The income of the U.S. middle class is still among the world leaders — but the lead is narrowing.
According to, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy, reporting for the New York Times:
“The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.”
“Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.”
Click the chart to read more.
Source: New York Times/Luxembourg Income Study analysis
We could literally write a post every day about the developments in consumer technology. There are that many innovations being introduced into the marketplace.
John Brandon, a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, discusses seven eye-catching products that will be appearing soon. What do YOU think?
- HP 3D Printer
- Project Ara (a mobile phone whose components will snap together)
- Vanguard ID Systems ViewTag (a programmable luggage tag that tracks the luggage)
- Apple iPhone 6 (a “phablet” with a longer battery life)
- Intel RealSense (a 3D camera for laptops, tablets, and other devices that senses finger movements, reads facial reactions, and listens to your voice)
- 802.11ai Wi-Fi (faster and easier to connect to a network)
- Android Wear Smartwatch
Click the image to read more detail on Brandon’s creative picks.
For a number of industries (such as banking, media, food and beverage, and oil), a few large companies dominate globally. Here is an interesting infographic from www.internationalbusinessguide.org.
Click the infographic to access data on the firms cited in the chart.
Do you get the snacking munchies? How often? When? What do you chow down?
According to recent research by Technomic:
“Snack consumption is on the rise, as half of today’s consumers (51 percent) say that they eat snacks at least twice a day, an increase from the 48 percent who said the same in 2012. And about a third of consumers (31 percent) told Technomic they’re snacking more frequently than they were just two years ago. Not only are consumers snacking more often, they’re broadening their definition of a ‘snack.’ These days, a wider range of foods—and beverages—are now viewed as snacks, and convenience stores and other retailers are sparking competition with restaurants in order to meet the growing demand.”
These are some of the other highlights from Technomic:
- “Consumers eat snacks both between meals and as meal replacements: Nearly half of consumers (49 percent) eat snacks between meals and 45 percent replace one or two daily meals with a snack.”
- “Forty-five percent of consumers who order snacks at restaurants order from the dollar or value menu.”
- “Fifty percent of consumers indicate that healthfulness is very important to them when choosing a snack.”
- “Portability is increasingly vital: 60 percent of today’s consumers, compared to 55 percent in 2012, cite portability as an important or extremely important factor when choosing a snack.”
Click the chart to read more.
What are the two major goals of many companies? To grow sales and to grow profit. And while most companies say that being innovative is also a key goal, do they really mean it? The typical company tends to spend two percent or less of revenues on research and development. And the great majority of “new” products are usually simple line extensions or new models. At a large number of companies, innovation may not be dead — but it is certainly in a deep slumber.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a terrific article called “Why Companies Stop Innovating” by Steve Blank for Inc. According to Blank:
“There’s been lots written about how companies need to be more innovative, but very little on what stops them from doing so. Companies looking to be innovative face a conundrum: Every policy and procedure that makes them efficient execution machines stifles innovation.”
“Facing continuous disruption from globalization, China, the Internet, the diminished power of brands, and the changing workforce, existing enterprises are establishing corporate innovation groups. These groups are adapting or adopting the practices of startups and accelerators — disruption and innovation rather than direct competition, customer development versus more product features, agility and speed versus lowest cost.”
“But paradoxically, in spite of their seemingly endless resources, innovation inside of an existing company is much harder than inside a startup. For most companies it feels like innovation can only happen by exception and heroic efforts, not by design. The question is: Why?”
Click below to see Blank’s detailed answers to this question.
There is a great article in today’s New York Times by Ron Lieber. It is titled: “Consumers Not Powerless in the Face of Card Fraud.”
Lieber’s article covers:
- Alerts and Other Tools
- The On/Off Switch
- Chip Cards
Click the image to read Lieber’s tips.
Art by Robert Neubecker
It has been about twelve-and-a-half years since one of the worst days in American history — a tragedy that many of us will remember forever. Now, One World Trade Center is ready to reclaim its unofficial title as “The Top of America.” And in the turbulent times we face, it is gratifying to see an important symbol back in the sky, although we will still miss the “Twin Towers.”
In recognition of the rebirth of 1 WTC, Time magazine has produced a great multimedia tribute. Click here to access it. As Richard Licayo writes:
“For years after the 9/11 attacks, nearly all the activity at Ground Zero was downward—digging through the piles of debris, excavating a vast pit to restore the ruined transit lines, preparing the foundations for the new buildings that would emerge there. Even the memorial that opened in 2011 was an exercise in the poetics of descent — two vast cubic voids, each with water cascading down all four sides, carrying grief to some underground resting place.”
“The memorial has turned out to be a lovely thing, but what the site still needed was something that climbed, something that spoke to the idea that emotional burdens might not only be lowered into the ground but also released into the air. Now we have it: One World Trade Center, the glass-and-steel exclamation point, all 1,776 feet of it, is nearing completion close to where the Twin Towers once stood. No doubt the new building’s official dedication will open the way to a necessary debate over its merits as architecture and urbanism, its turbulent design history, and the compromises made over the long years it took to get the thing built. But in one important respect, One World Trade Center has already succeeded. It has reclaimed the sky. And this is the view from there.”
Click the image to see an aerial video of 1 WTC.
Ray Kurzweil is widely acknowledged as a true technology guru. As Wikipedia notes: “Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer Kurzweil K250 capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.”
Recently, the Wall Street Journal‘s Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker sat down with Kurzweil for an in-depth interview: “Machines will soon be as smart as we are, says Ray Kurzweil. But not to worry. The engineering director of Google Inc. and founder and CEO of Kurzweil Technologies Inc. argues that as computers get smaller and more powerful, we won’t face a sci-fi nightmare. Instead, these machines will help us expand our capabilities.”
For print excerpts from the interview, click here.
Click the image for a video clip of the interview.