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July 2009

"Swiss Company Promises Chocolate Revolution"

Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, "whose annual output of over 1.1 million tons of cocoa and chocolate products makes it the world's largest producer of chocolate"--"world's largest" surprises me; Nestle? Mars? Hershey?--has supposedly developed a new kind of chocolate that won't melt below 131 degrees Fahrenheit and "has up to 90 percent fewer calories than regular chocolate".

I'm skeptical, but bring it on!

I keep meaning to start a file . . .

. . . of lovely little bits of information to reply to people who rave that Europe is so much better than the U.S. Like this one about eating out in France:

Restaurant meals are available at very limited hours. You want lunch — it had better be between 12 and 2. Miss that and you can have a snack — but only if you are in a place big enough to have a range of restaurant types. Dinner starts at 7, no matter that you missed lunch and want a burger or a salad at 5, not ice cream or a beer. And meals take forever. I like the leisurely lunch as much as any journalist, of course. But not with my kids, every day — which leaves us with grilled-cheese sandwiches, hold the ham. Oh, you can’t hold the ham? Thanks.

One more time, for now: Google and antitrust

As I've written a number of times on this blog--I didn['t realize how many until I Googled it; see, for examples, here, here, here, and here--it's only a matter of time before the Antitrust Division declares Google's manifest superiority has become illegal. (They won't say that, of course. But substantively it will be the same.) Here's the latest suggestion that I will be right: "Why Is Obama's Top Antitrust Cop Gunning for Google?

If it pays lip service to "potential competition" the Antitrust Division may want to look at "Cool Search Engines That Are Not Google".

Bootstrapping: Weapons of Mass Reconstruction

I thank Maureen Kelly at bizbookpr.com for sending me a copy of Sramana Mitra's book Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Destruction.

I recommend it to my MBA students and to anybody planning on, or even just thinking about, starting a business. And also to policymakers. Maybe especially to policymakers. The importance of entrepreneurs to our economy cannot be overemphasized. Ms. Mitra notes that there are " approximately five million small businesses in the U.S. with fewer than 20 employees [and] [a]nother 20 million . . .  without employees." (See also "America Runs on Small Business".) And I most certainly agree with what Ms. Mitra writes on p. 60:

 . . . much of the money that enabled the creation of these ventures came not from VCs [venture capitalists], but friends and family, doctors, lawyers, and of course, the entrepreneurs themselves. . . . By taxing the wealthy, Obama threatens to undermine their ability to refuel an already faltering economic engine.

The book focuses on how many entrepreneurs don't get start-up capital from banks or venture capitalists. They raise the money, as noted in the quote above, from people they know. Hence the term "bootstrapping". Ms. Mitra interviews a number of entrepreneurs. One raised $313,000 from family and friends. Another got $200,000 from one "angel" to start. If I had to quibble, I wish there more details provided about these fundraising efforts. For example, the person who raised $200,000 talks, less than a half page later, about getting some patents and then raising another $1.2 million from an angel group. A lot happened in a couple of paragraphs! And I'd like more detail on how did the entrepreneurs handled the stress: business is risky enough with its chance of personal financial disaster; how did they cope with knowing that failure would cost dearly people they cared about?

Continue reading "Bootstrapping: Weapons of Mass Reconstruction" »

Some other books I've gotten . . .

. . . apparently because I blog. (I didn't go into blogging for free books; who knew?) They all look interesting and I'd like to--and hope--to read all of them, but at the rate they're arriving that might require an extra decade or two of life. (All links are to Amazon.)

All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information Into News by James T. Hamilton.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policiesby Bryan Caplan.

Stealing From Each Other: How the Welfare State Robs Americans of Money and Spirit by Edgar K. Browning. Thanks again to Professor Browning for sending it.

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer.

Heroes & Cowards: The Social Face of War by Dora L. Costa and Matthew E. Kahn.

Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports by Stefan Szymanski.

A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World by Gregory Clark.

Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual  Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History by Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast.

And most recently two from Crown Publishing--thanks to Meredith McGinnis--both reviewed here:

In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic by David Wessel.

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald with Patrick Robinson.

More on divorce among the rich people

When we last noted the bitter divorce procedings between the Swedish countess and her American CEO husband, the countess was asking for $53,000 per week.

Here's what the New York Post called "Round 2".

And here's the ostensible finale: Ms. Douglas-David walked away with, supposedly, about $55 million of her husband's $300 million in assets.

The Huffington Post claims, though, the settlement was more than $100 million, and lists "10 of the most costly CEO divorces in recent memory".