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service for the crucial monthly “consumer confidence index” that has been known to signal stock markets to abruptly “buy” (driving up prices) or “sell” (sending them lower). The University of Michigan prepares and distributes the index promptly at 10 a.m. Eastern time on its release date, but Thomson Reuters offers two advance peeks. It pays the school about $1 million a year to see the index at 9:55 a.m., to share with its best customers. The suspended program gave an even earlier tip-off—at 9:54:58—and highfrequency trading firms paid $6,000 more a month for those two seconds, which allowed their computer robots to execute hundreds of thousands of trades before other professional traders had access to the index. ; First-World Problems: Selfindulgent New York City parents have been hiring “play-date” coaches for their preschool youngsters, apparently out of fear that the kids’ skill set for just having fun might not impress

admissions officers at the city’s elite private schools. The CEO of one consulting outfit told the New York Post in July that $400 an hour gets expert monitoring of a 4-year-old in small groups, evaluating, for example, how the child colors in a book, shares the crayons, holds a pencil and follows the rules of Simon Says. ; An unidentified school in the West Coast Conference recently self-reported a violation of controversial NCAA rules that restrict privileges for student-athletes, ordering a member of its women’s golf team to pay back $20 after she washed her car using a hose (and water) belonging to the school but which were not available to other students. (A University of Portland coach said he heard about the violation at a conference meeting, and Yahoo Sports, seeking confirmation, reported that an NCAA spokesman soft-pedaled the illegality, calling the school’s action a “miscommunication.”)

OCTOBER 2013 • CULTURE 83

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