Tag Archives: bbc

Trading up

Everyone has a skill they can share. That’s the theory behind the new OurGoods trade school in New York City, a space where artists and performers share each other’s abilities and help each other finish projects.

New Hampshire Public Radio reported on the project earlier this week, and the New York Times also picked it up.

OurGoods certainly isn’t the only trading system to spring up in the recession. A pub in England is allowing patrons to trade their skills for their drinks. The BBC reports:

Some drinkers have also volunteered to wash-up or decorate the pub.
Landlords Matthew Walsh and David Hurst said it was a way for independent pubs to compete with special offers at larger chain bars.

Of course, the barter system is hardly a new thing. In fact it’s the oldest thing on the books. NOVA’s History of Money program reported that bartering may even predate people:

Some would even argue that it’s not purely a human activity; plants and animals have been bartering—in symbiotic relationships—for millions of years.

Going back not quite THAT far, a 1998 PBS NewsHour piece on teachers in a remote area of Russia reminds us that when things are really bad, like in the early years following the fall of the Soviet Union, people tend to automatically switch to a trade-based system to get the things they need – even education.

The local government has started paying its wage arrears through barter. It now lets teachers go to local stores choose the products they need and deduct them from their salaries.

All this trading may seem like it’s under the table, but legally do you still owe taxes if you barter for something? The personal finance blog WalletPop says yes.

No money actually changes hands, so it’s almost as if the transaction didn’t happen, right? Not exactly. The fair market value of goods and services that you receive in exchange for goods or services you provide must be included as income on your tax return even though you don’t receive payment in a traditional way.

Think of barter just like cash: If it would be taxable if paid in cash, it’s taxable if paid in goods or services. If you receive value for goods or services that would normally be taxable to you personally but not as part of a trade or business (such as babysitting income), report it as “other income” on line 21 of your form 1040. If the exchange was part of your trade or business, report the transaction, including income and expenses, on a Schedule C on your form 1040.

The gold standard

Alexandre Bilodeaus Gold Medal/ Credit Flickr user: thelastminute

Alexandre Bilodeau's Gold Medal/ Credit Flickr user: thelastminute

All these medals floating around with the Olympics this week have me thinking, “What’s a gold medal really worth?” Turns out I’m not the only one with things that glitter on the brain.

The Wall Street Journal’s Brett Arends takes a look at whether all the Olympic medalists just should melt down their prizes and take them to the bank when they get home. Unfortunately, the athletes would be in for a surprise.

The deal: No, those gold medals aren’t solid gold. They’re actually silver, and then plated with 6 grams of gold.

The medals at the Vancouver games are worth a lot more–in purely bullion terms, at least–than medals handed out in the past few decades. That’s because they’re pretty big–and, more to the point, because gold and silver prices have been on a 10-year tear.

But there can be more at stake than just the medal for some athletes. A contest run by a sponsor of the Canadian Luge Team will award a $1M paycheck to the Canadian team – if they take home Olympic gold.

One person who is investing in real gold is billionaire philanthropist George Soros. He recently doubled his investment in gold, which analysts fear may not be a good sign for the economy overall.

The BBC spoke with a gold expert about Soros’ sudden change of heart.

Mark Heyhoe, senior mining analyst at Westhouse Securities, said: “He has previously said that gold is the ultimate hedge against inflation – if you think inflation’s going to rise, then I’m not surprised he bought into gold.”

For those of us with less than Ft. Knox in our accounts, NewsHour’s Paul Solman gives practical advice on how and when to invest in gold — it’s not for everyone. Nightly Business Report also investigates the right time for putting your money into metals and other alternative investments.

Putting stock in gold may have about as much chance of return as winning a gold medal, but it does have a similar sense of patriotism and nostalgia. To get your gold fix without breaking the bank, watch American Experience’s The Gold Rush and see where the ‘49ers got lucky.

Has the weak economy created opportunities for women?

From increased sales of steamy romance novels to booming health and fitness sectors, lines of work where women tend to dominate are taking the lead in the current economic climate.

The Weekly Standard’s Christopher Caldwell in Time Magazine this week goes so far to say that of the economic climate faster than men, in The Pink Recovery: Why Women are Doing Better. He notes that fewer women have been laid off than men overall, and that when the nation does recover, the workforce could look different as a result:

“What constitutes “women’s work” today? Well, health care, for one; 81% of the workers are female. According to the report Obama cited, 20,000 health-care jobs were gained in July, while 76,000 construction jobs and 52,000 manufacturing positions were lost.”

But are women seeing more opportunity in other areas as well? BusinessWeek recently reported that women may be nearing a majority in the workforce for the first time in history.

Success stories like this piece on a woman boss at a trucking company in the UK from PRI’s The World seem to indicate that despite job losses and a tough economic climate, women are seeing a chance to take the lead. This story uses Hillary Clinton’s recent tour through Africa as a jumping off point to discuss how the role of women has changed in recent years:

“Are women managers different than male ones, with a different approach to problems? It is said that women are more outcome-orientated while men confront. If that’s true, how should a woman leader behave in a traditionally male environment — like a trucking company?”

Forward-thinking companies are helping women get ahead by using technology to create a better work-life balance. Back in June, BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay, co-author of Womenomics, spoke with Tavis Smiley about how these ‘soft’ types of changes will help companies be more successful in the long run.