Your Landline Phone Is in Big Trouble, & 4½ More Things to Know Today

At the market
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Here's a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you'll just want to know.

• Cell phones and broadband Internet are fantastic innovations, but there's something deeply comforting about knowing that no matter where you go, you can always pick up a good old landline phone, get a dial tone, and make a clear call. But all good things come to an end: The infrastructure of our long-distance phone system -- the switches, lines, etc., -- is decaying to the point where a significant number of calls don't connect, and the phone companies aren't all that interested in replacing it.

• When it comes to investing, it pays to follow the leader: New research of companies in the Russell 3000 index showed that, in the five days after CEOs let regulators know that they'd bought shares in their companies -- which made that information public -- their companies' stocks performed an average of six times better than the index. And they kept beating the index for three months after that.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%• Looks like Janet Yellen, current vice chair of the Federal Reserve board, is on a smooth flight path to confirmation for the top job at the Fed. After a well-received hearing before the Senate Banking Committee last Thursday, the panel is set to vote this Thursday to send Yellen's nomination to the full Senate. Given that Democrats control the Senate, and that even Republicans who have problems with the Fed's recent policies haven't been taking them out on her, it's hard to imagine a scenario where she encounters much more than token resistance.

• The latest report from the Labor Department showed that U.S. workers' compensation increased only modestly in the past quarter -- just a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent, even less than the 0.5 percent it rose in the second quarter. Benefits costs outpaced wage increases. So wage inflation is clearly no worry in the U.S. But that's here. In Hong Kong, there's such a shortage of people willing and able to take blue- or pink-collar jobs like waiting tables or construction that wages for them are going through the roof, and the benefits would make Americans envious.

• And finally, in a retail world where Walmart (WMT) is the big dog in bricks-and-mortar, Target (TGT) has the cheap-chic cachet locked down, and Amazon (AMZN) has everyone running scared, it takes a little something extra for an old-school discounter like Kmart (SHLD) to get shoppers' attention. Exhibit A this holiday shopping season: This ballsy Jingle Bells ad for its Joe Boxer Brand.
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