Archive for the ‘business and economics’ Category

American Society of Magazine Editors Guidelines for Editors and Publishers

April 25, 2015 Comments off

ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers
Source: American Society of Magazine Editors

The true value of a print or digital magazine brand lies in its relationship with its readers. The unique relationship between magazine media and media consumers is founded on the reader’s trust in the magazine’s editorial integrity and independence.

The purpose of the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers is to sustain that trust by articulating basic principles for the conduct of magazine journalists. The guidelines also summarize industry practices, drawn from those principles, concerning editorial content and advertising and include information about federal regulations relevant to magazine media.

In a rapidly changing media marketplace, no one set of guidelines can answer every question. The ASME Guidelines address only the critical challenges encountered by print and digital journalists working in today’s advertising-supported media. The basic principles that inform the guidelines, especially transparency, are also applicable to other forms of magazine media, including conferences and events.

USPS OIG — Domestic Merchandise Returns and Forwarding

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Domestic Merchandise Returns and Forwarding (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The package delivery market is an important and growing segment of the U.S. economy. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion in 2013 to ship packages domestically. As part of this package activity, merchandise sometimes needs to be returned to the merchant or forwarded to a different address designated by the recipient. A recent study conducted from April to June 2013 showed that just over 5 percent of business volume (over 500 million pieces) was returned using a carrier shipping service. The domestic returns business is worth an estimated $3 billion annually and is expected to approach $4 billion by 2016.

The U.S. Postal Service is active in the returns market, having generated about [redacted] in returns-related revenue in fiscal year (FY) 2014. The potential of this market was recently acknowledged when the vice president, New Products and Innovation, stated, “Returns play an important role in our efforts to grow our package business.” The Postal Service has also released its new “Already There” advertising campaign aimed at promoting the ease of its return services. In addition, the Postal Service generated about [redacted] in forwarding-related revenue in FY 2014. To support this growing market, the Postal Service offers a variety of merchandise return and forwarding products and services and continues to develop additional services to keep up with eCommerce, digital innovations, and changing customer preferences.

The objective of our review was to identify opportunities for the Postal Service to grow its merchandise returns and forwarding revenue. To that end, we researched global trends, reviewed actions of foreign posts, met with Postal Service managers and returns companies, and examined prior U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General reports.

Borrowing for the Cure: Debt Financing of Breakthrough Treatments

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Borrowing for the Cure: Debt Financing of Breakthrough Treatments
Source: RAND Corporation

Recent market entries of breakthrough pharmaceutical products have reignited the debate about the affordability of high-priced drugs for public and private payers worldwide. Payers had voiced concerns about such drugs before but, faced with a possible outcry of patients and advocates, grudgingly accepted them. But as more high-cost drugs reach the market and treat more-prevalent conditions, medical professionals and government ministers have complained that this “blank check” might not be sustainable. Concerns about short-term budget impact have led countries to restrict access to expensive drugs, even when they met cost-effectiveness criteria and could lead to long-term savings. This paper offers a research-grounded perspective on innovative financing mechanisms to facilitate access to expensive yet highly effective breakthrough medical treatments. The authors outline the scope of the problem; describe several policy and market options, including bond financing and linking repayment to real-world value generation; and describe real-world applications.

Major Work Stoppages in 2014

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Major Work Stoppages in 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2014, there were 11 major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers and lasting at least one shift, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The 11 major work stoppages beginning in 2014 were down from the 15 major work stoppages beginning in 2013, and equaled the second lowest annual total (11 in 2010) of work stoppages since the series began in 1947. The lowest annual total was 5 in 2009. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

Major work stoppages beginning in 2014 idled 34,000 workers, lower than the 2013 total of 55,000 idled workers. In 2014, there were 200,000 days idle from major work stoppages in effect, also lower than 2013 with 290,000 days idle. In 2014, private industry organizations accounted for 9 of the 11 major work stoppages in 2014. In addition, 7 of the 11 major work stoppages beginning in 2014 occurred in the health care and social assistance industry and the educational services industry. (See table 2.)

In 2014, the largest major work stoppage in both days idle and duration was between FairPoint Communications and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 2320, 2326, and 2327 and the Communications Workers of America Local 1400, with 1,700 workers accounting for 86,700 days idle in 2014. The work stoppage was still ongoing at the end of 2014. (See table 2.)

A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86)

April 24, 2015 Comments off

A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Individuals vetted by the government for initial or continuing eligibility to access classified information must fill out a personnel security questionnaire as part of a screening process designed to identify those who are not likely to be trustworthy, reliable , or loyal to the United States. Question 21 in the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF – 86) asks applicants if they have consulted with a mental health professional in the last 7 years , with certain groups exempted . This approach identifies too many individuals for investigative follow – up who do not have a mental health condition that pose s an unacceptable risk , and likely misses other at – risk individuals . Disagreements over the goal, effectiveness , and adverse consequences ( e.g., stigmatizing the use of mental health services ) associated with this question have resulted in previous Question 21 wording changes but have not significantly resolved concerns.

A proposed “r elevant r isk ” approach to Question 21 — focusing only on standardized clinical conditions that could pose a security risk as well as mental health related hospitalizations — would not represent an obstacle to mental health care for the vast majority of personnel and would be consistent with Department of Defense ( DoD ) policy to foster a culture of support with respect to mental he alth. This approach would reduce the costs associated with unnecessary Q uestion 21 follow – up investigative work, as well as much of the stigma – related adverse consequences associated with the current Q uestion 21. At the same time , the “relevant risk” appro ach would identify more effectively the small number of individuals with mental health conditions that may pose security risks. In addition, t his report evaluates the benefits for both security and clinical care for having separate professionals conduct se curity fitness evaluations vice individuals’ mental health treatment.

As Movement For Higher Pay Grows, Report Examines Who Makes Less Than $15 in the U.S.

April 24, 2015 Comments off

As Movement For Higher Pay Grows, Report Examines Who Makes Less Than $15 in the U.S.
Source: National Employment Law Project

As workers across industries prepare for a historic day of strikes and protests for higher wages, a report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows that nearly half, (42 percent) of workers in the US are paid less than $15 an hour.

The report, The Growing Movement for $15, which comes days before adjunct professors, fast-food, home care, child care, retail and airport workers are expected to protest in the largest-ever national mobilization for higher pay, provides comprehensive wage and demographic figures on the 42 percent of the U.S. workforce that earns less than $15 an hour.

The report finds that six in 10 of the largest occupations with median wages less than $15—including restaurant jobs, retail jobs and personal care jobs—are among the occupations projected to add the most jobs in coming years, shedding light on why the “Fight for $15” has spread quickly from the fast-food industry to include workers from various sectors of the economy.

Increasing Concentrations of Property Values and Catastrophe Risk in the US

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Increasing Concentrations of Property Values and Catastrophe Risk in the US (PDF)
Source: Karen Clark & Company

Residential, commercial, and industrial property values in the US continue to increase faster than GDP growth and the general rate of inflation. According to KCC estimates, insured property values increased by nine percent from 2012 to 2014.

In aggregate, building values now exceed $40 trillion, and when contents and time element exposures are added in, estimated insured property values swell to over $90 trillion. Along with increasing values, there are highly concentrated pockets of exposure, particularly in regions vulnerable to natural catastrophes.

For example, tier one counties along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts account for over 17 percent of total exposure at $16 trillion. Six counties have over $1 trillion of exposure each and on a combined basis, account for more than 12 percent of the US total. One county—Los Angeles—accounts for over three percent of exposed property values.

One implication of increasing concentrations of property value is the higher probability of megacatastrophe losses. A major storm or earthquake has not occurred in a densely populated metropolitan area such as Galveston-Houston, Miami, or Los Angeles for decades.

This study shows that when a large magnitude event occurs in specific concentrated areas, the losses will be multiples of the PMLs (Probable Maximum Losses) the insurance industry has been using to manage risk and rating agencies and regulators have been using to monitor solvency. Insurers typically manage their potential catastrophe losses to the 100 year PMLs, but because of increasingly concentrated property values in several major metropolitan areas, the losses insurers will suffer from the 100 year event will greatly exceed their estimated 100 year PMLs.

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