How Big Business is Lining Up With Hillary

Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to win over just the middle class. She wants to win over business elites as well. And in this tightening labor market, with business worried about losing workers to the growing demand for higher wages, there’s ample evidence that what she has started to advocate is increasingly aligned with what many businesses are beginning to do.  

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Don't Worry About China

Over the past month, as Greece has occupied headlines, China has been rocked by a crashing stock market. The oscillations appear far from over, with the Shanghai exchange up 6 percent on Wednesday, having plummeted more than 30 percent in the weeks before, which still leaves the index up about 80 percent over the past 52 weeks. That amounts to trillions of dollars gained and then lost in a very short time.

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The Greek Catastrophe Is Finally Here (Unless It Isn’t)

It was a grim weekend in Greece, and it’s likely to be an even grimmer week ahead, both for the Greeks and the European (and possibly world) economy. What wouldnormally be the beginning of the profitable tourist season—a summer idyll in the lovely Greek islands and crowds piling into the Parthenon—has turned into the next chapter of the slow-motion economic train wreck that the world has been witnessing queasily since 2011. Now the wreck is finally here, and the only real question—the one none of us can really answer—is whether it will be modest or huge.

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GDP’s Going Down? That’s Good!

It’s our national mantra: GDP. Gross Domestic Product. No other figure rules our world more completely. We saw it again this week when the government released its latest revision of the first-quarter GDP numbers that showed the U.S. economy is contracting slightly. The only thing that’s now growing, it seems, is the fretting of pundits and economists over the new numbers. Their common cry: How do we get things moving again?

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Spotting Safe and Risky Assets Isn’t So Easy

In today’s investing world, it appears that the search for safety is trumping risk. Although frequent commentary trumpets bubbles in riskier investments, that is not consistent with the hard data on money flows. The result of so much money chasing safety is quite the opposite of what we might want: So much money pouring into assets perceived as safe is actually making those assets riskier. Those riskier assets are attracting less money and fewer players, and as a result, may be safer than they appear. In short, today’s market presents a conundrum: There may be more risk in safety, and more safety in risk.

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GDP and Other Mysteries

The statistics that drive our big-picture economic thinking — GDP, unemployment figures, and inflation rates, among others — have come to be regarded as nearly sacrosanct. Investors, policymakers, and everyday consumers rely on them to make decisions trivial and earthshaking alike, often measured in trillions of dollars. Zachary Karabell, in his book The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World, traces the history of these numbers and questions how useful they actually are.

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Are Companies Thinking for the Long Term Again?

Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, recently penned a letter urging a fundamental shift in corporate thinking. Dispatched to the CEOs of the world’s largest companies, Fink’s letter criticized the relentless pressure of “activist” shareholders who push for immediate returns. He wrote, “More and more corporate leaders have responded with actions that can deliver immediate returns to shareholders, such as buybacks or dividend increases, while underinvesting in innovation, skilled workforces or essential capital expenditures necessary to sustain long-term growth.”

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Are the Germans Going to Crash the World Economy?

As Greece squeezes by without a “Grexit” — earlier this week eurozone ministers approved a four-month bailout extension— markets, politicians, pundits are far calmer today than they were a few years ago. Back then, in the fall of 2011, the prospect of a eurozone without Greece sent global markets into turmoil. Granted, it was bad year, what with a near-U.S. debt default and pervasive fears of a European Monetary Union undone by mountains of bad bank debt. By late November 2011, international credit markets were exhibiting the same danger signs of stress that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, and it appeared that the long-feared next stage of a global financial implosion was at hand. It took the simultaneously actions of the world’s central banks, followed by a “final” bailout of Greece by the “troika” of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the Eurozone countries to the tune of 240 billion Euros.

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Is Hillary Running for Bill’s Third Term?

When Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy on Sunday, the Republicans will no doubt redouble their efforts to make the case that a vote for Hillary is a vote for Barack Obama’s third term—and the GOP believes no one wants that, for Pete’s sake. Clinton’s campaign, by contrast, will almost certainly make a very different case: If they vote for her, Americans will be getting something far closer to Bill Clinton’s third term.

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Lead, America, or Get Out of the World’s Way

The United States is doing a poor job of leading the global economy. But apparently we won’t let anyone else lead it either. In a world increasingly defined by the global flow of goods and services, Washington finds not just curiously adrift but actively at odds with itself and a coherent approach.

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FMN: Leading Indicators - A Brief History of Numbers That Rule Our World

Zachary Karabell on Leading Indicators of Success Every day we are bombarded with numbers. Some tell us how we are doing. Others indicate whether the economy is growing or shrinking and whether the future looks bright or dim. Figures showing gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation and consumer confidence guide our actions, yet few of us know what they mean or why they are so important.

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Will Your Next Financial Advisor Be a Machine?

On July 1, the film Terminator: Genisys will debut in theaters across the United States and throughout the world. It will be the fourth installment of a series that began more than 30 years ago, which in many ways defined contemporary fears of the rise of the machines: a world where the brilliant programs designed by humans themselves become the masters and turn against their human creators.

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