Losing time (zones)

Stocks were muted today, as investors paused ahead of a big week of news that includes Twitter’s initial public offering and the government’s jobs report this Friday, delayed by a week because of the government shutdown. BlackBerry’s shares, meanwhile, plummeted on news that it couldn’t secure a deal to take the company private.

The Dow gained 23 points, with 20 of its 30 components gaining ground; the S&P 500 Index rose 6; and the Nasdaq was higher by 14. Advancers led decliners by two to one on the NYSE and the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries strengthened. Gold futures rose $1.50 to close at $1,314.70 an ounce, and the price of crude oil rose a penny to settle at $94.62 a barrel.

In Other Business News:

  • BlackBerry Ltd. has abandoned its search for an acquirer and has instead decided to accept a $1 billion investment from Fairfax International Holdings, among other institutional investors. Fairfax already owns 10% of BlackBerry’s shares. BlackBerry also announced the departure of CEO Thorsten Heins, with John Chen taking over CEO duties in the interim, as well as becoming executive chairman. BlackBerry’s shares (BBRY) dropped 16.47%.
  • The Commerce Department released factory orders for both August and September today. In August, orders fell 0.1%, rising 1.7% in September. Transportation orders were volatile the past few months. Excluding transportation orders, orders fell 0.4% in August and 0.2% in September, with weakness in orders for capital goods.
  • Factory orders in the eurozone rose for the fourth-straight month, according to the Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index. The index rose modestly from 51.1 to 51.3, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion. France and Germany, the two largest economies in the eurozone, did not show improvements during the month.
  • SAC Capital Advisors agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement of criminal charges with federal prosecutors over allegations of insider trading. The settlement is in addition to the $618 million fine the hedge fund already agreed to pay to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Prosecutors said it was the largest-ever settlement for an insider trading case.
  • Ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering, Twitter increased its proposed share price from a range of $17 to $20 to a range of $23 to $25, which would increase the value of Twitter’s IPO from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. Twitter did not raise the number of shares it’s offering. The final IPO price is expected to be priced on Wednesday, with trading beginning on Thursday morning with the ticker TWTR.


Daylight saving time, or DST, ended yesterday, so everyone has to reset their circadian rhythms to the new clock by means of the mnemonic, “spring ahead, fall back.” Or maybe that’s what you’re not supposed to do, because you spring ahead, hit the wall because you’re disoriented after losing (or gaining) an hour, and then fall back on the bed.

People routinely call for the abolishment of DST (usually after the spring switch causes them to lose an hour of sleep), but a suggestion making the news this year is one by economist Allison Schrager, who says we should not only do away with DST, we should get rid of two of our time zones to make it easier to coordinate business. Under her proposal, Eastern Time would fall back into Central Time, while Pacific Time would spring ahead into Mountain Time. There’d then be only two time zones for the mainland U.S.

Dr. Schrager reasons that the overwhelming majority of U.S. workers long ago abandoned trying to approximate solar time. Having two time zones instead of four, meanwhile, would greatly simplify business coordination. We already shrank the 300 or so local time zones we had in the 1800s to just a handful today to ease coordination, so why not simplify more? Dr. Schrager says people in the Central and Mountain time zones basically do this already on an informal basis because of the dominance of the East or West Coasts. Investors know this all too well: The markets close at 4 p.m. ET, no matter if it’s only 1 p.m. on the opposite coast.

Reducing the number of mainland time zones to two probably wouldn’t lead to the reshuffling of anyone’s day, but it would shift where daylight falls during that day. I wonder if that’s as big of a deal now as it was when DST was first implemented. No matter how the day is structured, many people will not get their ideal sunlight hours.

So some states don’t even try, preferring instead to stay on Standard Time the whole year. Those in Arizona or Hawaii, the two states without the hubris to claim dominion over time itself, spend this time of the year watching everyone else in the country trying to remember what time it really is because they haven’t yet figured out how to change the clock in their cars. Maybe I’m only speaking for myself here, but that’s because I don’t have time to figure out how to reset my car’s clock because I’m already running late from incorrectly resetting my alarm clock.

Do you think we could get by with only two time zones on the mainland? Leave your thoughts below.

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9 Responses to Losing time (zones)

  1. Linda Taylor says:

    Being from Hawaii, I have a hard time even understanding why anyone would want to subject their bodies to DST. I am now living in Colorado. I vote to keep the time the same all year, and maybe change working hours to daylight hours. It would be easier to remember to come into work at 9:00 a.m. during the winter than to figure out which way to set the clock on an arbitrary date. 2 time zones also sounds reasonable.

  2. CAMPW says:

    Why not ease into it and first have 3 time zones for 2 years, then 2 for 2 years, then 1 for the duration. That should help fill the asylums.

  3. kuklagd says:

    The next time we jump to DST, we should only move ahead one-half hour and then leave it alone, effectively splitting the difference and eliminating the biannual affair.

  4. Hal Chamberlin says:

    Two thoughts: I think we should do away with changing the clocks twice/year and just stick with Summer time all year long. Here in Massachusetts Its bad enough to be rapidly losing daylight at the end of the day in the Fall. The sudden hit of an additional hour come November when darkness descends at 4:30PM instantly plunges me into a Winter funk. As for just two time zones instead of 4, that would tend to divide the country into nightowls and earlybirds. Travelers from one region to the other would really have to adjust their thinking in terms of what is “early in the morning” and “late at night”.

  5. Gardner Davis says:

    I agree with changing to 2 time zones but please do away with daylight saving time.
    I realy hate seeing on the internet that my local sports event starts an hour before it does because the least cost ignores the rest of the country.

  6. Tim Teusink says:

    China and India have already done this and for the reasons Dr. Schrager mentions. India has split the difference of two time zones and gone to the half hour and China (covering more time zones) has put the entire country in one zone. It seems to work for them.

  7. Sandra Kennedy says:

    I’m too tired this evening to go into a creative response except to say that I think 2 time zones instead of 4 in the U.S. would be great.

  8. Sharon g. says:

    Sorry to be picky. As much as I enjoyed your writing, I had a really hard time getting past “pneumonic” when I’m sure you meant “mnemonic”. Not sure why those get misused. Pneumonic has to do with the lungs.

    • Kathi Kwiatkowski Jeremy Ryan says:

      Thanks for the catch about pneumonic. I’ll give in to the temptation and say: Homonyms always give me a mnemonic plague.