Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Businessweek Pieces: Starbucks, HARP 2.0, Mitt Romney, Stripe and Car Engines

There was a bevy of interesting content out of two recent Businessweek issues... the Feb 13 and Feb 27 editions.

From the further back Feb 13 issue with Vladimir Putin on the cover came an interesting feature story as well as shorter vignette of note. The feature was written by Stefan Faris and titled "Grounds Zero: A Starbucks-Free Italy" on the Seattle-based retailer not currently having any locations in the country that inspired its offering. I imagine Starbucks head Howard Schultz has his reasons to not be there (and may well have plans and timelines to enter the market), but it's pretty remarkable from a symbolic perspective that it hasn't happened yet. From this same issue came the fairly short piece "A Solution to the Housing Crisis Could Be at Hand" that details the government Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) aimed at helping people current on their payments, but still underwater refinance.

The Feb 27 issue was similar to that from the 13th in that it had a feature story of note along with smaller piece of interest (in this case, two pieces). Cover article was "Mitt Romney's Box of Kryptonite" by Paul Barrett and the piece stood out not really as being a hatchet job on Romney, but rather one than that seems to point out Romney taking credit for something not warranted. As I wrote about in a June 2010 blog post, companies are primarily designed to be profit-making enterprises (with publicly traded ones by law having mandates around trying to increase shareholder value) so Romney's time pursuing profits as the CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital shouldn't be a black mark on him. However, Romney's attempts to paint himself as a job creator from that time should be examined as there's examples like from the Barrett piece where increased profit often came at the expense of worker's jobs. Romney as a candidate can't have it both ways... to have done well at Bain is well and good, but to run on a platform of job creation while stating no involvement in job loss comes across as a bit selective.

From this same Feb 27 issue was also two smaller pieces of note: "Stripe Aims to Reinvent E-Payments" is on the competing with PayPal (and Square) credit card processing company and "Hybrids' Unlikely Rival: Plain Old Cars" details the fuel efficiency improvements seen in the standard internal combustion engines for many new cars.