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Showing posts from February, 2011

Revisiting the Value of Elite Colleges

DAVID LEONHARDT

A decade ago, two economists -- Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger -- published a research paper arguing that elite colleges did not seem to give most graduates an earnings boost. As you might expect, the paper received a ton of attention. Ms. Dale and Mr. Krueger have just finished a new version of the study -- with vastly more and better data, covering people into their 40s and 50s, as well as looking at a set of more recent college graduates -- and the new version comes to the same conclusion.

Given how counterintuitive that conclusion is and, that some other economists have been skeptical of it, I want to devote a post to the new paper.

The starting point is the obvious fact that graduates of elite colleges make more money than graduates of less elite colleges. This pattern holds even when you control for the SAT scores and grades of graduates. By themselves, these patterns seem to suggest that the college is a major reason for the earnings difference.

But Ms. Dale -- an econ…

How to protect your career during a merger

By Anne Fisher

Okay, so you probably don't work for Genzyme, which was snapped up by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis yesterday, or for NYSE Euronext, which is set to merge with its German counterpart Deutsche Börse. Still, with the pace of global mergers and acquisitions accelerating, chances are your company could be next -- and that the people calling the shots in the new combined organization will hail from a culture you know nothing about. Can you survive?

Probably, if you take a few essential steps quickly. "Americans in general are horrible at adapting to other countries' cultures," notes Lois Frankel, CEO of Pasadena-based Corporate Coaching International, who has counseled executives at Fortune 500 companies around the globe. "In a merger, it's survival of the fittest. Step forward right away and ask what you can do to help ensure the merger's success. Your first question should be, 'How can we make this work?'"

Frankel obser…

5 rules on cultivating power

By Jeffrey Pfeffer

Here are some commonsense, yet often violated, rules about power that can help make you more successful—and, even better, equip you to cope with today's organizational realities.

1. You need to take care of yourself. Companies have been telling employees this for decades. The implication: don't worry about the company, because it isn't worrying about you. You are responsible for attracting the support that will make you successful and building your personal brand.

2. Companies (and many people) worry more about what you can do for them in the future than what you have done for them in the past. VC partners who have made their colleagues billions are thrown out unceremoniously. The same goes for law partners, management consulting partners, and public accounting firm leaders.

Don't expect thanks for all you have done for your company or your colleagues in the past. Your job is to ensure that you are useful -- through your role, the resources you control,…

How the middle class became the underclass

Annalyn Censky

Are you better off than your parents?

Probably not if you're in the middle class.

Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed.

In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data.

Meanwhile, the richest 1% of Americans -- those making $380,000 or more -- have seen their incomes grow 33% over the last 20 years, leaving average Americans in the dust. Experts point to some of the usual suspects -- like technology and globalization -- to explain the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

But there's more to the story.

A real drag on the middle class

One major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other l…

Four Traditional Money Rules to Break

AnnaMaria Andriotis

Never borrow against a 401(k). Avoid credit cards. Make a bigger down payment on your home or apartment to avoid paying extra mortgage interest. These are among the tried-and-true financial rules consumers have been told to live by for years. But now -- with interest rates still low and credit staging a comeback -- might be a good time to break them.

This solid financial advice isn't suddenly all wrong, but many of these axioms no longer result in higher savings or less debt. That's because the economic recovery has opened up more exceptions and loopholes to standard advice, says David Peterson, president of Peak Capital Investment Services, a financial planning firm. Advisers, for example, typically discouraged clients from taking a loan from their 401(k) -- but this is now the cheapest way to borrow money, with the average rate at 4.25%, lower than most personal loans, to pay back debt they racked up during the recession. But as some parts of the economy h…

4 of the Biggest Risks Investors Are Facing

Ben Baden

You'd be hard-pressed to find a market forecaster who included Egyptian riots in his or her predictions for 2011. But now that story is dominating the news, and as many investors found out last Friday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 166 points, it's also affecting their portfolios. That market jolt, triggered by events in Egypt, may have many investors reevaluating their portfolios and the way they look at risk.

With that in mind, here are four of the biggest issues investors face in today's market:

Unrest in the Middle East. Egypt ranks 27th in the world in total oil production and it only makes up a small part of the global stock market, but the effects of the country's continuing riots have been felt in the U.S. stock market and oil prices. The reason is two-fold. "About 1.3 million barrels of oil go through the [Suez] canal every day," says Brett Gallagher, deputy chief investment officer for Artio Global Investors. "That's…

How to Get the Job You Want

After 15 years in the hospice industry, Philip Kittle lost his job.

The first thing he and his wife, Lynette, did was to make a list of hospices in their area and send a resume and cover letter to each one - regardless of whether the company was hiring.

Sound ridiculous to send resumes to companies not hiring?

Not for Philip Kittle. After six months, one of the first places he had sent a resume to called him in for an interview and offered him a job.

The only reason it took that long, Lynette recalls, is because the company was going through a leadership transition. She said the new CEO saw his resume and said, ""Why haven't we interviewed this person?"

What's more - two months after they hired him, they promoted him! "So it really does pay to submit resumes and cover letters - even if there are no jobs listed," Lynette said.

Lynette said two things were crucial in their search: They never lowered their standards and applied for lesser jobs - they always bel…

6 Costs You Should Always Negotiate

by Jodi Helmer

Most consumers think haggling is only appropriate when buying tchotkes at a street fair or facing off against a used-car dealer. But why not negotiate the cost of medical procedures? Or a new Sub-Zero refrigerator? If you're not paying less than sticker price for these and other goods and services, you're leaving money -- and often lots of it -- on the table. "Everything is negotiable," says Stuart Diamond, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and author of "Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World." "All you have to do is ask."

With that philosophy in mind, follow these tips to negotiate the best possible deal on 6 common fees and expenses:

1. Credit Card Rates

• Why they are negotiable: Now that most of the dust has settled following the big credit card reform act, card companies are competing fiercely again for new customers. Issuers sent out 1.2 bil…