$8.5 billion ain't what it used to be

  Back in June, it looked like Bank of America had a rare win on its hands: a proposed settlement with trustee Bank of New York to the tune of $8.5 billion, meant to restore the damage done by faulty mortgage-backed securities financed by BofA's Countrywide division. Come October, the settlement fell apart because investors (among many other vocal groups, too) didn't feel the figure was high enough. $8.5 billion, not enough money? Yikes. That's a scary indicator for banking in general, but also for BofA considering it is more than the institution made in the last four years combined. The collapsed deal is another low-point in a rough year for the bank and CEO Brian Moynihan. At least he axed those $5 debit card fees.



  2011年6月,美国银行(Bank of America)眼看就要取得一场罕见的胜利:它计划以大约85亿美元的资金,与受托人美国纽约银行(Bank of New York)达成和解,旨在挽回由美国银行子公司Countrywide提供资金的不良抵押证券所造成的损失。然而到10月份,因为投资人(以及其他众多意见团体)认为85亿美元不足以解决问题,导致和解最终破裂。难道85亿美元还不够多吗?没错!总的看来,85亿美元对银行业来说是一个惊人的数字,而考虑到85亿美元超过了美国银行过去四年盈利的总和,这一数字着实令人吃惊。美国银行和CEO布赖恩·莫伊尼汉2011年流年不利,而这次和解破裂则意味着又一低谷,但至少布赖恩还是做出了取消5美元借记卡费用的决定。

  The hottest CEOs are very, very young

  Facebook. Twitter. Groupon. Zynga. LinkedIn. Yelp. The list keeps growing, but the ages don't. Mark Zuckerberg (impending Facebook IPO: shooting for a $100 billion valuation), no longer a new name to anyone, is still only 27. Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon (which raised $700 million for its IPO), is 27 as well. Zynga, which went public in December, is helmed by Mark Pincus, who even at 45 is on the young side for what was, until recently, the prototypical American blue-chip company CEO. (Think Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, 82, ex-Ford CEO Alan Mulally, 66, or ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, 60.) Let's face it: the biggest, buzziest business news is continually coming from companies that are helmed by people who listened to Green Day in middle school.


  Facebook、Twitter、团购网站Groupon、社交游戏公司Zynga、商务社交网络LinkedIn和点评网站Yelp都是如今炙手可热的科技公司,而且这份名单还在不断扩容,但这些公司掌门人的年龄却没有呈现上升的趋势:马克·扎克伯克(Facebook即将进行首次公开募股:估值有望达到1,000亿美元)不再是个籍籍无名的名字,而他2011年只有27岁;Groupon的CEO安德鲁·梅森(首次公开募股筹资7亿美元)2011 年也是27岁;Zynga公司于2011年12月上市,马克·平卡斯是这家典型的美国蓝筹公司的CEO。虽然他已经45岁,仍然是较为年轻的CEO。【想想吧:美国保险公司伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司(Berkshire Hathaway)的沃伦·巴菲特已是82岁高龄、福特公司(Ford)前CEO艾伦·穆拉利已经66岁了,埃克森美孚公司(ExxonMobil)CEO雷克斯·蒂尔纳森也60岁了。】面对现实吧,如今商界的重磅新闻都是来源于这些新生力量,而他们的掌门人都是些听着绿日乐队(Green Day)的歌曲长大的年轻人。

  Hollywood knows it's coming

  Movies and film have gone gaga for the end-of-the-world trope. If this thing doesn't happen in 2012 as the Mayans predicted, the entertainment industry is going to be practically disappointed. The hottest movie and TV franchises -- think Twilight (oh, Edward!) -- feed our obsessions with death. 2011, with releases like Melancholia, Super 8, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was yet another big year for the apocalypse and alien invasion movie trend that has been building for five years. This includes I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, Cloverfield, War of the Worlds, Children of Men, The Book of Eli, The Road, and of course, 2012. On television, we're watching shows like Falling Skies (alien attack), The Walking Dead (zombies), True Blood (vampires), and The Vampire Diaries (self-explanatory). All we want to see is the end of the world. Even business flicks know it: this year's two biggest, Too Big to Fail and Margin Call, were also, in a sense, movies about the end of the (financial) world.


  世界末日的隐喻席卷了整个影视界。如果世界末日最终没有象玛雅人预测的那样发生如期而至,演艺界将会失望透顶。最热门的影视作品 ——如《暮光之城》(Twilight)——总是让我们想到死亡。随着《惊悚末日》(Melancholia)、《超级8》(Super 8)和《猩球崛起》(Rise of the Planet of the Apes)的上映,2011年是末日和外星人入侵题材的又一个丰收之年。此前的五年中,这种题材日趋火热,电影作品包括《我是传奇》(I am Legend)、《惊变28天》(28 Days Later)、《柯洛弗档案》(Cloverfield)、《世界大战》(War of the Worlds)、《末代浩劫》(Children of Men)、《艾利之书》(The Book of Eli)、《末日危险》(The Road),当然还包括《2012》(2012)。电视作品包括《陨落星辰》(Falling Skies)(外星人入侵)、《行尸走肉》(The walking dead)(僵尸)、《噬血真爱》(True Love)(吸血鬼)和《吸血鬼日记》(The Vampire Diaries)(一目了然)。不管我们想看什么,看到的所有东西都是世界末日。就连商业电影也有所涉猎:2011年的两部大片《大而不倒》(Too Big to Fail)和《利益风暴》(Margin Call)从某种角度来说也属于(商业)世界末日电影。

  Publishers know it too

  The biggest novel of the year, by many accounts, was Colson Whitehead's Zone One, published in October. The subject? A plague has wiped out most of humanity and much of the remaining people are zombies. It was Esquire's "Best Book of the Fall." The New York Observer called it a "brilliant allegory of New York City living." In other words, we're basically Zombies already. Oh, and one of this year's other hugely popular releases in the literary fiction world? Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers, which focuses on the lives of the people left after The Rapture takes place.


  从很多方面来看,2011年最热门的小说当属10月份出版的《第一区》(Zone One,科尔森·怀特海德著)。小说的主题是瘟疫夺去了大部分人的生命,幸存的人都变成了僵尸。它是《时尚先生》(Esquire)“秋季最畅销书”。《纽约观察家报》(The New York Observer)称它是“对纽约都市生活最精彩的隐喻”。言外之意是,我们已然沦为行尸走肉。另外,2011年文学小说最近流行的是哪一本?答案是汤姆 ·佩罗塔的《被遗弃的人》(The leftovers),描写了“被提灾难”(The Rapture,源自希腊文harpazo,被夺、被取及被提。因某种力量,以强迫方式将某人或某物夺走——译者注)中生还者的生活。

  Steve Jobs is gone

  It's the saddest sign of them all. The satirical paper The Onion summed it up best with its headline: "Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies."