COMMERCE

Investing in a Rigged Market

The asset management business as we know it today got started in the mid-​19th century. The impetus for investment management firms separate from banks arose out of the awkward fact that banks often fail, while asset management firms hardly ever do.

Will Someone Please Tell Me What This Bitcoin/​Blockchain Thing Is All About?

by Thomas L. Wentling Jr.
Everyone has heard of Bitcoin by now (by convention, it’s capitalized when used as a protocol and lower case when used as a unit of exchange, like a dollar), but very few understand the importance of the “blockchain” technology that underpins it. This article expresses no opinion one way or…

The Union Project

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.” –Studs Terkel

Petrochemical Alley

Shell Chemical Appalachia’s petrochemical complex has begun to rise from a dusty Beaver County brownfield that follows a slow bend in the Ohio River near Monaca. It took hefty tax incentives to secure it. The nation’s largest zinc smelter was razed to make room for it. More than 7 million…

Up in the Air, Part III

A decade ago, as Consol Energy’s 150th anniversary drew near, top executives began to take stock in where the company stood as a leading producer of coal and where that path would take it. Coal was in what CEO Nicholas DeIuliis called a “supercycle.” It was the workhorse of the…

A Question of Leadership

Pittsburgh Quarterly asked three local leaders: “What’s the toughest leadership dilemma you’ve ever faced; how did you handle it; and what did you learn from it?”

Drilling for Answers

Well pads, compressor stations, diesel truck traffic. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves many moving parts, some of which have the potential to vent pollutants into the air southwestern Pennsylvanians breathe.

Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part IV

Not that long ago — say, when my parents were starting out in married life — building a sound investment portfolio was a piece of cake. You bought some Blue Chip stocks and some Triple A bonds and you were done.

What Will the Shell Cracker Bring Along with It?

Orange plastic curtains protect passers-​by from blow torch-​wielding workers who are learning to weld in a new training facility for Steamfitters Local 449. The building on the border of Butler and Beaver counties represents an $18 million bet on a building boom that economists and government officials say the nearby…

Cash is King

Since the end of the Financial Crisis eight long years ago, a notion has settled across the land that “cash is trash.” This is the bunkmate of the “TINA” principle: There Is No Alternative to owning equities.

Three Simple Questions on the Markets, Part III

We asked a group of the region’s leading wealth managers to pen a response to three questions about the markets and how they approach current conditions. Here are their responses to the final question: If you had to put all your money in one asset class today and couldn’t sell…

Three Simple Questions on the Markets, Part II

We asked a group of the region’s leading wealth managers to pen a response to three questions about the markets and how they approach current conditions. Below are their answers to the second question: The Fed is working to “normalize” interest rates over the course of 2017. What impact will…

Three Simple Questions on the Markets, Part I

We asked a group of the region’s leading wealth managers to pen a response to three questions about the markets and how they approach current conditions. Here are their responses to the first question: Since the election of Donald Trump, stock markets have soared and the confidence of consumers and…

Up in the Air, Part II

At the Clairton Public Library in the industrial Monongahela River valley, patrons can check out “Moby Dick,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the adventures of Curious George and any number of Nancy Drew mysteries. They can read issues of Vogue and Popular Science. They can take home the music of Elton…

No Money Down

It’s 11 a.m. in Judge Jeffery Manning’s courtroom. The attorneys are ready. The Allegheny County Common Pleas Court president judge is on the bench. The video screen comes alive to reveal the business of the morning, a series of people in orange, jail-​issue jumpsuits: One young man with a retail…
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