Tag Archives: News event

Ezra Klein 1124

Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?


Ezra Klein is being hailed as the future of technology driven journalism in a Sunday profile in the New York Times by Leslie Kaufman. In the introductory quote, Klein says that while he respects the Washington Post, he was being hampered by its technology. He rolled out the new version of Vox.com on Sunday and talked about the decision with the Times:

Technology has become crucial to every newsroom, of course, but not all technology has been designed equally. News organizations born in the print era have generally knit together disparate systems over the years to produce websites that integrate graphics, social media and reader comments with various degrees of smoothness.

Many all-digital organizations have built their content management systems from the ground up with the Internet in mind. That strategy, many say, produces a more organic melding of journalism and technology.

The result is an increasingly dynamic publishing universe where sites like Vox, Vice and BuzzFeed, and new enterprises like Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept, are luring seasoned journalists as well as a new generation of storytellers.

In this high-tech universe, Vox Media’s content management system — which even has its own name, Chorus, and is used to publish all the company’s websites — has earned recognition. It is credited with having a toolset that allows journalists to edit and illustrate their copy in dramatic fashion, promote their work on social media, and interact with readers — all seamlessly and intuitively.

What is interesting is that the site isn’t being hailed for its content, but the ability to make managing it easier and more accessible. The BBC reported that venture capitalists are:

The financial future of the news business is uncertain, but lately US venture capitalists have been placing their bets on journalism.

Over the past year, venture capitalists contributed at least $300m (£180m) to digital news organisations, many of them start-ups, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.

“It’s a great time to build new brands in the media landscape,” says Eric Hippeau, managing director at Lerer Ventures, a venture capital fund that has invested in scores of digital start-ups, including Policymic, a news site geared towards millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000.

Mr Hippeau believes the youngest generation of news consumers are an appealing target audience.

“Young people do not really care about the old brands for the most part. They are attracted by brands that cater to and are building content that are specifically for what they like,” he says.

That sounds like good news for Vox. The Times story reported they’re trying to create a pool of reporters who are constantly updating pages, much like Wikipedia:

To help accomplish this, the developers have been building a tool they call the card stack. The cards, trimmed in brilliant canary yellow, contain definitions of essential terms that a reader can turn to if they require more context. For example, a story updating the battle over the Affordable Care Act might include cards explaining the term “insurance exchange.”

Ms. Bell said Vox.com would start with roughly 20 reporters with expertise around specific topics, a limited travel budget, and, of course, very inchoate technology.

Ms. Bell confessed that she was both “excited and terrified” to go out with a product that has had just three months to gestate. “I worry people will say, ‘Hey, you guys promised us magic,’ ” she said, “and I’ll say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Give us some time and we will get there.’

Columbia Journalism Review also touched on the topic of journalism and technology this week:

Cultivating many small audiences of superfans in different subject areas isn’t exactly a new business model. Many old-school trade magazines share a single publisher. And digital powerhouses like Gawker segment their audience and appeal to advertisers with a portfolio of sites, each with a distinct, narrow focus. But with companies tracking individual users’ every click across the internet, advertisers can increasingly target users over sites. Rather than buy a large banner ad atop Jalopnik, Gawker Media’s car blog, the company can just serve its ad to a subset of car-interested people no matter where they browse. (If you’ve become annoyed when a product you clicked on once while online shopping shows up in ads on every other site you visit, you’ve experienced this phenomenon firsthand.) This sort of highly targeted ad usually involves a middleman, and therefore results in less revenue for the publication serving it. Soon the niches will have to be even niche-ier, the superfans even more devoted, to convince an advertiser to buy directly from a publication.

Digital trends point to the biggest media companies getting even bigger, with everyone else staying relatively small. Despite the explosion of blogs and media startups, the top 7 percent of news websites still attract 80 percent of all traffic, according to Nielsen. Most sites will never be big enough to appeal to advertisers on the basis of unique visitors alone, but they can embrace their size by making a play to keep the readers they do have engaged and coming back. But systematic thinking about how to do that has fallen by the wayside as even the little guys pursue viral hits—and the immediate Chartbeat spike that comes with them—to meet monthly traffic goals. According to Chartbeat, visitors from social are the least likely to return to a site in the future.

What if some of the effort spent writing the perfect tweet or shareable headline was focused instead on trying to deepen the relationship with existing repeat visitors?

It’s a good question. And according to CJR, Vox will have a lot of work to do to attract eyes. But if the model of deeper engagement is one that works, then there will be many following their example. And if not, then Klein will have a lot of questions to answer.


Liberty Media sells stake in Barnes & Noble


It’s not looking good for brick and mortar bookstores these days. On Thursday, Liberty Media said it would sell most of its holdings in Barnes & Noble, signaling that physical books are becoming a relic of the past.

The New York Times had this story by Michael J. de la Merced:

Nearly three years ago, Liberty Media wanted to buy all of Barnes & Noble, before settling for a big stake. Now it appears that the media conglomerate has had enough.

Liberty announced on Thursday that it would divest the vast majority of its stake in the struggling bookseller through private sales of its holdings. Liberty Media took a 17 percent stake in Barnes & Noble for $204 million in 2011. After the latest move, Liberty will have just under a 2 percent stake.

Other investors in the bookseller were much less sanguine about the move. The stock slid more than 10 percent on Thursday morning, trading at around $19.79 a share.

The sale removes one of Barnes & Noble’s major backers as the company tries to navigate the changing landscape for books and media. Its Nook business, once considered its brightest hope, has instead sputtered, with sales dropping more than 50 percent in the most recent fiscal quarter from a year ago.

The Reuters story by Phil Wahba and Siddharth Cavale pointed out that the Nook also has been performing poorly:

Prior to that deal, Liberty had been in talks to buy the whole company for $17 per share, or about $1 billion. At that time, Liberty had praised the potential of the Nook.

Instead, the Nook business has faltered, with sales down 50 percent last quarter as the company did not launch a new device for the 2013 holiday season.

Losses from the Nook have run to hundreds of millions of dollars as it tried to keep up with deep-pocketed technology rivals Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc. Barnes & Noble will continue to develop Nook products, but only with a partner yet to be named.

Barnes & Noble’s retail business has shown much more stability in terms of sales, and profits at its bookstores and college campus stores are up.

Maggie McGrath of Forbes quoted that Liberty tried to put a positive spin on the news, but that investors were still spooked:

“Liberty Media has been a strong supporter of the company and Greg Maffei and Mark Carleton have been and continue to be tremendous partners at an important time in the Company’s history,” Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble chairman, said in a statement Thursday morning. “Liberty’s decision to retain a portion of its investment and have active involvement on our board underscores Liberty’s ongoing commitment to Barnes & Noble,” he said, adding that Liberty’s reduced ownership also gives his company greater flexibility to pursue various strategic options (but did not clarify what those strategic options are).

Despite these optimistic tones, other Barnes & Noble investors were not quite as satisfied with the news, sending shares of Barnes & Noble for a near-12 drop in Thursday morning trading. Shares of Liberty, meanwhile, were relatively unaffected by the news, trading for an 0.53% decline Thursday morning. Interestingly, it’s the struggling bookseller that’s had the better 2014 on the market: Liberty is down 7.7% in 2014 trading, while Barnes & Noble is up a whopping 50% for the year.

Part of the Barnes & Noble stock boost traces back to its third quarter earnings report, which was released in February and revealed that the company turned a profit despite a decrease in revenue. However, as Forbes’ Steve Schaefer reported at the time, the Nook tablet business, which was supposed to be a shining star for the company, posted a more-than 50% drop in revenue for the quarter and its profit was even worse. “Sales of the actual device and its accessories dropped 58.2% to $100 million due to both lower volumes and lower selling prices, while sales of content for the Nook fell 26.5% to $57 million,” he wrote, noting that Nook’s quarterly loss was 62 million. The silver lining? This loss was 67.5% smaller than a year earlier.

The Wall Street Journal story by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Martin Peers made the point that the sale could ultimately free up Barnes & Noble for other strategic moves:

The divestiture removes a potential impediment to Barnes & Noble separating its retail stores from other parts of its businesses, an idea the company has considered in recent years. CEO Michael Huseby said in February a split was still being studied. Liberty, one of the biggest investors in the company, had the right to block the sale of any major portion of its business; it will lose that right in reducing its stake.

“Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives” as a result of the sale, Liberty Media Chief Executive Greg Maffei said.

One large investor pointed out that the Barnes & Noble investment was a relatively small stake for Liberty, “which has much bigger arenas in which to play.” Liberty lately has been trying to spark a consolidation of the cable-TV industry, among other efforts.

Barnes & Noble shares closed Thursday at $19.12, down $2.99, or 13.5%

Barnes & Noble’s stock rallied 66% between early February and Wednesday, when it closed at $22.11. That followed a stronger financial performance at the company. Mr. Huseby has cut costs, helping Barnes & Noble to report a profit for the third-fiscal quarter compared with a year-earlier loss and despite a 10% drop in revenue.

The retailer also reported a stronger-than-expected holiday performance at its 663 consumer bookstores. Core comparable sales, which exclude Nook-related digital products, were down only 0.5%. for the third fiscal quarter ended Jan. 25, compared to a 2.2% decline in the year-earlier quarter.

So while things aren’t looking totally dire at the retailer, it’s likely another blow to the publishing industry as another large buyer pulls back from purchases. And it doesn’t bode well for the fate of retail book stores despite the turnaround efforts.


Talking Biz News Today — April 4, 2014


Friday’s top business news stories:

The Wall Street Journal

Airbus orders hurt by cancellations, by Robert Wall
Discounts are piled on as Americans buy fewer basics, by Serena Ng

The New York Times

Nest Labs stops selling its smoke detector, by Nick Wingfield
G.M. turns to experienced crisis experts, by Bill Vlasic and Hilary Stout

The Associated Press

Feds reach $5.15B settlement over mining cleanup, by Felecia Fonseca, Eric Tucker and Dina Cappiello
Milwaukee group wants to buy Pabst Blue Ribbon, by Carrie Antlfinger


Brooklyn’s hipster economy challenges Manhattan supremacy, by Henry Goldman


David Letterman retiring from TV, by Dorothy Pomerantz

Today in business journalism

South Florida Biz Journal refocuses its beats
WSJ’s Baker: We’re a better paper under Murdoch

Biz journalist Haj hired by American Lawyer

This date in business journalism history

2011: Engadget staff to launch new site
2013: Bloomberg adds Twitter to service


Talking Biz News Today — April 3, 2014


Thursday’s top business news stories:

The New York Times

Out of work, out of benefits, and running out of options, by Annie Lowrey
Fake meats, finally, taste like chicken, by Stephanie Strom

The Wall Street Journal

Senators challenge GM’s Barra, push for faster change, by Siobhan Hughes and Jeff Bennett
Yelp reviews brew a fight over free speech vs. fairness, by Angus Loten

The Associated Press

Growing demand for US apartments pushing up rents, by Alexa Veiga


Fed governor Stein resigns to return to teaching at Harvard, by Craig Torres and Jeff Kearns


Mozilla CEO resigns over anti-same-sex-marriage controversy, by Heather Kelly

And in local news:

Triangle Business Journal

Alcohol board forces Mellow Mushroom to end beer club, by Dawn Kurry

Today in business journalism

ACBJ launching BizWomen.com on Monday
American Lawyer parent is on the market
Bloomberg hires new airlines reporter
Adding high-quality stores at International Business Times
Citigroup’s troubles in Mexico


Citigroup’s troubles In Mexico


Well, the good times at Citigroup didn’t last long. The bank had yet another public relations blow when it reported fraud was discovered in its Banamex Mexico unit.

Ben Protess and Michael Corkery reported in the New York Times that now the government is getting involved:

Just as Citigroup was putting a troubled past of taxpayer bailouts and risky investments behind it, the bank now finds itself in the government’s cross hairs again.

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation into a recent $400 million fraud involving Citigroup’s Mexican unit, according to people briefed on the matter, one of a handful of government inquiries looming over the giant bank.

The investigation, overseen by the F.B.I. and prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, is focusing in part on whether holes in the bank’s internal controls contributed to the fraud in Mexico. The question for investigators is whether Citigroup — as other banks have been accused of doing in the context of money laundering — ignored warning signs.

The bank, which also faces a parallel civil investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement unit, hired the law firm Shearman & Sterling to lead an internal inquiry into the fraud, said the people briefed on the matter, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. At a meeting last month, the bank’s lawyers presented their initial findings to the government.

The bloom of activity stems from Citigroup’s disclosure in February that its Mexican unit, Banamex, uncovered an apparent fraud involving an oil services company.

Apparently, at least two people have lost their jobs due to the digressions, Dakin Campbell reported for Bloomberg:

Citi terminated two traders in 2013 for violating our code of conduct,” Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a spokeswoman for the New York-based bank, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We escalated this issue to regulators and took immediate action against these individuals.”

The fixed-income traders engaged in unauthorized transactions that may have resulted in losses of as much as “tens of millions of dollars,” Reuters reported earlier today, citing two sources close to the matter.

Banamex, which Citigroup acquired in 2001, is the biggest unit in the bank’s Latin America operations, which account for about 20 percent of total revenue. Citigroup reported Feb. 28 that fraud on loans made by the unit to a Mexican oil-services firm would cut last year’s profit by $235 million.

Elinor Comlay and David Henrys story for Reuters had much of the background on the situation, including troubles with the firm’s top executive in Mexico.

Mexico’s bank and securities regulator, the National Bank and Securities Commission, is aware of the matter, which was investigated internally by the bank, a spokesman for the regulator said.

The trading loss, even if realized, would be small in the scheme of Citigroup’s $13.7 billion of earnings for 2013. The Mexican unit, which has in the past enjoyed a good deal of autonomy, has suffered much bigger losses from bad loans to homebuilders and oil services company Oceanografia.

Some Citigroup officials are asking whether the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision last week to veto its plan to boost dividends and buy back more shares was linked to its Mexico troubles.

Citigroup has cut the compensation for Manuel Medina-Mora, who has run Banamex for many years and is also co-president of Citigroup – a role in which he oversees global consumer banking.

Medina-Mora was paid $9.5 million in total compensation for 2013, according to a proxy statement filed by Citigroup on March 12. That was down from the $11 million he received for 2012.

The filing said a factor in his pay was control issues at Banamex USA, a unit of Banamex, which the U.S. government has faulted for not doing enough to stop money laundering by customers. Citigroup last year consented to an order from the Federal Reserve to take corrective steps.

The Times story also pointed out the most recent troubles for the firm.

The case represents another setback for the bank, which has also come under fire from regulators in Washington. Last week, the Federal Reserve rejected Citigroup’s plan to increase its dividend. The rebuke embarrassed the bank and raised questions about the reliability of its financial projections.

The scrutiny coincides with Citigroup’s recent announcement that it faces a separate, and perhaps more threatening, investigation from federal prosecutors in Massachusetts. The prosecutors, who have sent subpoenas to Citigroup, are examining whether the bank lacked proper safeguards against clients laundering money. Citigroup, the people briefed on the matter said, has hired the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to handle that case, which stems from the prosecutors’ suspicion that drug money was flowing through an account at the bank.

Together, the developments threaten to complicate Citigroup’s relationships with government authorities, who had previously lost faith in the bank after it required two bailouts and came to epitomize Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis. While Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat, has repaired ties to regulators using a blend of contrition and self-accountability, the latest investigations could test those improvements.

Corbat just can’t seem to catch a break. Ever since taking over the bank, he’s had to continually put out crises and handle inquires. It’s hard to imagine business as usual or clients being thrilled about the latest news.


Talking Biz News Today — April 2, 2014


Wednesday’s top business stories:


Chrysler to recall nearly 870,000 SUVs for brake problem, by Mridhula Raghavan

The New York Times

G.M. hires lawyer specializing in disaster payouts, by Bill Vlasic and Matthew L. Wald
As strike begins, Lufthansa cancels 900 flights, by Nicola Clark and Jack Ewing

The Wall Street Journal

Southwest Airlines, once a brassy upstart, is showing its age, by Jack Nicas and Susan Carey


ADP says companies in U.S. added 191,000 workers in March, by Lorraine Woellert

The Associated Press

US factory orders rebound 1.6 percent in February, by Martin Crutsinger


BMW bets big on South Carolina, by Doron Levin

And in local news:

After more than 40 years, Roses discount retailer closing in Chapel Hill, by Jesse Burkhart

Today in business journalism

WSJ Office Network is sold
Bartiromo’s show opens to strong ratings
Reuters names new Korea bureau chief
Bartiromo returns to CNBC – in a commercial
Goldman may sell floor trading

This date in business journalism history

2009: Seattle-area biz paper prints last issue, changes name to cover new area
2013: WSJ launches Turkish language site

Business journalism birthdays

April 2: Emily Steel of the Financial Times

April 2: Julia LaRoche of Business Insider

April 2: Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York Business


Market frenzy

Goldman may sell floor trading


In a week where much of Wall Street has been talking about Michael Lewis’ new book and high-frequency trading, on Tuesday, the news broke that Goldman Sachs might sell its New York Stock Exchange floor-trading unit.

Justin Baer and Bradley Hope had this story in the Wall Street Journal:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is close to selling a once-iconic trading business based on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for a fraction of what it paid less than 15 years ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

Goldman is in talks to sell the business, once part of Spear, Leeds & Kellogg LP, to Dutch firm IMC Financial Markets, the people said.

Goldman paid $6.5 billion in 2000 for the business, which included a division that puts buyers and sellers together on the floor of the NYSE. A final deal isn’t imminent, though the companies are discussing a price of as much as $30 million, the people said, a reflection of the dramatic changes that have transformed U.S. markets since Goldman made the initial deal.

Remco Lenterman, chief executive of IMC Financial Markets, said the company doesn’t “comment on rumors or speculation.”

Bloomberg pointed out in a story by Sam Mamudi, Zeke Faux and Michael J. Moore that the NYSE’s floor traders have been shrinking and they may be purchased by IMC, a high-frequency trading firm:

The NYSE’s huddles of traders have been shrinking for years as more transactions are handled electronically, making humans less integral. Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Group Inc. pledged to preserve the trading floor in lower Manhattan when it agreed to buy the exchange in 2012.

“The business has evolved away from humans on the exchange,” said Devin Ryan, an analyst at JMP Group Inc. “Only a fraction is being done on the floor with humans versus how much is being done electronically.”

IMC, which stands for International Marketmakers Combination, is a high-frequency trading firm and asset manager founded in Amsterdam in 1989. It has offices in Chicago and New York, and conducts transactions on more than 90 exchanges around the world, according to its website. Remco Lenterman, an IMC managing director, and Tiffany Galvin of New York-based Goldman Sachs said their companies don’t comment on speculation.

Selling the floor-trading business wouldn’t mean Goldman Sachs would stop making markets. The firm reaps the most revenue from equities trading among banks globally. It runs its own trading venue called Sigma X and holds a stake in exchange operator Bats Global Markets Inc.

The NYSE has long relied on traders known as designated market markers to facilitate buying and selling. The firms help run opening and closing auctions of NYSE-listed stocks. Traders wearing vented jackets labeled with their names and numbers gather around a market maker for that stock, who calls out prices. Some eat peanuts, tossing the shells on the ground.

MarketWatch’s blog was one of many writing about the debate over the new world of trading highlighted by Lewis’ new book:

Twitter reaction has been fast and furious to the accusation by the author of the new book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt” that high-frequency traders have an edge over the average stock-market investor.

“High frequency traders have found ways to use their speed to gain an advantage that few understand,” said Michael Lewis, who has written a number of best-sellers about Wall Street, in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

In the interview, Lewis alleges that high-frequency traders, who use complex computer algorithms, are able to “front run” orders, buying a block of stocks fractions of a second before another buyer and then selling those same shares to that buyer, because they pay for fiber-optic lines that are faster than other lines. He singled out BATS Global Markets, one of the biggest U.S. exchanges, for its role in the market.

Not surprisingly, then, the most vocal defender of HFTs on Twitter Monday was the president of BATS, William O’Brien, who uses the handle @obrienedge, tweeted: “Michael Lewis could not be more wrong when he says the stock market is not a fair or safe place for investors #FlashBoys

The BATs president acknowledged that there are ways to improve the markets, but that it’s “unjust to accuse people simply for using technology & providing competition.”

The news comes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation is joining other regulators into looking into high frequency trading. The New York Post had this story by James Covert:

The FBI has joined state and regulatory probes of high-frequency traders to see if the firms are guilty of insider trading.

Agents, who started the probe about a year ago, are looking to see if the HFTs used information to trade ahead of large institutional orders, an FBI spokesman told a number of media outlets on Monday when news of the investigation first surfaced.

In one possible scenario, agents would look to see if a high-speed trading firm profited by jumping ahead of a huge buy order, and then quickly exited after the giant order pushed the stock higher.

One thing’s for certain, traders have never been scrutinized – by the press, the public and regulators. Many millions have been made on milliseconds and it seems that Goldman is betting that’s the way the world will go.


Yellen works to reassure markets


After her debut to mixed results, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen worked to clarify her earlier comments on how long the Fed would continue its easy money policy.

Bloomberg had this story by Jeff Kearns and Craig Torres:

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, easing investor concern that interest rates may rise earlier than previously forecast, said the world’s biggest economy will need Fed stimulus for “some time.”

Yellen said today the Fed hasn’t done enough to combat unemployment even after holding interest rates near zero for more than five years and pumping up its balance sheet to $4.23 trillion with bond purchases.

“This extraordinary commitment is still needed and will be for some time, and I believe that view is widely shared by my fellow policy makers,” Yellen said at a community development conference in Chicago. “The scars from the Great Recession remain, and reaching our goals will take time.”

Yellen spotlighted as evidence “real people behind the statistics,” describing how one person, Vicki Lira, lost two jobs, endured homelessness and now serves food samples part-time at a grocery store.

The Washington Post story by Ylan Q. Mui focused on Yellen’s comments about Main Street and her examples of unemployed workers, something that is out of the ordinary for a Fed:

The address amounted to an impassioned argument for continuing the Fed’s unprecedented support of the American economy in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Yellen described in detail the challenges facing unemployed workers, from exhausted savings to strained marriages. She even recounted the stories of three people by name: Dorine Poole, who was discriminated against because she is unemployed; Jermaine Brownlee, who took a job making less money than he did before he was unemployed; and Vicki Lira, who is working part-time but wants more hours.

“They are a reminder that there are real people behind the statistics, struggling to get by and eager for the opportunity to build better lives,” Yellen said. Though the Fed works through financial markets, “our goal is to help Main Street, not Wall Street.”

Yellen’s speech seemed tailored to help the Fed shed the cloistered reputation it earned in the decades leading up to the financial crisis. The central bank’s top officials have made transparency and communication with the public a priority since the Great Recession, and nearly every aspect of Yellen’s event was steeped in the real economy. She delivered her speech at the conference for community organizers and developers hosted by the Chicago Federal Reserve. She toured a manufacturing program at a community college in the city’s rough South Side.

“It shows that the Fed has a concrete, on-the-ground feeling for what is happening,” said Randall Kroszner, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a former Fed governor.

Writing for The New York Times, Binyamin Appelbaum’s story added the context that Yellen’s speech was designed to counter arguments from some who feel the economy is recovering:

The speech offered a rebuttal to economists, including some Fed officials, who see evidence that the central bank is approaching the limits of its ability to improve labor market conditions. It also leaned against recent indications that Fed officials might be considering a faster retreat from their economic stimulus campaign.

Ms. Yellen said that even now, almost five years after the official end of the Great Recession, it remains harder for Americans to find jobs than in the midst of a typical downturn. For those who are working, wages are rising more slowly than usual.

“There remains no doubt that the economy and the job market are not back to normal health,” Ms. Yellen said. “The recovery still feels like a recession to many Americans and it also looks that way in some economic statistics.”

She said the Fed’s commitment to economic stimulus remained “strong.”

Ms. Yellen’s predecessors, Ben S. Bernanke and Alan Greenspan, opened their Fed tenures by seeking to reassure financial markets that they were determined to minimize inflation. Mr. Bernanke made inflation the subject of his first speech as chairman in 2006. Now inflation is actually slower than the Fed would like, and Ms. Yellen mentioned it only briefly.

The Wall Street Journal story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa and Jon Hilsenrath pointed out that investors liked her comments:

Ms. Yellen’s comments Monday helped underpin a rally in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 134.60 points, or 0.8%, to 16467.66, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 14.72 points, or 0.8%, to 1872.33. Those gains contrasted with a selloff spurred by her press-conference remarks.

“She doesn’t want to get the market overly concerned that she’s going to tighten anytime soon, because she’s not,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management. “She said she has an extraordinary commitment to boost the economy in a still-struggling labor market. I think it put the market at ease.”

While Ms. Yellen’s underlying message on Fed policy was unchanged, her delivery was striking. Central bankers tend to speak in terms of economic theory and statistics, in jargon better understood by investors and other economists than the broader public. Ms. Yellen instead exhibited a personal touch Monday by coloring her comments with experiences of three people who had struggled to gain full-time work.

What is certainly true about Yellen is that she is making her own path as head of the Fed. Invoking “real” stories and concrete examples hints of politics and a much different presentation strategy than past chairs. While she may not have made a slight gaffe during her first speech, she’s making up for it now with a much different tactic.


Talking Biz News Today — April 1, 2014


Tuesday’s top stories:

The New York Times

Fault runs deep in ultrafast trading, by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Senate report says Caterpillar used Swiss subsidiary to reduce taxes, by Mary Williams Walsh

The Wall Street Journal

The diet soda business is in freefall, by Mike Esterl
GM recalls 1.5 million more vehicles, by Siobhan Hughes and Jeff Bennett

The Associated Press

Facebook CEO reaps $3.3B gain from stock options
Airlines call for more security, passenger checks, by Eileen Ng


How a secret iOS feature could change the Internet, by Ryan Bradley

Today in business journalism

Sticking to the mission: Providing readers with important biz news
FT’s Brittan retiring after almost 50 years
Quartz hires new website developer
WSJ economics team adds two reporters
CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen is always learning

This date in business journalism history

2008: Ex-Boeing employee admits to being source
2013: Denver Biz Journal starts energy newsletter


April 1: Patrick Scott of The New York Times

April 1: Roben Farzad of Bloomberg Businessweek


Talking Biz News Today — March 31, 2014


Business news headlines for Monday:

The New York Times

U.S. agency knew about G.M. flaw but did not act, by Matthew L. Wald
In new health care era, blessings and hurdles, by Abby Goodnough

The Wall Street Journal

Google is central to latest Apple-Samsung case, by Daisuke Wakabayashi


Euro inflation at lowest in over 4 years misses estimates, by Ian Wishart and Jennifer Ryan
Millennials mired in worth gap as older Americans recoup wealth, by Jeanna Smialek

The Associated Press

Health care website stumbles on last day, by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
J&J accepts $4B Carlyle offer for diagnostics unit


Climate report warns of death, flooding and economic loss, by Dune Lawrence

Today in business journalism

CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen is always learning
North of Boston Business magazine launches
Forbes extends brand to airport newsstands
WSJ names new Chesapeake reporter
How the growing GM recall is being covered

This date in business journalism history

2006: Success magazine is returning
2009: Forbes lays off another 50

Business journalism birthdays

March 29: Matt Townsend of Bloomberg, Matthew Kish of Portland Business Journal
March 30: Jeanna Smialek of Bloomberg
March 31: Jane Wells of CNBC