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Dec 12, 2012

NYT | Small Business (December 12, 2012): Sifting for Eager Customers in a Trove of Online Data

The New York Times

December 12, 2012

Small Business

Kim Kooren is a a co-founder of Velvet Palate, an online wine vendor that specializes in artisan and hard-to-find wines. Ms. Kooren says her goal is to use online data collection and Web analytics to cater to customers' tastes.
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Kim Kooren is a a co-founder of Velvet Palate, an online wine vendor that specializes in artisan and hard-to-find wines. Ms. Kooren says her goal is to use online data collection and Web analytics to cater to customers' tastes.
Small-Business Guide
Sifting for Eager Customers in a Trove of Online Data
Basic software and free online tools that collect and analyze sales data can help small-business owners get to know their customers better.
You're the Boss Blog

This Week in Small Business: The Pope's on Twitter (Are You?)

Car sales are up. Gas prices are up. Holiday parties are back. And Montgomery Burns explains all.
Valerie Calistro and Agostinho Ribeiro are partners in the law firm Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith. They were married in 1998 and divorced in 2006 but still are able to work together.
Small-Business Guide

When Couples Divorce but Still Run a Business Together

Husband-and-wife businesses can survive even if the marriage does not. It takes discipline, counseling and plenty of communication.
Tim Schultz, part of the third generation of Lundberg Family Farms's owners, in a rice field in Richvale, Calif.
Case Study

A Family Farm's Crisis: Its Rice Contains Arsenic

Faced with studies that found inorganic arsenic, a carcinogen, in rice, Lundberg Family Farms is struggling to reassure its customers, who greeted the news with panic.
Is It Really This Hard to Buy a Phone System?
Searching for Capital

Is It Really This Hard to Buy a Phone System?

Or am I doing something wrong? I just don't have time for this.

A Win for Small Businesses in a Bank Fraud Case

In the past, banks have had no legal obligation to reimburse businesses for money lost to cyberattacks. But a recent court decision creates a precedent to change that.
Staying Alive

Something in My Last Post Didn't Add Up

Training workers is expensive - but not as expensive as I originally calculated (which may help explain why my business hasn't been more successful).
On Social Media

Social Media Marketing From A to Z

Maybe you set up a Twitter account, but you have yet to post that first tweet. Maybe you can't remember the last time you updated your Facebook page. Well, now's the time.

NYT Global Update (December 12, 2012).: Syria Fires Scud Missiles at Insurgents, U.S. Says

The New York Times International Herald Tribune
December 12, 2012
Compiled 21:45 GMT

Global Update


Syria Fires Scud Missiles at Insurgents, U.S. Says

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired the Soviet-era missiles in recent days, officials in the Obama administration said, in a significant escalation of the nearly two-year-old war.

North Koreans Launch Rocket in Act of Defiance

Washington and its allies have said they think North Korea's rocket program has less to do with putting a satellite into orbit than with developing a vehicle for a nuclear warhead.

Egypt's Opposition Urges Vote Against Draft Constitution

After a prolonged debate, Egypt's main opposition coalition urged followers on Wednesday to vote against an Islamist-backed charter rather than boycott it.

Lens Blog

Sugar's Bittersweet Legacy

A global staple that once fueled great colonial economies, sugar persists. Six photographers spent part of last year documenting its production in the Netherlands and some of its former colonies.


Coffee Break

After not paying corporate tax in Britain for 14 of the last 15 years, Starbucks has become a target for London protesters.

U.S. Will Grant Recognition to Syrian Rebels, Obama Says

Declaring Syria's opposition as its legitimate representative, marks a new phase of engagement for President Obama in a nearly two-year bloody struggle.
The Lede Blog

Official Joy in North Korea After Rocket Launching

North Korean state television coverage of Wednesday's rocket launching featured officially sanctioned displays of glee from reporters and citizens.

Former Commander of Bosnian Serb Army Is Convicted of Genocide

Zdravko Tolimir, a former senior commander, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings of thousands of prisoners in 1995.

Fed to Hold Rates Down Until Jobless Rate Is Below 6.5%

The Federal Reserve said it would maintain short-term interest rates near zero, even after it stops buying bonds, for as long as the unemployment rate stays above 6.5 percent.

10 Arrested in Social-Network Hacking

Law enforcement officials were assisted by Facebook, whose users were among those targeted by the software employed by cybercriminals in the last few years.
Bits Blog

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings, Again

Facebook introduced a number of new privacy settings on Wednesday, some of which will be met with approval and others that may upset privacy advocates.

Republicans Tell F.C.C. Not to Give Away Airwaves

A plan backed by the Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, to free up some radio spectrum drew criticism from Republicans on a House panel.

City May Test Taxi Hails via Smartphone Apps

A New York commission could vote this week on establishing a pilot program, since some board members are against a permanent change in the rules.
Small-Business Guide

Sifting for Eager Customers in a Trove of Online Data

Basic software and free online tools that collect and analyze sales data can help small-business owners get to know their customers better.

'Dysfunctional' Business Model Puts the N.H.L. in Peril, Experts Say

The damage done by the third N.H.L. lockout under Commissioner Gary Bettman is likely to affect the league well into the future.

Will a Bigger European Championship Be Better?

There would be lots of hurdles if the 2020 tournament were to be expanded to six host countries, but previous events have shown that soccer is capable of overcoming such challenges.

Marquez Said to Be Headed to León

Reports in the Mexican news media assert that Red Bulls defender Rafael Marquez will soon join León of Liga MX.

Climate Change Threatens Ski Industry With Bare Slopes

As temperatures rise, analysts predict that scores of the nation's ski centers, especially those at lower elevations and latitudes, will eventually vanish.
Time and Punishment

For Lesser Crimes, Rethinking Life Behind Bars

Many scholars say mandatory sentencing policies lock up nonviolent, low-level offenders for too long and are no longer a cost-effective way to reduce crime in the United States.

For Vegas Weddings, a Date With a Built-In Reminder

Thousands of couples are expected to declare their everlasting love in Las Vegas on Wednesday, 12/12/12 - the last such triple-date likely to occur in their lifetimes.
Op-Ed Contributors

Why the Reset Should Be Reset

Strategic interests should be pushing Russia and the U.S. toward cooperation.
Op-Ed Columnist

Can God Save Egypt?

The real fight going on in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere is about freedom, not religion.
Op-Ed Contributor

The Farming Forecast Calls for Change

Despite the lack of a global treaty on climate change, many farmers are already taking steps to adapt.

Standard and Poor's Credit Matters Today (December12, 2012) U.S. Corporations Have Underinvested By $175 Billion To Bolster Cash

December 12, 2012

The Credit Overhang: U.S. Corporations Have Underinvested By $175 Billion To Bolster Cash

Capital expenditures (capex) for rated U.S. nonfinancial corporate issuers declined significantly through the recession, falling about 21% in 2009 while revenue declined 13%. We estimate that cash savings from deferred capex totaled $175 billion from 2009 through 2011. The deficit is noteworthy given strong cash flow generation that enabled companies to enhance their liquidity during this period. The byproduct of the underinvestment has been the ever-growing pile of cash held by U.S. nonfinancial issuers.

Reassessing U.S. Nonoperating Financial Holding Company Creditworthiness Under The Dodd-Frank Act

For U.S. financial institutions, we’ve long believed that the creditworthiness of a nonoperating holding company (NOHC) is closely tied to the consolidated financial group's creditworthiness due to structural subordination. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act does not change our fundamental view that nonoperating holding company creditors remain in a junior position relative to operating company creditors. The priority-of-claim waterfall that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) will follow retains, and maybe reinforces, NOHC bondholders' structural subordination.


CreditMatters TV Capital Markets Update: Fiscal Cliff Notes -- Week 5 of 7

Peter Rigby
Senior Director
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
Before this Sunday, the debate over how to avert going over the fiscal cliff seemed stalled. On Saturday, President Obama affirmed his position that he has held since before the election. Also, House Speaker John Boehner pretty much echoed his previous comments. But then there appeared signs that the parties might be making progress outside the spotlight. In what may be the most significant development of the week, a private meeting was held between the President and House Speaker Boehner over the weekend, with both agreeing not to share the details publicly. The bond markets seem surprisingly calm. That, of course, could change rapidly if a lack of progress spooks the markets. In this edition of Capital Markets Update, Senior Director Peter Rigby reviews the developments in Washington and how they have played out in the capital markets.

eReport_email_Banner_ midstreamEnergy

Top Stories


North Korean Rocket Launch Has No Material Impact On Republic Of Korea Sovereign Ratings

Developments following Wednesday's rocket launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) should not raise geopolitical risks in the Korean peninsula. We also view the negative economic effect on South Korea to be modest and temporary. The launch is another indication of the geopolitical risks that we consider in the credit factors affecting the creditworthiness of the South Korean government. The risks partly offset the relatively strong fiscal, economic, and external metrics that support the credit ratings.

International Public Finance

Russian Capital City of Moscow Assigned Highest Possible 'ruAAA' Russia National Scale Rating

The ratings reflect Moscow's position as Russia's economic, administrative, and financial center, as well as its diverse, service-based economy. They are supported by Moscow's very positive liquidity position and low debt. Offsetting these positives is Russia's developing and unbalanced system of interbudgetary relations, in which flexibility is low, and distribution of revenues and expenditures largely depends on central-government decisions. Another constraint is Moscow's financial management, which we view as negative in an international context.


Thailand 'BBB+/A-2' And 'A-/A-2' Ratings Affirmed On Economic Resilience Despite Political Uncertainty; Outlook Stable

Thailand's favorable external position, relatively light government indebtedness, and the credibility of its monetary policy are the main rating supports. These strengths balance Thailand's low income economy and continued political uncertainty. Thailand has run (mostly small) current account surpluses since 2006, and this trend should continue at least through 2015. As a result, we estimate net external liabilities at 14% of current account receipts at year-end 2012 and expect external liquid assets of the government and financial sector to be double that of the nation's external debt.


The Print Is Getting Smaller For Two Canadian Speculative-Grade Newspaper Publishers

Ongoing declines in print advertising and circulation revenues continue to hound Canadian newspaper publishers. A shift in consumers' reading habits to online from print precipitated this decline and means publishers continue to lose market share to digital advertising. Too much cost cutting can negatively affect a newspaper's viability to readers and accelerate the decline of the printed paper. That's what Canadian newspaper publishers Postmedia Network Inc. and Black Press Ltd. are up against.


Kohl's Corp. Outlook Revised To Negative From Stable On Weak Sales; 'BBB+' Ratings Affirmed

The outlook revision is based on our expectation that weak sales could continue into 2013 and result in a further deterioration of the company’s credit measures. The ratings reflect our assessment of a "satisfactory" business risk profile and an "intermediate" financial profile. Kohl's should maintain a satisfactory business profile supported by a solid market position as a family-oriented specialty department store, good execution of a value-focused merchandising strategy, solid measures of profitability, and geographic diversity.


The Williams Cos. Inc. And Subidiaries Ratings Affirmed After Acquisition Announcement

We affirmed our corporate credit ratings on Williams Cos. based on our view that the investment in Access Midstream Partners L.P. will add significant resource potential and geographic diversity to Williams' midstream footprint, enhancing the consolidated business risk profile. This should balance weaker consolidated financial leverage measures and indirect exposure to weaker counterparty Chesapeake Energy, which will represent 70% to 75% of Access' EBITDA during the next several years.


Avery Dennison Outlook Revised To Stable On Gradual Improvement In Operating Trends; All Ratings Affirmed

The outlook revision reflects that Avery is unlikely to improve its financial profile to a level that would warrant a higher rating. The financial profile should not materially improve in the near term, in part, due to the continuation of challenging business conditions. Nevertheless, modestly improving operating trends and good free cash flow generation should be supported by cost reduction initiatives, modest volume improvements in its core businesses, growth in emerging markets, and effective management of raw material costs.

DealBook P.M. Edition (December 12, 2012).: Live Blog: DealBook's Post-Election Conference

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Andrew Ross Sorkin, left, editor-at-large of DealBook, and Jamie Dimon, chief of JPMorgan Chase, at the DealBook conference in New York.
Live Blog: DealBook's Post-Election Conference The fiscal cliff in the United States, the European debt crisis and the slowdown in China's economy have all weighed down deal-making. Our inaugural conference, "DealBook: Opportunities for Tomorrow," is exploring these challenges and possibilities.
    The Trade: When Wall Street Investors Favor Performance Over Ethics Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica says that another former employee of SAC Capital Advisors has been accused of insider trading, but the author says investors don't seem not to mind terribly, as they continue to put new money into the hedge fund in search of great returns.
    How Boulder Grew Into a Hub for Start-Ups Brad Feld, a co-founder of the mentor-driven business accelerator TechStars, answers questions about how Boulder, Colo., has grown into a hub of start-up activity since he moved there in the 1990s.
    Top Deutsche Bank Executives Caught Up in Tax Evasion Inquiry In the course of a tax-evasion inquiry, investigators are trying to determine whether Jürgen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, and Stefan Krause, the chief financial officer, played a role by signing certain tax forms.
    White Collar Watch: In Bank Settlements, Fines but No Accountability Peter J. Henning says that deferred prosecution agreements have become the norm for resolving investigations into misconduct by financial institutions, but their frequent use raises the question of whether banks have come to regard them as just another cost of doing business.
    Barclays Names Former British Regulator as Head of Compliance In the wake of a rate-rigging scandal, Barclays has appointed Hector Sants, a former chief of Britain's Financial Services Authority, as its head of compliance.
    Economic Reports Data scheduled to be released on Thursday includes weekly jobless claims, retail sales for November, the Producer Price Index for November and business inventories for October.
    Corporate Earnings Companies scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Thursday include Hovnanian Enterprises and Adobe Systems.
    In the United States On Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee will conduct a hearing about the effect of the Volcker Rule on markets, businesses, investors and job creation; and a House Agriculture subcommittee will conduct a hearing about derivatives changes under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.
    Overseas On Thursday, euro-area finance ministers will meet to ratify an aid payment to Greece, and European Union leaders will begin a two-day summit meeting on the future of the bloc.
    Quotation of the Day
    "In some industries, they have their wife go out and start the car for them. In my case, it's read the newspaper."
    Lloyd Blankfein, on whether he reads newspapers.