Why the credit hoopla matters to you

The business world has been abuzz lately about the growing credit crisis. Several large subprime lenders have been finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat, as investors are becoming less willing to take on extra risk. And as the Financial Times demonstrates in this nifty interactive map, the problem isn't just in the United States.

So what does this mean for mere mortals like us? Well, if you're planning on buying a home, watch out. People are finding it increasingly difficult to secure mortgages, particularly if they are what the credit industry considers subprime borrowers, i.e. those who might be a bit less likely to pay back their loans. Those of you who already have homes with adjustable rate mortgages may find your rates creeping up as lenders try to recoup their losses.

And what can be done about this? Well, major financial institutions from across the globe are trying to dampen the crisis. The U.S.'s own vaunted Fed is still concerned with inflation, though, so don't count on them to cut interest rates anytime soon. But you can always check out the what's available at your local AADL branch for help. Here are a few resources to help you traverse the increasingly stormy waters of credit and mortgages.

One Stop Shopping for Information about Businesses

If you're looking for detailed information about a corporation, try Reference USA. You may be surprised to learn that you can get contact information for major American corporations, just by clicking into this database. Maybe you thought Reference USA was mostly for phone numbers? Wrong. Check again. This is an excellent database that includes management directories, images, competitor reports, public filings, and Uniform Commercial Code profiles.

The Wall Street Journal, brought to you by Rupert Murdoch

Big news in the business world this week: Dow Jones, and along with it the vaunted Wall Street Journal, now belong to media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The WSJ reports that, despite some heavy opposition from the controlling Bancroft family, Dow Jones accepted the $5 billion offer from Murdoch's News Corporation.

The WSJ is quite a laurel in Murdoch's already well-laureled hat. News Corporation is one of the largest media companies in the world, with holdings including HarperCollins, The Times, MySpace, 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Company, and many more names you've probably heard of. Murdoch hopes that Dow Jones will complement these already formidable media holdings by providing trusted business and stock information.

Opponents of the sale, notably Leslie Hill of the Bancrofts, fear that Murdoch will compromise the journalistic integrity of the newspaper, as has been alleged with other of his holdings including Fox News, ReganBooks, and The Times. Whatever the ultimate result, there is one group that will undoubtedly be overjoyed by the sale: Dow Jones shareholders. Murdoch's $60/share bid is worth two-thirds more than current DJ stock prices.

BitTorrent > Scholastic

Now that the potterdammerung surrounding the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has subsided, its publisher, Scholastic, has some debriefing to do. Despite some pretty extensive security, a bonafide copy of the book was released on the peer-to-peer file sharing network BitTorrent several days before the book.

The leaked copy consisted of a digital photograph of every page of the much sought-after volume, a fact that may help Scholastic track down the culprit. Nonetheless, the event is making book publishers wonder if they, like the music recording industry, should worry about internet piracy. Their concerns may grow as the market for ebooks increases, as they may prove just as easy to copy as digital music files.

What do you think? As books are increasingly being digitized, should book publishers be worried about pirates?

The Big Mac, a (nearly) perfect form of global currency

EconomistEconomist

Have you ever exchanged your dollars for a different currency? I don't know about you, but I'm always confused as to how much I'm actually getting. If I can trade one dollar for 0.75 euros, can I still get as much stuff as I would with a dollar (which, admittedly, is not that much)?

For over 20 years, The Economist has been giving a clever answer to this complex question: Big Macs. The Economist's Big Mac Index compares the prices of that beloved artery-clogger around the globe, and in the process helps show just how much you can get for your dollar. Or franc. Or rouble. In their latest index, you can get a burger in the U.S. for about $3.41. But in China, it will only cost you $1.45. If you're traveling to Norway, though, it will cost you a whopping (pun intended) $6.88!

The Big Mac isn't a perfect way to measure exchange rates and purchasing power. After all, you can't trade them across international borders (eww!). But they have the advantage of being made the same way no matter where you go, an elusive quality in international markets.

Want to find out more about the Big Mac index, or any number of other current events or international trade topics? As an AADL cardholder, you can actually access The Economist in its full-text glory in General OneFile, one of our great research databases. You will need to login to your aadl.org account to follow the database link.

Participatory . . . lending?

Prosper logoProsper logo

The Web 2.0 revolution has brought user participation to a new level. Thanks to sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and the newly announced Media Predict, mere mortals can create and judge content previously controlled by large media companies.

But according to a pair of segments on the July 4th episode of Marketplace, the participatory mantra is coming to an unlikely sector: banking.

Prosper.com and Kiva.org both connect borrowers directly with lenders, without bank intermediaries. Prosper allows users to solicit lenders by posting their need and fully explaining their situation. They can then borrow from (or lend to) multiple individuals, at various dollar amounts and interest rates. Taking a similar approach, Kiva puts a slightly more philanthropic spin on participatory lending: it facilitates microlending. You can make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing nations, where access to credit is difficult to come by.

What do you think? Would you borrow/lend on such a site? Should banks be afraid?

Help for Job Hunters

Whether you’re a new graduate looking for your first job or a seasoned professional making a change, the AADL has tools to help with your job search.

The ReferenceUSA database provides company descriptions, links to news articles, and corporate family trees to help you learn about potential employers. Plus, you can find mailing addresses and a management directory to help get those cover letters and resumes to the right people!

Access the database from the Business and Investment section of our Research page. From the ReferenceUSA home page, choose “US Businesses” to start searching.

And, Library cardholders can access ReferenceUSA from home!

Much ado about black swans

Fans of quirky business books, rejoice! In the vein of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Blink and James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds comes Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The title already ranks #2 on Amazon's business bestseller list.

Like Gladwell and Surowiecki's thought-provokers, The Black Swan starts with a simple concept - that big, society-altering events are unpredictable - and shows how this concept affects business, history, and predicting the vagaries of the market. Not surprisingly, things like markets and history don't move in easy-to-spot patterns, so we have to come to expect the unexpected.

Also, check out The Long Tail author Chris Anderson's thoughts on Amazon.com.

Big business. $16 billion worth, to be exact.

This week, the epic contest heated up between two great aerospace manufacturers: United States' Boeing and Europe's Airbus. The two companies are showing off their wares at the biannual Paris Air Show. Highlights include Airbus's massive A380, which can seat over 800 people, and Boeing's speedy 787 Dreamliner. Airbus seems to be pulling ahead, with a $16 billion (yes, that's a "b") order from Qatar Airlines for its A380.

Airbus and Boeing are no novices to competition. Quite to the contrary, while the two companies dominate non-military aircraft production, they are fiercely competitive with each other. Their rivalry is the subject of former government advisor John Newhouse's latest book.

Martha Stewart, scrapbooking maven

According to a recent article in The Economist (you will need to login to your AADL account to follow the link), a familiar figure is poised to take the scrapbooking world by storm: Martha Stewart. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, recently released a new line of scrapbooking supplies that will undoubtedly sell well and bear Stewart's characteristic sense of style.

Stewart comes relatively late to scrapbooking, which was a $2.6 billion industry in 2006, according to the Craft & Hobby Association. But her company's size and dedicated following still place it in a good position become a market leader.

Are you a scrapbooker? What do you think of Stewart's new products? Interested in getting into scrapbooking? Check out a few of our books on how to organize and display your family memories in scrapbooks.

Syndicate content