With G.E. Exit, Dow Index Has None of Original Firms

(p. B2) General Electric, the last original member of the Dow Jones industrial average, was dropped from the blue-chip index late Tuesday [June 19, 2019] and replaced by the Walgreens Boots Alliance drugstore chain.

. . .

The removal of G.E., which will formally occur June 26, reflects a shift in the economic composition of the United States, which long ago tilted away from heavy industry and toward services, such as technology, finance and health care.

And it also amounted to a milestone for General Electric. It was the last remaining original member of the index, when the stock market measure was introduced in 1896.

For the full story, see:

Matt Phillips. “G.E. Is Dropped From Dow; Was Last Original Member.” The New York Times (Wednesday, June 20, 2018): B2.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 19, 2018, and has the title “G.E. Dropped From the Dow After More Than a Century.”)

Modi Cut India’s Taxes, Corruption, and Regulations

(p. B1) MUMBAI, India — A jeans maker saw his delivery costs cut by half when the highway police stopped asking for bribes. An aluminum wire factory faced only three inspectors rather than 12 to keep its licenses. Big companies like Corning, the American fiber-optic cable business, found they could wield a new bankruptcy law to demand that customers pay overdue bills.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised nearly five years ago to open India for business. Fitfully and sometimes painfully, his government has streamlined regulations, winnowed a famously antiquated bureaucracy and tackled corruption and tax evasion.

. . .

(p. B5) Mehta Creation, a jeans maker in a dilapidated concrete building in the northern outskirts, paid a welter of taxes until two years ago. That included the dreaded octroi, a British import from medieval times that allowed states and some cities to collect taxes whenever goods crossed a boundary.

Mehta Creation’s budget was contorted by corruption. To avoid the octroi, which could triple the cost of a delivery and add delays, Mehta paid drivers about $5 for each parcel of jeans and then reimbursed them up to $6 per parcel to bribe the local police at every border, said Dhiren Sharma, the company’s chief operating officer.

Mehta’s costs dropped after the government abolished 17 taxes, including the octroi, two years ago and established instead a national value-added tax on most business activity. Continue reading “Modi Cut India’s Taxes, Corruption, and Regulations”

At 70, James Dyson Embarks on Audacious Electric Car Project

(p. B5) James Dyson, best known for innovative vacuum cleaners, said recently that he was preparing to introduce a new electric car and had 400 people working on the project.

. . .

But breaking into the car business is far more complex than it might appear at first glance. A new carmaker must design the vehicle and figure out how to manufacture it — and that is only the beginning. Success requires a number of to-dos: effective marketing, a dealer network and, perhaps, arranging buyer financing.

“There is a huge list,” said Peter Wells, a professor at Cardiff Business School in Wales. “That has been one of the reasons why the barriers to entry in the automotive industry have been relatively high.”

Still, Mr. Wells said that the car industry is “at a very important pivot point in its history now, where a combination of factors are radically altering what is possible.” And Mr. Dyson, 70, . . . , could be in a position to take advantage.

. . .

Mr. Dyson has proved himself a dogged inventor, designing high-end vacuum cleaners and other products like hair dryers. His technological savvy gives him a chance of scoring a hit in the much more complex and costly global car industry, analysts said. In 2015, he bought Sakti3, an American start-up that is working with solid state batteries. Mr. Dyson said he could be on track to commercializing a so-called solid state battery, which analysts say might be more powerful and safer than the lithium ion devices now used in electric cars and cellphones. He said both the start-up and his own team were working on the project. Continue reading “At 70, James Dyson Embarks on Audacious Electric Car Project”

Gig Jobs Benefit Workers by “Cutting Out Corporate Bosses and Rent-Seeking Middlemen”

(p. C4) An astounding 94 percent of American jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were for “alternative work.” Slow and steady growth used to be a cardinal virtue for the big American corporation. Now leanness and flexibility are prized, and nobody is spared. “In the end,” Hyman writes, “even white men were not protected from this new reality.”

Hyman, a labor historian at Cornell, argues that the common explanation for what happened — mainly, that our current dispensation was foisted on us by technological and economic change — is self-serving and inadequate. He says that human choice, including a palpable shift in values, played an essential role. “Temp” traces how, for corporations and government policymakers alike, “the risk-taking entrepreneur supplanted the risk-averse, but loyal, company man as the capitalist ideal.”

. . .

His ending, about the gig economy, is weirdly upbeat. He believes that it’s still possible for work to be rewarding — maybe even more possible, now that apps and online platforms offer the promise of (leaving in place a few rent-seeking technocapitalist billionaires, of course). Individuals can sell their labor directly to one another.

For the full review, see:

Jennifer Szalai. “BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Gig Jobs Replace Gray Flannel Suits.” The New York Times (Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018): C4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 22, 2018, and has the title “BOOKS OF THE TIMES; How the ‘Temp’ Economy Became the New Normal.”)

The book under review, is:

Hyman, Louis. Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary. New York: Viking, 2018.

Learning to Apply Software Code in Business, Is One Path to the Middle Class

(p. B1) Brittney Ball was living in a homeless shelter with her baby when she learned of a one-year program offering technical training, professional skills and an internship. She took the plunge.

Five years later, Ms. Ball is a software engineer in Charlotte, N.C., earning more than $50,000 a year. A 30-year-old single mother, she has health insurance, retirement savings and plans to vacation in Mexico this year.

“It showed me that I could do something different,” she said about the training program. “It really lit a fire under me.”

Preparing people for tech jobs is hailed as the great employment hope of the future. Cities and states across the country are rushing to teach elementary and high school students to write software. “Learn to code” is a career-advice mantra.

Mastering code and applying it in business, some experts say, holds the promise of becoming the modern path to the middle class for people without four-year college degrees. And nonprofit programs like those used by Ms. Ball are considered central to getting (p. B4) people there.

. . .

There are bright spots, but those programs remain mostly small scale so far, and expanding quickly has many complications. Training, mentoring and counseling people — often from disadvantaged backgrounds — is not a mass-production process.

For the full story, see:

Steve Lohr. ” A Slow Build To Prosperity In Tech Jobs.” The New York Times (Monday, May 20, 2019): B1 & B4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 19, 2019, and has the title “Tech Jobs Lead to the Middle Class. Just Not for the Masses.”)

Environmentalists Often Fail to Compost Their Compostable Salad Bowls

(p. 1) Every weekday, shortly after 11 a.m., a line forms at the Broadway and 38th Street location of Sweetgreen, the eco-conscious salad chain. By noon, the line has usually tripled in size. It often takes more than 15 minutes to get to the front.

. . .

(p. 12) At Sweetgreen, the appeal is partly ethical.

. . .

The moral overtones extend even to the trash. As customers pay and head back toward their various workplaces, they pass an oft-overflowing garbage bin with a proud sign above it that says that all of the company’s utensils, napkins, bowls and cups are plant-based, “which means they go in the compost bin, along with any leftover food.”

“Nothing from inside Sweetgreen goes to the landfill,” the sign declares further, virtuously.

But that’s far from the truth, though it’s not the chain’s fault.

Matt Holtz, a salesman at Microsoft, is “addicted” to Sweetgreen, according to his co-worker, Michelle Munden, and goes almost every day. Mr. Holtz does not compost his disposable bowl once he is done eating, he said, though he “will compost if the opportunity is available.”

Zara Watson, a lawyer who eats at Sweetgreen three times a week, throws the waste from her healthful lunch directly in the trash because she does not have composting at her office. So does Sam Hockley, the managing director at the software company Meltwater, who is willing to eat a Sweetgreen bowl for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Even Scott Rogowsky, the host of HQ Trivia who last year put his continued employment in jeopardy when he expressed his preference for Sweetgreen, is unable to dispose of his salads responsibly at work, because composting is unavailable at the WeWork location where the trivia app is based.

Indeed, zero customers interviewed at Sweetgreen over several days said that they composted their bowls at their offices.

For the full story, see:

Jonah Engel Bromwich. “The Ethical Salad Bowl.” The New York Times, SundayStyles Section (Sunday, Sept. 31, 2018): 1 & 12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 29, 2018, and has the title “Is Your Salad Habit Good for the Planet?”)

Those Who Are Overconfident Convince Others They Are More Competent

(p. B6) What is it about an elite upbringing that seems to make people feel qualified for tasks where they have little experience? This is one of the questions that inspired a study published Monday in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers suggest that part of the answer involves what they call “overconfidence.” In several experiments, they found that people who came from a higher social class were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills — even when tests proved that they were average. This unmerited overconfidence, they found, was interpreted by strangers as competence.

. . .

In an attempt to understand the implications of overconfidence, the researchers constructed a mock job interview. The students were asked the same question and videotaped. A group of strangers then watched the videos and rated the candidates. The selection committee generally opted for the same people who’d overestimated their trivia abilities. Overconfidence was misinterpreted as competence.

. . .

So how do managers, employers, voters and customers avoid overvaluing social class and being duped by incompetent wealthy people? Dr. Kennedy said she had been encouraged to find that if you show people actual facts about a person, the elevated status that comes with overconfidence often fades away.

“We may also need to punish overconfident behavior more than we do,” she said.

For the full story, see:

Heather Murphy. “Why High-Class People Think They Know More, and Why You Believe Them.” The New York Times (Tuesday, May 21, 2019): B6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 20, 2019, and has the title “Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence.”)

The study mentioned above from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is:

Belmi, Peter, Margaret A. Neale, David Reiff, and Rosemary Ulfe. “The Social Advantage of Miscalibrated Individuals: The Relationship between Social Class and Overconfidence and Its Implications for Class-Based Inequality.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (May 20, 2019), published online in advance of print publication.