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What the Obama Plan Means for Business
 

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Taking apart the new financial regulations. New York Times' columnist Joe Nocera takes several shots at President Obama's financial regulatory plan in today's paper. The gist of his argument is that while the plan includes an impressive number of proposals, few if any of them would prevent a similar meltdown from happening. The main failings: no mention of regulating so-called "customized derivatives"; the perpetuation of the belief that there are banks that are too big to fail; and placing too much trust in the Federal Reserve, an institution which Nocera contends let us down during the creation of the dot-com and housing bubbles. Nocera had hoped that Obama's plan would take bold steps similar to those of FDR during the Great Depression, when "Wall Street hated the reforms...but Roosevelt didn't care." Instead, Nocera writes, "...the Obama plan is little more than an attempt to stick some new regulatory fingers into a very leaky financial dam rather than rebuild the dam itself. Without question, the latter would be more difficult, more contentious and probably more expensive. But it would also have more lasting value."

Is Louisiana the new Detroit? Look out Tesla Motors, there's a new player in the eco-friendly car industry. V-Vehicles, founded in 2006 by former Oracle exec Frank Varasano and backed by activist billionaire T. Boone Pickens, announced plans to open its first factory in a former headlight plant in tiny Monroe, Louisiana. But that's about all they announced. The company has been surprisingly tight-lipped about their business model, even declining to give details about the kind of car they intend to produce at the new factory.

The trials and tribulations of a New York City street vendors. Street vendors in New York are regulated by a Kafkaesque system of seven different city agencies, with each type of vendor subject to different rules. Break any one of them--like how many inches the cart can be from the curb--and vendors can be fined a week's wages. But the real problem is the black market for licenses, reports Sarah DiGregorio in the Village Voice. In 1979, the City Council limited the number of food cart licenses, which can go for $10,000 for two years, to 3,100 citywide. The waiting list is thousands of names deep. With that demand, vendors can often earn as much renting out their licenses illegally.

Secrets of a nimble giant from Google's Sergey Brin. How does a 20,000-person company manages to stay innovative? For one, Brin tells the Guardian, Google is committed to freeing up staff with a track record for successful innovation. Which is why when Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the brothers behind Google Maps, came to him with the proposal for a revolutionary idea they couldn't disclose, Brin was on board and sent them off with a dedicated staff. Two years later, the result was Google Wave, a real-time communication and collaboration tool. "It's important not to overstate the benefits of ideas," says Brin. "Quite frankly, I know it's kind of a romantic notion that you're just going to have this one brilliant idea and then everything is going to be great. But the fact is that coming up with an idea is the least important part of creating something great. It has to be the right idea and have good taste, but the execution and delivery are what's key."

Boom times on the border? Despite the news about swine flue and drug-related violence, a new economy on our southern border is emerging and -- dare we say -- prospering, due to the expanding Mexican-American market in the United States. Exports and imports between the two nations have increased to $400 billion in revenue in the past decade.

Which iPhone should you buy. Apple starts selling its new iPhone tomorrow. The current iPhone is also being offered with a new operating system (I downloaded it yesterday and it's good) and a new, impressively low price of $99. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg breaks down what's new with each. He says that the newer phone represents an upgrade that is "more evolutionary than revolutionary" and says that many new iPhone users will be happy enough with the cheaper version. Meanwhile, Inc.'s Hannah Clark Steinman gets her hands on the most serious challenger to the iPhone yet, the Palm Pre.

Don't worry so much about inflation. That's the advice of investment manager Van Hoisington. Fortune documents this one-man battle against what many economists believe is an ever-present and unavoidable problem. Because spending has slowed, Hoisington argues, the expected inflationary effect of the government's cash injection will be muted. He also says that today's economy will roughly equal that of 2012, which, if you believe him, means businesses won't see their costs climb much over the next few years.

Friday reading. Your entrepreneurial news team is off tomorrow. In the meantime, check out Bill Donahue's profile of NatureBake, which was a pretty normal bakery until the founder's ex-con brother came home from prison and wanted a job. The story, from our June issue, tells how the family business (and the family itself) struggled, adapted, and thrived as Dave Dahl tried to build a life for himself on the outside. Happy Father's Day. We'll see you on Monday.

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Last updated: Jun 18, 2009




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