April 2, 2023

European Unemployment Sets Another Record

PARIS — The euro zone jobless rate rose to a record 12.1 percent in March, a sharp reminder that unemployment remains among the region’s biggest problems.

The unemployment rate in the 17-nation currency union ticked up by one-tenth of a percentage point from February, when the previous record was set, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg. A year earlier, euro zone joblessness stood at 11 percent.

A separate report Tuesday from Eurostat showed inflation dropping sharply in the euro zone, well below the European Central Bank’s target of 2 percent a year. The annualized rate of inflation for consumer prices was just 1.2 percent in April 2013, down from March, when inflation stood at 1.7 percent.

The reports, along with other recent data suggesting that the economy is healing more slowly than many had hoped, could prompt the European Central Bank to take action at its policy meeting on Thursday. The central bank could cut its key interest-rate target, already at a record low of 0.75 percent, by a quarter point, economists say, though the impact of such a move would probably be slight, because banks remain less than eager to lend.

“Stabilizing the peripheral euro zone countries will take at least until the end of 2013,” Ralph Solveen, an economist with Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said. As a result, he said, unemployment would probably keep rising “until next spring.”

For the 27-nation European Union, the March jobless rate was unchanged, at 10.9 percent. Eurostat estimated that 26.5 million men and women were now unemployed in Europe, including 5.7 million young people.

Both the euro zone and European Union jobless figures are the highest Eurostat has reported since it began keeping the data in 1995 in the days before the euro. In comparison, the unemployment rate in the United States was 7.6 percent in March.

Six years after Wall Street’s bad bets on the United States housing market began to sink the global financial system, the European economy remains trapped in torpor with little relief in sight. Governments have tightened the screws on public finances to meet deficit targets, and companies remain extremely reticent about hiring. The euro zone’s gross domestic product is widely expected to decline for a second consecutive year in 2013.

Manufacturers are largely dependent on demand from outside Europe for growth. Carmakers, which employ about two million people in Europe, anticipate sales in the European Union this year to fall back to levels last seen in the early 1990s. In that dismal landscape, PSA Peugeot Citroën, the French automaker that ranks No. 2 in Europe behind Volkswagen, said Monday that its unions had agreed to a plan to close a plant near Paris and to reduce its French work force by more than 11,000.

While a decline in energy prices helped to push the inflation rate lower, Jennifer McKeown, an economist in London with Capital Economics, argued that the jobless problem was probably itself part of the reason for the downward pressure on prices. She said in a note that it would be “a disappointment” if the E.C.B. failed to ease rates and “announce further unconventional policies to boost bank lending.”

Two nations are staggering under depression-level jobless rates: Greece, where the European sovereign debt crisis began, had a rate of 27.2 percent in January, the latest month for which data are available; Spain had unemployment of 26.7 percent in March. Portugal was next at 17.5 percent. Germany, which has the largest economy in the European Union, was at just 5.4 percent, with only Austria, at 4.7 percent, lower. Britain’s rate stood at 7.8 percent, while France’s was at 11 percent.

Mr. Solveen forecasted that the euro zone economy would shrink by 0.2 percent this year, but he pointed to progress in some countries, including Italy and Spain, in addressing problems that he said would eventually help turn things around. Still, Spain’s “catastrophic” unemployment rate is a reminder that its burst housing bubble is still sapping the economy.

“The correction there has to go on,” he said, “because there is still a huge number of unsold homes.”

Mr. Solveen said that Germany had reduced its dependence on its euro zone neighbors, and the key to its economic growth was now tied to the global economy.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/business/global/european-unemployment-sets-another-record.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Japan Initiates a Bold Bid to End Falling Prices

TOKYO — In its first policy steps under its new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, the Bank of Japan announced Thursday it would seek to double the amount of money in circulation over two years, initiating a bold bid to end years of falling prices and dispelling market fears that Mr. Kuroda might fail to follow up his recent tough talk with concrete action.

The central bank said it would aggressively buy longer-term bonds and double its holdings of government bonds in two years, in effect doubling the money in circulation in the process. The bank will aim for a robust 2 percent rate of inflation “at the earliest possible time,” it said.

“This is monetary easing in an entirely new dimension,” Mr. Kuroda said following the bank’s decision.

The dramatic turn in Japanese monetary policy could open up a new chapter in the country’s economic history, for years defined by what critics said was a halfhearted battle to end deflation — the damaging fall in prices, profits and wages that has weighed on its economic growth.

The Japanese stock market reacted enthusiastically, with the Nikkei 225-share index finishing the day 2.2 percent higher.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in late December, has made beating deflation a central facet of his economic policy, and has already arm-wrestled the bank into committing to a target of 2 percent inflation.

So relentless was that pressure that the bank’s previous governor, the moderate Masaaki Shirakawa, resigned weeks before the end of his term, giving way to Mr. Kuroda, who shares Mr. Abe’s monetary fervor.

Mr. Kuroda emphasized the break with history, repeatedly pointing to a graph showing the planned jump in the country’s money supply as he answered reporters’ questions on the bank’s new policies.

“Incremental steps of the kind we’ve seen so far weren’t going to get us out of deflation,” Mr. Kuroda said. “I’m certain we have now adapted all policies we can think of to meet the 2 percent price target,” he said.

And if prices did not rise as expected, he “would not hesitate” to step up the bank’s easing program, Mr. Kuroda said. That represent a sea change from his predecessors, who were faulted for being too ready to pull back at the first sign of higher prices for fear of runaway inflation.

The Japanese financial markets appeared to give a collective sigh of relief, with their rise in recent months seemingly justified by Mr. Kuroda’s strong positioning. Japanese stocks have soared in anticipation of a reversal in monetary policy under Mr. Abe, fanned higher by recent assurances from Mr. Kuroda that he would do “whatever it takes” to defeat deflation.

But in recent days, the stock market had pulled back as jittery investors wondered whether Mr. Kuroda could make good on his promises. Shortly after the bank’s announcement, the benchmark Nikkei index jumped from negative territory. The yen weakened to ¥95.40 to the dollar early evening in Tokyo from about ¥93 before the announcement.

“Kuroda did it,” Masaaki Kanno, an economist at JPMorgan Securities Japan, said in a note to clients. “This is a historical change in the B.O.J.’s policy..”

In a statement detailing the new measures, the central bank said it would buy longer-term government bonds, lengthening the average maturity of its holdings to seven years from three years and expanding Japan’s monetary base to ¥270 trillion by March 2015. Under that plan, the bank will buy ¥7 trillion of bonds each month, equivalent to over 1 percent of its gross domestic product — almost twice the pace of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The policies are part of a new asset purchase framework that focuses on the monetary base instead of the overnight interest rate, which has remained close to zero for years doing little to increase prices or otherwise help the real economy. The bank will also consolidate all its purchases in a single operation in an attempt to improve transparency of the bank’s purchases.

Mr. Kuroda said that the bank would suspend a longstanding rule that limits its bondholdings to the amount of money in circulation — and he pointed out that limit had already been surpassed.

Some economists caution that the central bank’s huge purchases of government debt could eventually be seen by investors as enabling runaway public spending, quashing confidence that Japan will ever pare down its already sky-high public debt and driving up long-term interest rates. If Japan recklessly pursued aggressive monetary and fiscal policies, “the long-term interest rate could rise and fiscal collapse would ensue,” warned Ryutaro Kono, a Japan economist at BNP Paribas.

Others argue that rising prices, once stoked, could be hard to control, a warning rooted in Japan’s “bubble economy” of the 1980s, and its subsequent painful collapse.

Some experts also question whether monetary policy alone can end deflation in Japan, which suffers from other deflationary pressures, like a shrinking and aging population, and cumbersome regulations that make the economy inefficient. They charge that despite the easy money already available in Japan, lending has not increased dramatically because businesses and consumers see little potential for growth.

Mr. Kuroda said that risks or doubts should not hold the central bank back from fighting deflation. “We have debated the side effects, but we are currently not concerned that long-term interest rates might spike, or conversely, that there would be an asset bubble,” Mr. Kuroda said. “That risks exist should not hold us back from pursuing much-needed monetary easing. We will keep in mind those risks, but push ahead.”

He also said that once Japan had fought off deflation and reignited its economy, lending would surely follow, spurring more economic growth in a virtuous cycle. “We are already seeing an improvement in sentiment among consumers and companies,” he said. “As the economy expands and prices rise, lending will also grow.”

Mr. Kuroda acknowledged that Japan’s new monetary push is weakening the yen, which bolsters Japan’s exporters at the expense of overseas rivals — a sticking point between Tokyo and its trading partners. But he declined to comment further, saying currencies were beyond his mandate as central bank governor.

Government officials welcomed the bank’s decision. “The bold monetary easing steps go beyond expectations,” Economy Minister Akira Amari said. “The Bank of Japan is finally steering Japan toward rising prices.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/business/global/japan-initiates-a-bold-bid-to-end-years-of-falling-prices.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Nominee for Japan’s Central Bank Vows Aggressive Action

Haruhiko Kuroda, the nominee, who announced last week that he would resign as president of the Asian Development Bank, also called on the government to put its finances on a sounder footing to maintain investor confidence in the country’s long-term solvency.

“If I am confirmed as governor, I will clearly communicate to markets that I am prepared to do whatever it takes to beat deflation,” Mr. Kuroda told a confirmation hearing in Parliament.

“The Japanese economy has suffered from deflation for over 10, almost 15 years, which is a global anomaly of the most extreme. As prices have fallen, corporate profits and wages have shrunk, depressing consumption and investment and triggering even lower prices in a vicious cycle,” he said.

“But to avoid a rise in interest rates and a loss of confidence in Japan’s public finances, it is also critical to restore fiscal health in the mid- to long term,” Mr. Kuroda said.

If confirmed, Mr. Kuroda is set to lead a crucial part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-pronged plan to spur economic growth. Mr. Abe has pledged to push the Bank of Japan to do more to pump money into the economy, spend generously on public works to stimulate growth and draw on private sector expertise to devise a fresh economic strategy that would make that growth sustainable. The Japanese economy ranks only behind those of the United States and China in size.

Under pressure from Mr. Abe, the central bank has already promised to expand its asset-purchase program to achieve a 2 percent inflation goal, compared with a negative rate of inflation that has dogged Japan for most of the last 15 years. Japan has also kept its policy interest rate close to zero for years, to no avail.

Mr. Kuroda said, however, that the “scale and scope” of the Bank of Japan’s asset purchases had so far not been enough to achieve inflation and that it would be natural for the central bank to buy longer-term bonds.

He also acknowledged that as Japan tackled deflation, the yen would weaken, but he stressed that devaluation was a side effect of an economic policy to bolster growth and not a goal in itself. His comments were in response to concerns that policies that weakened the yen would touch off a global round of devaluations as countries sought to weaken their currencies to lift their exports.

“There is evidence that currencies tend to fall for countries that ease monetary policy on a large scale,” Mr. Kuroda said, “but the B.O.J.’s policy is not targeting currencies.”

“The important thing is to ensure price stability and achieve the 2 percent price stability goal, although it could affect currencies in that process,” he said.

The opposition Democratic Party, which still leads Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in Parliament’s upper house, has signaled that it will not block Mr. Kuroda’s nomination. The current Bank of Japan governor, Masaaki Shirakawa, is scheduled to step down on March 19.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/business/global/05iht-yen05.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Military Contractors Brace for Cutbacks

As the Pentagon Thursday announced changes in its programs, military contractors were bracing for cancellations or cutbacks of several programs.

In its latest round of budget tightening, the agency has said that it would stretch out purchases, cancel a high-flying spy drone and delay work on a new missile submarine.

The defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, disclosed the cuts as part of a broader reorganization of the military meant to save $487 billion over a decade.

One of the biggest decisions will stretch out the purchase of 179 of the F-35 fighters that the Pentagon had planned to buy from Lockheed Martin over the next five years.

Mr. Panetta said the Pentagon remained committed to the plane, a stealth fighter that can attack ground targets. Different versions are being built for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines. The services plan to spend up to $380 billion for 2,440 of the planes, making it by far the Pentagon’s largest program.

The other cuts were spread out among the major military contractors, though some reductions would be offset by spending increases on computer security, other unmanned planes and equipment for the special forces.

The plan to cut the size of the ground forces by 92,000 and eliminate older ships and planes came in response to political pressure to lower the federal budget deficit. It will eliminate most of spending increases that were above inflation, thereby limiting the Pentagon’s budget increases to approximately the rate of inflation after a big surge during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Pentagon officials said that they had tried to limit the reductions to weapons programs and would focus on continuing efforts to modernize the armed forces. Many of the most costly and contentious programs — like the radar-evading F-22 fighter and a high-tech destroyer — had already been canceled or trimmed over the last three years, leaving few big-ticket items.

Mr. Panetta said he had decided to slow the purchases of the F-35 fighters “to complete more testing and allow for developmental changes before buying significant quantities.”

“We wanted to make sure before we go into full production that we are ready,” he said.

The plane was originally described as an affordable and dependable design. But changes in the requirements, faulty parts and software difficulties caused several years of delay and turned the program into the Pentagon’s biggest budget-buster.

Last year, Mr. Panetta’s predecessor, Robert M. Gates, threatened to cancel the Marine version of the plane, which can take off and land almost vertically, if Lockheed could not solve some of the problems. Mr. Panetta recently lifted that probation, saying the company had made substantial progress.

Pentagon officials also announced that the Air Force was canceling one version of Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk surveillance drone. It flies at 60,000 feet and was intended to replace the piloted U-2 spy plane, which gained fame for flying over the Soviet Union during the cold war.

After an extensive review, the Air Force had decided last July to go ahead with the switch even though the Global Hawk’s costs had soared and Pentagon testing officials had questioned whether it was reliable.

The Air Force had said then that the unmanned plane, which took photographs and was also supposed to intercept communications, would be cheaper to operate than the U-2. But Pentagon officials said Thursday that it now looked as if the costs would be higher over the next five years for the Global Hawk than the U-2.

They said they still planned to build other versions of the drone that could survey large areas, though those costs could rise if fewer total planes are built.

Mr. Panetta said the Navy would delay its long-range plans to build a new nuclear-powered missile submarine by two years to ease the current budget pressures and help start the program on a more solid footing.

Pentagon officials have said that the new missile submarines would eventually replace the aging Ohio-class subs, which carry nuclear missiles and could cost $5 billion each. Pentagon officials said they also would delay construction of one Virginia-class attack submarine, two coastal combat ships and a large amphibious ship to reduce short-term costs.

Most of the ship construction is done by General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries, which was spun off by Northrop Grumman last year. Lockheed and a unit of an Australian company build the coastal ships.

Still, the Pentagon said it also planned to redesign the Virginia-class subs, which are smaller than the Ohio-class subs and protect other warships, to carry more cruise missiles and upgrade radars on both airplanes and ships. It will also design a new long-range bomber to replace the B-2.

Military contractors have laid off workers and consolidated plants in recognition that the boom times were ending. But Mr. Panetta said some of the cuts would be offset by increased spending on special forces, other surveillance planes and protections against attacks by computer hackers.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=57a04e7295dffa6ef4b3ec8853f9ca35

Economix Blog: Will Bernanke Take Aim at G.D.P.?

It’s a safe bet that the hottest topic in monetary policy is going to be raised when the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, takes questions from reporters Wednesday afternoon.

That would be nominal G.D.P. targeting, a concept lately endorsed elsewhere on this very Web site by the liberal economists Christina Romer and Paul Krugman (separately, and with very different degrees of enthusiasm) and long embraced by a diverse group of other economic thinkers.

It’s actually a pretty simple idea. The Fed has developed a policy of seeking to maintain inflation — the growth of prices and wages — at an annual rate of roughly 2 percent as the best way to meet its legal objectives of maintaining stable prices and maximizing employment. Proponents of G.D.P. targeting argue that the central bank instead should seek to maintain a steady rate of increase in the dollar value of the nation’s economic output, the nominal gross domestic product, an alternative measure that combines the rate of inflation and the rate of economic growth.

The Fed’s current policy, they argue, has failed to stimulate growth sufficiently, leaving more than 25 million Americans unable to find full-time work. A G.D.P. target, by contrast, would require the Fed to take more aggressive steps, like another round of asset purchases.

“It would work like this,” wrote Ms. Romer, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was chairwoman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “The Fed would start from some normal year — like 2007 — and say that nominal G.D.P. should have grown at 4 1/2 percent annually since then, and should keep growing at that pace. Because of the recession and the unusually low inflation in 2009 and 2010, nominal G.D.P. today is about 10 percent below that path. Adopting nominal G.D.P. targeting commits the Fed to eliminating this gap.”

As I wrote in Monday’s paper, this idea has garnered little apparent support inside the Fed.

One fundamental reason is that Mr. Bernanke and other Fed officials believe that the current system is working pretty well. Not well enough to heal the economy, of course, but in their view that is beyond the Fed’s power.

“My guess is that the current framework for monetary policy — with innovations, no doubt, to further improve the ability of central banks to communicate with the public — will remain the standard approach, as its benefits in terms of macroeconomic stabilization have been demonstrated,” Mr. Bernanke told a Boston audience in October.

The focus of that policy, which Mr. Bernanke described as “flexible inflation targeting,” is the Fed’s commitment to maintain inflation at about 2 percent a year. The Fed views the public belief that it will do so as perhaps its most valuable asset because it creates a stable environment for sustainable economic growth.

A switch to G.D.P. targeting would amount to a declaration of comfort with higher levels of inflation.

Many proponents regard this as the basic point of the proposal, arguing that the Fed has become overly fixated on the rate of inflation when it should be focused on the health of the economy, and that allowing — indeed, encouraging — a higher rate of inflation in the short term would help to stimulate growth.

Calling for a G.D.P. target rather than simply proposing an increase in the Fed’s inflation target, as some other economists have done, amounts in this sense to a marketing device, a piece of packaging.

“As far as I can see, the underlying economics is about expected inflation,” Mr. Krugman wrote in a mid-October blog post, “but stating the goal in terms of nominal G.D.P. may nonetheless be a good idea, largely as a selling point, since it (a) is easier to make the case that we’ve fallen far below where we should be and (b) doesn’t sound so scary and antisocial.”

So far, that sales pitch has failed to budge the Fed.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8ec4af220fbbed6ca1373492c4377e80

Wall Street Rises on European Bank Move

The European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve and three other central banks said they would provide European banks with dollars. Worries that European banks would struggle to raise dollars in short-term credit markets have hung over banks in recent weeks.

European stock markets rallied after the announcement, with gains of 3 percent to 4 percent.

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 163.14 points, or 1.45 percent, to 11,409.87. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was up 16.92 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,205.60. The Nasdaq composite index rose 31.58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,604.13.

The Federal Reserve said early Thursday that factory output rose 0.5 percent in August, after increasing 0.6 percent in July. Autos and products increased 2.6 percent, evidence that supply chain disruptions stemming from the Japan earthquake continued to ease.

Other economic reports released on Thursday showed the rate of inflation slowed and continuing weakness in the jobs market.

The Swiss bank UBS plunged 9 percent on news that a trader could cost the bank as much as $2.2 billion. Switzerland’s largest bank warned that it could post a loss for the quarter as a result of the unauthorized trade.

Netflix fell 12 percent, the biggest drop among stocks in the S. P. 500, after the company said it expects fewer people to subscribe to its DVD-by-mail service as well as its streaming movie service.

A show of support by Germany and France for Greece lifted stocks on Wednesday. The Dow has jumped 3 percent over three straight days of gains but is still down 1.9 percent for the month.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: The Bucks Guide to Finding Cheap Textbooks: 3rd Edition

The Textbook Rebel battles it out with Mr. $200 Textbook as part of a campaign to raise awareness about escalating college textbook prices and cheaper alternatives.Courtesy of Textbook RebellionThe “Textbook Rebel” battles it out with “Mr. $200 Textbook” as part of a campaign to raise awareness about escalating book prices and cheaper alternatives.

Exorbitant college textbook prices have given rise to a “textbook rebellion,” which may be coming to a campus near you.

A coalition of students, parents, professors and organizations including the Student Public Interest Research Groups, have banded together to promote more affordable alternatives to the $200 textbook — an amount that is not uncommon for science, economics, accounting and math students, among other pricey majors.

So if you see a big van pull up on your college campus, don’t be surprised if a giant yellow textbook — called Textbook Rebel — jumps out to do battle with Mr. $200 Textbook, as part of the cross-country tour organized by the Student PIRGs.

“Our goal is to collect student signatures on a petition, which we we’ll use to get the word out to faculty and call on decision makers to take action,” said Nicole Allen, textbook advocate at the Student PIRGs.

The coalition also hopes to raise awareness about cheaper alternatives like “open textbooks,” which are offered under a license that allows you to read free online, or to obtain a print copy for a fraction of the cost of traditional hard-copy competitors.

Indeed, textbook prices increased 22 percent over the last four years, according to the Student PIRGs, or more than four times the rate of inflation. On average, students at four-year public colleges were estimated to spend $1,137 on books and supplies during the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the College Board. To ease the burden, a survey conducted by the Student PIRGs found that many students simply aren’t buying at least one of the required texts.

But there are ways to save while the textbook rebels fight the good fight. Last August, I wrote a post that surveyed the various ways to save money on textbooks, from finding free texts online to renting books on campus. And in January, we took a closer look at the many comparison sites that do a lot of the legwork for you.

Over the course of the last year, several new options emerged, some of which were created by recent graduates who were exasperated by the book-buying process themselves. Those are highlighted below:

Amazon.com. You can now rent eligible Kindle textbooks and read them on your computer, no Kindle required, or on your smartphone. You can also customize the rental periods to any length between 30 and 360 days and pay for the specific chunk of time you need the book (and can add time if you need to). The books aren’t printable, but you do have access to margin notes and highlighted text, even after the rental has expired.

Just keep in mind that digital textbooks aren’t always the best deal. Be sure to compare prices with other hard-copy rental options, as well as buying a used copy of the book, which you can typically sell again.

SwoopThat.com.  Similar to Getchabooks.com (featured in this Bucks post), this Web site was created by four recent college graduates and aims at students at specific colleges — in this case, more than 2,300 schools.  After you plug in your college name and courses, the site serves up the list of books that you need and where to find them at the lowest cost. “Our algorithms help students find the cheapest places to buy all their books collectively, rather than one at a time,” according to the Web site. That calculation includes shipping.

Jonny Simkin, one of the sites’ co-founders, said the site currently searches Amazon, Half, Alibris, Abebooks, Chegg, BookRenter, eBooks.com, and Cengage Brain. The site, he added, has partnerships with “all the major booksellers,” which are slowly being added to the site.

SwoopThat also helps students sell their books by searching online vendors for the highest buyback price.

In addition, the site also has an online exchange for each school that helps students buy and sell books with people nearby. “When a student enters their courses and views their book list, they can compare prices between other local students and the Web,” Mr. Simkin said, “and if they want to buy from a local student, they just arrange a meeting place on or near campus.”

Affordabook.com. This site, also created by a former undergraduate, compares prices from 15 textbook retailers on the Web, including Amazon.com, Chegg, Half.com, Ebay and several others. “I was frustrated with the university bookstores and how they charge hundreds for textbooks that you can find online for a fraction of the cost,” said Vincent Thomas, who created the site about five years ago when he was a junior at Virginia Tech.

LocalTextbook.com is essentially an online classifieds section for textbooks, which aims to help students buy and sell books with other people on their campus; that way, everybody saves money on shipping costs. Still, it does cost something: you need to pay $3 to list each book (or, you can earn credits by referring friends to use the service).

Right now, the listings on the Web site — created by a college senior — are located on only five campuses in Ohio, but they hope to expand this year.

Open textbooks. These books are much less expensive than traditional textbooks, but it’s basically up to your professors to select them — if they don’t, you’re out of luck. “Professors can save students thousands by assigning open textbooks,” Ms. Allen of the Student PIRGs said. “That is why our campaign focuses on getting the word out to professors, and letting them know this is out there.”

These books can be read online free, while hard copies are typically a fraction of the cost of traditional books. You can download the book to your computer or phone, or print a printable PDF. Hard copies typically cost $20 to $40, according to the Student PIRGs, either in the bookstore or online.

In addition, the “open“ license typically gives professors more flexibility to tailor the material to fit a particular course by removing unneeded chapters or adding new material. The Student PIRGs site has a catalog of open textbooks and publishers (Flat World Knowledge, which offers open books, is also part of the “rebellion” coalition).

The Student PIRGs list their own book-buying tips here.

Have you started book shopping? Let us know what sites you have the best and worst experiences with in the comment section below.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0d3fc2e5b25a947e91d444c90d562a4b