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8 Fascinating Reads

By Morgan Housel – Mar 7, 2014 at 9:48AM

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Good reads, short quotes.

Happy Friday! There are more good news articles on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating pieces I read this week.

Getting by

Student loans aren't just for tuition, writes The Wall Street Journal:

Some Americans caught in the weak job market are lining up for federal student aid, not for education that boosts their employment prospects but for the chance to take out low-cost loans, sometimes with little intention of getting a degree ... At one of Capella's master's programs, the typical graduate left with about $30,200 in student debt even though tuition, fees and book costs totaled roughly $18,800.


Wikipedia may save your life, writes The Advisory Board:

Patients and physicians turn to Wikipedia for health care information more than any other source, according to a new IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report.

According to the report, 50% of physicians said they have consulted the site for information on certain medical conditions. IMS found that Wikipedia's top 100 English pages for health care topics were each accessed an average of 1.9 million times during the past year. 

The market was down

I love this satirical piece by B.J. Novak:

Nobody knew why the market was down that day. But it didn't stop everyone from having a theory.

"Worries over Spain's role in the EU brought the market down today," said a woman on the radio. "The market had an off day today, due to uncertainty in oil futures," announced a man on television. "Market Slightly Down as Health Care Details Come into Focus" wrote a newspaper writer.

The truth was no one knew why the market was down. It started the day, just... down. It stayed down most of the day. It had an up moment for a little bit around lunch, but was still, just, down.

Blue skies smiling at me

Here are the happiest, and least happy, states in America, according to Gallup:

Know your customers

Ford (NYSE: F) is allegedly designing its trucks for a target audience: Fat men:

Ford has gone to great lengths to ensure that the 2015 Ford F-150 can handle stereotypical pickup truck drivers: big ass'ed American men.

The Detroit News found out Ford had 'hefty men' weighing between 265 and 275 pounds working 10 hour days developing the 2015 Ford F-150. Their task: Get in and out of the truck "at least 10,000 times over a week" to make sure the seats were up to the girth of American pickup owners.


The Economist writes about California's drought: 

Farmers flood the land to grow rice, alfalfa and other thirsty crops. By one account, over the years they have paid just 15% of the capital costs of the federal system that delivers much of their irrigation water. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that they would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought--its worst in recorded history--would not be so severe.

Keep it simple, stupid

The University of California invested in a complex, high-fee derivative investment. Total shocker this occurred

The University of California has lost tens of millions of dollars, and is set to lose far more, after making risky bets on interest rates on the advice of Wall Street bankers.

University officials agreed to the financial deals – complex contracts known as interest rate swaps – because they believed they could save money in the midst of an aggressive building spree.

But the deals are now costing the university an estimated $6 million a year, according to its financial statements.

And university accountants estimate the 10-campus system will lose as much as $136 million over the next 34 years that it is locked into the deals. Those potential losses would be reduced only if interest rates start to rise.


Ben Bernanke is enjoying retirement, writes CNNMoney

Bernanke, who was paid $199,700 as chairman of the Federal Reserve last year, is now commanding as much as $250,000 per speech, according to Reuters. And he's got three speaking engagements on his calendar this week alone.

Enjoy your weekend. 

Morgan Housel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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