The Wall Street Journal: Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Athlete on Sore Knees, Age Is but a Number (page A1): To prepare for this summer’s Senior Olympics, Jim Kales used the following training regimen: He went dancing three to five nights a week. He played tennis six days a week. He bowled a little. He tooled around southwest Florida in a champagne-colored Lincoln MKZ. He didn’t practice at all for the shot put, javelin, discus, long jump or his specialty, the triple jump, in which he holds the record for his age group. Mr. Kales isn’t your typical athlete. For starters, he will be 99 years old in September. “People ask me, ‘What is the secret of your longevity?’ ” says Mr. Kales, who took up tennis in his 80s and has competed in the Senior Olympics since he was 90. “I like to play tennis, I like to dance, I bowl and I don’t abuse myself. I eat a lot of seafood. I have a glass of wine with my dinner, red mostly, white with fish.” He did all right this year in the Olympics, bringing home two gold medals, three silvers and a bronze. He is still annoyed that he didn’t win a medal in discus. A retired restaurant owner from Michigan, Mr. Kales didn’t take up sports or dancing seriously until his wife died, when he was 85. His tennis buddies told him about the Senior Olympics (known officially as the National Senior Games). He qualified at state-level matches and discovered that the Games also included field sports, which he hadn’t tried since he was a child in Greece, where he was born. He eventually qualified in those sports, too.

Fed Stays Course on Bond Buying (page A1): Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed their plan to try winding down an easy-money program that has charged up global markets but left investors on tenterhooks about when or how aggressively they would move. Minutes of the Fed’s July 30-31 policy meeting, released Wednesday, suggested officials were on track to start winding down the $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, possibly as early as September, if the economy strengthens as they expect. They were, however, a bit more uncertain than in June about whether economic growth would pick up as they forecast and about the gains they were seeing in the job market. The Fed’s deliberations—and its sometimes confusing efforts to publicly signal how officials are thinking—have roiled global markets in the past few months, pushing up U.S. interest rates and knocking down emerging markets, which initially benefited from the Fed’s easy-money policies. Wednesday’s market movements mirrored the broader turmoil and investor confusion. U.S. stocks initially dropped after the minutes were released at 2 p.m. New York time, then moved higher and tumbled again as investors tried to make sense of the report.

Obama Is Taking on College Costs Again (page A2): Barack Obama is testing an interesting proposition: Can the U.S. president cajole or shame a huge American industry into changing its ways? Mr. Obama embarks Thursday on a bus tour of schools in upstate New York and Pennsylvania to highlight what he calls “a personal mission to make higher education more affordable.” Higher ed is one of his preoccupations. He talked about it in the State of the Union address. He talked about it at Knox College when he set out his latest bolster-the-middle-class agenda. He doesn’t think taxpayers can keep pumping more money into student aid to chase (and possibly fuel) tuition tabs rising faster than almost anything besides health care. After all, the number of undergraduates getting federal grants, loans or tax breaks already has doubled over the past decade; the taxpayers’ tab has tripled, adjusted for inflation. Something has to give. This quest is a political winner with nearly everyone except the president’s fans among liberal college professors. In a Pew Research Center poll last year, 57% of Americans said colleges fail to provide students with good value for the money. But the rising cost of college is more than a politically appealing talking point. It’s a threat to widely shared prosperity. Rising tuition threatens to discourage all but the best-off from going to and finishing college, restraining future economic growth and widening the gap between winners and losers in the U.S. economy. The College Board says that over the past 20 years, the inflation-adjusted average published cost of tuition and fees at a four-year state university has more than doubled. Factor in scholarships and tax breaks, and it’s still up more than 50%. Over the same period, the income of the typical family in the middle of the middle class has risen only 7%. That’s one reason student borrowing is up so much. Tuition is climbing because there have been so few constraints. There’s strong demand for seats in U.S. college classrooms, both from the U.S. and abroad. College is still a smart investment that pays off in higher wages. And it’s a whole lot harder (though not impossible) to improve productivity in a college than in a car factory.

Antipsychotic Drugs, Kids’ Diabetes Linked (page A3): The use of antipsychotic drugs appears to increase the risk of diabetes in children, not just adults, according to new research published Wednesday. And kids seem to be at an even higher risk, the study found. A number of studies have concluded that adults who take these medications, including risperidone, also known as Risperdal, and olanzapine, also called Zyprexa, have an elevated risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Less is known about the link between these drugs and diabetes in children. Studies of other psychiatric medicines, such as antidepressants, have found that kids can have different reactions to the same drugs than adults. The use of antipsychotics in children has grown tremendously. A 2009 study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found such use rose 65% to 4.8 million prescriptions in 2009 from 2.9 million in 2002.

An Exit Strategy for Bad Teachers (page A15): Age and experience have much to recommend them over youth and enthusiasm but the advantages don’t always show up in teaching. That’s the finding of a new study, “Early Retirement Incentives and Student Achievement,” published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. According to Cornell University economists Maria Fitzpatrick and Michael Lovenheim, when young, inexperienced teachers replaced older, more experienced faculty in Illinois, the newcomers did as well or better at getting students to learn. The study doesn’t discount the value of seasoned, motivated teachers. It does indicate that teachers going through the motions to qualify for a pension can be a drag on student achievement. The study is more evidence that students do better when teachers are graded on performance, not seniority.

The Battle for the Organic Shopper (page B1): Whole Foods Market Inc. wants to shed its “whole paycheck” reputation. The upscale grocer, known for its pricey organic products, is increasingly emulating the discount tactics used by traditional supermarkets. It is also moving beyond the realm of grass-fed beef with more lower-priced items like frozen meatballs and vacuum-packed fish fillets. The new strategy comes as Whole Foods fends off a growing swarm of rivals competing for customers who have become more careful with their pocketbooks. “The recession was a wake-up call for us,” said co-Chief Executive Walter Robb in an interview. One of the chain’s latest initiatives: nationwide “flash” sales on specific items promoted on Twitter and Facebook that run for just a few hours, like a five-hour buy-one-get-one-free deal on ice cream last month. The chain also is increasing one-day sales on items like salmon, blueberries and organic chicken to 17 this fiscal year, from 14 last year. Whole Foods long avoided such supermarket tactics, thriving instead on a pricey mix of products that appealed to clientele in upscale neighborhoods of large cities where most of its approximately 350 stores are located. High prices on everything from meat to vegetables led critics to quip that shopping at Whole Foods would eat up a middle class earner’s whole paycheck.

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Tesla Amps Its Crash Score (page B3): Tesla Motors Inc. has created its own vehicle-safety ranking based on federal crash-test data to amplify a claim that its Model S electric car is the safest car ever tested by U.S. regulators. Tesla, in a statement widely reported this week, said its car “achieved a new combined record of 5.4-stars” in federal crash tests. Tesla noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which conducts the government’s auto-crash tests, doesn’t use a rating above five stars.

Inventing for the Future (page B6): Even with an exceptional idea, budding entrepreneurs can struggle to move past the brainstorming stages. They face challenges in execution like building a cohesive team, coming up with a business plan and even understanding how to present their product or service. This week mentors on “WSJ Startup of the Year,” a documentary on wsj.com, offered some words of inspiration for all entrepreneurs. Here’s what some science and technology innovators had to say. Edited excerpts:

Nordstrom Tests an App to Identify Customers page (B7): Nordstrom Inc. is testing mobile technology that sends salespeople the digital profiles of customers as they enter a brick-and-mortar store, said James Nordstrom, president of the company’s online division. “The concept is that a customer would opt-in and download an application because ‘I want the sales person to know I’m here, and I want the salesperson to know my preferences because it will lead to a better experience,’ ” Mr. Nordstrom said. Another recent Nordstrom in-store technology, which anonymously tracked the way people moved through stores, ended last May after customers complained the monitoring was too intrusive.

Mom and Pop Flee Emerging Markets (page C1): Retail investors have led the summer stampede out of emerging-market stocks, bonds and currencies, pulling almost twice as much money as institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds. The action highlights the outsize impact mom-and-pop investors can have on global markets at a time of low interest rates, disappointing investment returns and volatile market reactions to perceived shifts in central-bank policy.

SEC Is Set to Propose New Rule on CEO Pay (page C1): The Securities and Exchange Commission will soon thrust CEO compensation back into the spotlight when it proposes a long-delayed rule requiring companies to disclose the pay gap between chief executives and rank-and-file employees. The requirement, a mandate of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, could put added pressure on corporate boards to slow pay increases for chief executives at companies with significant or growing gaps, proponents say. The rule, expected to be approved by the SEC as early as next month, has come under fire from corporations. But it is expected to be less onerous than what lawmakers originally ordered the SEC to adopt, according to people familiar with the proposal. Rather than surveying the entire workforce, the SEC is expected to allow companies to consider a fraction of their employees when calculating median pay. It isn’t clear what percentage of the workforce would be included in the sample. Companies would have to disclose the ratio between CEO compensation and the median pay of the sampled employee group. Median pay is the point on the income scale at which half the employees earn more and half earn less.

Wednesday’s Markets: Stocks End Lower After Jolt by Fed (page C4): U.S. stocks ended a volatile session with broad losses after the minutes to the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting provided little clarity on when the central bank might start paring back on stimulus measures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 105.44 points, or 0.7%, to 14897.55. Soon after the release of the minutes, the Dow fell as much as 122 points, then bounced sharply to be up as much as 17 points, before selling off again. The decline marked the sixth-straight loss for the blue-chip index, the longest losing streak since July 2012. The S&P 500 index lost 9.55 points, or 0.6%, to 1642.80, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 13.80, or 0.4%, to 3599.79.

Google May Make a Play on Pay TV (page C10): Google may have found a path to the end zone for Internet TV. Top executives at the search giant met with representatives from the National Football League, according to a report Tuesday by All Things D. Among the topics of discussion: the Sunday Ticket package, which includes all NFL games not in the viewer’s local market and is offered exclusively by DirecTV. There is no indication that Google is anywhere near a deal to offer the package. But the news raises the possibility of a powerful partnership that could be the magic bullet for Google in its goal of luring traditional TV viewers, and associated advertising dollars, to the Internet. Live sporting events are among the primary reasons U.S. consumers pay for TV. Bringing them online as a separate subscription would allow many more people to stop paying for traditional TV. It would also let the NFL broaden its viewer base by selling to those people who don’t pay for TV. For CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN, all of which have agreed to pay huge sums for the right to carry NFL games, Google’s reach would likely be seen as a serious threat. That said, most of the networks’ deals with the NFL extend to 2022, buying the league some time. And considering the value of football to ratings and affiliate fees, it is difficult to imagine networks turning their backs on the NFL.

Facebook and Google’s Free-for-All (page C10): Google wants to launch balloons; Facebook wants to lighten the data load. Just as conspicuous as these efforts to bring Internet access to the sea of humanity still lacking it, is the fact these two companies aren’t working together on it. On Wednesday, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced a “rough plan” to connect billions more people in the developing world to the Internet. But while he laid out some nifty ideas for technologies that might make this easier, there’s plenty missing from the plan. That includes some partners likely needed to make it possible, such as wireless carriers. Google isn’t a partner either. Meanwhile, Google has Project Loon, centered on solar-powered balloons that can beam Internet access to places lacking it.

Summer Debate: Avoid the Heat or Embrace It (page D3): Why do some people thrive when the temperature soars, while others can’t think straight without air-conditioning? Variables such as where a person grew up, their amount of body fat and even their hydration level can influence how they feel in hot or cold temperatures, says Michael Sawka, a professor at the School of Applied Physiology at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. People who avoid going outside when it’s hot—preferring to move straight from an arctic office to air-conditioned transportation to a well-chilled restaurant, store or home—can quickly lose their ability to acclimate, Dr. Sawka says. Without regularly experiencing heat, the body becomes less efficient at sweating and has more difficulty increasing blood flow to the skin—both functions that help the body cool itself. It takes one to two hours a day in hot temperatures to acclimate properly. Then, says Dr. Sawka, “you don’t feel the stress of the heat,” he says. “You feel more comfortable.” When it comes to cold, most people have greater difficulty adapting. Some can eventually learn to ignore uncomfortably low temperatures, but “it’s a lot more dependent on body fat and the size of your body,” Dr. Sawka says.