Shane's Feed
Nov 27, 2013
via Data Dive

Charting America’s Afghanistan withdrawal and troop fatalities

The US is considering a complete troop withdrawal in Afghanistan in 2014 if the country’s president, Hamid Karzai, refuses to sign a security deal. Without the deal, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that the US will have no choice but to pull out all troops by next year, Reuters reports. While the US has been drawing down its presence in Afghanistan since 2011, it still has almost 50,000 troops in the country:

Reuters suggests that Karzai’s reluctance to sign the security agreement may have to do with the upcoming spring presidential elections:

Nov 27, 2013
via Equals

Corporate governance: Bring on the quotas!

This week, Germany’s ruling coalition announced that it’s set to institute a quota for the number of women involved in corporate governance at German companies. Lawmakers are set “to introduce legislation requiring German companies to allot 30 percent of their non-executive board seats to women from 2016,” Reuters reports. The European Union as a whole is moving closer to instituting a similar 40% quota.

This way of getting women into the upper rungs of the corporate ladder is relatively new, and somewhat controversial.

Nov 25, 2013
via Counterparties

MOOC ado about nothing

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This is how Max Chafkin describes how the first massive online open course (MOOC) which was designed by Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun in 2011:

Nov 22, 2013
via Data Dive

Why the Democrats voted to change the filibuster rules

Yesterday, the Senate voted to change the rule on filibusters, which the minority party can use to block votes from happening. The use of the filibuster by the Republican minority finally spurred Senate Democrats to use what they had been calling the “nuclear option” — voting the filibuster out of existence (supporters of filibuster reform have long called it the “Constitutional option”). ”The now-defunct rule, a symbol of Washington gridlock, has survived dozens of attacks over the years largely because both major political parties like to use it,” Reuters writes.

But in the chart below, you can see the spike in the number of cloture votes (which, if they pass by a three-fifths vote, end a filibuster) since President Obama was elected.

Nov 20, 2013
via Equals

Who is responsible for closing the gender pay gap?

Women respond differently to incentives in the workplace. Does that mean that it’s fair that women make less?

A few weeks ago, economists John List and Uri Gneezy wrote in Freakonomics about a new study they’ve done on the gender pay gap. Currently women make about 80% of what men do, and the paper takes a stab at explaining why.

Nov 20, 2013
via Equals

Hello and welcome to Equals!

Today we’re launching Equals, a new Reuters blog devoted to gender equality and the role women play in the economy. We’ll be tackling subjects like education, workplace performance, competitiveness, pay, and leadership. The topics will encompass virtually any subject that relates to gender differences in economics, finance, and management. The blog will lean heavily on data and new research, as well as the smart voices around the web already contributing to the discussion.

Ideas, tips or complaints? Send them to shane.ferro@thomsonreuters.com.

Nov 20, 2013
via Data Dive

U.S. consumer prices fall 0.1% in October

Consumer prices fell unexpectedly in October by 0.1%, in part due to falling gas prices, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index has increased 1% over the last 12 months, the smallest such increase since October 2009.

Core CPI, which does not account for energy or food prices, rose 0.1%:

This level of inflation means that the Fed is likely to put off the tapering of asset purchases in its quantitative easing program at least through early 2014, according to Reuters. The Fed has an inflation target of 2%, but inflation has been consistently below that level.  Reuters has more details:

Nov 19, 2013
via Counterparties

Cryptpcurrent events

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Yesterday, the Senate, considering the decentralized cryptocurrency bitcoin, “saw the potential benefits of virtual currencies” according to Danny Vinik. In a letter to Congress ahead of the hearings, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system”. Bitcoin is currently valued at… well, just head over to Mt. Gox and check for yourself because the price has fluctuated between $500 and $900 in the last three days.

Nov 19, 2013
via Data Dive

The U.S.’s tame wage inflation

High unemployment and a slow economic recovery are keeping wages from rising quickly, Reuters reports on new labor cost data. “Wages and salaries, which account for 70 percent of employment costs, rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter after gaining 0.4 percent in the prior period,” Reuters writes. Here’s more: 

The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, increased 0.4 percent after advancing 0.5 percent in the second quarter, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.

Nov 14, 2013
via Counterparties

Awash in fuel

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The average price of a gallon of gas in the US this week is $3.19, and it’s been been falling since Labor Day, when it hit $3.60. The falling price caused one research firm to up its third-quarter GDP forecast by 0.3 percentage points to 2.7%.