Monthly Archives: September 2015

Women Gaining Representation in Elite Business Schools

Inside a Harvard Business School classroom. Photo by HBS1908

Inside a Harvard Business School classroom. Photo by HBS1908

It has taken over ten years of concerted efforts, but finally America’s elite business schools have significant numbers of female students in their programs. For instance, Wharton and Kellog’s class of 2017 has 43 percent female enrollment. Harvard, Tuck and Stanford has 42 percent enrollment in their MBA programs, while the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley has 41 percent in their newest class.

The change has come quickly. The top schools could only claim 29 percent women in 2005, says the Forté Foundation, a non-profit group whose goal is to increase the number of women in business schools.

“In the past two years this issue has gone from being on the radar of deans to being a priority,” says Elissa Sangster, the executive director at Forté. “Having these top schools at over 40 per cent raises the stakes for others in terms of what they see as attainable.”

Energy Choice Discussions with IDT Energy

In a recent article in Trib Live, the CEO of IDT Energy, Michael Stein, debunks the idea of “normal” calendar seasons.

As Stein wrote, “Before the introduction of energy choice programs, customers had to buy energy from their local utility. The utility set the prices that customers were required to pay. In recent years, however, a number of states have introduced competition for energy supply. In these states, utilities no longer have a monopoly on both energy generation and distribution. Customers in these states may choose to buy from any number of licensed retail energy providers (REPs) or their local utility company.”

He explains what the difference is between energy supplied by the utility and a REP. REPs specialize in procuring energy and they then rely upon the utilities to deliver it. This means that any customers who select to use REPs still have their meters read by their utility and they typically still receive their bills from their utility. REPs have been able to compete in the business world by offering flexible options like programs, rewards and more; items that the utilities can’t offer.

As he continued to explain, “So why did many REPs’ prices rise so dramatically in 2014 compared with utilities’ prices? The culprit was an unprecedented and unforeseen confluence of weather and market events that caused wholesale energy prices to skyrocket. Unfortunately, faced with those immediate costs, many REPs had no choice but to pass along those sudden price increases without delay. By contrast, sudden cost increases are not readily apparent in utility companies’ rate calculations.”

Many REPS realized that customers couldn’t necessarily take on this burden and they absorbed the costs increases themselves. This translated to their issuing of millions of dollars in good-will rebates to customers. As Stein concluded,

“The path to improvement is not always smooth, and the polar vortex provided a particularly bumpy ride for the retail energy industry. But with the lessons learned and development of smarter and better controls, residential and business energy customers are certain to benefit in the long run.”

 

Oil Prices Climbing as Drilling Declines

Monday showed a rise of 1 percent on the price of oil, a result of a slowdown in the pace of drilling. One report stated that as much as $1.5 trillion worth of planned oil production was a poor economic choice in light of the current price of oil.

The past year has shown a deep cut in the value of oil, by about half. Huge increases in global oil production combined with slowing demand has finally been felt at the drilling level, especially in the US. For the past three weeks in a row drillers have cut the number of rigs working, causing prices to rise a bit.

The global benchmark Brent crude was up by 70 cents to sell at $48.17 per barrel by 1020 GMT. US crude was up by the same amount, reaching $45.38 per barrel.

“The fall in rig counts (is) supporting an otherwise bearish market,” said Tamas Varga, oil analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

Consumer Confidence Up, Economy Chugging Along

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“Washington, DC USA. Gallery10.Target-Black Friday shoppers. Photo by: Gridprop

The Commerce Department released its latest figures for retail sale and restaurants, showing a rebound in September after a slow start to the year.

The retail and restaurant sector posted a 0.2 percent monthly gain in August, and an annual increase to date of 2.2 percent. Analysts believe that retail sales improvement is all that the economy needs to balance out a slowdown in the factories and oil fields, giving the economy movement which is overall growth.

Imported goods are cheaper in the shops due to a stronger dollar; and consumers have more money in their wallets, due to lower oil prices. But the other side of the  coin is that what is good for consumers is hurting manufacturers, especially those who export goods, and companies in the oil and gas industries.

The overall improvement in the economy reflected in the numbers is expected to influence the decision of the Federal Reserve about whether to increase the overnight loan rate from what is essentially zero, for the first time in almost nine years.

US economist Jesse Hurwitz at Barclays, used the word “buoyant” to describe the US economy. He raised his firm’s guess at third quarter growth from 2.2 percent to a 2.4 percent annual growth.

“We expect the consumer to remain the dominant force behind U.S. economic growth,” Hurwitz wrote in a statement to his clients.

US Job Growth and Unemployment: An Update

The US job growth slowed in August, but the good news is that the unemployment rate dropped to an almost 7.5 year low and wages have accelerated. The Nonfarm payrolls increased 173,000 last month after a revised gain of 245,000 in July, according to the Labor Department.

The payrolls data for June and July showed that 44,000 more jobs were created than had previously been reported. This means that the average job gains for the past three months was a solid 221,000. Average hourly earnings increased 8 cents and this is the biggest rise in seven months.

As Alan Ruskin, global head of currency strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York said,

“The payrolls data is certainly good enough to allow for a Fed rate hike in September. The big question is still whether financial market volatility will scupper the plans.”

Read the full article for all of the details here.