People are told that if you want to get a point across, look your audience straight in the eyes. But that works only if the person already agrees with you, a study finds. When people don't share the speaker's opinion, looking them in the eye may actually make them less likely to change their minds.
Herman Wallace, who spent more than four decades in solitary confinement after his conviction on murder charges related to a 1972 prison riot, is now suffering from liver cancer. A U.S. district judge in Louisiana ruled that Wallace had not received a fair trial.
Could government agents really get access to all your private data in less than a minute? Experts say no but warn we are moving in that direction.
One of the things the government does -- when it’s not shut down -- is collect, analyze and publish economic information. Here are some things that won’t get released or collected -- at least for as long as the shutdown continues.
The retail sales report, factory orders, international trade statistics, and what Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, calls “the big daddy of all the economic indicators”: the September employment report. It’s supposed to come out Friday, but as happened the last time the government closed shop in December 1995, the jobs report may be delayed.
All this data is important for investors.
“I think it’s a big jump to say we’re going to miss a huge trend in the pace of recovery by missing just a couple days of data,” says analyst Keith Davis with Farr Miller and Washington.“But if [the shutdown] stretches on for two or three weeks, investment advisors like ourselves are going to be running blind,” he says.
“We’re going to have to make investment decisions without knowing how fast the recovery is going, whether it’s decelerating or accelerating,” Davis adds.
The data vacuum is likely to make markets volatile.
“After a few weeks, it starts creating a lot of uncertainty, and investors will be skittish,” says Chris Thornberg, founding partner at Beacon Economics.
The data that’s not getting collected now, like inflation or jobs for October, may never get collected if the government closure drags on.
There is non-government data out there, but economist Low says that in the past few months, it has painted a misleadingly strong impression of the economy.
“To some extent, we use data to determine how strong the economy is, and from that market interest rates are determined,” he says. “If we were forced to rely on private sector data, interest rates would be quite a bit higher than they are now.”
In a growing economy, investors would shift away from the safe haven of Treasury bills, so those bond prices would decline, thus raising their yield, or effective interest rate. (Mortgage-backed-securities would then have to compete with that higher yield, and so mortgage rates would have rise. Read more about that dynamic here.)
Typically, the economy doesn’t fluctuate wildly in a short span of time, so a few missed data releases in normal times isn’t the end of the world.
“The problem,” says Justin Wolfers, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an economics professor at the University of Michigan, “is if we’re about to face abnormal times -- and Congress appears to be trying to make times abnormal – we won’t be able to see it immediately obviously in the data and possibly not quickly enough to change course on policy.”
So basically, we can’t tell how bad the government shutdown is for the economy because of the government shutdown.
Nearly five million people visited healthcare.gov Tuesday. That's the main website for the new insurance exchanges. Another five million or so are expected today.
Whether they'll have better luck navigating all the technical glitches is anybody’s guess.
But like it or not, buying health insurance online is the future. And while that may be convenient consumers, it's not such great news for the more than 100,000 insurance agents and brokers who depend on commissions for a living.
As the curtain comes up on the new health exchanges, Virginia-based insurance broker Jonathan Katz reports business has been hopping.
“In the last two days, I’ve received over 40 calls and 50 emails a day,” he says. “Current clients asking ‘what are we going to do with my current plan? What’s my situation?’”
Katz knows that questions and sales aren’t the same thing. And with millions of new customers shopping for insurance under Obamacare, a lot of future sales are going to happen on line without a broker.
Still Katz thinks he’s got an edge.
“Have you tried to get on healthcare.gov?” he asks. “Have you been successful? There you go.”
Brokers are hoping the technical glitches, and the complicated nature of health insurance with the premiums, deductibles and government subsidies will drive consumers straight to that quaint office in the neighborhood.
It’s a nice fantasy, says University of Pennsylvania Professor Tom Baker.
“If insurance companies can get enough business through exchanges, where they aren’t going to have to pay brokerage fees, then they are going to prefer to go through the insurance exchanges,” he says.
Fierce price competition on the exchanges could also eat away at insurance company profits, squeezing brokers commissions.
But Baker thinks some insurance agents will adapt and survive.
“Expedia by the way is an example of a travel agent that reinvented itself for the internet world a broker could be similar,” he says.
Baker says the Jonathan Katz's of the world could develop sophisticated websites that allow consumers to shop just like the exchanges do.
But with more than 100,000 brokers in the mix, he says lots of them are going to be looking for new jobs.
Tom Clancy, master of the political thriller, has died.
Many of his best-selling novels became box-office gold; he lent his names to videogames.
Tom Clancy was a brand. One of the very first authors-as-brand.
People wanted what Clancy had, says Jim Milliot with Publishers Weekly. "They want to go to the movies because it’s a Clancy movie. They want to play the video game because it’s a Clancy video game.”
As an analyst-turned-reluctant-hero-turned-president, Jack Ryan may just be the next James Bond. He’s cool. He’s likeable. He’s all over the world. A combo which could add up to movie-theatre longevity.
“It’s really global political thriller that we’re talking about,” says USC film professor Jason E. Squire, “and what could be better in this age of global blockbuster movies.”
Squire thinks it’s up to the estate and the studio to stay true to the character that Tom Clancy created.
Doing the numbers on Tom Clancy:
4: Actors who have portrayed Clancy's character Jack Ryan -- Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.
736: Pages in what is to be Clancy's last published book, "Command Authority," set for release on Dec. 3, 2013.
3: Board games based on Clancy works -- "The Hunt for Red October," "Red Storm Rising" and "Tom Clancy's Politika."
19: Total number of novels published by Clancy.
1996: The year Clancy co-founded the video game developer Red Storm Entertainment, which put out a number of successful video games including the "Rainbow Six," "Ghost Recon" and "Splinter Cell" series.
$215,000,000: Box office total for the 1994 film "Clear and Present Danger," based on the novel of the same name and starring Ford.
Right now Republicans and Democrats aren't just competing over the best public policies to move the government forward. They're also competing over how much money they're making while the government has ground to a halt.
The Democratic National Committee says it's raised nearly $2 million online since the weekend. DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee said Monday alone was record-breaking: $850,000 in 24 hours; 30,000 individual donors, many of them first-time.
“It was our biggest fundraising day since before the 2012 election,” he said. “I think it was a combination of a lot of excitement about Obamacare about to go live, as well as a lot of frustration with the dysfunction in Congress and the Republican shutdown.”
Over at the Republican National Committee, press secretary Kirsten Kukowski sees the Democrats fundraising windfall differently. “We're kind of wondering if the reason they've refused to come to the table over the last couple of days is because they feel like they're getting something out of it monetarily.”
But the Republicans are getting something out of it too. Kukowski says the RNC has raised over $1 million since Monday morning and seen “a great response” on the government shutdown and on Obamacare.
Stephen S. Smith, a political scientist at Washington University, says the money flowing to both parties during the government shutdown isn’t some lucky coincidence. “They've been strategizing about this for months,” he said. “They've prepared mailings. They've prepared emails. They've got fancy websites.”
Lest you get cynical about all the donations that are flooding in to both parties in a moment of self-made political crisis, Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics says at least it's a sign that people are finally engaged. “Political participation frankly is not a bad thing in and of itself. If we had millions of individuals giving small donations, we'd likely have a much healthier political system.”
Of course, we don't know exactly who is giving the donations right now -- big donors or small -- because the Federal Elections Commission, which monitors that stuff, is shut down.