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The Region’s Top 10 Air Polluters

Although the region’s air has improved dramatically from the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, southwestern Pennsylvania remains home to factories and power plants that release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data to track toxic chemicals released…

Inconspicuous and Dangerous

The heavy smoke is gone. But particulates 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and gases formed by the reaction of sunlight and fossil fuels exhaust remain as the region’s most widespread, stubborn and dangerous air quality problems.

A Shrinking Resource

by Julia Fraser
Not that long ago, the state Department of Education was a robust repository of expertise for 500 Pennsylvania school districts, offering curricular guidance ranging from math to art to best practices for improving school effectiveness and education outcomes. Those days, however, are largely gone as a new environment has taken…

Despite Lull, Pittsburgh Poised to Grow Faster

Greater Pittsburgh’s economy is in a precarious situation to start 2017. The seven-​county region’s unemployment rate rose sharply through the second half of 2015, nearing 6 percent — a level not seen since 2014 when the recovery was just gaining real momentum. Prior to the 2008-​09 recession, Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate mirrored national…

Is Everything That Didn’t Work Worthless? Part IV

We began this series of posts by examining the sorry state of value investing. We then moved on to making unfashionable arguments on behalf of hedge fund fees and performance. We’ll close the series by looking at the important role hedge funds — and, for that matter, value investing — play in the long-​term…

Is Everything That Didn’t Work Worthless? Part III

We’re talking about nobody’s favorite subject, hedge funds. Last week we dispensed with the ugly topic of hedge fund fees, and this week we’ll take a deep breath and tackle the even more noxious topic of hedge fund performance.

I Am Homeless

Back in 1988, I wrote a series about Pittsburgh’s homeless, based on my living on the streets for 14 days and nights, undercover, with long hair and a beard. I was 26, and the Pittsburgh Press series changed my journalistic trajectory, won national writing awards, and later became part of…

Is Everything That Didn’t Work Worthless? Part II

In my last post, we discussed the sorry state of value investing following seven years of rigged markets courtesy of our central bankers. In this post we’ll turn to another category of investing that sits right near the top of so many investors’ Sh*t Lists: hedge funds.

Is Everything That Didn’t Work Worthless?

For reasons best known to themselves and their (not very robust) consciences, America’s central bankers concluded that the best way to drag the US economy out of the Financial Crisis was to make rich people richer and poor people poorer. They therefore adopted policies — QE1, QE2, QE3 — that drove up the prices…

Pittsburgh’s Top Stories of 2016

Number five: Pittsburgh’s 200th Anniversary. Pittsburgh is getting younger. You read about it, hear about it and see it anytime you’re out on the “tahn.” Even the demographic data backs it up. If you still don’t believe it, consider this: This year, just eight years after the Pittsburgh 250 celebration,…

On Karoshi, Part III

As noted in my last several posts, Japanese salarymen worked long hours without overtime pay for a selfless reason: to pull their defeated country up by its bootstraps. And they succeeded wildly. By 1978 Japan had surpassed Germany to become the world’s second-​largest economy, a position it held until it…

On Karoshi, Part II

The word “karoshi” was invented in 1978 to describe an increasingly common phenomenon: Japanese workers, mostly the venerable salarymen, were dropping dead of heart disease in the prime of life. There was a reason it all happened in the 1970s. The shocking — to the Japanese — and humiliating loss in World War II

On Karoshi

“Karoshi” is a Japanese word that means, literally, “death by overwork.” For nearly half a century it’s been quite common for Japanese workers, usually the legendary “salarymen,” simply to drop dead, almost always from heart problems, after working long hours for many years. Other Asian cultures, especially, South Korea and…

The Illusion of Control, Part III

In my last post I pointed out that, contrary to the claims of Modern Portfolio Theory, families who own businesses aren’t at all uncomfortable with the “single stock risk” they are taking. (I’m not counting startup companies, which mostly fail.) I also pointed out that, once a family sells its…

The Illusion of Control, Part II

When I was writing my last book, Family Capital, my objective was to make it appealing — well, tolerable — for people who didn’t care much for investment issues but who knew they really should learn something about them. Adult children, for example. But also spouses, cousins, attorneys, accountants, bankers, trustees and others who…
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