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Best Business Longreads

Chip Somodevilla

From the success of High Times to the plight of migrant workers in techonology manufacturing, The Daily Beast brings you the best in business journalism from the week of November 9, 2013.

Street Cop: Can the S.E.C.’s Mary Jo White Control Wall Street?Nicholas Lemann – New YorkerThere has been a marked difference between the SEC once castigated by Judge Rakoff for what he saw as leniency toward banks, and the guns-blazing, take-no-prisoners SEC in the news the past few weeks. The new chairman, Mary Jo White, has a reputation as one of the most competitive and competent lawyers to come out of the Southern District of New York. The question is, will all of her work change the way Wall Street behaves?An iPhone Tester Caught in Apple’s Supply ChainCam Simpson – Bloomberg BusinessweekBonded labor, in which migrant workers pledge labor to pay of a debt, is a common form of labor in many developing countries particularly in the Middle East and in factories in South Asia.

Citizen Eike

Brazil's Shrinking Billionaire

Eduardo Martino/archivolatino/Redux

Eike Bastista was the world’s eighth-richest man, and the poster-boy for the new Brazil, flashy and flush with wealth—until his oil and gas bubble burst.

One day, some 30 years ago, before the trophy wife and the floodlights, when a berth on the Forbes billionaires list was still a moon shot, Eike Batista was restless. At age 23, he’d had enough of Europe and the golden cage he’d spent his childhood in, and decided to move back to his native Brazil to make something of himself. The engineering school dropout had sold corned beef to Africa and brokered some Brazilian diamonds with mixed success.

Jobs Report

Bad News for U.S. Declinists

Joe Raedle/Getty

Thought the shutdown would tank the recovery? You were wrong—Friday’s jobs report was impressive. It turns out the government is losing its ability to inflict damage on the economy.

It’s been a bad 36 hours or so for American economic declinists. Twitter’s initial public offering demonstrated the ability of the American entrepreneurial engine to create an entity worth $20 billion essentially from scratch. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage-giant basket cases that were the ne plus ultra of the 2008 financial debacle, requiring an injection of $180 billion putatively irretrievable taxpayer funds, said Thursday they’d return to Treasury $8.


Hiring Picks Up in October

Rick Wilking/Reuters

Despite 16-day government shutdown.

The U.S. economy added 240,000 jobs in October, a surprising gain for a month skewed by the 16-day government shutdown. The unemployment rate ticked up from 7.2 to 7.3 percent, likely because federal workers furloughed by the shutdown were counted as unemployed. In another bright spot in the report, job numbers from September and August were revised upward by 60,000, meaning more jobs were added than originally calculated. The October gain surprised forecasters because the impact of the shutdown had made the month difficult to predict. The Labor Department's report, usually released on the first day of the month, was delayed a week because of the shutdown.

Read it at Associated Press


Why Twitter Is #Winning


The social network made a huge splash with its IPO today, rocketing above its initial share price. But will the stock go the way of Facebook and Yahoo!—or Webvan and

Twitter staged its initial public offering on Thursday morning. It raised $1.8 billion by selling 70 million shares at $26 a piece to investors. When trading finally opened at about 11:00 a.m., the first price was $45.10—a nice 73.5 percent pop. The company instantly was valued at about $31 billion.The deal is a huge, ginormous, all-enveloping story, in large part due to what I’d call a double example of selection bias.What do I mean? Well, first, journalists are obsessed with the offering in a way that many other people aren’t.


FDA to Ban Trans Fat

David De Lossy/Getty

Could prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year.

From the bottom of our artery clogged hearts, thank you. The Food and Drug Administration proposed regulations on Thursday to eliminate artificial trans fat from the U.S. food supply. The measures would deem hydrogenated oils (where trans fats come from) no longer safe. And since the Institute of Medicine says there is no safe level at which to consume artificial trans fats, companies will have a hard time challenged the proposal during the 60-day comment period. The FDA says the rules may prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year.

Read it at the New York Times


U.S. Economy Beats Expectations

Grew 2.8 percent in third quarter.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter, topping analysts' expectations of a two-percent rate. The report was initially due out on October 30, but was delayed because of the shutdown. The growth comes as a surprise as economists were predicting the sequestration spending cuts and tax increases to have a significant drag on the economy. 

Read it at the New York Times


Twitter Sets IPO at $26 a Share


On eve of going public.

Talk about fidgety. After initially setting a share-price range of $17 to $20, then raising it to $23 to $25, Twitter has settled on $26 a share for the initial public offering of 70 million shares. The company’s shares will be up for grabs Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. Much of the shifting over the price is due to the fears remaining from the messy Facebook IPO when the stock plummeted well below the IPO pricing. 

Read it at the Wall Street Journal


Blockbuster to Close Last Stores

David Friedman/Getty

Will focus on streaming.

The good old days of indecisively wandering a movie store for hours are officially over. Blockbuster announced on Wednesday that it would close the remaining 300 stores by early January, stop its mail service in mid-December, and all U.S. distribution centers will shutter. The company's owner, DISH Network Corp., purchased Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction in 2010 and says the once-powerful brand will be refocused on streaming and on-demand. A few lucky towns might get to keep their video stores though: 50 independently owned franchises will not be affected by the closure.

Read it at Chicago Tribune

Grease Bomb

The Burger Wars Get Bigger

Burger King/AP

Burger King just introduced a new burger, the Big King. Clearly a direct competitor to McDonald’s Big Mac, the burger is a fat-laden sign that fast-food joints are getting desperate.

The Burger wars are heating up.On Tuesday, Burger King introduced its latest menu offering: the Big King The alpha male product is bigger than the whopper and is a way of giving meat lovers what they want, while also giving a noogie to McDonald’s.It’s the most recent indication that the stakes for the nation’s largest burger chains seem to be rising at a time when the rewards are actually falling. Fast-food isn’t doing particularly well. The vast industry, which relies on low wages, low prices, and a low-quality dining experience just isn’t working the way it used to.


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