Monday, July 25, 2011

Short takes: Gondon asks 'What killed Quicken?', while Elizabeth Drew asks 'What were they thinking?'

With so much news breaking – Oslo, debt ceiling, Pirates in first place – there was bound to be good stories to read in the media. Here are a few that might interest you to save in Instapaper:

Gordon's Notes: What killed Intuit's Quicken?

John Gordon writes about the demise of Quicken and comes up with a few good answers but ultimately blames the decline of the middle class.

Quicken is not an interesting product for people with millions of dollars to manage. They will largely use professional money managers. Quicken is not an interesting product for people with very limited savings and investments, particularly if the investments are largely concentrated in 401K accounts. The natural market for Quicken was individuals and families with significant financial complexity but not wealth.

Over the past fifteen years that market went away.

I think Gordon is absolutely right about this. But I also think that the same phenomenon can be blamed for at least part of the loss of newspaper subscribers – notice that I used "subscribers" versus "readers". While newspaper circulation continues to fall, those used to their morning paper are not abandoning the news, they are abandoning the newspaper subscription bill.

If newspapers want to survive they better make sure their demographic does not disappear.

Elizabeth Drew: What were they thinking?

Writing on The New York Review of Books, Drew about debt ceiling negotiations and asks the obvious question about the Obama administration's negotiating tactics.

In early July, when Obama suddenly injected Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid into the deficit and debt negotiations, many, perhaps most, Democrats were dismayed. They believed that the President was offering up the poor and the needy as a negotiating gambit. (His position was that if the Republicans would give on taxes, he’d give on entitlements.) A bewildered Pelosi said after that meeting, “He calls this a Grand Bargain?”

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Letting Murduch in through the back door.

Also in The New York Review of Books, Wheatcroft looks at the phone hacking scandal and provides a good summary of events in the case so far, concentrating on the relationship between the Murdoch press and politicians.

On election day in 1992, the Sun surpassed itself with the front page headline, “If Neil Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain turn out the lights,” and once the Tories had been re-elected (and Kinnock had resigned as Labour leader) a Tory fundraiser said off the cuff that they really owed their victory to the tabloids. This remark produced the gloatingly boastful front page announcing: “It was the Sun wot won it.” It probably wasn’t, but Blair was persuaded that it was.