#FirstWorldProblems Tweets, as Read by Poverty-Stricken Hatians


Sometimes the grim reality of life in the First World is just so hard that you have to tweet about it.

“I hate when my house is so big that I need two wireless routers,” one brave Twitter user lamented.

The hashtag #FirstWorldProblems is one of the social media service’s most popular memes; up to five tweets per second are sent describing (it must be said, ironically) the trials and tribulations of life in the developed world.

(MORE: No More #RKOI? ‘Rich Kids of Instagram’ a Security Threat for Billionaires’ Families)

For global advertising firm DDB and WATERisLIFE, a nonprofit that aims to bring clean drinking water to impoverished countries, that sounded like a marketing opportunity.

A team from the two companies traveled to Haiti — the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with an average salary of $100 a year — to create an ad campaign in which Haitians respond…

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Americans win Nobel chemistry prize

This Just In

Two American scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work revealing protein receptors on the surface of cells that tell them what is going on in the human body. The achievements have allowed drug makers to develop medication with fewer side effects.

Over four decades of research by Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka on “G-protein-coupled receptors,” have increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals in the bloodstream, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize.

“I’m feeling very, very excited,” Lefkowitz said in a predawn phone call from the United States to the committee in Stockholm, Sweden. The announcement caught him by surprise.

“Did I even have any inkling that it was coming?” he said. “I’d have to say no.”

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Media Digest (10/10/2012) Reuters, WSJ, NYT, FT, Bloomberg

24/7 Wall St.

The BAE merger with EADS faces more trouble from nations and shareholders. (Reuters)

The International Monetary Fund points to the eurozone crisis as the most likely cause of a worldwide slowdown. (Reuters)

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee will continue to probe Huawei and ZTE over suspicious activity. (Reuters)

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) says his company will become more like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). (Reuters)

The United States sues Wells Fargo Co. (NYSE: WFC) for issuing government-backed mortgages that defaulted in large numbers. (WSJ)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) wants an exemption from Volcker rules about risky trading. (WSJ)

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) recalls 7.34 million cars worldwide. (WSJ)

Angela Merkel says she believes Greece can right its finances and remain in the eurozone. (WSJ)

The IMF says Spain and France will not hit budget targets…

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IMF Worries About Europe

24/7 Wall St.

Like nearly every other organization, economist and investor, the International Monetary Fund voiced concern about Europe in its new analysis. According to its Global Financial Stability Report:

Risks to global financial stability have increased and financial markets have been volatile as European policymakers grapple with the ongoing crisis.

The organization did not offer much in the way of helpful solutions, but it did frame the problem better than it has been done in the past.

Faltering market confidence has led to capital flight from countries on the ‘periphery’ to the core of the euro area. This has meant higher borrowing costs and a growing wedge between the economic and financial ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Capital markets investors and bankers have known about these problems for some time, but the IMF has upped the ante with a public statement from a major organization about the extent of the problem and its immediate…

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Yum! Brands and the U.S.-China Earnings Balance

24/7 Wall St.

Based on its latest earnings, Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) did well in the United States and China, its big growth markets. Or, China is a problem because growth has slowed there. The Yum! Brands results provide another example of why Wall St. has such difficulty dissecting how much China, the U.S. or Europe will or will not hurt corporate earnings.

Yum! Brands issues what may be the most unnecessarily complex financial statements of any large company in America. Buried in the data were numbers that showed that U.S. sales were up 1% and China’s up 22%, but margins in China did not improve while operating profit in the region was up 24% to $374 million. Additionally:

China Division system sales increased 22%, prior to foreign currency translation. Same-store sales increased 6%, overlapping strong prior year same-store sales growth of 19%.

Maybe sales are good, or same-store sales are slowing, or…

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Toyota’s 7.43 Million Car Recall — No Harm, No Foul

24/7 Wall St.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) recalled 7.43 million vehicles worldwide today for what its said were power window switches that could cause fires. Toyota said that there had been none of these fires as far as it knows. Recalls in 2008 that included 5 million cars with floor mat problems and 2.2 million for accelerator problems probably were much worse. Toyota was slow in admitting the previous problems, which prompted Congress to haul CEO Akia Toyoda to Washington to explain the matter. Toyota’s sales prospects and quality reputation were hurt by, among other things, Toyoda’s poor showing.

The new 7.43 million recall could be seen as overly cautious by Toyota. But as it was burned in 2008, the car maker may have learned that it is better to handle potential mechanical problems as quickly as possible. The latest action involves cars and light trucks made between July 2005 and May 2010. Among these are the…

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What’s Important in the Financial World (10/10/2012)

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Ballmer and Microsoft’s Future

Much of the recent discussion about Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has centered around the cut in CEO Steve Ballmer’s bonus, which to some extent was due to ongoing losses in the company’s online operations. A bit less prominent in the news are Ballmer’s comments in the annual report of the world’s largest software company:

There’s a remarkable amount of opportunity ahead for Microsoft in both the next year and the next decade. As we enter this new era, there are several distinct areas of technology that we are focused on driving forward — all of which start to show up in the devices and services launching this year. Leading the industry in these areas over the long term will translate to sustained growth well into the future. These focus areas include:

  • Developing new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures…

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Wall St. Compensation Back in the Spotlight

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The office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released its annual report on the state of Wall St. The focus of the report, at least according to the press, was this information:

The average salary (including bonuses) paid to securities industry employees in New York City fell sharply in 2009, but rose by 16 percent in 2010 and by another 0.5 percent in 2011 to reach $362,950. This was a higher average than before the financial crisis and was the highest average among New York City’s major industries. The disparity between the average salary in the securities industry and the rest of New York City’s private sector narrowed slightly but it remains wide at 5.3 times greater than the rest of the private sector ($67,900).

The data will reopen the argument about why investment professionals should be compensated more than teachers, firemen, the police or, for that matter, any…

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Pizza Hut Wants You to Ask the Presidential Candidates about Their Favorite Pizza Toppings


Other than a cameo made by a certainSesame Street character, the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was refreshingly light on late-night comedy laugh lines and heavy on wonkish tax policy stances. But beware: the day after the next debate we might just be talking about pizza topping preferences.

That, at least, appears to be the hope of the marketing folks at Pizza Hut. In a Tuesday press release and video ad, the company announced that it’ll give a lifetime’s supply of pizza to any debate attendee willing to do thefollowing:

[Ask] either of the participants the age-old burning question – Sausage or Pepperoni? – during the live telecast town hall format presidential debate on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University.

If you go through with the stunt, as USA Todaynotes, you’ll actually just be getting a $520 Pizza Hut gift card every year for…

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Mortgage Applications Declined Slightly Last Week

24/7 Wall St.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications this morning, noting a drop of 1.2% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index compared with last week’s increase of 16.6%. Applications for refinancing fell 2% (seasonally adjusted), while seasonally adjusted purchase applications increased by 2% from the previous week. Unadjusted, the purchase index rose 3% compared with the previous week and rose 12% compared with the same week a year ago.

The refinancing rate fell slightly from last week’s record highs, but refinancings still accounted for 83% of total applications, flat with a week ago. About 96.1% of the applications were seeking fixed-rate loans.

The average contract interest rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose slightly from 3.53% to 3.56%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage also fell, from 3.82% to 3.74%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased from 2.90%…

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