Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How Apple will kill satellite radio this summer

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How Apple will kill satellite radio this summer

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Satellite radio will die soon anyway, but Apple will accidentally perform a mercy killing of Sirius XM Radio this summer. That is, if the rumors are true (and they probably are).

The first rumor is that Apple will ship in June or July a new iPhone and a new iPod Touch, both of which containing a new Broadcom BCM4329 chip that would give the gadgets 802.11n wireless. That would boost Wi-Fi, but even more interestingly enable the devices to broadcast music to any car stereo via FM. (Users simply set their car radios to the "station" that the iPhone or iPod is broadcasting on, and they can play over car speakers whatever the iPhone is playing. The feature would enable only buyers of new iPhones and new iPod touches to play audio in any car with an FM radio.

The second rumor is that both devices will get stereo Bluetooth audio streaming. That would enable anyone with a car sound system that supports Bluetooth to play iPhone and iPod Touch audio wirelessly. Although using this feature would require the right kind of car stereo, it would not require a new iPhone or iPod Touch — current devices will be able to take advantage of it.

It's likely that both of these rumors are true. If so, just about every iPhone and iPod Touch user will be able to easily play music, podcasts, streaming audio and other noise directly but wirelessly from their gadgets.

One of the most popular (and fastest growing) application types on iPhones is Pandora and its ilk, including iheart radio, Public Radio and other streaming services. People are getting used to the idea of listening to exactly what they want to hear at any time on their phones.

So how does that change things for Sirius XM Radio?

First of all, the company is hanging on by a thread. I've published the numbers before. Suffice it to say that Sirius XM Radio has so much debt that only radical increases in subscribers could allow it to survive. Only the opposite is happening. The company gets most of its new subscribers from new-car buyers who choose the satellite radio upgrade. But because of the recession, far fewer people are buying cars, and those who do buy cars aren't choosing upgrades like they used to.

Worse, the company's financial problems mean that there's no way they'll be able to afford superstars like Howard Stern in the foreseeable future.

The satellite radio proposition has always been that you get superior radio, but you have to pay a lot for it.

Changes in the iPhone mean that the best "radio" experience will be via iPhone, and at no additional charge beyond what you're going to pay for the phone and data anyway.

Sirius just can't compete with that. But even more importantly, the cultural movement toward using cell phones in general and iPhones in particular, for listening to "radio" in cars will become so conspicuous that no other company will want to loan money to Sirius -- or aquire it or partner with it. Sirius will completely run out of options.

Technology historians will one day observe what is already becoming obvious. Using rockets and orbiting satellites to deliver noise to car stereos is just a terrible idea.

What a recession means for black America

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What a recession means for black America
By Algernon Austin 01-18-08

January 18, 2008 | EPI Issue Brief #241

What a recession means for black America

by Algernon Austin

Recessions hurt. And they hurt the poor and socially marginalized populations the most. As we face the prospect of the second recession of the decade and consider the merits of various stimulus packages, it is useful to examine what a recession would mean for black America.

The late 1990s produced a full employment economy and significant absolute and relative economic gains for blacks. This Issue Brief contrasts the benefits of a national full-employment economy with the harm caused by the 2001 recession and the weak job growth that followed.

Black America's permanent recession

In the best of times, many African American communities are forced to tolerate levels of unemployment unseen in most white communities. The 2001 recession pushed the white annual unemployment rate up from a low of 3.5% in 2000 to a high of 5.2% in 2003. During the same period, the black unemployment rate shot up from 7.6% to 10.8%. National recessions take African Americans from a bad situation to a worse one.

In 2007, the black unemployment rate was 8.3%. This figure is still above the pre-recession low and more than twice the white unemployment rate. Goldman Sachs estimates that a new recession would increase the national unemployment rate to 6.4% by 2009.1 For African Americans, the unemployment rate would be expected to rise to 11.0%.2

African Americans lose income relative to whites

The low unemployment rates of the 1990s led to positive gains in the black/white income ratio. In 1995, the median black family earned 60.9% of what the median white family did. By 2000, the ratio had climbed to a record high of 63.5%. The effect of the 2001 recession and the weak economic recovery was to undo all of those gains?and then take away some more. By 2005, the median black household earned only 60.2% of the median white household, 0.7 points lower than it was in 1995. 3

But median family income does not tell the entire story. The 2001 recession and weak recovery hurt the poorest African Americans the most. In 1995, the poorest fifth of black families only earned on average 43.0% of what the poorest fifth of white families earned. Again, the economic growth of the late 1990s was a significant boon. The black/white average income ratio for the poorest fifth increased to 49.9% in 2000. By 2005, it had fallen back to 43.4%. Among blacks, the poorest black families lost the largest share of their income gains from the late 1990s.4

Another recession will likely reduce the median family income for all Americans by about 4%. However, for blacks, the decline would be about 6%, leaving the average African American family $2,400 poorer.5 Again, this loss of income will hurt the poorest fifth of African Americans the most.

Additional social costs

Associated with the strong economy of the 1990s, there were significant declines in the black violent crime rate and the black teen pregnancy rate. Between 1993 and 2001, the black violent crime rate declined by 60%.6 Between 1990 and 2004, the black teen pregnancy rate declined by 46%.7 These improving trends have ended, and it is likely that the worsening economic conditions of African Americans since 2001 have played at least a partial role.

At the community level, criminologists find a correlation between violent crime rates and socioeconomic disadvantage.8 At the national level, too, the black violent crime rate has recently been strongly correlated with black poverty rates.9 Therefore, it is not surprising that the historic crime decline of the 1990s ended with the reversal of economic fortunes that African Americans experienced at the beginning of the 21st century.

Based on a study of five countries including the United States, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reports "across all of the focus countries, young people growing up in disadvantaged economic, familial and social circumstances are more likely than their better-off peers to engage in risky behavior and have a child during adolescence."10 Given that socioeconomic disadvantage has increased for African Americans since 2000, it is not entirely surprising that black teen pregnancy rates have started to rise again.

Another recession would likely continue these negative trends. The black violent crime rate and the black teenage pregnancy rate both will likely rise. Once again, the negative effects of these trends will hurt the poorest African Americans most.

What black America needs

Even when the national unemployment picture is good, the black unemployment rate is more than twice that of the white unemployment rate. This means that in what looks like good economic times nationally, most of black America is still experiencing a recession. When white America is in recession, black America is in an economic depression.

Faced with the prospect of another recession, what black America needs is what all of America needs: a stimulus package that will help average Americans and those with the most insecure jobs. The lesson from black America is that the poorest among us are most hurt by recessions. Stimulus proposals based on tax cuts for the wealthy or for business owners are not likely to provide immediate relief to those still hurting from the 2001 recession, much less protect them from the additional damage of a new one.

A better approach would be to boost the economy by 1) providing targeted supports through expanded unemployment insurance and broad-based tax rebates, 2) providing assistance to states to prevent tax increases or spending cuts, and 3) directly stimulating job growth by accelerating funding for infrastructure, particularity for bridge and school repair. (See EPI's Strategy for An Economic Rebound for more details.)

While the discussion above is based on national data about African Americans, it is important to remember that some black communities are better off than average and some are worse off. Also, although the discussion is about African Americans, the findings likely apply to a degree to other poor minority communities and to the poorest white communities, as well. For example, the violent crime decline for whites has also stalled, and the teen pregnancy rate for whites has also increased in the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics.11

Notes

1. U.S. Economics Analyst, Issue 08/02, January 18, 2008, p. 3.

2. Based on an analysis of historical economic data by Jared Bernstein.

3. Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia Allegretto, The State of Working America 2006/2007. An EPI book. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. 2006) p.51.
http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/

4. Author's analysis of tables F-3 white and F-3 black, 2005 dollars, Historical Income Tables, U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/ineqtoc.html.

5. Based on an analysis of historical economic data by Jared Bernstein.

6. Author's calculations of violent crime rates from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/racetab.htm.

7. Author's calculations of birth rates for 15-19-year-olds from Table 4, Health in the United States, 2006 (Hyattsville, Md.: National Center for Health Statistics, 2006), p. 135.

8. Marc Mauer, Race to Incarcerate (N.Y.: The New Press, 2006), pp. 177-186.

9. For the years 1976 to 2005, the correlation between the black poverty rate and the black violent crime victimization rate is 0.92. Author's analysis of Census poverty rates for all people and Bureau of Justice Statistics victimization rates.

10. Heather Boonstra, Teen Pregnancy: Trends and Lessons Learned, The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, February 2002, Vol. 5, No. 1, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/1/gr050107.html.

11. See Teen Birth Rate Rises for the First Time in 15 Years, National Center for Health Statistics, December 5, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/07newsreleases/teenbirth.htm.

India should closely monitor forex reserves'

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India should closely monitor forex reserves'

Press Trust of India / Madurai April 6, 2009, 15:30 IST

India should closely monitor the foreign exchange reserves, which was 248 billion USD in 2008-09 compared to 309 billion USD the year earlier, Chairman and Managing Director of Export-Import Bank T C Venkat Subramanian has said.
Delivering the convocation address at Thiagarajar School of Management here yesterday, he blamed America for the global economic crisis and said the it turned out to be 'toxic acid for the US economy".


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He said the economic meltdown was spread from America and when that country's imports came down, it affected the economy of other countries, including Japan and the European union.

American people had borrowed heavily for their homes without focussing on savings. "Negative savings rate in that country made things worse, affecting the financial system", he said.

He said remittances from Indian workforce was likely to come down by 10 to 15 per cent.

The forex inflow through foreign direct investment, stock markets and foreign institutions had come down from $64 billion to $13 billion. However, he said the IT companies would revive by 2010 throguh cost cutting.

Forex reserves

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dip $1.5 bn to $252 bn

BS Reporter / Mumbai April 4, 2009, 0:20 IST

India’s foreign exchange reserves declined by $1.5 billion to $252.33 billion for the week ended March 27, 2009, mainly due to the revaluation of currencies against the dollar.


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According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, foreign currency assets that include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of the euro, the sterling and the yen held by reserves fell by $1.64 billion to $241.59 billion.

This did not include the $250 million invested in foreign currency denominated bonds issued by IIFC.

CURRENCY DEAL
Foreign exchange reserve

Week ended
Total reserve($ bn)

6-Mar-09
247.29

13-Mar-09
248.72

20-Mar-09
253.82

27-Mar-09
252.32

Gold and special drawings rights remained unchanged. The reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $141 million to $982 million.

Thanks to the rising participation from the foreign institutional investors (FIIs), forex reserves have been rising for the past two weeks. This has led the rupee to appreciate. The currency closed at 50.60 on March 26, 2009, as against 50.64 on March 20.

During the week under review, FII have been net buyers of equities worth $652 million. On a year-on-year basis, the reserves grew 9 per cent at Rs 9,47,014 crore mainly due to the rise in other deposits with RBI.

It includes currency in circulation, bankers’ deposit with RBI and other deposits with the central bank. The reserve money has been hovering around 3-5 per cent for the last three months.

Govt steps in to cushion India Inc’s forex losses

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Govt steps in to cushion India Inc’s forex losses

2 Apr 2009, 0134 hrs IST, ET Bureau

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NEW DELHI: The government has paved the way for Indian Inc to guard its margins from taking a blow dealt by foreign exchange losses, which have

been incurred as a result of high depreciation in the value of the rupee against other currencies.
The ministry of corporate affairs, which is the government’s administrative ministry on matters of accounting policies, has cleared suggestions of the National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (Nacas) to bring in changes to an accounting norm, commonly known as AS11, and which calls on companies to mark-to-market their foreign exchange assets or liabilities.
“The suggestions, which have been drafted in the form of a notification, have now been sent to the Government Press for publication,” said an official in the ministry, on conditions of anonymity. According to the changes approved by Nacas, companies have been given an option either to follow AS11 or to capitalise on the losses that they have incurred as a result of the forex fluctuations.
With this change in place, corporates can go forward to safeguard their bottomlines from the negative effects of such losses, as they sit to prepare their annual financial results for 2008-09. The changes have been cleared as a transitory provision till April 2011, when India is set to converge with the International Financial Reporting Standards.

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