Business profile: Bronze and Beauty - Reading Evening Post Business profile: Bronze and Beauty - Reading Evening Post

Friday, May 25, 2012

Business profile: Bronze and Beauty - Reading Evening Post

Business profile: Bronze and Beauty - Reading Evening Post

The business: Bronze and Beauty, 887 Oxford Road, Reading, RG30 6TR. Tel (0118) 945 4000., email

The boss: Sarah McVey: “I am originally from a sales environment, which I was involved in for the best part of 30 years. I gave up my job two years ago to care for my husband who had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.

"Sadly, he passed away last year. It was an absolutely life-changing moment and made me realise life is far too short so, when I was ready to return to work, I decided that I wanted a complete change.”

What is your business about? “The business is all about beauty and lifestyle, and making the customers feel good about themselves.”

What product/services do you offer? “At Bronze and Beauty we offer treatments ranging from tanning (spray tans as well as a tanning booth), manicures including nail extensions, pedicures, eyelash extensions, waxing for both women and men, facials, massages including Indian head massage, reflexology, ear piercing, body wraps and teeth whitening.”

How and when did you start your business? “The business was established in 2003 by Emily Shepherd. I bought the salon in January 2012 when Emily decided that she wanted to concentrate more on her family.

“Although I did not have prior experience in the beauty profession I had been a customer of Bronze and Beauty myself, and when chatting to Emily I realised what a great little business it was, and that the existing staff would be able to continue to manage the shop as well as teaching me along the way.”

How many staff do you employ? “I employ five staff.”

Who are your customers? “Bronze and Beauty has a wide range of female and male customers from the local area as well as further afield, including a few who appear on television, and it is therefore important for them to look their best.

“Some of our regular customers pop in as and when they feel the need for a quick tanning session without having to make an appointment.

“Others, like the busy mums, will make an appointment and set aside a few hours or so to have a complete pamper session and will take in a relaxing massage followed by a facial, manicure and pedicure.”

What sets you apart from the competition? “Because we are located just outside of the town centre, we are able to provide our customers with free on-site parking, so they do not have to worry about the high parking charges in the town centre. Also, Bronze and Beauty has been established for over nine years and prides itself on its strong loyal customer base.”

How has the recession affected business? “I have to say that although the first few months of the year were relatively quiet (which I put down to the usual post-Christmas lull), business has since picked up and our appointments diary is steadily getting fuller.

“Before knowing that I had taken over at Bronze and Beauty, a friend of mine who had driven past the salon and noticed that it had been redecorated said to me: ‘What idiot would open a beauty salon in a recession?’ However, women and men will always want to look good and feel good about themselves, even if that means just a few minutes in the tanning booth or a beauty treatment.”

How do you feel about the future? “I feel positive about the future. I have great staff, some of whom have remained at Bronze and Beauty since my takeover, and some I have employed since I took over. They are keen to continue to attend training courses to learn new techniques and treatments and I am hoping that, in the not too distant future, Bronze and Beauty will be able to offer new products and treatments as they become available.”

Accusations that climate science is controlled by money are mistaken -

Ars Technica

One of the unfortunate memes that has made repeated appearances in the climate debate is that money isn't just influencing the public debate about science, but it's also influencing the science itself. The government, the argument goes, is paying scientists specifically to demonstrate that carbon dioxide is the major culprit in recent climate change, and the money available to do so is exploding.

Although the argument displays a profound misunderstanding of how science and science funding work, it's just not going away. Just this week, one of the sites where people congregate to criticise mainstream climate science once again repeated it, with the graph accompanying this story. That graph originated in a 2009 report from a think tank called the Science & Public Policy Institute (notable for using the serially confused Christopher Monckton as a policy advisor).

The report, called " Climate Money: The climate industry: $79 billion (£50.4 billion) so far -- trillions to come" (PDF) and prepared by Australian journalist Joanne Nova for the Science & Public Policy Institute, claims to show how money has distorted climate science. There are several aspects to this argument, but we'll start with the money itself.

Who's got the money?
Many discussions have focused on the fact that businesses with a large carbon output (like fossil fuels extractors) have funded PR and lobbying efforts that, in part, have attempted to undercut the scientific case for human-driven climate change. It notes that there is now significant money being made by companies that build carbon-neutral energy sources and energy efficient technology, some coming from tax incentives and subsidies. In addition, carbon-trading markets are predicted to grow rapidly over the coming decades. Combined, the report asserts, this money provides an incentive to keep the spotlight focused on carbon.

In short, some of the green industries are now in the same position as their fossil fuel counterparts, in that they have an incentive to shape policy and the public support for it. There's a definite element of truth to this, although there are clearly reasons other than climate change -- ocean acidification, energy security, extending the lifetime of finite resources -- for promoting efficiency and green energy.

But the key thing here is that, at best, these companies can influence things like public perception and policy responses. They don't influence the underlying science because almost none of them are paying any scientists to gather data. So, although a focus on the income of various companies might tell us something about public opinion, it doesn't really say much about the science.

The false assertion that money is distorting the science comes, in part, from a spectacular misreading of the graph that accompanies this article.

The graph ostensibly shows how the US has gone from essentially funding nothing in the way of climate research to spending over $7 billion (£4.47 billion) a year. But the vast majority of that money is in the form of "Climate Technology," and a careful reading of the report indicates that this goes to things like wind and solar power, biofuel production, and things of that nature. None of that money goes to the researchers who are actually generating the results that point to anthropogenic warming, so it can't possibly provide an incentive to them.

The money that is actually going to climate science is on the bottom of the graph, in purple. And, as that shows, funding has been essentially flat since the early 1990s. (Funding has gone up slightly in recent years, but is still in the neighbourhood of $2 billion (£1.2billion) annually.) A lot of that money doesn't actually go to scientists, either, as it pays to support everything from some of NASA's Earth-monitoring satellites to land and ocean temperature monitoring.

The other issue with this graph is that it gives the false impression that funding shot up from nowhere around 1990. The truth of the matter is that the US has been funding climate science for decades. It's why we have things like a record of CO2 levels that goes back to the 1950s, temperature records that span over a century, and a detailed history of periods like the ice ages. People didn't just suddenly start studying this stuff in 1990 -- and much of the work from before that date was funded by the government. What changed was the accounting. There are over a dozen different branches of the government that fund some sort of science, but it wasn't until 1990 that the government formed the Climate Change Science Program, which started aggregating the expenditures across agencies.

There has never been any sudden boom in government funding for climate research that is luring people onto the research track, much less inducing them to support the consensus view. If anything, many years of flat funding would provide an incentive for people to look to getting out of the field. The graph, held up as evidence that climate scientists are being led around by money, actually shows the exact opposite.

Where's that money going?
But maybe that money is somehow being directed in a biased manner, distributed in a way that ensures the current consensus is supported. "Where is the Department of Solar Influence or the Institute of Natural Climate Change?" Nova asks, elsewhere claiming, "Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite."

This displays an almost incomprehensible misunderstanding of how science research works. Thereare institutes that are dedicated to studying the Sun -- the Naval Research Laboratory has one, as does NASA. But those institutes are focused on learning about what the Sun actually does, not squeezing what we learn into some preconceived agenda. For decades, solar activity has been trending downwards, even as temperatures have continued to rise. It's not that the researchers are being induced or compelled to some sort of biased interpretation of the data. Reality just happens to have a bias.

The same thing works in other areas as well. A number of countries have spent large sums of research dollars to put Earth-monitoring satellites in orbit, not with the intent of finding anything in particular, but because monitoring the Earth can tell us important things. This hardware has imaged the Greenland ice sheet -- again, not because of some sort of bias, but because the sheet is very big and very significant. Most of these studies have suggested that ice loss is accelerating, but a recent one concluded, "sea level rise from Greenland may fall well below proposed upper bounds."

The researchers weren't from some sort of "Institute to discover a stable sea level." They were from departments focused on polar research and Earth sciences. What Nova doesn't seem to get is that the people who study the planet actually pay attention to what the planet tells them, not to what their institute may be titled.

(Incidentally, this paper is also a clear indication that research that indicates things aren't as bad as they could be not only gets published, but makes it into very prestigious journals.)

Like many other self-proclaimed skeptics, Nova also has the bizarre idea that research normally proceeds by "auditing" existing studies. "Auditing AGW research," she writes "is so underfunded that for the most part it is left to unpaid bloggers who collect donations from concerned citizens online." But nobody audits the JPL to see if it's handling the Cassini probe properly; geneticists aren't being asked to open their books so that other scientists can see if they're fudging the numbers.

Science simply doesn't proceed through audits. The Greenland paper linked above provides a much more typical picture of how things work. The researchers behind it didn't simply reanalyse what others had done; they got new (and, in many ways, better) data that addressed the same issue and provided a more comprehensive picture of what was going on at the ice sheet's glaciers.

In short, you generally don't make an impression on science by auditing past data; you do it by coming up with better data.

It's pretty strange that people find in the graph (which shows research stuck in neutral for decades) evidence of a flood of money into climate science that distorts its conclusions. But it's unfortunately typical that an argument focused on climate science leaves the facts behind from the start.

Source: Ars Technica

Small Business Owners Most Interested in Being Understood - Yahoo Finance


Most small business owners want to work with other small business owners who best understand their complex needs, according to a survey recently conducted by The UPS Store ®franchise network in recognition of National Small Business Week.

Almost 75 percent of survey respondents say it is important to have support from a business resource who understands their issues because they, too, are a small business owner. Yet, only 52 percent of small business owners currently work with such a resource.

“Every small business owner faces his or her own unique set of daily challenges,” said Stuart Mathis, president of The UPS Store franchise network. “Our network is made up of franchisees who serve as a local resource for small business owners across the country.”

The UPS Store survey also revealed that while nearly half (46%) of small business owners would like to work with a local resource who can help make their lives easier, no more than one in four respondents receive any kind of support from a business partner in running their business.

Additionally, despite the rise of digital advertising and social media, direct mail is still a key marketing strategy for 31 percent of small business owners. Interestingly, larger small businesses rely on direct mail more frequently than others; the more revenue and employees a business has, the more likely they are to use direct mail.

The UPS Store offers small business owners a unique blend of scale and intimacy,” said Mathis. “Our network reaches into nearly every corner of the country, but every one of our centers operates like a small business, because it is.”

In addition to professional printing services, The UPS Store franchise network offers a variety of services to help with the logistics of running a small business including, mailboxes with a real street address, packing and shipping services, direct mail and notary services.

To find your neighborhood The UPS Store location, please visit, or on-the-go customers can visit

With more than 4,300 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. ® network comprises the world’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, postal, printing and business service centers. In the U.S., The UPS Store locations are independently owned and operated by licensed franchisees of Mail Boxes Etc., Inc., a subsidiary of UPS (NYSE:UPS - News). In Canada, locations are independently owned and operated by licensed franchisees of master licensee MBEC Communications, L.P. Services, pricing and hours of operation may vary by location. For additional information on The UPS Store, including information on franchise opportunities for opening a The UPS Store location, visit

Survey Methodology

The results of the survey from The UPS Store franchise network are based on an online survey of attitudes and habits of small businesses. The study was conducted among 523 small business owners and key decision makers between March 5 and 7, 2012. The sample was drawn from ResearchNow’s online small business panel.

The UPS Store
Becca Andrews Hogan, 858-455-8982

Diablo 3's real-money auction house delayed again - CVG Online

The launch of Diablo 3's real-money auction house has been delayed again.

Diablo 3 Screenshot
It was initially expected to launch on May 22, then May 29, but will now miss this month entirely.

"In light of the post-launch obstacles we've encountered, we have made the decision to move the launch of the real-money auction house beyond the previously estimated May time frame," Blizzard said on the Diablo forums.

"As we mentioned in our original announcement, our goal has always been to ensure everyone has the smoothest experience possible when the real-money auction house launches, and we need a bit more time to iron out the existing general stability and gameplay issues before that feature goes live.

"While we don't have a new launch date to share just yet, we'll have more information soon."

Blizzard also issued a lengthy statement addressing a number of post-launch issues players have encountered with Diablo 3, most notably the hacking of user accounts.

Earlier this week Activision Blizzard announced that Diablo 3 had become the fastest-selling PC game ever after shifting 3.5 million copies in its first 24 hours of availability.

If you haven't already, why not check out our Diablo 3 review and our Diablo 3 guide, which features 30 essential tips and tricks every dungeon crawler should know.

Small Business Strategies: Slow summer can be opportunity - USA Today

Some small businesses, especially those in the travel or hospitality industries, will be having their busy season.

For the rest of us, summer can mean the doldrums: Fewer customers. Prospects out on vacation. Lower income. And a house full of kids and visitors to top it all off.

What's a small-business owner to do?

You could sit by a pool and drown your sorrows in a margarita. (I'll take mine on the rocks with salt, thank you very much.) But if you can't afford that, I've got six steps to help grow a more successful small business this summer.

1. Make a splash on social media. You've been meaning to learn how to use one of the many social-media sites — such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter — for your business, but you've just been too busy.

Use these slower summer months to spend some time figuring out which ones are right for you. Be sure to check out some of the many tools that make ongoing management of your social media activities easier and faster, such as HootSuite or Roost.

2. Network like crazy. All those backyard barbecues, softball games, and pool parties you get invited to are potential networking events, especially when they involve more than immediate family and friends.

If you're not getting many invitations, check out what's going on in your community. Try going to a Meetup group, Chamber of Commerce mixers, even neighborhood chili cook-off. Be sure to bring your business cards, mingle, and have a good elevator pitch ready so people you meet can easily remember what you do.

3. Update — or launch — your website. If you're like me, your website is outdated, but you haven't had the time to freshen it up.

Perhaps you don't have a website at all.

Summer is a good time to give your website a facelift. It doesn't have to be extensive, but make sure you have all the newest — and correct — information. Perhaps you want to add some e-commerce functionality, so customers can buy directly from you. And check to see that it looks good on mobile devices, too.

4. Turn those business cards into gold. I know you've got a stack of business cards from people you've met, but they're not doing you any good lying around your desk.

Yes, I know they take time to enter into a database. But, hey, it's summer. It's the perfect opportunity to get all these contacts into something like Salesforce or PipelineDeals. At least enter their contact info into your digital address book in Microsoft Outlook or Gmail.

If you have a ton of cards, like I do, you might want to buy a digital business card reader. They work fairly well now.

5. Start a simple e-mail newsletter. I'm a huge fan; I've got a monthly newsletter of my own with business tips.

They're easy to create and manage, and they keep your name as well as any specials or news in front of prospects and customers. Once you have names in a database or Microsoft Excel file, it's easy to import them into a simple newsletter program.

Or you can just enter the info into the e-mail newsletter service.

We use Emma, but other options include include Constant Contact; Vertical Response; and a free or inexpensive one that many small-business owners use, such as Mail Chimp. If you're very ambitious, you could even write 12 newsletters in summer and have monthly newsletters ready for the whole year.

6. Tackle a project. We all have a wish list of projects we would like to take care of someday.

You may have some new products or services in mind to develop, a new marketing campaign, organizing inventory, or cleaning out a back room to turn into an office.

Summer is a good time to take care of at least one of these. You'll feel a real sense of accomplishment if you do.

Of course, summer is also a good time for recharging your batteries. So maybe sitting by the pool with a margarita isn't such a bad idea.

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her most recent book is The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies. Register for Rhonda's free newsletter at See an index of Abrams' columns here. Twitter: @RhondaAbrams. Facebook: Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2012.

Business Bancshares makes partial TARP repayment - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Business Bancshares made a partial repayment of TARP this week, thanks to steadily improving earnings and assets.

The $6 million payment, made on May 23, is 40 percent of the Treasury's $15 million investment through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Treasury's infusion of capital was made in 2009.  

Business Bancshares is the holding company for the Business Bank of St. Louis, which operates a single branch in Clayton.

“The partial repayment of TARP funds reflects the continued improvement in earnings and asset quality for the organization,” the bank's chairman, Charles Thal, said in a statement.

Business Bancshares announced its partial TARP repayment the same day it reported first quarter earnings. The bank holding company reported a $485,000 profit for the first quarter that ended March 31, up from a $469,000 profit in the first quarter of 2011.

The bank's nonperforming assets as a percentage of its total assets declined to 3.38 percent in the first quarter, compared to 3.42 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

“Earnings and asset quality trends continued to improve during the first quarter of 2012,” Larry Kirby, CEO and president of Business Bancshares and the Business Bank of St. Louis, said in the statement.

New business models in attaining sustainable resiliency in Silicon Valley - Examiner

A consortium of companies, government agencies, research and academia, as well as other not-for-profit organizations,gathered at the 2012 WEST Summit yesterday. WEST stands for Water, Energy, and Smart Technology. The third annual summit, organized by Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) and hosted by Santa Clara University, sent  out a clear message: a sustainable future is the only way for us and the next generations. To be a viable business in the future, enterprises need to take action today and not live in the past. 

Through collaboration, innovation, sharing of knowledge and lessons, along with bringing solutions from Silicon Valleys' entrepreneurs and companies to solve problems - the region can develop resiliency. Furthermore, local impact 'can go global' and cascade to other areas around the world.

 SSV has the most forward-thinking leaders in the valley. The organization engages business, government, academia, NGOs, and private citizens in support of a sustainable future, vibrant economy and social responsible communities. 

For the past few years we have grappled with different definitions of sustainability. The concept of sustainable planet includes economy, society, and environment, however these do not carry equal weights. SSV encourages us to rethink the concept from a different point of view: business exists within society, which is highly dependent on the environment. Markets exist with a framework of legislation and the social structure for finance, education, culture, and politics. The environment provides people with resources for survival. When society supports an economy that adheres to conditions and rules that promote responsible use of the environment - we can achieve sustainability. This approach looks beyond achieving cost savings through efficiency, but shifts to rethinking along the lines of systematic values. While typically business leaders and elected officials operate in timeframes that are much shorter than the existence and management of a system, recognizing a 'System of Systems' strategy may lead to thinking 'bigger' when we address energy and water infrastructures, as well as materials and natural resources.

To read more about SSV's 'System of Systems' and more click here

How to move forward in becoming resilient in Silicon Valley in a volatile economy?

To get a broad view of what actions businesses already take and what needs to be done, speakers represented a wide spectrum of enterprises, from a startup in Marine County (Fibershed) to a global corporate player (IBM Corporation).

Moderated by Ray Martin, Vice President of Technology at Daeson USA, panelists talked about innovation and their businesses' solutions toward becoming more sustainable.

·      Andrew Clark, Director of Corporate Strategy, Venture Capital Group, IBM Corporation

·      Brian Schmidt, District Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District

·      Diana Pereira, Specialty Solid Waste & Recycling

·      Emily Hanson, GreenWaste Recovery

·      Rebecca Burgess, Fibershed Project

·      Iris Harrell, Founder and CEO, Harrell Remodeling.

With today's technology advances, experts optimistically estimate that in one hundred years the American economy will be based on renewable energy. To maintain regional resiliency, we need to build a robust cradle-to-cradle economy. How do we do this in an unpredictable economic future?

One of SSV's programs is EcoCloud, an innovative platform for collaboration for sustainability. Launched in 2010, the platform encourages the exchange of ideas, learning, and discussions on sustainable business practices, in an effort to create a cradle-to-cradle economy in Silicon Valley. The platform addresses several dimensions including water, energy efficiency, product design, transportation, and dematerialization. See more information about EcoCloud below.

Cradle-To-Cradle also means local job creation, local manufacturing, and the view that we need to be more self-reliant. The concept is vertical integration: becoming self sufficient entities. For example, GreenWaste Recovery recycles, recovers and retrieves resources from garbage, not just paper, plastic, and aluminum - the typical recyclable materials. Composting, extracting energy from waste, and more, are operations GreenWaste employs through several of their 'Green' companies. Specialty Solid Waste & Recycling, a smaller scale business that works in Sunnyvale, CA, also handles a spectrum of recycling activities.

Climate change is presenting challenges to our water resiliency as well. Water resources and contamination were the focus of Fibershed. Fifty-two percent of garments are made in China and require dyes which are mainly fossil fuel-based and synthetic. In the process of manufacturing and fiber dyeing textiles, million of gallons of fresh water are used, leading to contamination of drinking water. In fact, the textile industry is the number one polluter of fresh water resources, coupled with a disturbing carbon footprint. 

The Fibershed Project came with alternative dyes that are sustainable and promote health and regenerative processes of the ecosystem. In addition, fiber and garments are produced here and not overseas, reducing shipping and transport costs, as well as CO2. In Fibershed, no new concept was introduced; no innovation was required, the business has utilized existing sources and processes, such as materials, fibers and dyes. Using already available technology and a lot of conviction and enthusiasm, Fibershed-type operations, although small-scale, have flourished all over the world.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is working on addressing the issues of providing clean water to every resident, when you need it, and while maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Our area is semi arid with minimal rain. Salt water invasion is also a threat. At the same time, population rates are estimated to grow dramatically, including in Silicon Valley.

In planning to mitigate climate change, the Water District has several programs: quantitive analysis, flood control, modeling of changing snow-line, personal and business consumption, protecting and restoring natural habitats, salt water invasion. Additional regulation is needed and can be accomplished through collaboration of communities, government and businesses.

IBM's Smarter Planet is essentially about partnerships and collaboration. To address and implement local problems, we need a larger effort. Facing the future with many challenges such as dwindling budgets, disintegrating city infrastructure,urban transportation issues, crime and safety,  and population growth - residents are putting increasing demands to innovate and address sustainability. At the same time, leaders and elected officials understand we need to progress with solutions for growing urban living.

Focusing on cities, we need to not just fix apparent issues, but also anticipate future problems. We need to have Smarter Cities. Being proactive and applying forward thinking is important to become resilient in our lifetime and the future. IBM has been building and coordinating a global effort to collect massive amounts of data from various resources, groups, and entities with best practices for cities to learn from each others' programs, successes and also failures.

For example, to monitor the water pressure in a city water infrastructure, IBM placed sensors at various spots in the pipe system to gather more information, detect leaks, optimize maintenance and repair work, improve delivery processes, and more, and enabled a better water management systems.

Harrell Remodeling introduced the concept of 'Forever homes' and Universal Design. Homeowners benefit from green design, which means lower energy cost, better air quality, low maintenance costs, and also sustainable timeless universal design. The concept of the 'forever home'  is that you don't have to change or remodel again and again since design is becomes outdated or doesn't function well. 

The idea is to build safe, live-able, sustainable structures with timeless design, that is not tied to temporary fashionable traits. For example, construct a shower-stall that can adapt to tall people, children, and people in a wheelchair. Design a bathroom counter that can adjust to various height and therefore is highly functional and comfortable to all people.

Resiliency boils down to collaboration, finding creative solutions, looking at the big picture and bigger time line, and thinking outside the box.


Showcase Launch Event (By Invitation): showcase of sustainable solutions at NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View. 

When: August 23, 2012; 5:30 - 8:00 PM.

Where: NASA Ames, Sustainability Base in Mountain View.

Contact SSV:;

Tel.: 650-318-3638 X 100



1. EcoCloud:

2. IBM's Smarter Planet:

    Santa Clara Valley Water District:

    GreenWaste Recovery:

    Fibershed Project:

    Harrell Remodeling:

Money market fund assets rose to $2.569 trillion - Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) -- Total U.S. money market mutual fund assets rose by $1.19 billion to $2.569 trillion for the week that ended Wednesday, the Investment Company Institute said Thursday.

Assets of the nation's retail money market mutual funds fell $1.26 billion to $889.51 billion, the Washington-based mutual fund trade group said. Assets of taxable money market funds in the retail category fell $820 million to $702.41 billion. Tax-exempt retail fund assets fell $450 million to $187.10 billion.

Meanwhile, assets of institutional money market funds rose $2.45 billion to $1.679 trillion. Among institutional funds, taxable money market fund assets rose $3.43 billion to $1.592 trillion; assets of tax-exempt funds fell $980 million to $87.06 billion.

The seven-day average yield on money market mutual funds was 0.03 percent in the week that ended Tuesday, unchanged from the previous week, said Money Fund Report, a service of iMoneyNet Inc. in Westborough, Mass.

The 30-day average yield was also unchanged from last week at 0.03 percent. The seven-day compounded yield was flat at 0.03 percent. The 30-day compounded yield was unchanged at 0.03 percent, Money Fund Report said.

The average maturity of portfolios held by money market mutual funds was unchanged from the previous week at 45 days.

The online service said its survey of 100 leading commercial banks, savings and loan associations and savings banks in the nation's 10 largest markets showed the annual percentage yield available on money market accounts was unchanged from last week at 0.13 percent.

The North Palm Beach, Fla.-based unit of Bankrate Inc. said the annual percentage yield available on interest-bearing checking accounts was unchanged from the week before at 0.06 percent. said the annual percentage yield on six-month certificates of deposit was unchanged from the previous week at 0.22 percent. The yield on one-year CDs was also unchanged at 0.33 percent. It was flat at 0.53 percent on two-and-a-half-year CDs and held steady at 1.13 percent on five-year CDs.

Money and morality - New Statesman

All money tends to corrupt, and absolute money corrupts absolutely.  This is an ancient message.  You can find it in the Bible ("the love of money is the root of all evil"), in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers and Renaissance moralists, and more recently in the Occupy movement that set up camp last year outside St Paul's Cathedral.  This Wednesday, the cathedral was packed for a rather more sedate explanation of the same ideas featuring the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel.

Sandel, currently plugging his new book What Money Can't Buy, has been difficult to avoid in recent days.  His central thesis is twofold.  Firstly, when you put a price on something you alter its intrinsic properties, and this can be morally corrosive.  Secondly, the past few decades have seen a market economy replaced by a "market society" in which "everything is up for sale".  Markets, he says, "are not neutral instruments, they crowd out values worth caring about" - values like altruism, human dignity and the common good.  As a result we have seen a great hollowing-out of communality and public political discourse.

He asks such questions as: is it right to create a market in blood, rather than rely on altruistic donors?  Should unhealthy people be given financial incentives to adopt healthier lifestyles?  Should school pupils be "bribed" to read books or achieve higher marks?  To all these questions Wednesday's audience answered an emphatic "no", which suggests that Sandel is, at least in terms of public opinion, pushing at an open door.  

This may explain the tremendous popularity he now enjoys.  (The Guardian described him the other day as "currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English" and suggested that his latest book "should be the bedside companion of every Miliband aide".)  The free market "experiment" of the past few decades has led to rising inequality and an economic disaster, the only beneficiaries of which would seem to be a handful of already wealthy bankers.  We should not be surprised if Sandel's deeply traditional complaints about the corrosive effect of money on the human soul find a ready echo, especially when voiced in a cathedral whose history and location give it a somewhat ambiguous relationship with wealth.

The idea that money has destroyed all vestige of civic virtue was hackneyed already in Roman times.  For all Sandel's current vogue on the progressive Left, his message is inherently a conservative one, in that it implicitly looks back to a Golden Age before money ruined everything.  Another way of saying this is that there's nothing new about the "market society".

One of Sandel's examples relates to privately-run prisons in California in which convicts with sufficient means can upgrade to a better cell.  This was standard practice in 18th century London.  Also popular in the 18th century was the "tontine", a form of gambling in which a group of people pooled their resources and the last one left alive collected the jackpot: not too dissimilar, in essence, from the market in third-party life insurance that Sandel criticises today.

But then to talk about the 18th century is to realise just how much more thoroughgoing the marketisation of society used to be.  From the horrors of the slave-trade and the near-slavery of indentured labour, to the open purchase of Parliamentary seats through "rotten boroughs", almost everything was up for sale.  Commissions in the British army and civil service appointments were bought, rather than given on merit, well into the 19th century.  What we think of as basic public services such as policing and the upkeep of roads were wholly private or at best put out to tender. And it's unlikely to be a coincidence that prostitution in the 18th century was vastly more extensive and exploitative than anything seen today.  

The present-day "market society", for all its deficiencies, is a pale shadow of the ruthless and money-driven world of two or three centuries ago.  Sandel is squeamish about students hiring out their foreheads to advertisers or paying homeless people to stand all day in queues so that a richer and busier person can get into Congressional hearings.  There used to be an actual trade in human beings.  Things aren't likely to get that bad again, however badly things go in Greece.

At least when something has a price it shows that someone puts a value on it.  Not charging for goods or services can lead to problems of a different order.   The BBC's Stephanie Flanders, taking part in the debate at St Paul's, pointed out that in the age of the internet, many goods and services which would in the past have been paid for are available for free.  The thought struck me that perhaps not charging for a service, or expecting things to be free, can be at least as morally corrupting of basic goods as Sandel believes money is.  

If people expect to, and can, receive their news and entertainment for free, why should they pay for it?  And how can the producers make an honest living?  The Bank of England's Andrew Bailey contends that free banking distorts the market, is less transparent and leads to poorer service to consumers. It is at least an arguable case.  And as regards to "free" internet services like Google and Facebook, it has well been said that the non-paying users are not the customers, but are themselves the product.

Is money the source of the problems Sandel identifies, or rather a convenient scapegoat for human beings who can't bear too much reality?  You can't buy a friend, he points out, because if you know you've paid someone to be nice to you it ceases to be a "real" friendship.  Has he never noticed that rich people tend to have more "friends" than poor ones?  Sandel also raised the example of a professionally written wedding speech.  Would the bride and groom feel quite the same way, he wondered, if they knew that the best man had spent $150 dollars on buying a speech rather than investing his heart and soul by writing it personally?  Perhaps not, but it's not obvious to me why the payment of money in itself is corrupting.  

The problem, surely - if there is a problem - is that the speech is not the best man's own; not that he has paid for it.  I rather doubt that the newlyweds would be happier to learn that the best man had found the speech on a website and simply downloaded it for free.

Morning business round-up: Spain's Bankia shares suspended - BBC News

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

The main event in Europe on Friday was the news that trading in shares in Spanish bank Bankia was suspended in Madrid.

It asked for them to be suspended ahead of a board meeting later on Friday to reformulate its accounts for 2011 and submit a plan to shore up its finances.

The bank is reported to be due to ask the government for a bailout of more than 15bn euros ($19bn; £12bn).

Bankia, which is Spain's fourth-largest bank, was part-nationalised two weeks ago because of its problems with bad property debt.

In China, the telecoms equipment maker Huawei filed a competition complaint against US firm InterDigital with European Union regulators.

Huawei accuses InterDigital of "abusing" its position and demanding "exploitative" fees to use its patented technology, said to be essential to 3G in mobile devices.

It added that such moves were against the EU rules which require holders to licence their patents fairly.

InterDigital said it was "committed" to those rules.

International banking giant HSBC will be the latest UK firm to face a shareholder vote on executive pay later, amid growing concern about high rewards for bosses not reflecting company performance.

The bank is holding its annual general meeting (AGM) at which shareholders get to express their views about how the company is being run.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver is in line for a pay package worth £7.2m.

But shareholder advisory body, Pirc, is advising shareholders to vote no.

Business headlines

In economic news, Thailand reported a surprise fall in its exports for April because of falling demand from key markets such as Europe and the US.

Shipments fell 3.7% from a year earlier. Many analysts had forecast an increase of more than 3%.

The data comes just days after the World Bank warned that the eurozone debt crisis was a threat to export-dependent economies in Asia.

Analysts said exports could come under further pressure in the near future.

And in Japan consumer prices rose in April, spurred by rising fuel costs, but growth remained below the central bank's target, official data has shown.

Prices rose by 0.2% from a year earlier, as fuel and energy costs jumped 4.7%.

Energy costs in Japan have risen after it shut all of its nuclear reactors in wake of last year's quake and tsunami.

However, prices excluding those of fuel and food fell, indicating that deflation remains a problem.

The latest Business Daily podcast is the second special programme from the Future in Review conference in Los Angeles. Lesley Curwen talks to the chief futurologist at Ford Motors and the actress Julia Ormond, and discusses whether robots could replace soldiers in combat.

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