July 17, 2013

China’s surging economy has provided its citizens with a constellation of benefits that would have been scarcely imaginable even a decade ago. But of all China’s consumer-enabled freedoms, the opportunity for worldwide travel perhaps represents the nation’s biggest leap into modernity. After all, Chinese tour groups were forbidden from traveling to the U.S. until 2007. The following year, 493,000 Chinese tourists flooded America. That number has since grown to more than a million visitors annually. But that’s nothing compared to Continue reading

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treviThe beauty of Italy’s ancient structures and sculptures has been renowned for more than two thousand years. Over the course of those centuries, maintenance responsibilities for the nation’s antiquities have transferred from their Roman builders to the Catholic Church and finally to the present-day Italian government. But there’s one major matter that separates the latter from its two mighty predecessors: money. As a result of the Italian economy’s recent collapse, the government has been forced to slash the maintenance budget Continue reading

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accountingTo many businesses the process of accounting is simple: keep track of costs and weigh them against revenue to determine profit. But some of the world’s largest companies prefer to figure out their financial well being by using a more complicated, predictive method. Known as fair value accounting, this technique measures a company’s assets by valuing them on estimates and projections rather than hard data. Its proponents argue that it makes accounting information more relevant for day-to-day operations. Critics of Continue reading

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credituThe Great Recession soured millions of people’s relationships with traditional banks, driving many to entrust their money with credit unions instead. Along with incessant media coverage of their questionable dealings, banks at the time had to contend with consumer outrage about hidden fees and supersized overdraft penalties. As a result, credit unions appeared to be safe and sensible money managers compared to their colossal, unscrupulous counterparts on Wall Street. Plus, credit unions offered perks like free checking, friendly staff, and Continue reading

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forkTechnology has streamlined so many aspects of modern life that it can be difficult to remember a time when little electronic gadgets didn’t rule the world. Although millions of Americans remain inseparable from their smartphones, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the country’s dependence on technology. In fact, a growing number of scholars and cultural observers are worried that today’s latest innovations are becoming too efficient for humanity’s own good.

Take Google’s self-driving car, for instance. One neuroscientist recently laid Continue reading

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April 25, 2013

manniIf you’ve ever walked into a store and instantly had the feeling like you’re being watched, it’s because you usually are. Between all-seeing security cameras and roving secret shoppers, retailers are busy keeping tabs on customers. Granted, brick-and-mortar stores have every right to be suspicious: inventory loss due to stealing takes a big chunk out of every retailer’s profits. But some customer-tracking techniques have nothing to do with shoplifting; it’s the customer’s shopping habits the businesses are interested in.

While Continue reading

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February 1, 2013

For years socially conscious entrepreneurs have been trying to find ways to help people in third world countries without giving them outright charity. While microfinancers help many ambitious poor people start small businesses, there are many people who are not ready to assume the risk of starting a business. That’s why a new group of activists is focusing their efforts on “impact sourcing” by providing simple but integral work to citizens of impoverished communities.

Outsourcing jobs to emerging nations is Continue reading

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