Friday, July 31, 2015

A Brief Illustrated History of Ferrari, Just in Time for an IPO (BusinessWeek)

Fiat’s decision to spin off 10 percent of the 86-year-old brand has prompted speculation about Ferrari’s modern legacy—but sometimes the best way to predict the future is to study the past. According to Hagerty, vintage Ferraris have gained seven times their value since 2006. Even relatively contemporary models (think Ferrari Testarossa) have doubled their value in the past year. Here’s a visual tour of some of the most significant models in Ferrari’s history.

1949 Ferrari 166

1949 Ferrari 166

1952 Ferrari 250 MM

1952 Ferrari 250 MM

1960s Ferrari 250 TR

1960s Ferrari 250 TR

1960 Ferrari 250 GT

1960 Ferrari 250 GT

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB

1964 Ferrari 330 GT

1964 Ferrari 330 GT

1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

1974 Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB

1974 Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB

1976 Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino

1976 Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino

1986 Ferrari 365

1986 Ferrari 365

1994 Ferrari 456

1994 Ferrari 456

1995 Ferrari 512 Testarossa

1995 Ferrari 512 Testarossa

2002 Ferrari Enzo

2002 Ferrari Enzo

2008 Ferrari 599 GTB

2008 Ferrari 599 GTB

2013 Ferrari FF

2013 Ferrari FF

2015 Ferrari California T

2015 Ferrari California T

2015 Ferrari 488 GTB

2015 Ferrari 488 GTB

Thursday, July 30, 2015

U.S. could be energy superpower without oil export ban (Houston Energy Insider)

Getty Images
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) testified before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday on the benefits of lifting the ban on domestic crude oil exports.

“Ending the ban on oil exports is an opportunity for our nation to become an energy superpower—to send a signal to the world that we are ready to lead on issues of energy and the environment, to empower our allies and compete against our foes, to lift up our economy and create jobs while lowering gasoline prices and increasing domestic energy production,” Murkowski said. “The ban on crude oil exports is a relic of a bygone era and puts our nation so out of step with the modern global economy. We simply need action to lift the ban as soon as possible.”
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has long supported ending the outdated ban on crude oil exports. To advance her efforts to lift the ban, Murkowski has authored multiple legislative initiatives, including the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Act of 2015 that would authorize the export of all forms of crude oil and condensate produced in the U.S.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 is Out Today: Should You Upgrade?

Windows 10 is finally out — kind of. Microsoft initially promised that everyone could take advantage of the free upgrade offer on July 29, but you may have to wait a while before Microsoft offers the upgrade to your PC.

We recommend holding off on Windows 10, at least for a little while. Wait and see how stable Windows 10 is on other people’s PCs before you make the leap. That’s how Microsoft itself is choosing to roll out Windows 10, too.

Will You Even Be Able to Upgrade on July 29?

Update: since we wrote this article, Microsoft has released the ISO images for anybody to download for a clean install. It’s definitely a surprise and goes against everything they said before, but it’s a good surprise. That said, you should really read the rest of this article, because we don’t necessarily recommend that everybody upgrade immediately.

When Microsoft announced Windows 10 would be a free upgrade, it said: “On July 29, people can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer.”

The reservation system — that “Get Windows 10″ pop-up you’ve probably seen on your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC — was just a way to pre-download much of Windows 10 so you could have faster access on release day.

Microsoft has since backtracked from this. Here’s what will actually be happening, starting July 29:

“Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.

If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system.

If your system is not ready yet for your upgrade to Windows 10, we will provide more details during the upgrade experience.”

In other words, most people won’t actually be able to upgrade to Windows 10 on the vaunted July 29 release date. This isn’t actually a bad thing — by slowly rolling out the update, Microsoft can identify problems and fix them before they affect a larger amount of people. Rather than immediately dumping Windows 10 on a billion PCs, Microsoft can be more careful and fix bugs — especially bugs that only affect specific hardware. Devices that aren’t capable of upgrading properly can be blocked from doing so.

Windows 10 is Great, Assuming It’s Stable and Not Buggy

Windows 10 isn’t like Windows 8. Sure, you can choose to dislike the Microsoft account integration and live tiles — but you’re free to use a local user account and remove all those live tiles from your Start menu. Windows 10 even nags you less if you choose to use a local user account.

Windows 8 had a solid core, but the vision was all wrong. People resisted upgrading to Windows 8 for good reason — it wouldn’t even let you boot to desktop on a desktop PC until Windows 8.1 arrived later.

Windows 10 isn’t like that. Conceptually, Windows 10 is solid. Microsoft returns to a desktop-focused interface for PCs, and even those new apps formerly known as “Metro” apps can run on the desktop. For tablet devices, Windows 10 offers a “tablet mode” interface without forcing it on everyone. Windows 10 includes great new features like Task View and virtual desktops. It’s faster.

Sure, you can nitpick — those white window title bars are obnoxious — but, overall, Windows 10 is a great operating system. It’s an especially worthy upgrade if you’re using Windows 8.1 on a laptop or desktop PC. For Windows 7 users who are probably more satisfied with their operating system, it’s less urgent — but still offers many improvements. For touch-based Windows 8.1 devices, Windows 10 is still an upgrade and touch largely works as well as it does on Windows 8.1.

The Windows 10 Insider Preview Was Very Buggy Until a Few Weeks Ago

It’s impossible to provide a full picture here without shedding light on the Insider Preview program, through which Microsoft provided testing preview builds of Windows 10 to anyone who wanted to test them.

The Windows 10 Insider Preview program didn’t inspire a lot of confidence up until the last minute. Just a month before Windows 10 was supposed to launch, the Insider Preview builds still had major issues. This included the Start menu crashing regularly and the computer needing a reboot before it would open again. Apps wouldn’t launch reliably. Depending on your hardware, people had all sorts of other problems. Many testers were pessimistic about whether Windows 10 would be ready. Microsoft was still adding features and making big changes late in the “beta” period, a time when software projects generally focus exclusively on finding and squashing bugs.

Just a few weeks before the July 29 launch date, the quality and stability of the insider builds began to improve dramatically. Windows 10 build 10240 — the build that will be available to everyone starting July 29 — is actually quite solid. However, this seems like the shortest bug-testing period any version of Windows has ever undergone before rolling out to a larger audience.

Windows Insiders who have been using Windows 10 build 10240 for a few weeks are still experiencing bugs on some hardware. Microsoft will continue patching and improving things — but even the final build isn’t perfect. Microsoft is still releasing bugfix updates for Windows 10, and they’ll continue doing this after July 29. The longer you wait, the more stable things will get.

But, Should You Upgrade If You Can?

If you have reserved your Windows 10 upgrade, you don’t actually have to go through with it. Likewise, if you haven’t reserved the Windows 10 upgrade yet, you can open the Get Windows 10 window and reserve it today to become eligible. The same Get Windows 10 interface will tell you if any of your hardware or software won’t work on Windows 10.

We recommend you don’t upgrade immediately. The free Windows 10 upgrade offer lasts an entire year. Now that Windows 10 is beginning to roll out, sit on the sidelines for a bit and see what other users report after upgrading. If there are widespread issues — or issues on your particular model of laptop, for example — you can avoid them. At the very least, wait a few weeks to see what the general experience of people upgrading to Windows 10 is before taking that leap.

After all, even if you want to upgrade, you may end up sitting on the sidelines for a while. Microsoft seems to agree that it’s crazy for a billion devices to upgrade on the same day, and that slower-than-promised Windows 10 rollout is designed to find bugs and fix them before more people encounter them. Hang back for a bit and you won’t be one of those early users who function as testers and find those initial bugs.

Of course, if you really want Windows 10, you can go grab the ISO image from Microsoft’s website and start the manual install process. And you should really consider creating an image of your PC before you upgrade to Windows 10, so you can more easily revert back to exactly where you were, and backups are never a bad thing. Backup your computer before upgrading!

Windows 10 seems like a worthy upgrade — once it’s stable enough. If you have a spare PC lying around that you tinker with and don’t use for anything important, it’s also a great place to install Windows 10 first. You’re also free to uninstall Windows 10 and revert back to Windows 7 or 8.1 if you encounter any problems, so even an upgrade to Windows 10 isn’t final. You just have to downgrade in the first month. You can upgrade to Windows 10 again in the future, once more problems have been ironed out.

Windows 10 is an unprecedented release. Not only has Microsoft spent less time stabilizing and bug-testing the release version of Windows than ever, they’re also rolling that new version of Windows out to a billion devices that shipped with older versions of Windows.

Previously, most Windows devices would just keep using the version of Windows they came with. People who actually upgraded their WIndows PCs were rare. Now, everyone will be doing this. Microsoft is bound to encounter issues on some hardware, even if those issues are caused by buggy third-party drivers.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tim Cook’s $181 Billion Headache: Apple’s Cash Held Overseas

Image result for Tim Cook, Apple cash

Apple Inc.’s cash topped $200 billion for the first time as the portion of money held abroad rose to almost 90 percent, putting more pressure on Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to find a way to use the funds without incurring U.S. taxes.

Booming iPhone sales overseas are adding to Apple’s cash pile, pushing the company to embrace offshore affiliates to preserve and invest the money. Cook, who was called before U.S. Congress in 2013 to defend Apple against allegations of dodging taxes, is facing questions on what Apple will do with its cash pile and fielding calls from investors, such as billionaire activist Carl Icahn, to return shareholder capital.

“They don’t really have that much on-shore cash,” said Tim Arcuri, an analyst at Cowen & Co. “They’re still sort of hamstrung on what they can do, barring the ability to repatriate a bunch of off-shore cash.”

Cook has been vocal about his desire for U.S. lawmakers to amend the country’s tax laws so that companies can repatriate more cash. Apple’s overseas cash has climbed 70 percent since Cook spoke to Congress, and now makes up 89 percent of Apple’s $202.8 billion in cash and investments at the end of June, the company said Tuesday, up from 72 percent of $146.6 billion in cash two years ago.

Driving that is Apple’s booming global revenue. Sales in greater China, for example, more than doubled to $13.2 billion in the latest quarter from a year earlier.

At the same time, Apple’s U.S. federal lobbying spending has been climbing, and reached a record $4.1 million last year as it advocated on a wide range of issues. The company’s lobbying climbed 46 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier. The iPhone maker added three lobbyists on the issues of taxes in the past year, and is addressing concerns such as corporate and international “tax reform,” according to records filed with the U.S. Senate this week.

Tax Policy

Under current law, U.S. companies owe the full 35 percent corporate tax rate -- the highest of any industrialized nation - - on income they earn around the world. They receive tax credits for payments to foreign governments, and have to pay the U.S. the difference only when they bring the money home.

That system encourages companies to shift profits to low-tax foreign countries and leave the money there. As a result, more than $2 trillion is being stockpiled overseas by U.S. companies.

U.S. President Barack Obama and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, are trying to find a way to impose a one-time tax on the stockpiled money to encourage cash repatriation, change the underlying system and plow the proceeds into highways.

Returning Cash

Apple is also seeking to return more of its growing cash hoard to investors. In April, the company unveiled plans to boost capital return program by $70 billion, increasing a share-buyback authorization by $50 billion and increasing dividends by 11 percent. At the end of June quarter, the company had returned $126 billion of its $200 billion program, including $90 billion in share repurchases, Chief Financial officer Luca Maestri told analysts on Tuesday.

To pay investors, Apple has issued almost $50 billion in debt around the world, including bonds denominated in yen and Swiss francs. Apple also used $10 billion in cash to pay U.S. taxes last year, according to a regulatory filing.

On top of this, Apple has already assumed for accounting purposes that a lot of the cash has come home, suggesting that the impact of cash repatriation on future earnings would be minimal. At the end of its latest fiscal year, Apple estimated that bringing home the $69.7 billion in earnings on which it hasn’t taken a charge would cost about $23.3 billion in U.S. taxes.

Cook has said that Apple is already the largest taxpayer in the U.S. and reiterated a need for “comprehensive” tax reform. A representative for Apple declined to comment.

“It’s not smart for all of these companies, including us, to have all this money offshore, which can’t be invested in the United States,” the CEO said at a tech conference held by the Wall Street Journal last year. “It would be reasonable to, say, force a tax on the offshore piece but let it all flow free -- let the capital have a free flow.”

(A previous version of this story removed a reference to Apple’s lobbying spending being at a record in the second quarter.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

PC sticks: Have Windows, will travel

PC sticks are popping up all over. These are tiny devices that are full PCs that can be plugged into any TV or monitor and used securely. We've rounded up a few of the top ones for consideration.

PCs have shrunk to a very small size, barely bigger than a USB flash memory drive. They have a CPU, memory, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and secure local storage. Plug them into a TV or monitor with an HDMI port and you have your personal Windows system. Add a wireless keyboard and mouse and it's an instant full service Windows PC with your own apps and files.
These are typically cheap, ranging from $100 - $150. They are useful for those who travel a lot for work, and who prefer to keep off the grid to a certain degree for security reasons. When you unplug the stick and walk away there is no trace of your actions on the equipment you leave behind which wouldn't be the case if you borrowed a computer.

PC sticks are also an easy way to set up a kiosk at a trade show. Just plug one in to the HDMI port on a TV and you have an instant streaming kiosk display.

All of the sticks listed below have an Intel Atom processor, Windows 8.1, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, one or two USB ports, and a memory card slot for adding storage except where noted. They vary in size but all are only slightly bigger than a USB flash memory stick.

We've taken a look at PC sticks and identified a few that look to be solid solutions. We haven't tried these but they all have capable tiny components in the small package.
Intel Compute Stick


Intel has four sticks of varying capability and price. The cheapest is $99.99 and the most expensive stick from Intel is $149.99. The cheapest stick only has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage while the expensive one has the standard 2GB/32GB.

Lenovo Ideacentre 300

lenovo-ideacentre-300.jpgThis stick from Lenovo has an SD slot that provides additional storage and a microUSB port. It will be available soon for $129 and ships with Windows 8.1 as do the other sticks in this roundup. Lenovo has stated it will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it is available later this month.

The Lenovo Ideacentre 300 doesn't appear on Lenovo's web site at the time of publication, but the company has stated it will be available in July.

Quantum Access Mini PC Stick

This is configured like the other sticks covered but has an antenna for improving Wi-Fi connections. This runs along the side of the device and extends away from the stick.

Archos PC Stick

This stick has the standard configuration like most of the competition but with one difference. It will ship with Windows 10 for only $99. Archos hasn't announced a date of availability for the PC Stick.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why promises about cloud security make me uneasy (TechRepublic)

A security breach in the cloud could be more of a problem than a problem on an internal network.

Image result for Security and clouds
The debate around cloud rages on multiple fronts in terms of use, cost and security. The reality however is that more and more technology products are moving to the cloud and companies will likely only offer cloud options in the future.

The reason is simple: it is easier to deploy and sell and the recurring revenue from subscription versus software purchase offerings is far too attractive from a profitability perspective for suppliers to ignore.

Cloud is a gigantic concept that serves many applications and functions. It includes SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, storage and back up as well a distributed application architecture. It is difficult to compare Dropbox to Salesforce or AWS to iCloud, they are all cloud but with very different users and functions.

Security in the cloud is an ongoing concern, and depending on which briefing I attend the cloud offers more or less security than traditional system architecture. There appears to be no consensus and much debate on this. We have all heard about breaches of iCloud and how easy it appears to be to break into personal cloud spaces.

Cloud companies will tell you that their products and services are secure and you can use security products to ensure that your data and applications are secure. I am a bit skeptical.

I can maintain and monitor use and access to my user base and interrogate logs of application use however I lack key visibility when in comes to the cloud - into the backend architecture and I do not know the capabilities of the cloud provider and their teams to view or see data within my cloud offering.

This disturbs me because unfortunately what I don't know can hurt me. Fundamentally, I am left with a prevailing perception that cloud has as much or more vulnerability than my internally managed applications and infrastructure providing I have invested in the proper security platforms and monitoring.

I can unplug my network in a worst case scenario and in the cloud world this is much more difficult to achieve if a major breach of data is realized.

I recall the fear mongering words I hear in every security conference from RSA to Blackhat that continue to repeat the catch phrase "it isn't a matter of if but when your network or application gets breached."

If this is true then regardless of what providers say it is still only a matter of time before my cloud application gets breached.

How comfortable am I in being able to manage a cloud breach? Not very, in fact I am less comfortable with a breach in the cloud than I am in my own network.

I lack control of the cloud and am dependent on a third party vendor for disclosure and transparency which I feel in the case of a systemic breach would not be easily available if at all. In addition, the ability to get useful log information from shared devices that isn't dedicated to my business from past experience is impossible.

So regardless of the debate being had I feel very uneasy with security in the cloud no matter how many vendors seek to dispel these fears.

My challenge is I do not yet have a plan to tackle it and I have no power to stop the cloud growing and being adopted without impacting progress within my business.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

FED exige mayores reservas a ocho bancos de EU (Mercado de Dinero USA)

La Reserva Federal (FED) impuso nuevas exigencias de capital a ocho grandes bancos estadounidenses, con el objetivo de reducir el riesgo que su eventual quiebra pueda ocasionar al sistema bancario. Solamente uno de esos bancos, JPMorgan Chase, no cumple actualmente con esta nueva reglamentación, que entrará en plena vigencia en enero de 2019, indicaron responsables de la Fed.

Presidenta de la
Reserva Federal (Fed) de EEUU, Janet Yellen
Esta decision se toma con el objetivo de reducir el riesgo que su eventual quiebra pueda ocasionar al sistema bancario.
Además de JPMorgan, las instituciones identificadas como sistémicamente importantes para el sector bancario global (GSIB, por sus siglas en inglés) y que están sujetas a la nueva reglamentación son: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup y State Street.
El capital adicional requerido ayudará "a asegurar que las GSIB tengan capital suficiente para mantener sus operaciones durante períodos de estrés y para proteger al sistema financiero de los riesgos de contagio de una quiebra" eventual, advierte el Banco central estadounidense.
Este arsenal de medidas, que se agrega a la reglamentación internacional de Basilea III, se aplicará a los gigantes bancarios cuyos activos consolidados superen los 250 mil millones de dólares y entrará en vigor por etapas a partir de enero de 2016 para estar plenamente operativo el primero de enero de 2019.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Your Google Searches Could Help the FDA Find Drug Side Effects (BusinessWeek)

Millions of people search online for information about symptoms and prescription drugs. Patterns in their searches might reveal previously unknown side effects of medications
The Food and Drug Administration is talking to Google about how the search engine could help the agency identify previously unknown side effects of medications. Agency officials held a conference call on June 9 with a senior Google researcher who co-wrote a 2013 paper about using search query data to identify adverse drug reactions, according to a record of the meeting posted to the FDA website that hasn't been previously reported. Microsoft researchers also say they have been working informally with the agency for several years on detecting drug side effects.

FDA spokesman Chris Kelly called the meeting an introduction and a chance "for the agency to begin a discussion on how we might collaborate with Google on identifying adverse event data, using Google’s technologies and data.” The agency declined to make officials available for interviews, and Kelly wouldn't comment on the FDA's talks with other companies. A Google spokesman had no comment.

The Google scientist on the call was Evgeniy Gabrilovich. His bio on Google’s research page says he’s a senior staff research scientist specializing in data mining. A former employee of Yahoo, Gabrilovich co-wrote a paper two years ago that used Yahoo search data to identify suspected drug reactions. The analysis, based on 176 million Yahoo queries in 2010, demonstrated that search data can help find drug reactions "that have so far eluded discovery by the existing mechanisms," according to the paper. It was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Before drugs are approved by the FDA, the only people who get them are carefully selected patients enrolled in clinical trials—generally a few thousand people at most. After they reach the market, medicines may go to hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people. Some of them will be taking additional pills or have conditions that the drug affects. Evidence of negative side effects can lead regulators to change a drug’s safety warnings or prescribing practices. In rare cases, safety concerns can cause a a medicine to be pulled from the market entirely, as happened with the painkiller, Vioxx.

The government’s process for tracking so-called adverse events (which involves patients, doctors and pharmaceutical companies submitting forms that describe possible reactions) hasn’t changed much since the late 1990s. The FDA now gets more than a million reports of adverse drug reactions a year. Although the agency has tried to make the data easier to access, critics say the system probably misses many adverse events and can be slow to detect safety problems.
Companies have been trying for years to sift the noise of the internet for meaningful signs of drug reactions. “If you have the right technology to connect the dots, then you can see problems very, very early on,” says Ido Hadari, chief executive of Treato, which scans patient forums and other online postings. He wouldn’t comment on whether Treato is talking with the FDA.

Beyond the discussion with Google, there are signs that the FDA is expanding its search for new sources of information and ways to monitor the safety of drugs on the market. Last month the agency announced a collaboration with PatientsLikeMe, an online patient network. And last year, an FDA researcher co-authored a paper about monitoring drug safety on Twitter.

Microsoft's researchers have been working on the problem for several years and have co-authored a paper with FDA colleagues, says Eric Horvitz, distinguished scientist and managing director at Microsoft's research arm.

Horvitz, along with other researchers from Microsoft and Stanford University, published a 2013 paper (PDF) finding that Web search data could have exposed the adverse interaction between the antidepressant Paroxetine (aka Paxil) and cholesterol-lowering drug Pravastatin, which together can cause hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. People who searched for both of those drugs over a 12-month period were also more likely to search for terms related to high blood sugar, such as diabetes and dry mouth, according to the paper in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The analysis of millions of searches1 on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing were from 2010, before the interaction was publicly reported the following year.

Google scientist Gabrilovich’s paper analyzed how searches2 for such common symptoms as “cramps,” “weight gain,” or “tired” differed among people who also searched for the name of a medication. While serious symptoms that appeared shortly after treatment started were likely to be known side effects reported to the FDA, the researchers found that search data were more likely to reveal reactions that "appear much later after the beginning of treatment, hence their association to the drug is often overlooked."

Monday, July 20, 2015

The End of Boys and Girls: These Companies Are Going to Change How Your Kids Dress (BusinessWeek)

Frustrated parents are launching apparel startups to upend gender norms
Svaha clothing line
Ever since Jaya Iyer's daughter was a toddler, she had been fascinated by Saturn and its icy rings. When Swaha turned three, she had a space-themed birthday party. But when her mom went to find clothes with space images for Swaha, she couldn't find any. They were all in the boys section. 

So the 41-year-old mother of two, who has a doctorate in fashion merchandising, started her own business called Svaha (which is how her daughter's name is pronounced) to sell clothes that upend gender stereotypes. One shirt features a grinning green stegosaurus, the plates on its back adorned with polka dots. A second comes in a blazing pink hue, with an astronaut planting an American flag on the moon. That one should satisfy her daughter. "She was very upset with me for not ever buying her anything with astronauts on it," Iyer says. "Then she started telling me: 'I want a ninja on my shirt.'"

Svaha is one of several startups that have emerged in recent years with the goal of changing the standards that govern what kids wear. These upstarts aren't looking to replace current kid's apparel entirely. Instead, their founders say they want to provide children with more options. Handsome in Pink says it's all right for boys to wear pink and purple. BuddingSTEM offers science-themed garb for girls. Perhaps the buzziest label is Princess Awesome, which raised more than $200,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign, showing demand for pirate-themed dresses and girl's apparel covered in the symbol for pi. Most of the ventures remain in early stages as online-only entities using crowdfunded or bootstrapped cash to sell small numbers of shirts or dresses. 

Several of the startups share a common origin: They were borne out of parental frustration with major retailers. Simply shopping in the opposite gender's section isn't the answer, these parents say. Cultural norms mean that as kids get older, designating certain items as male or female can confuse and frustrate them. A girl may not want to wear something designated for boys, and vice-versa. 
"Most kids and parents are going to the big retailers and seeing all these messages of what its means to be a boy or a girl," says Sharon Choksi, co-founder of clothing lineGirls Will Be. Choksi's daughter Maya, now 10, never liked sparkles or "feminine" colors, so the Choksis would shop for Maya in the boys' section. As Maya got older, Choksi worried that "boy" and "girl" labels would unnecessarily upset her daughter. 
Choksi, from Austin, started selling girl's shirts in 2013 before expanding into hoodies and shorts. In an effort to encourage girls to move around freely, the fit of Girls Will Be tops fall somewhere between a traditional, fitted girl's shirt and the boxy, looser fit typically marketed to boys. One design reads, “bold, daring, fearless, adventurous, so many things,” while another features a silhouette of a girl doing a flying sidekick. Choksi wants her clothes to fill a gap left open by big companies. "When are the big retailers going to wake up and realize that not all girls are the same and not all boys are the same?" she asks.
In Seattle, Martine Zoer had similar experiences with her sons. She grew tired of her boys, now four and seven, being pushed merchandise featuring designs of dinosaurs and trucks. In 2014, she founded Quirkie Kids, a label devoted to gender-neutral clothes. "There's nothing wrong with pink or girls liking pink," Zoer says. "But if we only offer them that choice, there's something wrong with that."
“There’s nothing hardwired in our brains that says pink is for girls and blue is for boys,” says Lise Eliot, a neuroscientist at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Frank University and author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—and What We Can Do About It. It’s purely a cultural phenomenon. By the time children are toddlers, Eliot says, boys start rejecting pink because they realize it may diverge from what's expected. 
These apparel choices can have enduring repercussions by affecting kids' interests and long-term goals. For instance, since most female clothes are more fitted, they often double as restraints, Eliot says, pushing girls away from physical activities. Kids' play habits matter, because they affect development and ultimately, even what career they end up embracing. If a girl is tugged away from liking outer space by societal pressures, she probably won't veer toward an aerospace profession later in life. If a boy is discouraged from playing with dolls and wearing bold clothes, they may not want to get into fashion design one day. "They see it's the boys with the rocket ships and the girls with the pretty flowers," adds Eliot.
At major retail outlets such as Children's Place and Gymboree, there are few, if any, options for the girl who loves dinosaurs or football. Same goes for the boy who loves unicorns and hearts. Much of the merchandise is as stereotyped as can be: a T-Rex playing football in the boys section; a shirt that reads "I ❤ My B.F.F. More Than Shoes" in the girls section. A representative for Children's Place declined to comment on how it decides what designs and colors to sell boys and girls, and representatives for Gymboree did not respond to a request for comment. 
Big retailers are typically focused on quantity, so until enough shoppers demand clothes that don't fall along traditional lines, not much will change, says Patty Leto, senior vice president of childrens' wear at the Doneger Group, a trend intelligence firm. "Pink is always going to sell for girls and blue is always going to sell for boys, no matter what is going on out there with small labels," she says. In the end, it's up to the parents. "The consumer is the ultimate voter here," she says.
Take Lands' End, which in 2014 found itself under attack by angry shoppers when New Jersey mom Lisa Ryder wrote a letter decrying stereotypes in its clothing selection. Flipping through a catalog, Ryder's daughter loved shirts with planets and dinosaurs, though they were clearly marked for boys. When it was suggested to Ryder by a Facebook commenter that she simply purchase a boy's shirt,she responded with vigor. "The problem is that your recent catalog copy and product offerings strongly promote the gender stereotypes that young boys are smart and mighty and young girls are adorable," she wrote. "Simply buying my daughter one of your 'boy shirts' is not the answer because it perpetuates the idea that science is a boy thing that she happens to be participating in." Lands' End decided to release new science-themed shirts for girls.
Quirkie Kids
For the giants of the clothing world, it's an exercise in figuring out what will sell. 
For the budding brands, it's less a race for revenue than a mission to make a difference. "Everybody's really supportive of each other, rather than being competitive," Zoer, the Quirkie Kids founder, says of the community of new brands. "We're all sort of in this together." 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Chinese Stock Meltdown That Makes the Greece Saga Look Trivial (BusinessWeek)

The bear market by the numbers, below.
By any standard, the selloff in Chinese stocks over the past month has been epic.  Here’s a look at the turmoil by numbers.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index has lost 28 percent since its peak on June 12, the worst selloff in two decades. About $3.9 trillion in market valuation has evaporated, more than the total annual output of Germany—the world’s fourth-largest economy—and 16 times Greece’s gross domestic product. The benchmark is still up 82 percent in the past year, the most among the world’s major markets.

As shares tumbled, companies rushed to apply for trading suspension. More than 1,400 companies stopped trading on mainland exchanges, locking sellers out of 50 percent of the market. The China Securities Regulatory Commission also banned major shareholders, corporate executives, and directors from selling stakes in listed companies for six months.
Chinese stocks have become the most volatile among major markets after Greece. A measure of 30-day price swings on the Shanghai benchmark reached 56, the highest since 2008. The volatility is more than five times that of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

Investors who borrow money from brokerages have amplified the boom-and-bust. A fivefold surge in margin debt had helped propel the Shanghai index up more than 150 percent in the 12 months through June 12. On the way down, leveraged investors unwound their holdings to repay the loans, amplifying the crash. While margin debt on the exchanges has declined by 823 billion yuan ($133 billion) since the mid-June peak, to 1.44 trillion yuan, it’s still more than triple the level from a year earlier.
Officials have unveiled market-boosting measures almost every night in the past two weeks. A group of 21 brokerages has pledged to invest at least 120 billion yuan in a stock market fund, taking a page from the playbook used by J.P. Morgan and Guaranty Trust Co. during the 1929 U.S. crash. Regulators have banned major stockholders from selling stakes in listed companies, suspended initial public offerings, and restricted short selling.

While the efforts have helped boost the largest stated-owned companies—oil giant PetroChina has gained 22 percent since June 26—they have so far failed to revive overseas investors’ confidence. Dual-listed Chinese stocks traded 33 percent lower in Hong Kong than on the mainland, the biggest discount since 2009, suggesting investors abroad are more pessimistic than the locals on the valuation of the companies.
Additional losses threaten to drag down further the slowest economic growth since 1990 and stir social discontent. The world’s second-largest equity market now has more than 90 million individual investors, which is higher than the number of Communist Party members.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Cities That Make Up the Biggest Economy on Earth (BusinessWeek)

"The Asia-Pacific MetroMonitor reaffirms the shift in global economic growth to the East and South"

Asia Pacific cities are driving the global economy.

From the West Coast of the Americas spanning cities including Vancouver, San Francisco and Lima to Auckland, Jakarta and the metropolises of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, the 100 biggest metropolitan centers across the region make up one fifth of the global economy, or $22 trillion worth in 2014.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Visita CAMACOL una Delegación Latinoamericana de Expertos Financieros

Latin American  Business Finance Experts in CAMACOL

Last month a delegation of experts in finance from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico, as well as two journalists in this area visited CAMACOL. This group is visiting the United States at the invitation of the State Department.

The group was interested in  our activities and we informed them about the work of Camacol and its programs, such as the Hemispheric Congress of Latin Chambers of Commerce, the Miami Media Film Market and other embodiments of CAMACOL.

Gladly we attended such prestigious visitors and exchanged ideas and experiences, wishing them every success with their performance in their respective countries and we hope to meet again soon!

The Group exchanged questions and answers with our staff. They were:

From Argentina:
Sr. Matias Carugati, Chief Economist, Management & Fit Consulting
Sr. Esteban Rafele, periodista de finanzas, El Cronista, Buenos Aires.

From Bolivia:
Sr. Andres Marcelo Gutiérrez Villca
Economic Policy Advisor, Central Bank of Bolivia

From Colombia:
Sra. Ana Erika Cuellar Cortés
Rural Development Officer, Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Srta. Nidia Marcela Granados Galvis
Senior Marketing Analyst, PROEXPORT
Srta. Claudia Milena Porras Lozano
Director, Money Laundering Prevention and Control, Financial Superintendency of Colombia

From Mexico:
Sr. Nicolas Camorlinga Cadena
Compliance Officer and Founder, Exchange House Camorlinga
Sr. Eduardo López Valenzuela
Periodista, El Imparcial Newspaper, Ciudad Obregon, Sonora