker said. "Technology is going to be [an] accelerating force to make real Martin Luther King's vision. [Martin Luther King] said we are all 'caught in an inescapable network of mutualities.' That network that ties us together is getting more rapid, those connections that can now be made cross geography, race, religion."
Where are you from? Jessica Hong, a Korean-American, is constantly asked about her heritage, often before people learn anything else about her. Charley Sullivan found himself on the wrong side of the same question when he was 12 years old.
The Michigan senator tells NPR he wants to focus on the fiscal battle, not campaigning, in his last two years. He wants to push for ending tax loopholes and advocate for programs like education, health care and infrastructure.
A 28-year-old computer wizard known as the Harvester, along with his online rebel friends, have hacked into a pro-regime TV station as part of their ongoing battle against the government's electronic army.
GlobalPost has learned that hundreds of young Saudis are flocking to Syria in a "holy war" against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They are taking up arms with the tacit approval of the Saudi government and financial support from wealthy Saudi elites.
If you're homeless, you can be on your feet for hours, forced to sleep in the frigid cold, or seriously ill with no place to go. But increasingly, the nation's homeless population is aging — more than half of single homeless adults are 47 or older. Linwood Hearne, 64, and his wife have been homeless for four years, sleeping near Interstate 83 in Baltimore.
The big donors behind Karl Rove's Crossroads superPAC have started a new project to vet and recruit Republican candidates they believe can win. But some anti-establishment groups have viewed the project as an inside-the-Beltway power grab.
For commentator Frank Deford, it seems unfair that students who pursue other extracurricular talents — like music — should be placed in a subsidiary position to their classmates who happen to play sports.
Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act. But the 2012 vice presidential nominee's dislike of the health care law doesn't appear to extend to the $800 billion in new taxes it raises over the next decade.
The settlement stems from what Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is in Rome helping elect the next pope, called "the most troubling case of his tenure."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated three appointees, saying Obama overstepped his authority by making "recess appointments."
Under pressure from the New York state comptroller — who oversees one of its largest shareholders — the doughnut chain has agreed to set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil to make its doughnuts. Production of palm oil has caused serious deforestation in Indonesia.
In 1944, Von Kleist volunteered to wear a suicide vest. After another bombing plot went wrong, Von Kleist ended up in a concentration camp. Somehow — and inexplicably — he was let go and he lived to see 90.
Nearly 200 smaller airports, including Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pa., are set to have their control towers closed this year as the FAA makes sequestration cuts. Although commercial flights will continue, some say safety is a concern.
The proposal describes changes to the Medicare program in Obamacare-like terms. One change would be to the choices seniors would have as part of a "new Medicare exchange" — similar to the insurance exchanges now being built under the Affordable Care Act.
In his annual assessment of threats, the director of national intelligence also cited Iran and North Korea. He warned the spending cuts mandated under the sequestration jeopardized the nation's safety.