Incentive Packages to Big Incumbent Firms Hurt Local Start-Ups

(p. A1) When New Jersey announced a $7 billion package of tax incentives to try to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Newark, local officials saw a chance to jump-start a city that has long struggled with poverty and joblessness.
Many economists, however, saw something else: a failed development strategy that they had hoped was falling out of favor.
. . .
(p. A15) Gina Schaefer, who owns a dozen hardware stores in the Washington area, said she did not mind paying taxes, and had learned to deal with the bureaucratic hurdles that come with running a small business in the area. But she said it was frustrating to watch local governments — three of the 20 finalists for the Amazon project are in the Washington area — roll out the red carpet for a multibillion-dollar corporation. Suddenly, she said, her tax dollars could be flowing to one of her most daunting competitors.
“There are no incentives for those of us who are already here,” Ms. Schaefer said. Alluding to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, she added, “Why should the richest man in the history of the world get money to open his business?”
Indeed, tax incentives tend to flow overwhelmingly to big, established companies, rather than to the local start-ups that research has shown are a more significant source of job growth. And some who have studied the issue say incentives rarely work: Companies will play cities and states off one another to save money, but ultimately base site-selection decisions mostly on other factors.

For the full story, see:
BEN CASSELMAN. “Risks for Cities In Sweetening Amazon’s Pot.” The New York Times (Sat., JAN. 27, 2018): A1 & A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 26, 2018, and has the title “Promising Billions to Amazon: Is It a Good Deal for Cities?”)

45 Start-Ups Working on New Processor Chips

(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO — For years, tech industry financiers showed little interest in start-up companies that made computer chips.
How on earth could a start-up compete with a goliath like Intel, which made the chips that ran more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers? Even in the areas where Intel didn’t dominate, like smartphones and gaming devices, there were companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia that could squash an upstart.
But then came the tech industry’s latest big thing — artificial intelligence. A.I., it turned out, works better with new kinds of computer chips. Suddenly, venture capitalists forgot all those forbidding roadblocks to success for a young chip company.
Today, at least 45 start-ups are working on chips that can power tasks like speech and self-driving cars, and at least five of them have raised more than $100 million from investors. Venture capitalists invested more than $1.5 billion in chip start-ups last year, nearly doubling the investments made two years ago, according to the research firm CB Insights.
The explosion is akin to the sudden proliferation of PC and hard-drive makers in the 1980s. While these are small companies, and not all will survive, they have the power to fuel a period of rapid technological change.

For the full story, see:
CADE METZ. “Bets on A.I. Open a New Chip Frontier.” The New York Times (Mon., January 15, 2018): B1 & B3.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 14, 2018, and has the title “Big Bets on A.I. Open a New Frontier for Chip Start-Ups, Too.”)

Trump Argues Regulations Impede Infrastructure Investment

(p. A18) Mr. Trump is pursuing a similar shift in regulation, seeking to reverse or rewrite a host of rules intended to protect workers and consumers, under the theory that freeing companies from “red tape” will allow businesses to prosper, with wide-ranging benefits.
In remarks at the White House last week, Mr. Trump argued that regulation was impeding private investment in infrastructure. He held up a long, multicolored chart that he said reflected the permitting process for the construction of “a highway or a roadway.”
“By the time you finished, you probably gave up,” Mr. Trump said.

For the full story, see:
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM and ANA SWANSON. “Trump Bets on Business to Lift Workers.” The New York Times (Thurs., December 21, 2017): A18.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 20, 2017, and has the title “Republican Economic Policies Put Business First.” The online version says that the page number for the print New York edition was A19. My print paper was probably the midwest edition.)

Cognitive Abilities Highest After Waking in Morning

(p. A15) A raft of studies in disciplines ranging from medicine to economics have yielded all sorts of data on the science of timing. Daniel Pink, an author who regularly applies behavioral science to the realm of work, has handily distilled the findings in “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”
. . .
For a slim book, “When” brims with a surprising amount of insight and practical advice. In amiable, TED-talk-ready prose, Mr. Pink offers scheduling tips for everything from workouts to weddings. Exercise, for example, is best done in the morning for those who hope to lose weight, build strength and boost their mood through the day.
. . .
Moods are not the only things that shift every 24 hours. Our cognitive abilities also morph in foreseeable ways. We are often sharpest in the hours after waking up, which makes morning the best time to take exams or answer logic problems. Researchers analyzing four years of test results for two million Danish schoolchildren found that students consistently scored higher in mornings than afternoons.

For the full review, see:
Emily Bobrow. “BOOKSHELF; Hacking The Clock; Exercise in the morning if you want to lose weight. But if you want to perform at your physical peak, plan a workout for the afternoon.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Jan. 9, 2018, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; Review: Hacking The Clock; Exercise in the morning if you want to lose weight. But if you want to perform at your physical peak, plan a workout for the afternoon.”

The book under review, is:
Pink, Daniel H. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. New York: Riverhead Books, 2018.

Weather Channel Entrepreneur Was a Global Warming Skeptic

(p. B1) John S. Coleman, a co-founder of the Weather Channel, the original meteorologist on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and, later in his career, a vocal climate change skeptic, died on Saturday [January 20, 2018] at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas. He was 83.
. . .
His career took him through broadcast positions in Omaha, Milwaukee and Peoria, Ill. He joined the fledgling “Good Morning America” in 1975 and stayed for seven years.
“He was sort of a weather rock star at the time,” said Joseph D’Aleo, whom Mr. Coleman recruited out of academia to lend a hand at “Good Morning America” and to help him develop his idea for a 24-7 weather channel.
“He was dedicated to everything he did; he’d sometimes take off after the morning shows, get on an airplane, go halfway across the country and meet with venture capitalists to present his idea,” Mr. D’Aleo said in an interview.
But after a year of false starts, Mr. D’Aleo said, Mr. Coleman “felt a little bit like Sancho Panza behind Don Quixote and his impossible dream.”
. . .
The American Meteorological Society named Mr. Coleman broadcast meteorologist of the year in 1983, citing his “many years of service in presenting weather reports of high informational, educational and professional quality.”
. . .
By the time he retired in 2014, he had become a lightning rod for controversy over his views on climate change.
At the top of his personal blog, he wrote: “There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has not been any in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future.”

For the full obituary, see:
TIFFANY Hsu. “John Coleman, 83, TV Weather Pioneer.” The New York Times (Weds., January 24, 2018): B14.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date JAN. 21, 2018, and has the title “John S. Coleman, Weather Channel Co-Founder, Dies at 83.”)

Tinkerers Create Cheap Prosthetic Hands with 3-D Printers

(p. D1) The proliferation of 3-D printers has had an unexpected benefit: The devices, it turns out, are perfect for creating cheap prosthetics. Surprising numbers of children need them: One in 1,000 infants is born with missing fingers, and others lose fingers and hands to injury. Each year, about 450 children receive amputations as a result of lawn mower accidents, according to a study in Pedatrics..
State-of-the-art prosthetic replacements are complicated medical devices, powered by batteries and electronic motors, and they can cost thousands of dollars. Even if children are able to manage the equipment, they grow too quickly to make the investment practical. So most do without, fighting to do with one hand what most of us do with two.
E-nable, an online volunteer organization, aims to change that. Founded in 2013 by Jon Schull, the group matches children like Dawson in need of prosthetic hands and fingers with volunteers able to make them on 3-D printers. Designs may be downloaded into the machines at no charge, and members who create new models share their software plans freely with others.
The materials for a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand can cost as little as $20 to $50, and some experts say they work just as well, if not better, than much costlier devices. Best of all, boys and girls usually love their D.I.Y. prosthetics.

For the full story, see:
Mroz, Jacqueline. “Hand of a Superhero.” The New York Times (Tues., Feb. 17, 2015): D1 & D6..
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 16, 2015. I do not have the print version, so I cannot confirm if there are differences between the online and print versions, and am not sure if the whole passage quoted above appears on p. D1, or if some or all of it is from p. D6.)

Firms Invest in France as Rules “Make It Easier to Hire and Fire”

(p. B1) PARIS — The announcements came in a steady drumbeat. Around 1,300 job cuts at France’s biggest automaker. At least 2,500 at France’s largest supermarket chain. Over 200 sought at a major clothing retailer. And thousands more are on the way.
Just weeks after France’s labor overhaul went into effect, companies are readily taking advantage of new rules that make it easier to hire and fire.
. . .
Perceptions of France, long derided as a difficult place to do business for its onerous labor rules, are changing.
Growth has recently picked up after being stagnant for nearly five years. And there are signs that the changes, a major piece of the president’s economic program, are drawing the interest of investors.
Amazon will open a new distribution center south of Paris this year, creating over 1,000 jobs. Facebook and Google announced Monday they would invest in artificial intelligence development in France. Also Monday, Toyota announced it would invest 300 million euros, or $367 million, to increase capacity at a plant in northern (p. B3) France, creating up to 700 jobs through 2020.
“The complex labor laws have historically been the No. 1 obstacle to the competitiveness and attractiveness of France,” said Olivier Marchal, the chairman of Bain & Company France, a business consulting firm. The changes, together with other business-friendly measures such as a gradual reduction in the corporate tax, have “drastically changed investor perceptions,” he said.

For the full story, see:
LIZ ALDERMAN. “Newfound Freedom … to Fire.” The New York Times (Weds., January 24, 2018): B1 & B3.
(Note: ellipsis in article title, in original; ellipsis between quoted paragraphs, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 23, 2018, and has the title “French Companies Have Newfound Freedom … to Fire.”)