The diminishing returns on college

“For decades, the typical college graduate’s wage rose well above inflation,” says Greg Ip in The Wall Street Journal. No more. The typical weekly salary for a U.S. worker with a bachelor’s degree was flat last year, adjusted for inflation, and 1.7 percent lower than the 2001 level. That’s partly because there are more college-educated workers, but employers now are also looking for skills “more narrow, more abstract, and less easily learned in college,” thanks to globalization and technology advances. College-educated workers still earn 75 percent more than those with high school diplomas, but for strong wage growth—at least until recently—your best bet was the financial sector.

Why flat is the new up

“Flat is the new up” is “the hot business buzzphrase for 2008,” says Daniel Gross in Slate, but why? The phrase started in the media industry, and it makes sense in that context—after years of declining circulation and ad revenue, “editors and managers have been patting themselves on their backs for simply treading water.” But then it spread to recently hot sectors, like investment banking, law, and even hedge funds. So “is claiming flatness as a virtue lame? It depends.” On the one hand, if your rivals are down 20 percent, flat looks good. However, amid high inflation, flat is “quite bad news.” On the whole, though, if “in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” then “in a bear market, a flat fund is king.”