Fortune magazine commissioned artist Chris Ware to design a cover for their 2010 Fortune 500 issue, so he did. Unfortunately, what he delivered was a detailed, funny, and biting commentary on the current state of our economy–with banker types dancing on the top of mega-buildings that spell out “500,” a factory in Mexico churning out big box merchandise, and a “401k cemetary.” Fortune rejected it, but hasn’t provided any comment on why. Well, okay, it’s probably self-evident why they killed it, but it’s still funny.
Spotted this sign on a Brooklyn BP gas pump last night, taking pains to point out that they are charging customers the same price whether they use cash or credit. Interesting, because last year around this time we ran a few stories about gas stations who doing the opposite. The thing is, credit card companies charge merchants various transaction fees to process the cards. If retailers can’t assess those fees to the customers who actually incur them, the business has to raise prices on everything for everyone.
Capitalism isn’t doing well these days leading the entrepreneurial among us to embrace bartering. Traffic to Craigslist’s bartering section has more than doubled since last year as people to try to make use of skills that might not otherwise have much value.
A healthy economy “must be able to allow individual institutions to fail,” said Thomas Hoenig, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City president. He’s absolutely right. [NYT]
We’ve seen “Walmart is a virus” videos before, but this interactive map showing the proliferation of Walmart from the early 1960s until 2007 is especially cool. Zoom in and out as the Walmart infection grows…
Lisa made her kids impervious to advertising by asking pointed questions that forced them to think about the source and truthfulness of ads. She knew action was needed when when her kids, who weren’t old enough to read, stopped in front of the bleach while shopping to ask the advertiser’s dream question: “Mom, aren’t we going to buy some Clorox?” Hit the jump to see how she responded.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants to give you 100 gallons of free heating oil to help survive the cold cruel capitalist winter. The hogshead of liquid warmth is available to anyone enduring a financial hardship who fills out a handy online form.
Apparently “Supercapitalism” is making the rounds over at AlterNet, because they keep writing about it. This time there’s a good interview with the author, former labor secretary Robert Reich, and he takes the opportunity to summarize his main arguments from the book.
Wall Street’s relentless drive for short-term profit is ruining corporate America and the consumer experience, according to John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group. The overseer of one of the world’s largest mutual funds appeared on Bill Moyers Journal to discuss a New York Times investigation that revealed substandard care at nursing homes owned by investment firms. According to Bogle, the trend is not contained, and has dire long-term consequences:
The financial sector of our economy is the largest profit-making sector in America. Our financial services companies make more money than our energy companies — no mean profitable business in this day and age. Plus, our healthcare companies. They make almost twice as much as our technology companies, twice as much as our manufacturing companies. We’ve become a financial economy which has overwhelmed the productive economy to the detriment of investors and the detriment ultimately of our society.
Earlier this month we asked our readers, are you a consumer or a citizen? It was sparked by comments from Robert B. Reich, who’s written a book called “Supercapitalism” that argues that we as consumers are in effect our own worst enemies—our collective desire to save a buck or earn more on our investments are contributing to the increasing “decline of democracy.” AlterNet has posted an excerpt from his book that expands on this idea of how we undermine our own best interests with, well, our other best interests.
It’s like that scene in Steinbeck’s The Pearl where the pearl buyers are all lined up in a row, giving the illusion of competitiveness but they’re really in cahoots with one another. Except the pearl is your car and the peasant wins, temporarily.
Beat kids! Kids on the beat! This young investigative reporter runs around to Wall Street denizens and asks them one simple question.