But only if you live in the Northeast or the "Sunbelt." Southern California will be spared. For now.
I hate to admit this, but I missed the spike in coffee bean prices in 2011. The commodity is now up 42 percent on the five-year average, according to Bloomberg (which also provided the video report on Starbucks that I've embedded above).
Why do I hate to admit this? Because I can't live without coffee. I guess the issue here is that I've been drinking such el cheapo coffee for the past year that I didn't notice. I certainly wasn't closely following the coffee futures market.
Now, I suppose you could take the 10-cent Starbucks price increase, on beverages like lattes and brewed java, as the perfect opportunity to do what those pop personal-finance folks are always counseling you to do, particularly at the beginning of a new year: Quit buying lattes at Starbucks and start investing your savings.
In the past, I've definitely tussled with what I think of as the "Bicycles Boys" — after a pre-"Sex and the City" story in the New York Observer by Candace Bushnell. You can sample the disagreement here, here, and here. These are smart gents who believe that the urban landscape can be remade, productively, in the image in of the cyclist.
I think they're starry eyed idealists.
But now the tables have been turned. As much as I love cars and driving — and continue to think that America is car country and there's really no changing that — I now live within easy biking distance of my office. The terrain is invitingly flat. And of course the weather in Southern California is nearly idea for a short daily commute by bike.
Also, I'm not getting any younger. I need daily exercise. So why not get it by biking to work?
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The National Debt Clock, a billboard-size digital display showing the increasing US debt, is seen on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 44th Street on August 1, 2011 in New York City.
Paul Krugman does another one of his simple, straightforward Econ 101 columns in which he helpfully ridicules the idea that we're headed down a debt-paved road to ruin. He zeroes in on the tendency of commentators to compare the finances of families to the finances of governments:
First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.
Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.
This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history.
Activision’s video game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," shattered sales records and became the biggest release of any entertainment property ever in 2009, earning $310 million in 24 hours and solidifying video games as the entertainment medium of today.
At The Wrap, Sharon Waxman offers a list of remedies for what ails the movie business. One of them jumped out at me:
Find a way to connect the gaming obsession of what used to be the core moviegoing audiences – young males 13-24 – with the movie experience. Learn from that interactivity and use that to drive them to the multiplex. (This is a challenge for marketing geniuses. Hollywood has plenty of those.)
Sounds great, but this isn't a marketing problem — it's a medium problem. Apart from technical innovations in digital filmmaking, special effects, and 3-D, the movies are basically the same as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago. A bunch of people sit in a large darkened room and wait for huge moving image to be projected onto a screen. The seats are more comfortable and the sodas are vastly larger. But the medium is about as 20th century as could be. Mid-20th century.
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Welcome to 2012, small business owners who have lines of credit with Bank of America! You are about to see what a struggling banking giant will resort to when survival is at stake. This is from the Los Angeles Times:
The...bank is demanding that [small business] customers pay off their credit line balances all at once instead of making monthly payments. If they can't pay in full, they are being offered new repayment plans for as long as five years, but with far higher interest rates than their original credit lines had.
Business owners complain that BofA's credit squeeze is abrupt and could strain their small companies and even put them out of business. The credit cutoff is coming at a time when the California economy can't seem to catch a break, and bucks what the financial industry says is a new trend of easing standards on business loans.