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Trade deal aligns Ukraine with Europe

Fri, 2014-06-27 13:19

A HIGHLY SYMBOLIC AGREEMENT...

It was last November that Ukraine’s then president Viktor Yanukovych sparked what would become an international crisis when he pulled out of a trade deal with Europe. Seven months, one toppled presidency, and a Russian invasion later, that trade agreement has been signed.  

Current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the EU signed the deal today.

For many Ukrainians, such as Yulia Drozd, this was a potent confirmation of their European identity and destiny. 

“This is just a sign that the USSR period came to an end in Ukraine and this is a point of no return, you know, this is a joy, just a complete joy,” says Drozd, speaking from a café near Kiev’s main square.

While Drozd believes the accord will lead to economic improvement, “not really many people understand association with the EU from the economic point of view.”

..WITH SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS

But there are far reaching changes now set in motion as European tariffs on 98 percent of Ukrainian goods go down.   

“The calculations are that this would increase Ukraine’s exports altogether by 50 percent over five years or so and increase gross domestic product in the same period by 12 percent,” according to Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

He says the most obvious industry to benefit will be agriculture , which constitutes a third of Ukrainian exports already. The agreement is gradual in its exposure of Ukraine’s agricultural sector to foreign competition. Manufacturing investment from Europe and the U.S. for the purposes of exporting to Europe are also possible.

There are sectors that appear likely to suffer moving forward. “The less modern sectors,” says Åslund, among them steel and heavy machinery. These industries are centered in the Russia-leaning east of the country, and were focused on export to Russia. They have been the target of Russian import restrictions since the crisis began.    

A FOCUS ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND ANTI-CORRUPTION

The European association agreement also contains a list of reforms that Ukraine must undertake to fight endemic corruption and raise standards. “There are literally hundreds of laws that Ukraine has committed itself to adopt,” says Åslund. “And this means that the whole state apparatus in Ukraine which is in very bad shape, will be reformed using technical assistance from the European Union.”

“To give you an example, sixty state agencies of EU countries have made  contracts with corresponding state agencies in Ukraine that these EU agencies will reform these Ukrainian state agencies.”

Alexander Kliment, director of Russia research at Eurasia Group, says these things will lay a foundation for future growth. “The reforms involved in making the Ukrainian economy more efficient and less corrupt are by themselves big advantages.”

COSTS

“The gamble is that over the longer term meeting higher standards, European standards, will open larger markets and create more economic growth, but in the short term there are costs,” says Kliment.

As Ukraine brings regulatory codes ranging from phytosanitary requirements to standards for agricultural products and foodstuffs into harmony with European codes, Ukrainian businesses will have to adapt. “Ukrainian companies are used to meeting one set of standards in Ukraine will now have to invest to meet another set of higher standards,” and this will require investment.

Russia, fearful that its normally open borders with Ukraine would be flooded with European goods, has restricted many goods from crossing its borders since the current crisis began. 

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

The time frame along which the economic effects of the agreement unfold presents one of the greatest challenges to it. Ukrainian politicians, says Kliment, will have a difficult task of managing people's high expectations. “The benefits of this agreement are over the medium to long term, and people’s frustrations with agreements of this kind can come in the immediate to short term.”

U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in paid leave

Fri, 2014-06-27 13:17

Today, the Obama administration hosted the White House Summit on Working Families. It rolled out some new policy proposals, and focused attention on maternity and paternity leave, where the U.S. is an outlier in global rankings.

There were panels and plenaries, on topics like caregiving and compensation. Victoria Budson runs the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University, and she says the U.S. has some dubious distinctions. For one, it is “the only industrialized nation in the world that has no mandatory paid leave.”

About ten percent of Americans in the private sector can get some paid leave when they have kids.

“You know, this is a real black eye for the United States,” says Pamela Stone, a sociologist at Hunter College. She says today’s summit was designed to get more Americans to take notice.

“Something like this is really important for raising the visibility of an issue, but also legitimating an issue,” Stone says. “Telling people out there, this is an issue for you.”

The president brought the legitimacy, but the White House must have figured some star power could boost the summit’s visibility -- or get more Americans to watch the event’s live stream. So, organizers invited actress Christina Hendricks to participate.

Hendricks said she was proud to be representing, as she put it, “a working woman in two decades” -- Hendricks, the actress, and the character she plays on “Mad Men.”

“One who is fighting in the past for equality and one who is very, very excited to finally see that dream realized,” she said.

The upshot of today’s summit, however, is that dream has not been fully realized. According to Linda Houser, a professor of social work at Widener University, these issues have become increasingly visible.

“I mean, there are very few people that, in the course of their lives, don’t either care for a child or an adult,” she says.

But despite that, policies haven’t kept up.

U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in paid leave

Fri, 2014-06-27 13:17

Today, the Obama administration hosted the White House Summit on Working Families. It rolled out some new policy proposals, and focused attention on maternity and paternity leave, where the U.S. is an outlier in global rankings.

There were panels and plenaries, on topics like caregiving and compensation. Victoria Budson runs the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University, and she says the U.S. has some dubious distinctions. For one, it is “the only industrialized nation in the world that has no mandatory paid leave.”

About ten percent of Americans in the private sector can get some paid leave when they have kids.

“You know, this is a real black eye for the United States,” says Pamela Stone, a sociologist at Hunter College. She says today’s summit was designed to get more Americans to take notice.

“Something like this is really important for raising the visibility of an issue, but also legitimating an issue,” Stone says. “Telling people out there, this is an issue for you.”

The president brought the legitimacy, but the White House must have figured some star power could boost the summit’s visibility -- or get more Americans to watch the event’s live stream. So, organizers invited actress Christina Hendricks to participate.

Hendricks said she was proud to be representing, as she put it, “a working woman in two decades” -- Hendricks, the actress, and the character she plays on “Mad Men.”

“One who is fighting in the past for equality and one who is very, very excited to finally see that dream realized,” she said.

The upshot of today’s summit, however, is that dream has not been fully realized. According to Linda Houser, a professor of social work at Widener University, these issues have become increasingly visible.

“I mean, there are very few people that, in the course of their lives, don’t either care for a child or an adult,” she says.

But despite that, policies haven’t kept up.

Quit your job! It proves the economy's getting better

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:49

At this stage in the recovery —f ive years after the U.S. officially emerged from recession, labor economists would like to see the “quits rate” rise. It’s a measure of the percentage of people voluntarily leaving their employment — rather than being laid off or having a contract end. Workers might leave a job if they’ve been recruited for another one, or even to look for another job without having one already lined up. Or, they might quit to go back to school, or retire, or take a break from work altogether.

“When the economy is strong, people are more likely to be able to quit the job they’re in,” says labor economist Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute, “to take another job that has better opportunities for wage growth and advancement, perhaps it better matches their skills and interests.”

Since plummeting at the start of the Great Recession, the quits rate has been gradually rising. But (at 1.8 percent in April 2014, the most recent month for Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting), the quits rate is still nearly 20 percent below its pre-recession level, says Shierholz, and nowhere near what would be expected in a robust economy with plenty of job opportunities.

And Dan Finnigan at Jobvite thinks that for a long time to come, most American workers are going to be hesitant to take the risk of quitting. “The last recession actually frightened the workforce,” says Finnigan. “And most companies now have a difficult time convincing prospective employees that they’re going to be able to stick with them for a long career.” 

Executive coach Jean Erickson Walker in Portland, Oregon, leads career-building sessions for middle-aged managers and she urges people to consider leaving a current job if it’s not satisfying, or not providing opportunities for advancement. She says many workers have felt stuck for years in bad jobs, too fearful of unemployment and financial hardship to move on. 

“There's a restlessness that people have identified in their lives,” says Erickson Walker. “It's —‘I want to do something new, I want relief.’ This not the time yet, but I think it will be in the months to come, when you should feel comfortable leaving to look for something else.”

Indeed, quitting a decent job in this economy — without something as good or better already lined up — might sounds crazy in this economy.

But it’s exactly what Jean MacDonald, 53, did last year. She left a very successful software firm, which she had helped grow over a decade, to found App Camp for Girls in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. And raised $100,000 through crowdfunding to get the nonprofit off the ground.

The impetus to start a free summer program to teach teenage girls how to code came at a developers conference she attended in her previous job.

“I looked around the room, and I didn’t see any other women,” says MacDonald. “At that moment it hit me: ‘This just does not make sense.’” 

App Camp for Girls lasts one week and enrolls up to a dozen girls per session. (See the girls pitching their Apps at the end of last summer's session in Portland here.)

Now in its second season, it's expanded to Seattle, and MacDonald is recruiting volunteers to launch the program to other cities around the country.

For MacDonald, it’s a 60-hour-per-week job, and unpaid — at least so far.

“I really had a burning desire to do this,” she says. “Maybe I’m a masochist but I thought: 'Wow, I get to try all these things that I don’t know how to do.'”

MacDonald says if she can’t make. App Camp for Girls a paying gig eventually, she’ll go back to high tech. She's confident about that, too — she says firms are always looking for experienced, talented workers.

Quit your job! It proves the economy's getting better

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:49

At this stage in the recovery —f ive years after the U.S. officially emerged from recession, labor economists would like to see the “quits rate” rise. It’s a measure of the percentage of people voluntarily leaving their employment — rather than being laid off or having a contract end. Workers might leave a job if they’ve been recruited for another one, or even to look for another job without having one already lined up. Or, they might quit to go back to school, or retire, or take a break from work altogether.

“When the economy is strong, people are more likely to be able to quit the job they’re in,” says labor economist Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute, “to take another job that has better opportunities for wage growth and advancement, perhaps it better matches their skills and interests.”

Since plummeting at the start of the Great Recession, the quits rate has been gradually rising. But (at 1.8 percent in April 2014, the most recent month for Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting), the quits rate is still nearly 20 percent below its pre-recession level, says Shierholz, and nowhere near what would be expected in a robust economy with plenty of job opportunities.

And Dan Finnigan at Jobvite thinks that for a long time to come, most American workers are going to be hesitant to take the risk of quitting. “The last recession actually frightened the workforce,” says Finnigan. “And most companies now have a difficult time convincing prospective employees that they’re going to be able to stick with them for a long career.” 

Executive coach Jean Erickson Walker in Portland, Oregon, leads career-building sessions for middle-aged managers and she urges people to consider leaving a current job if it’s not satisfying, or not providing opportunities for advancement. She says many workers have felt stuck for years in bad jobs, too fearful of unemployment and financial hardship to move on. 

“There's a restlessness that people have identified in their lives,” says Erickson Walker. “It's —‘I want to do something new, I want relief.’ This not the time yet, but I think it will be in the months to come, when you should feel comfortable leaving to look for something else.”

Indeed, quitting a decent job in this economy — without something as good or better already lined up — might sounds crazy in this economy.

But it’s exactly what Jean MacDonald, 53, did last year. She left a very successful software firm, which she had helped grow over a decade, to found App Camp for Girls in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. And raised $100,000 through crowdfunding to get the nonprofit off the ground.

The impetus to start a free summer program to teach teenage girls how to code came at a developers conference she attended in her previous job.

“I looked around the room, and I didn’t see any other women,” says MacDonald. “At that moment it hit me: ‘This just does not make sense.’” 

App Camp for Girls lasts one week and enrolls up to a dozen girls per session. (See the girls pitching their Apps at the end of last summer's session in Portland here.)

Now in its second season, it's expanded to Seattle, and MacDonald is recruiting volunteers to launch the program to other cities around the country.

For MacDonald, it’s a 60-hour-per-week job, and unpaid — at least so far.

“I really had a burning desire to do this,” she says. “Maybe I’m a masochist but I thought: 'Wow, I get to try all these things that I don’t know how to do.'”

MacDonald says if she can’t make. App Camp for Girls a paying gig eventually, she’ll go back to high tech. She's confident about that, too — she says firms are always looking for experienced, talented workers.

Dan Washburn's new book on golf course ban in China

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:30

China is in the middle of a golf boom. In the past few years, the country has had about 4oo new golf courses built... and most of them are deemed illegal by the Chinese government. 

In Dan Washburn's new book, "The Forbidden Game," he follows three people who are involved with the golf industry in China. The new trend is seen as a bizarre activity through the friends and family members of Zhou Xunshu, one of the main characters in the book. Xunshu is from a small and poor village in China and it was when he got a job as a security guard in one of the main providences when he was introduced to the game. The only problem was that he was the only one in his village who knew about golf according to Washburn.

“The rest of his family has no idea what golf is… doesn’t understand it, doesn’t really care. I mean, they all wanted him to be a police man. Nobody in the family has been a police man before... so when he comes back, even if he’s ranked in the top 20 in China in golf, to many he’s still the son that never became a police.” 

The game of golf is for the rich and elite of China. While not a lot of people play or can afford the sport, Washburn says the activity is growing in popularity. 

“You can still say that statistically zero percent of the population plays golf. But the thing about China – statistically zero percent of one point four billion could still be… you know, a decent number.” 

Yet in the midst of its popularity, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the rapid construction of golf courses across the nation. The majority of land used to build golf courses are meant for agricultural purposes. Yet even if China tried to remove these golf courses, there's too many developing to start. 

“China is where all of the new golf courses are getting built. Some say, ‘if you’re not working in China in this industry, you may not be working at all. “   

Dan Washburn's new book on golf course ban in China

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:30

China is in the middle of a golf boom. In the past few years, the country has had about 4oo new golf courses built... and most of them are deemed illegal by the Chinese government. 

In Dan Washburn's new book, "The Forbidden Game," he follows three people who are involved with the golf industry in China. The new trend is seen as a bizarre activity through the friends and family members of Zhou Xunshu, one of the main characters in the book. Xunshu is from a small and poor village in China and it was when he got a job as a security guard in one of the main providences when he was introduced to the game. The only problem was that he was the only one in his village who knew about golf according to Washburn.

“The rest of his family has no idea what golf is… doesn’t understand it, doesn’t really care. I mean, they all wanted him to be a police man. Nobody in the family has been a police man before... so when he comes back, even if he’s ranked in the top 20 in China in golf, to many he’s still the son that never became a police.” 

The game of golf is for the rich and elite of China. While not a lot of people play or can afford the sport, Washburn says the activity is growing in popularity. 

“You can still say that statistically zero percent of the population plays golf. But the thing about China – statistically zero percent of one point four billion could still be… you know, a decent number.” 

Yet in the midst of its popularity, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the rapid construction of golf courses across the nation. The majority of land used to build golf courses are meant for agricultural purposes. Yet even if China tried to remove these golf courses, there's too many developing to start. 

“China is where all of the new golf courses are getting built. Some say, ‘if you’re not working in China in this industry, you may not be working at all. “   

Hot dog, it's a holiday week

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:07

From the Marketplace Datebook here's an extended look at events coming up the week of June 30:

What's happening in the housing market? On Monday the National Association of Realtors issues its monthly pending home sales index for May.

It's a holiday week for Congress leading up to Independence Day.

The National Organization for Women was established on June 30, 1966.

And remember Scarlett O'Hara's famous line? "After all...tomorrow is another day." We at Datebook headquarters love that sentiment. Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" was published on June 30, 1936 according to history.com. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for May.

Wanna take a ride? Wednesday is World UFO Day. Maybe you'll get lucky.

On Thursday the Labor Department releases its June jobs report.

And crank the A/C. We enter the dog days of summer.

U.S. markets are closed on Friday for Independence Day.

Exercising your independence with trip? You have some solid company. According to AAA 41 million Americans are rocketing out of town for the holiday.

And finally, July is National Hot Dog Month. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Los Angeles beats all other cities for hot dog consumption. I am filled with pride.

Hot dog, it's a holiday week

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:07

From the Marketplace Datebook here's an extended look at events coming up the week of June 30:

What's happening in the housing market? On Monday the National Association of Realtors issues its monthly pending home sales index for May.

It's a holiday week for Congress leading up to Independence Day.

The National Organization for Women was established on June 30, 1966.

And remember Scarlett O'Hara's famous line? "After all...tomorrow is another day." We at Datebook headquarters love that sentiment. Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" was published on June 30, 1936 according to history.com. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for May.

Wanna take a ride? Wednesday is World UFO Day. Maybe you'll get lucky.

On Thursday the Labor Department releases its June jobs report.

And crank the A/C. We enter the dog days of summer.

U.S. markets are closed on Friday for Independence Day.

Exercising your independence with trip? You have some solid company. According to AAA 41 million Americans are rocketing out of town for the holiday.

And finally, July is National Hot Dog Month. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Los Angeles beats all other cities for hot dog consumption. I am filled with pride.

Space tourism: Still for the future, New Mexico learns

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:27

Money's everywhere. And then sometimes… suddenly… it's not.

Down in the Southern New Mexico desert four years ago, there was a kind of birthday.

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, christened Virgin Galactic and promised tourists a two and a half hour flight to space for $250,000 per trip.

The operation set up shop outside Las Cruces at a place called Spaceport America.

Josh Wheeler wrote about it for Buzzfeed. "It rises up in the middle of the desert, almost from ground level, on the south side, then opens up with this giant three story glass wall with this giant runway, coming out of it on the other side. It's really sort of a beautiful building to find out in the middle of the desert."

Fred Martino, Director of Content at the public radio station KRWG in Las Cruces,  lives near the facility.

"When people heard about this idea, they really were excited about it. And not just from an economic development standpoint," Martino says. "The idea that they would live in the place where space travel would be possible, that was really an exciting idea. So was what the Spaceport could bring with it, in a state where 30 percent of children live in poverty. New Mexico would front the money for the Spaceport. And Virgin would pay rent, and bring big spending space tourists, money and jobs. Plus, a chance to be a part of something kind of magical."

Except, it hasn't happened yet. There have been no Virgin Galactic space flights in 2012. Or 2013. There were construction delays. Haggles with regulators. Insurance problems. Political fights .

"There was some concern at one point about Virgin Galactic's future in New Mexico," Martino says. "And it had to do with the legislation that was being proposed at the state level to give liability protection for the folks who do the launches, build the equipment for the spaceport. And the Spaceport came with a big price tag. More than $200 million… money from the state, the local counties, and their taxpayers. For now, the action at the Spaceport is mostly from Elon Musk's company Space X. And NASA."

Josh Wheeler rode the one bus on the one road that drives to it. "The couple times I visited nothing was happening out there."

Virgin Galactic has said it will stay at Spaceport America. But state officials are no longer counting on those space tourists to make the money back. "They were no longer going to get the economic development that comes from the being cradle of a nascent industry, they had to rely on the promise of a tourist boom," Wheeler says.

For now, those are the people New Mexico is relying on to recoup its money: what they call "terrestrial space tourists," who will ride a bus out to the desert to see the Spaceport, and never get off the ground.

"It's very ironic, that on the one hand you have people that can afford a $250,000 ticket going up into sub-orbital space, and getting those amazing views. And on the other hand, you'll have people that can't afford those tickets, who are expected to just come and watch those people who do have that money, go and have this potentially life changing experience," Wheeler says.

What happens next here? What Virgin Galactic does next will dictate that. Richard Branson told Fusion that he's "90 percent certain" they will launch this year.

We reached out to both Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, but as of now, we haven't heard back.

Space tourism: Still for the future, New Mexico learns

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:27

Money's everywhere. And then sometimes… suddenly… it's not.

Down in the Southern New Mexico desert four years ago, there was a kind of birthday.

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, christened Virgin Galactic and promised tourists a two and a half hour flight to space for $250,000 per trip.

The operation set up shop outside Las Cruces at a place called Spaceport America.

Josh Wheeler wrote about it for Buzzfeed. "It rises up in the middle of the desert, almost from ground level, on the south side, then opens up with this giant three story glass wall with this giant runway, coming out of it on the other side. It's really sort of a beautiful building to find out in the middle of the desert."

Fred Martino, Director of Content at the public radio station KRWG in Las Cruces,  lives near the facility.

"When people heard about this idea, they really were excited about it. And not just from an economic development standpoint," Martino says. "The idea that they would live in the place where space travel would be possible, that was really an exciting idea. So was what the Spaceport could bring with it, in a state where 30 percent of children live in poverty. New Mexico would front the money for the Spaceport. And Virgin would pay rent, and bring big spending space tourists, money and jobs. Plus, a chance to be a part of something kind of magical."

Except, it hasn't happened yet. There have been no Virgin Galactic space flights in 2012. Or 2013. There were construction delays. Haggles with regulators. Insurance problems. Political fights .

"There was some concern at one point about Virgin Galactic's future in New Mexico," Martino says. "And it had to do with the legislation that was being proposed at the state level to give liability protection for the folks who do the launches, build the equipment for the spaceport. And the Spaceport came with a big price tag. More than $200 million… money from the state, the local counties, and their taxpayers. For now, the action at the Spaceport is mostly from Elon Musk's company Space X. And NASA."

Josh Wheeler rode the one bus on the one road that drives to it. "The couple times I visited nothing was happening out there."

Virgin Galactic has said it will stay at Spaceport America. But state officials are no longer counting on those space tourists to make the money back. "They were no longer going to get the economic development that comes from the being cradle of a nascent industry, they had to rely on the promise of a tourist boom," Wheeler says.

For now, those are the people New Mexico is relying on to recoup its money: what they call "terrestrial space tourists," who will ride a bus out to the desert to see the Spaceport, and never get off the ground.

"It's very ironic, that on the one hand you have people that can afford a $250,000 ticket going up into sub-orbital space, and getting those amazing views. And on the other hand, you'll have people that can't afford those tickets, who are expected to just come and watch those people who do have that money, go and have this potentially life changing experience," Wheeler says.

What happens next here? What Virgin Galactic does next will dictate that. Richard Branson told Fusion that he's "90 percent certain" they will launch this year.

We reached out to both Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, but as of now, we haven't heard back.

Tech IRL: A second life for pay phones

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:21

Ever walk down the street and see a phone booth? Do you even notice it anymore?

There are some city planners and internet companies out there that do.

Cities in the United States and around the world are working on turning those neglected telephones into wi-fi hotspots. Among them: New York City.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joins Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary to explore tech in real life.

Tech IRL: A second life for pay phones

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:21

Ever walk down the street and see a phone booth? Do you even notice it anymore?

There are some city planners and internet companies out there that do.

Cities in the United States and around the world are working on turning those neglected telephones into wi-fi hotspots. Among them: New York City.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joins Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary to explore tech in real life.

What can art tell us about the economy?

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:53

It's a busy time of year for art collectors. Art Basel, one of the world’s biggest art shows in Switzerland, wrapped up a week ago. Now, London is in the middle of a few big art sales.

Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are selling impressionist and modern art one week, post-war and contemporary art the next. But no matter what era the art is from, people from all over the world are paying a whole lot of money for these pieces.

"By looking at what types of artists are selling well in any particular part of the world, you actually glean a lot of helpful information about how successful those parts of the world feel," says Kelly Crow, reporter for The Wall Street Journal. "When they feel successful they buy art. It’s a tried and true thing we’ve seen, especially in the last ten years."

Many of these London art bidders are participating by phone. And a lot of those calls are coming from Asia.

"When China wants to spend some serious money, they have it," says Crow. "And they certainly are interested in art more than they were a few years ago."

What can art tell us about the economy?

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:53

It's a busy time of year for art collectors. Art Basel, one of the world’s biggest art shows in Switzerland, wrapped up a week ago. Now, London is in the middle of a few big art sales.

Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are selling impressionist and modern art one week, post-war and contemporary art the next. But no matter what era the art is from, people from all over the world are paying a whole lot of money for these pieces.

"By looking at what types of artists are selling well in any particular part of the world, you actually glean a lot of helpful information about how successful those parts of the world feel," says Kelly Crow, reporter for The Wall Street Journal. "When they feel successful they buy art. It’s a tried and true thing we’ve seen, especially in the last ten years."

Many of these London art bidders are participating by phone. And a lot of those calls are coming from Asia.

"When China wants to spend some serious money, they have it," says Crow. "And they certainly are interested in art more than they were a few years ago."

My money story: Writer Anna Holmes

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:49

Every week, we have someone tell us their story about money. This week, writer and Jezebel creator Anna Holmes tells us how money impacted her life growing up.

It was 2008, and I was sitting in the Brooklyn home office of my longtime accountant, who informed me that I had, for the first time in my 15-year-career, made over $100,000 in a year.

To be exact, one hundred and two thousand, three hundred and fifty-four dollars. And seventy-two cents.

The six-figure mark filled me with pride, but it was short-lived. For one thing, I didn’t have much to show for it, other than a new outfit (or three), and maybe a couple of fancier dinners than I was accustomed to enjoying. For two, it was, I quickly realized somewhat guiltily, the first time I had ever made more money than either of my parents.

I grew up in a lower middle-class household in an affluent college town in Northern California. To say that money was a stressor in the lives of my parents — and in my own life — would be the truth, but not the whole truth.

My younger sister and I never went without. Our parents found the funds to buy us new clothes, new school supplies, take us on camping trips, and, once, when I was 15, send me to visit a friend in Australia. We were never without a roof over our heads. We had a car. We ate well, and, for the most part, we slept well too.

Even so, the financial stresses that my parents endured throughout my childhood felt personal and arbitrarily punitive, what with all the other kids and their trips to Tahoe, in shiny new BMW sedans, and their apparent ignorance of any sort of existence that would complicate their lives or keep them out of the trendiest clothes and away from the most sought-after vacation destinations.

Other kids’ parents, I suspected, did not worry so much about money, did not fret as to whether they’d be able to make the mortgage payment that month, or whether the cherry-red Chevrolet Nova was, as suspected, on its last legs, or how in God’s name they were going to pay for their children’s eventual college educations.

My parents’ financial insecurities made me feel impotent and terrified, and then, as I got older, they made me angry and determined, at which point I vowed that I would avenge some of the bad choices they had made and circumstances they had endured by growing up to become a wealthy adult, thereby ensuring that they would never have to worry about money again.

I would pay off my mom’s house, and buy my father a bungalow in nearby Berkeley, plus the Chevy Suburban he always wanted. They would, through me, obtain a status that they had not been able to attain otherwise, and when people looked at them they would not see a struggling single mom overwhelmed by two difficult adolescent daughters or a soft-spoken, middle-aged African-American male.

They would see two loving, intelligent, passionate, authentic human beings, and maybe, just maybe, my parents would be karmically rewarded for it.

What I didn’t know then was that my parents’ supposed humiliations were also — mostly — my own, and that six-figure salaries did not make up for the profound humiliations or petty jealousies and resentments that come from living in a sexist world, a racist world, or a capitalist world, which is to say, an often unfair world.

What I didn’t know then was that more money — a little or, perhaps, even a lot of it — wouldn’t profoundly change our narratives, wouldn’t bestow upon me or those to whom I was related the respect and rewards I believed were our due, if not our birthright. It would not make my parents any prouder of me, and, as was made perfectly clear as I grew older and the size of my annual salary increased, it certainly wouldn’t allow me to pay off that mortgage or buy that Berkeley bungalow.

The only thing that my making more money than my predecessors symbolized, in fact, was that my parents had not failed but succeeded, triumphed in their efforts give me access to the experiences and educations that might lead to the sort of professional and personal rewards they had only dreamed of.

That, really, was all they had ever wanted to do.

My money story: Writer Anna Holmes

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:49

Every week, we have someone tell us their story about money. This week, writer and Jezebel creator Anna Holmes tells us how money impacted her life growing up.

It was 2008, and I was sitting in the Brooklyn home office of my longtime accountant, who informed me that I had, for the first time in my 15-year-career, made over $100,000 in a year.

To be exact, one hundred and two thousand, three hundred and fifty-four dollars. And seventy-two cents.

The six-figure mark filled me with pride, but it was short-lived. For one thing, I didn’t have much to show for it, other than a new outfit (or three), and maybe a couple of fancier dinners than I was accustomed to enjoying. For two, it was, I quickly realized somewhat guiltily, the first time I had ever made more money than either of my parents.

I grew up in a lower middle-class household in an affluent college town in Northern California. To say that money was a stressor in the lives of my parents — and in my own life — would be the truth, but not the whole truth.

My younger sister and I never went without. Our parents found the funds to buy us new clothes, new school supplies, take us on camping trips, and, once, when I was 15, send me to visit a friend in Australia. We were never without a roof over our heads. We had a car. We ate well, and, for the most part, we slept well too.

Even so, the financial stresses that my parents endured throughout my childhood felt personal and arbitrarily punitive, what with all the other kids and their trips to Tahoe, in shiny new BMW sedans, and their apparent ignorance of any sort of existence that would complicate their lives or keep them out of the trendiest clothes and away from the most sought-after vacation destinations.

Other kids’ parents, I suspected, did not worry so much about money, did not fret as to whether they’d be able to make the mortgage payment that month, or whether the cherry-red Chevrolet Nova was, as suspected, on its last legs, or how in God’s name they were going to pay for their children’s eventual college educations.

My parents’ financial insecurities made me feel impotent and terrified, and then, as I got older, they made me angry and determined, at which point I vowed that I would avenge some of the bad choices they had made and circumstances they had endured by growing up to become a wealthy adult, thereby ensuring that they would never have to worry about money again.

I would pay off my mom’s house, and buy my father a bungalow in nearby Berkeley, plus the Chevy Suburban he always wanted. They would, through me, obtain a status that they had not been able to attain otherwise, and when people looked at them they would not see a struggling single mom overwhelmed by two difficult adolescent daughters or a soft-spoken, middle-aged African-American male.

They would see two loving, intelligent, passionate, authentic human beings, and maybe, just maybe, my parents would be karmically rewarded for it.

What I didn’t know then was that my parents’ supposed humiliations were also — mostly — my own, and that six-figure salaries did not make up for the profound humiliations or petty jealousies and resentments that come from living in a sexist world, a racist world, or a capitalist world, which is to say, an often unfair world.

What I didn’t know then was that more money — a little or, perhaps, even a lot of it — wouldn’t profoundly change our narratives, wouldn’t bestow upon me or those to whom I was related the respect and rewards I believed were our due, if not our birthright. It would not make my parents any prouder of me, and, as was made perfectly clear as I grew older and the size of my annual salary increased, it certainly wouldn’t allow me to pay off that mortgage or buy that Berkeley bungalow.

The only thing that my making more money than my predecessors symbolized, in fact, was that my parents had not failed but succeeded, triumphed in their efforts give me access to the experiences and educations that might lead to the sort of professional and personal rewards they had only dreamed of.

That, really, was all they had ever wanted to do.

'I can't believe I bought that...'

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:42

We've all done it.

It's way past your bedtime. Maybe you find yourself shopping online and then you buy ... THAT THING. You know, the one that makes you say, "I can't believe I bought that."

We've opened up our own museum of regret, and we want you to add yours. Check out our Tumblr at icantbelieveiboughtthat.tumblr.com. While you're there, leave us a story and a picture of the purchase you regret most.

Each week, we'll pick our favorite entry and feature it on our show.

To get the ball rolling, here's mine:

It's a lithograph ... I think? A big canvas print of a panda, holding six shooters, on a rainbow backdrop.

It came from the internet ... and there might have been some wine involved.

That's all I'm sayin'.

'I can't believe I bought that...'

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:42

We've all done it.

It's way past your bedtime. Maybe you find yourself shopping online and then you buy ... THAT THING. You know, the one that makes you say, "I can't believe I bought that."

We've opened up our own museum of regret, and we want you to add yours. Check out our Tumblr at icantbelieveiboughtthat.tumblr.com. While you're there, leave us a story and a picture of the purchase you regret most.

Each week, we'll pick our favorite entry and feature it on our show.

To get the ball rolling, here's mine:

It's a lithograph ... I think? A big canvas print of a panda, holding six shooters, on a rainbow backdrop.

It came from the internet ... and there might have been some wine involved.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Atop the Iron Throne of pirated TV

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:34

Have you been using our handy list of places to pirate this year's World Cup?

Not that we want to encourage you to do anything illegal, but, chances are, you're already well on your way. During the 2010 World Cup alone, millions of people around the world streamed the games through one of 18,000 illegal broadcasts. And that was back in 2010, when Blackberry phones were still hot tech.

FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, took the unprecedented move this year of warning several prominent sites not to allow illegal game streams. (Copyright owners usually wait for the law to be broken before taking action.)

But, ultimately, trying to shut down online piracy might be a futile effort by copyright owners. Case in point: Millions and millions of people love to watch "Game of Thrones" -- but only a share of them pay HBO for the privilege of watching one man crush another man's head with his bare hands. And if you're not one of the people using your ex-roommate's girlfriend's mom's boss's HBOGo account, you're one of the millions of people straight up illegally downloading copies of the show.

"Game of Thrones" has sat atop the Iron Throne of illegally downloaded TV shows three years in a row. In fact, TorrentFreak put together this list of the most pirated shows of 2013.

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