Laura Rich

picture-2President Obama has just released plans for regulatory oversight of the creaky financial system. The bulk of it focuses on bringing more of the system under fewer agencies, and on requiring less-regulated or unregulated entities like hedge funds to adhere to new rules and regulations. All are important proposals aimed at creating a more sound financial framework that keeps everyone’s money safe and capital flowing through the economy. But in the short-term, it will mainly be high-level, focused on whupping Wall Street’s excesses into shape. Here’s a little FAQ on a few of the plan’s key points. (We recommend this package at the Wall Street Journal for more in-depth look at the proposal.)

* Abolish the Office of Thrift Supervision. What’s this about? One argument for its abolishment was the oversight for the savings and loan industry, which had troubles since the 1980s. So it transforms, more like, into the National Bank Supervisor. It follows, given all the consolidation in the financial sector in the last two decades.

* Create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. What the heck is this? This is the stuff that matters. This agency would work with state regulators to better control swindling by mortgage lenders and credit card companies.

* Give the Federal Reserve broader oversight. What does that mean, exactly? Will they be printing personalized money? Almost, but no. The Fed will now oversee parent companies, bank holding companies, as well as economic and monetary policies. But we can safely assume that we’ll all trade in the same currency, for now, and that the faces will remain the great presidents, not BSB (Ben S. Bernanke).

But it’s all just a plan, for now, and some of it over-broad and ambitious. Next up, it will be worked up into legislative language and put before Congress. By then, who knows where the financial system will be. Ah, government.

Here’s Barack Obama talking about the plan on Bloomberg:

iphone-150You don’t have to ditch your office space like Big Moving Picture did in order to survive the recession. To keep its business intact until conditions improved, the San Diego-based company went into “hibernation,” shutting the office, dismissing some employees and going virtual with the rest of the team.

In the recession, virtual means cost efficient, but you need certain tools to ensure it’s also time- and effort-efficient, too.

If you’re one of the growing number of business users carrying an iPhone, you’ll be happy to know that there are several apps available to help with one key area of business: cash flow management.

Quicken – If you use QuickBooks to manage your cash flow, this app lets you look into your balance, latest transactions, enter transactions from the road and see how it’s all performing against monthly budget levels. ($9.95/month per account)

Calc-12E RPN Financial Calculator – If you don’t already know what the HP-12C is, this probably isn’t for you. Based on the most popular portable financial calculator out there, the 12E is indispensable for business owners who need the accountant’s calculator on hand in meetings with investors, in real estate deals and the like. Enter and edit cash flows, add comparative investment analysis. ($19.99 download)

Spreadsheet – You’ll need the spreadsheet app from Softalk. It doesn’t do much on its own, but it will come in handy when you want to review Excel budgets from the road. ($7.99 download)

Credit Card Terminal – If you want to collect payments on the spot – and why not seize the moment when customers are offering – this app, while not cheap, can keep cash flowing. ($49.99 to download, $25/month subscription, and $.24 per transaction)

Omni Invoice – This app allows you to issue invoices from the road. Speeding up the process of getting paid. ($9.99 to download)

Recession Dictionary Entry 150/n. Your class distinction if you used to have two private jets and now just have one. Or had to give up your Pilates class or nanny. You’re feeling poor, but really, you’re not actually poor-poor.

The term has been around for months now, and Barbara Ehrenreich, a chronicler of social change, discussed this demographic in the New York Times on July 14. The recession, she says, has been portrayed as “smudging the dizzying levels of inequality that characterized the last couple of decades and squeezing everyone into a single great class, the Nouveau Poor, in which we will all drive tiny fuel-efficient cars and grow tomatoes on our porches.”

Just as “nouveau riche” was a pretension, “nouveau poor” occupies the same distinction.

guccione-150His father famously started a porn powerhouse. The son launched music mag Spin and now, he’s going after the rich. We missed this earlier this year, but Bob Guccione Jr. explained why the recession turned out to be a fine time to launch Prestige, a new high-end publication:

“Of course, it wasn’t the intention to launch Prestige in the recession,” he says. “Having said that, i still don’t think it’s a bad idea. The very rich will always be at least rich.”…

map-world-globe-150In a report published last month, Endeavor, the nonprofit group that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries, revealed one group’s outlook on the global economy. The organization surveyed 65 of its entrepreneurs, the bulk of them in South America. Companies had revenue between $500,000 and $20 million. Their answers were surprisingly upbeat, and contrasting even with their December responses to the same questions, which were also not as bad as you’d expect. Entrepreneurs around the world, particularly those working with Endeavor, seem to be in fairly good standing.

Key results:

Has the global crisis had any impact on your business to date?

question-mark-chart-150Says who: Paul Krugman, Nobel prize-winning economist.

“I would not be surprised if the official end of the U.S. recession ends up being, in retrospect, dated sometime this summer,” he said in a lecture today at the London School of Economics. “Things seem to be getting worse more slowly. There’s some reason to think that we’re stabilizing.” (via Bloomberg)

Why it might be false: Who are we to say, he’s Paul Krugman, plus, we’re fans—even if the National Bureau of Economic Research (the gold standard of such economic things) might not be, since its head of Business Dating Cycle Committee Robert Hall said just last week that it’s “way too early” to decide that we’re coming out of the recession, rather than just having a “pause” in a “longer decline.”…

people silhouettes 150It always makes my heart skip a little beat each time I see even a reference to “themediaisdying,” the Twitter feed that has tracked the steady, eerie erosion of the media industry. For 15 years or so, I’ve made my living as a journalist. And yet, now, people are writing stories for free and few full-time writing positions are left. Sure does sound like “dying” to me.

But after hearing a few of the folks at the Mediabistro Circus conference last week, I got a little hope back – journalism and writing jobs are not going away, but thanks to the recession, they’re undergoing a swift, head-spinning transformation, and the profession’s new iteration will take some hard work.

The changes underway aren’t simply in the domain of journalism, though. New work and new careers are emerging in the recession based on approaches that everyone needs to pick up in order to survive and thrive, and emerge from this downturn intact and better than ever…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.screws 150

Today’s partial total: 5,734

As many as 5,000 workers at Satyam Computer in India may be laid off, depending on a June 11 board meeting. … Principal Financial Group plans to cut 220 jobs. … Emerson Electric in Minnesota laid off 176 workers. … Reynolds Packaging Group in Virginia will lay off 158 plant workers. … Pipe maker Paragon Industries plans to lay off 105 employees. … More than 100 workers, mainly mechanical engineers, were laid off from Harris Corp. … The University of Colorado will cut 75 faculty and staff positions. … And the U.S. unemployment level hit 9.4%, a 26-year high…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150The world has turned truly upside down. The Dow used to be way up, now it’s down (climbing back, but still down). Your house used to be a source of pride — and value. Now it’s underwater. Job security? Forget about it. And all that shopping and spending — now, saving’s the name of the day.

As we navigate this new, sometimes foreign turf, we’re learning to speak a new language. Here are a few of the terms you’ll need to know:

Pre-Fired
n. Being dismissed from a new position before you even start. Usually because the company folds between the offer and your start date.

Bleakonomics
n. The dire forecasts, depressing warnings, and otherwise gloomy chatter that’s still brewing beneath the recent round of cheerier economic predictions…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.three medium screws 150

Today’s partial total: 4,350

In Florida, Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, may lay off 1,070 employees as part of budget cuts. Over the next three years, France Televisions will pare back 900 jobs. … The Capital Group Companies based in Los Angeles will cut 820 employees in the next two weeks. … Philips Products will close its doors, putting 600 people in Elkhart, Indiana, out of work. Lloyds Banking Group in London will shed 530 jobs. … Autodesk, on the heels of a first quarter loss, will eliminate 430 jobs