Gloom & Doom Sells Well

Every few years, a few books forecast a dire future

There’s a whole gamut of financial and investment books out there. Many are designed to be simply sensational. For example, Dow 36,000, published during the dot-com euphoria, predicted that United States Dow Jones Index would touch 36,000 within a few years. The index has just crossed the milestone after 13 years. Ravi Batra had written a book called The Great Depression of 1990. Pete Peterson had great credentials as a financial and economic expert. In 1993, he wrote a book called Facing Up: How to Rescue the Economy from Crushing Debt and Restore the American Dream, which gave an extremely pessimistic forecast of the American economy. Both proved to be horribly wrong. The debt disappeared and the US had a period of strong prosperity.

The lesson is gloom and doom sells and people naturally gravitate to it. Books like these target our inherent insecurities. Larry Swedroe, a top investment expert (whose book The Quest for Alpha was reviewed in Moneylife), says, “What most people fail to recognize is that many authors aren’t really in the information business. Instead, they are in the fame business.” Many savers buy it, believe it, worry endlessly and, as a result, alter their financial plans which hurt their financial future. Swedroe advises: “Treat doom-and-gloom books just like the rest of the investment porn industry, and not let it affect their investment plans.”


COMPAT orders cement cos to pay 10% of the Rs6,307 crore penalty

Passing an interim order, a COMPAT bench asked 11 cement producers along with their lobby group Cement Manufacturer’s Association (CMA) to pay around Rs630 crore within a month

The Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) today directed cement companies to pay 10% of a Rs6,307 crore penalty imposed on them by fair trade regulator CCI for forming cartel in the sector.

Passing an interim order, a COMPAT bench headed by its chairman justice VS Sirpurkar asked 11 cement producers along with their lobby group Cement Manufacturer’s Association (CMA) to pay around Rs630 crore within a month.

The tribunal also clarified that if the cement firms fail to deposit the amount within a 30 days time-frame, their petition would be dismissed.

The matter would now come up for final hearing in August. COMPAT had reserved its order over a batch of petitions filed by various cement producers and CMA on 18th March this year after hearing them on interim plea.

In the petitions, the cement producers had challenged the Rs6,307 crore penalty imposed on them by the CCI and the Rs73 lakh fine imposed on the CMA.

The cement companies charged with cartelisation include Lafarge India, India Cement, JP Associates, Binani Cement, Ambuja Cement, Madras Cement and JK Cement.

“The act and conduct of the cement companies establish that they are a cartel. The Commission holds that the cement companies acting together have limited, controlled and also attempted to control the production and price in the market in India,” CCI had said in its 258-page order.

CCI had found “cement manufacturers in violation of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, which deals with anti-competitive agreements, including cartels”. The order was passed following probe by CCI Director General (Investigation) on a complaint filed by Builders Association.


The most important Muckreads on rape in the US military

A new Pentagon report says 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012. For context, we have rounded up some of the best journalism on sexual assault in the US armed forces

The Pentagon announced this week that a sergeant working in the military’s sexual assault prevention office had been charged with — you guessed it — sexual assault. This news came just a week after the officer in charge of the Air Force’s rape prevention program was arrested for sexual battery.

An estimated 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012, according to the latest government report. That’s up from 19,000 in 2010, despite recent claims that the military has been focusing more on prevention efforts.

Amid the growing controversy, Congress is hurrying to draft new legislation and Obama has called for stricter punishment for sexual offenders. All officers in the sexual assault prevention office will be re-screened and re-trained, the Pentagon announced. As lawmakers and military officials debate what to do next, we have rounded up some of the best journalism on sexual assault in the military.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet them to us with the hashtag #muckreads.

The Invisible War, documentary, June 2012
The academy-award nominated documentary has helped bring the military’s rape crisis to national attention. Filmmakers interviewed victims and military personnel to reveal the overwhelming obstacles to prosecuting military rape, and how inadequate efforts have been so far to curbing sexual assault.

Trauma Sets Female Veterans Adrift Back Home, New York Times, February 2013
According to the Pentagon report, 48,100 women reported military sexual trauma last year, which studies say makes them nine times more likely to suffer from PTSD. This two-part New York Times series documents the struggles facing women veterans who’ve suffered from sexual assault, including homelessness and unemployment.

The Rape of Petty Officer Blumer, Rolling Stone, February 2013
The story of one naval officer’s rape details the consequences victims face for coming forward — consequences that keep most victims from reporting sexual attacks. After telling her superiors she had been raped, Rebecca Blumer was accused of lying, sexually harassed, denied promotions and ultimately discharged.

Rape victims say military labels them 'crazy', CNN, April 2012
A CNN investigation found another way the military handles rape accusations: labeling victims as emotionally unstable. After reporting a sexual assault, multiple service members were diagnosed with a personality disorder and discharged. Their abuse allegations were ignored.

The Enemy Within, National Journal, September 2012
What is it about the military that makes sexual assault so pervasive? The National Journal digs into the policies behind the statistics, and the legal loopholes exploited by sexual predators.

Pentagon grapples with sex crimes by military recruiters, Washington Post, May 2013
Active service members aren’t the only ones vulnerable to sexual assault. A recent series of scandals across the country exposed military recruiters accused of sexually abusing young people looking to enlist.

Betrayal in the Ranks, The Denver Post, 2004
The Denver Post spoke with more than 60 victims about their battle for justice, and the psychological trauma that lasted long after their assault. Many felt the military blamed them for their rape, while shielding their attackers from punishment.



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