Fed Toils In Vain To Calm Markets (page A1): The financial markets’ violent movements this week underscore the immense challenge the Federal Reserve faces as it eyes an eventual end to its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program. After trying for years to lift a postcrisis economy with a concoction of untested easy-money programs, the Fed delivered a largely uplifting message Wednesday: The economy might be getting strong enough to stand on its own with less support. The market reacted as an addict might to the threat of losing drugs—it broke into shakes and a cold sweat. Treasurys tumbled, the yield on the 10-year note seeing its steepest weekly jump in a decade. Five- and seven-year bonds, the focus of much of the Fed’s bond buying, saw even more violent selling. Investors in high-yield and municipal bonds also rushed for the exits. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2.1%. Emerging markets, where jitters over the Fed mixed with questions about the health of China’s economy and financial system, were hit harder. The MSCI emerging markets index fell 4.7%, its biggest weekly drop since May 2012. Gold fell to a nearly three-year low before recovering slightly on Friday. The market reaction presents the Fed with new questions that will only be answered in the months ahead: Are the economy and markets really healthy enough now to stand on their own? Might the prospect of withdrawing stimulus undermine the recovery the Fed has been struggling for years to engineer? Are its efforts to clarify its thinking helping or hurting?
China Faces Fallout of Self-Made Cash Crisis (page A6): China’s central bank is wrestling with a liquidity crunch of its own creation. A cash shortage that has sent short-term interest rates as high as 25% earlier this week and alarmed the world’s markets, eased a bit Friday. Traders said the People’s Bank of China, may have asked big state banks to refrain from hoarding cash and release more funds to ease the liquidity squeeze. But the top priority for the central bank, acting on instructions from China’s political leadership, continues to be taming runaway informal lending. China’s campaign to tame runaway credit may be too aggressive, critics say, creating as many problems as those it is trying to solve and raising the risk that the world’s second-largest economy will face continuing turmoil and slow growth. If its action further reduces growth in China, the effects will ripple around the world to commodity suppliers in Asia, Latin America and Africa, to manufacturers and high-tech firms in Europe and the US.
The Four Favorites of the Fortnight (page A12): Here it is, folks. Step right up and form an orderly queue. For the first time in this golden age of men’s tennis, the thing that has always been tantalizingly possible has finally come to be. As Wimbledon begins Monday, the draw contains four legitimate favorites. t could only happen at Wimbledon, where the grass courts are a great equalizer among the Big Four of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. On clay, Nadal has a distinct advantage over his three chief rivals. On hard courts, Djokovic is the favorite these days, with Murray a close second. On grass, though, it’s a tossup: Djokovic’s footing isn’t as sure, Murray’s second serve isn’t as much of a liability, Federer is at his 31-year-old best, and Nadal’s touch and tactical prowess compensate for the reduced bounce of his topspin forehand. Wimbledon is also the first Grand Slam with all four in the field since Murray truly entered the Big Four by winning the 2012 U.S. Open.
LeBron vs. Kobe, Jordan (page A12): LeBron James, after winning his second straight NBA title Thursday said, “I want to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to ever play this game.” At age 28, he’s well on his way. James’s numbers compare favorably to two other greats of the past 30 years, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who had put up similar playoff numbers by their age-28 season. Jordan, probably the best player of all time, has the overall statistical edge, though James has been the better rebounder and has played 46 more playoff games. James, however, leads in nearly every category over Bryant, who didn’t even start his first 20 postseason games.
Life After Fed Stimulus Has Bumps (page B1): Investors got their first real glimpse of life after the Federal Reserve’s stimulus this past week, and they didn’t like what they saw. On Friday, blue-chip stocks staged a small bounce, but that was scant relief after two days of steep losses. The selloff was sparked by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s strongest signals yet that the U.S. central bank could wind down its extraordinary stimulus measures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 41.08 points, or 0.3%, to 14799.40, after a morning of choppy trading. The Dow ended the week 1.8% lower, its second consecutive weekly drop. On Wednesday and Thursday, the benchmark tumbled 560 points, its biggest two-session slide since November 2011. The week’s reaction in the bond market was even more stark. Treasury prices, which move in the opposite direction of yields, fell for a fifth session in a row. On Friday, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes topped 2.5%, marking the biggest weekly selloff in more than a decade.
Facebook Breach Exposes Emails. Phone Numbers (page B4): Facebook Inc. disclosed a security lapse on Friday that exposed the contact information of about six million users. The company says the issue has since been resolved. The bug made users’ contact information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, accessible to other Facebook members who already had either a friend connection or some other contact information about that user. The problem originated with a service where Facebook allows users to import their address books into Facebook—to find friends on the site or to send invitations to nonmembers. As part of that service, Facebook essentially creates composite contact profiles for individuals. For example, a person named John might have uploaded his address book, which included a friend named Amy who had two phone numbers and two email addresses. Facebook’s systems would know that Amy was the same person as the Amy included in another user’s address book, even if the other user only had one email address for her. With the bug Facebook disclosed on Friday, Amy’s contact information—a merged contact profile—would have been exposed in the information archive of the other user. In this case, the other user would have access to Amy’s additional contact information if he downloaded his information archive using Facebook’s “Download Your Information” service.
Muni Bonds Join the Rout (page B6): Municipal-bond prices fell sharply for a second straight day, playing catch-up to the broad bond-market rout that has whipsawed investors the past few days. Investors have been selling bonds recently, fretting about the Federal Reserve siphoning off support of the bond markets. Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could start tapering its bond-buying program later this year. “This is a search for equilibrium in the muni market,” said Domenic Vonella, managing analyst at MMD. As the yield on the 10-year Treasury note shot from 2.167% to 2.356% on Wednesday, according to Tradeweb, yields on top-rated 10-year muni debt moved only to 2.28% from 2.24%. By Thursday, 10-year muni yields surged to 2.48%, and on Friday, to 2.63%, according to MMD. Ten-year Treasurys were yielding 2.514% late Friday afternoon. Burton Mulford, portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management, said the back-to-back days of sharp muni price declines is reminiscent of the type of activity seen during the financial crisis. It is rare for the typically sleepy muni market to see such large price moves, he said. Prices move opposite to yields.
One Reason to Feel Good About Stocks Now (page B7): After a turbulent week, investors could be forgiven for believing the stock market’s prospects are bleak. But the recent actions of certain corporate insiders provide reasons for hope. That is because companies’ officers and directors are behaving in ways that suggest that they believe their stocks are undervalued. Some researchers believe this has positive implications for the overall market as well. The reason to pay close attention to corporate insiders is that they presumably know more about their company’s prospects than the rest of us do. This presumption has been borne out by many academic studies over the years, which have shown that companies where insiders are buying tend to beat the market, with just the opposite the case for companies where insiders are selling. Another finding is that the market as a whole tends to do better when insiders as a group are buying more than they are selling.
Career Changers’ Goal: More Clients (page B8): When picking a financial adviser, most investors look for someone with the proper credentials and a good sense of how the markets move. But clients who come to Jonathan DeYoe, an adviser based in Berkeley, Calif., get a little something extra: a bit of Buddhist wisdom. A little more than a decade ago, Mr. DeYoe was an academic who focused on Buddhist philosophy and practice. Then he found his true calling and traded the life of a scholar for that of a market seer. People looking for a new adviser will find that Mr. DeYoe is hardly alone in making a switch from another field into financial advice. Some career-changers bring experience that can help them better understand clients’ challenges, experts say. But before hiring one, investors should make sure that they also have sufficient expertise to manage their money. A recent survey by Cerulli Associates, a Boston-based research firm, found that just 11% of the current pool of more than 300,000 advisers began their careers in that role. The rest came from such professions as sales (21%), accounting (7%) and education (4%). Indeed, many financial firms make a point of hiring those outside the advisory loop. At Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, career changers constitute 70% of the advisory staff.
Emerging Markets Without the Pain (page B9): In this year’s emerging-market-stocks selloff, it is the little guy who has come out on top. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which represents the largest emerging markets such as Brazil and China, is down more than 12% this year, as of Thursday’s close. But the MSCI Frontier Markets 100 Index, which includes smaller markets such as Kuwait, Qatar and Nigeria, is ahead by more than 13%. The divergence shows frontier markets might be a good place to park some money if stocks’ slide continues, some advisers say, though investors should be careful to ensure they don’t end up in funds that are overly concentrated in certain countries.
Why She Drinks (page C1): Women’s growing predilection for wine has a darker side—and the only way to deal with it is to acknowledge the profound differences between how women and men abuse alcohol. The growing female predilection for wine seems at first glance like a harmless indulgence for harried mothers who deserve a break. There are T-shirts with a spilled wineglass that say, “Not so loud, I had book club last night.” Nearly 650,000 women follow “Moms Who Need Wine” on Facebook, and another 131,000 women are fans of the group called “OMG, I So Need a Glass of Wine or I’m Gonna Sell My Kids.” The drinking mom has become a cultural trope, from highbrow to pop: Jonathan Franzen’s Patty Berglund wanders through the first half of “Freedom” with a ruddy complexion he calls the “Chardonnay Splotch.” Wine is so linked to the women of “Real Housewives” that several cast members have introduced their own brands. That’s no accident: According to the Wine Institute, an industry trade group, women buy the lion’s share of the nearly 800 million gallons of wine sold in the U.S. annually—and they are its primary drinkers. Indeed, more women are drinking now than at any time in recent history, according to health surveys. In the nine years between 1998 and 2007, the number of women arrested for drunken driving rose 30%, while male arrests dropped more than 7%. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of young women who showed up in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated rose by 52%. The rate for young men, though higher, rose just 9%. Gallup pollsters have repeatedly found that the more educated and well off a woman is, the more likely she is to imbibe. In one sense, the rising rates of alcohol consumption by women are a sign of parity. But this is one arena in which equal treatment yields unequal outcomes. Some social scientists link the rise in female alcohol consumption to the changing role of women in society.
Weekend Confidential: Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify (page C11): As a 16-year-old computer geek, Daniel Ek applied for a job at Google but was turned down because he didn’t have a college degree. “I was kind of upset about that,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’ll show them—I’m going to create my own search engine!’ ” That turned out to be harder than he thought, so instead he spent several years building an online advertising company in his native Sweden (and no, he never did finish college). In 2006, he sold the company’s rights and related patents for over $2 million. “Now I was 23 and a multimillionaire, but I didn’t have anything to do,” he said over lunch recently in midtown Manhattan. He became depressed. “You’re supposed to be the happiest guy on the planet but…there’s no reason why you’re existing,” he says. “I realized it’s really, really fun for a while to go big and go to all of these nightclubs,” but just spending money was not satisfying. In search of a purpose, he came up with a new model for listening to music: Spotify, a digital streaming service that has made the music business look viable again. Mr. Ek, 30, had always been interested in music and technology, and he saw a paradox in the music industry: Though consumption was increasing, sales were decreasing, which he attributed to online piracy. With the Swedish entrepreneur Martin Lorentzon as his partner, he set out to give users a way to get music from the Internet legally (the rock on which another company, Napster, had crashed). Mr. Ek spent two years hounding the music companies, visiting the offices of major record labels every week, before they agreed to give Spotify the rights to their songs in return for a cut of the revenue. The service finally launched in 2008. Today Spotify is worth an estimated $3 billion, making money from both advertising and subscription fees, with premium users paying up to $10 a month to listen to songs ad-free. The company has over 24 million active users and over six million paying subscribers (double the number of a year ago), and Spotify is one of the most popular apps on Facebook.
Ask Ariely: Dan Ariely (page C12): Behavioral economist Dan Ariely answers readers’ questions.
- Why is it that socks always get lost in the laundry?
- My wife and I would like to see our grandson, but grandparents have no visiting privileges in our state. Any advice?
- With the recent debate over gun control and protecting school children, should we arm schoolteachers to make schools safer?