from Tales from the Trail:

When money doesn’t buy everything

June 2, 2015

The 2016 presidential race is already expected to be the most money-soaked in history, reports Reuters' Emily Flitter. With billionaires backing several of the contenders, campaign finance watchdog groups fear heavy spending by these ultra-rich Americans will warp the election. Big spenders, though, don't always get their candidates into office. As this Reuters graphic shows, large sums of money don't always translate into victory at the polls. Indeed, studies of the 2012 and 2014 elections by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit that tracks political spending, show that most groups backed by billionaires had less success swaying election outcomes than groups controlled by trade organizations or professional political strategists.

When fools rush in…

May 15, 2015

If you want to see the greater fool theory in action, look no further than at what’s happening in the stock market. Since the year 2000 the average small-cap stock in the Russell 2000 Index is up 151% while the average blue chip in the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained only 57%.

Now available from Wal-Mart: sunlight

May 15, 2015

Wal-Mart is getting into the sunlight business.

Bowing to shareholder pressure, the retail giant will begin disclosing state-level details about its lobbying spending, Reuters’ Nathan Layne reported this week. The move is intended to provide further transparency into the millions of dollars that the company uses to gain influence on public policy.

The USDA’s honey bee report is a buzzkill

May 14, 2015

The USDA just released a report on the state of America’s honey bees, and the news is not that sweet.

The surprising numbers in Verizon’s AOL buy

May 13, 2015

Verizon’s decision to purchase AOL made headlines, but in the realm of global telecom mergers it is little more than a side note.

Low oil prices have cost tens of thousands of American jobs

May 12, 2015


As this Reuters graphic shows, planned layoffs in the energy sector have grown precipitously this calendar year, reflecting badly bruised oil prices. According to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, employers announced workforce reductions totaling 61,582 in April–53 percent higher than the same month a year ago. So far this year, employers have announced 201,796 planned job cuts, which marks a 25 percent increase from the 161,639 layoffs tracked in the first four months of 2014. This is the largest four-month total since 2010.

How an El Nino works

May 11, 2015

After one of the most dispiriting winters in memory, we could use a break from the weather. Alas, the winds may not be blowing in our direction.

Who will rule Britannia?

May 7, 2015

British citizens are heading to the polls today in what is expected to be the closest election in decades, but the real outcome may not be known for some time.

Banking on where Millennials will put their money

May 6, 2015

Millennials are famous for disrupting many of their parents’ institutions, but they may be fairly traditional investors.

Mapping Boko Haram’s decline in Nigeria

May 5, 2015

As this Reuters graphic shows, since launching a counter-attack against Boko Haram in January, the Nigerian army and some 8,700 allied troops have systemically contained the Islamist fighting force.