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April 11, 2013

As the economy recovers, price of gold plummets

Gold, Long a Secure Investment, Loses Its Luster - NYTimes.com
And in Pocatello, Idaho, the tiny golden treasure of Jon Norstog has dwindled, too. A $29,000 investment that Mr. Norstog made in 2011 is now worth about $17,000, a loss of 42 percent. “I thought if worst came to worst and the government brought down the world economy, I would still have something that was worth something,” Mr. Norstog, 67, says of his foray into gold. Gold, pride of Croesus and store of wealth since time immemorial, has turned out to be a very bad investment of late. A mere two years after its price raced to a nominal high, gold is sinking — fast. Its price has fallen 17 percent since late 2011. Wednesday was another bad day for gold: the price of bullion dropped $28 to $1,558 an ounce. It is a remarkable turnabout for an investment that many have long regarded as one of the safest of all. The decline has been so swift that some Wall Street analysts are declaring the end of a golden age of gold. The stakes are high: the last time the metal went through a patch like this, in the 1980s, its price took 30 years to recover. What went wrong? The answer, in part, lies in what went right. Analysts say gold is losing its allure after an astonishing 650 percent rally from August 1999 to August 2011. Fast-money hedge fund managers and ordinary savers alike flocked to gold, that haven of havens, when the world economy teetered on the brink in 2009. Now, the worst of the Great Recession has passed. Things are looking up for the economy and, as a result, down for gold. On top of that, concern that the loose monetary policy at Federal Reserve might set off inflation — a prospect that drove investors to gold — have so far proved to be unfounded.

April 10, 2013

Louvre Forced To Close After Staff Walks Out In Protest Of Aggressive Pickpockets

Louvre Forced To Close After Staff Walks Out In Protest Of Aggressive Pickpockets – Consumerist
Beyond all the valuable pieces of art on display at the Louvre in Paris, there’s a whole other set of treasures — the pockets and purses of the millions of visitors who walk through its doors every year. The world’s most-visited museum was forced to close today after more than 100 staff walked out in protest over the rampant thievery going on right under Mona Lisa’s nose. Workers walked off the job today to call attention to the problem of large, organized gangs of thieves who they say roam the museum and are becoming “more aggressive.” Staff and visitors alike have been falling prey to pickpockets, reports The Guardian, with the museum admitting that it’s problem that’s growing bigger. This, despite the fact that police are working closely with the museum, and those people already known as pickpockets are not allowed to re-enter the museum. A union official for the staff said workers are afraid of the roving gangs, which include minors who can get into the Louvre for free. There have also been reports of spitting, insults, threats and kicking on the part of the thieves.

April 08, 2013

Seven Rules Written by an Asshole for Managing Creative People

Short version: Bully them, terrorize them, undermine them, and pay them nothing. Seven Rules for Managing Creative People - Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - Harvard Business Review
5. Pay them poorly: There is a longstanding debate about the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Over the past two decades, psychologists have provided compelling evidence for the so-called "over-justification" effect, namely the process whereby higher external rewards impair performance by depressing a person's genuine or intrinsic interest. Most notably, two large-scale meta-analyses reported that, when tasks are inherently meaningful (and creative tasks are certainly in this condition), external rewards diminish engagement. This is true in both adults and children, especially when people are rewarded merely for performing a task. However, providing positive feedback (praises) does not harm intrinsic motivation, so long as the feedback is perceived as genuine. The moral of the story? The more you pay people to do what they love, the less they will love it. In the words of Czikszentmihalyi, "the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake." More importantly, people with a talent for innovation are not driven by money. Data from our research archive, which includes over 50,000 managers from 20 different countries, indicates quite clearly that the more imaginative and inquisitive people are, the more they are driven by recognition and sheer scientific curiosity rather than commercial needs.