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Steve Jobs, the movie: Aaron Sorkin dishes

So what's it like to write a movie about the man, the legend, the Jobs?
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Writer Aaron Sorkin with "The Social Network" actor Justin Timberlake at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on February 27, 2011. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

If there's one certainty on planet earth in 2012, it's that many, many people are obsessed with a man named Steve Jobs.

You may have heard of him.

He was the founder of Apple Computer who went on to reinvent the company into a digital powerhouse, along the way revolutionizing personal computing, tablet computing, music, mobile phones, animated movies, marketing, digital publishing and various other cool things that most of us can't now live without.

You may have also heard there's a Hollywood movie in the works about this fascinating, complicated and very problematic man.

As part of that project, famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is in the early stages of whittling down Walter Isaacson's best-selling tome "Steve Jobs."

Apple fans — and plenty of others interested in the intersection of business, technology, art and society that Jobs personified — are of course eagerly awaiting the upcoming film on his life.

So Sorkin — who penned A Few Good Men, Moneyball, The Social Network, The West Wing, and many other blockbusters — has given the Apple masses what they crave: details, details, details.

Here are some of the juiciest bits, according to Apple Insider, not to mention the 50,000 other stories about this that are now whirring through the Jobs-hungry web:

"One of the hesitations I had was that this was a little like writing about The Beatles,” Sorkin said. “There are so many people out there that know him and revere him; I saw a minefield of disappointment. I hope people don't say 'You really missed the big thing.' But that's bound to happen. All I can say at this early stage is that you should think of this as a painting, not a photograph.”

So forget the "cradle-to-grave" approach that worked so well for Isaacson, folks.

What will the movie be about, then?

"I'm probably going to instead identify the point of friction that appeals to me and write about that." Sorkin also said Jobs was "an extremely complicated guy, that I know for sure."

Sorkin was particularly insightful on the genius of Jobs:


Macro chatter: Mark Zuckerberg falls off richest billionaires list

Around the world in business: Waiting for a US jobs report, Dunkin Donuts in India and eight countries that are doing better than Greece but won’t be allowed into the euro zone.
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A man enters a Dunkin' Donuts store in New York. (Ramin Talaie/AFP/Getty Images)

Need to know:

It’s a big day for economic news in the US ahead of tomorrow’s highly anticipated monthly jobs report, and the previews aren't looking good.

A report out this morning said US companies added 133,000 jobs in May. Meanwhile a separate report from the US Labor Department showed new claims for unemployment benefits hit a five-week high

The US economy also didn't grow as quickly as the government had initially thought in the first quarter. The Commerce Department reported US GDP expanded by just 1.9 percent in the first quarter instead of the 2.2 percent it had initially reported. 

Want to know:

India’s economy may be slowing down, but Dunkin Donuts is just getting started on the subcontinent.

Dunkin Donuts is planning to open 100 new stores in India over the next five years. Dunkin Donuts began opening stores in India this month and has already seen sales outpace its expectations.

The company now serves India’s population of more than a billion people with just three stores. 

Dull but important:

How’s this for irony? The European Central Bank said eight countries in line to join the euro zone will have to wait because their economies aren’t quite ready yet.

Of course, some of these countries are doing better than a few current euro zone members.

Still, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden were each lacking in some way, the ECB said.

Each of the countries managed to get in under the ECB’s 60 percent debt-to-GDP cap, something Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal weren’t able to do last year. Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio in 2011 came in at nearly three times the ECB limit. 

Just because:

Mark Zuckerberg has been on quite the rollercoaster ride this month, and it’s not over yet. There was the pre-IPO, the IPO, a surprise wedding, a disclosure scandal and a trading snafu on IPO day. Now Zuck’s wallet is getting smaller.


Euro crisis: Can Germany change course?

Still don't understand the worsening euro crisis? Just turn to the Wolf.
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Can Angela Merkel save Europe? Will she? (Sean Gallup /Getty Images)

The euro crisis is, understandably, perplexing to most Americans.

Its subject matter is arcane and complex.

Its main action is playing out in the darkened halls of Brussels and Frankfurt and on the mysterious balance sheets of banks across Europe.

It is producing a variety of severe economic, human and political costs throughout the world's largest trading bloc.

And it practically requires a spreadsheet to keep up with all the pieces of the worsening drama, from analyzing the personalities that make up the various coalition partners in Greece's shattered government, to tabulating minute-by-minute yields on Italian and Spanish debt, to reading the shifting political winds in Paris, Dublin and beyond, to — most critically — divining the motivations and maybe even the psychology of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the queen of austerity who holds Europe's future in her hands.

For help with this last point in particular, you should immediately turn to Martin Wolf, the Financial Times columnist and heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to making sense of the euro zone mess.

In it, Wolf offers a brainy analysis that gets to the heart of this very pressing matter: what, exactly, does Germany want?

Here's how he sums up the stern mood in Berlin, and I must warn you, it is not an optimistic outlook:

"This is how I understand the views of the German government and monetary authorities: no eurozone bonds; no increase in funds available to the European Stability Mechanism (currently €500bn); no common backing for the banking system; no deviation from fiscal austerity, including in Germany itself; no monetary financing of governments; no relaxation of eurozone monetary policy; and no powerful credit boom in Germany. The creditor country, in whose hands power in a crisis lies, is saying “nein” at least seven times."

There are two ways to look at this, Wolf argues:


Macro chatter: Facebook losses equal a Morgan Stanley

Around the world: How big are Facebook's losses? About the size of the investment bank that took it public.
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A saleswoman waits for the customers at a luxury Gucci fashion boutique in Beijing on September 5, 2010. China has vowed to make it easier to import goods into its huge market as Beijing seeks to address controversial trade surpluses with its trading partners, a report said on September 6. (LIU Jin/AFP/Getty Images)
Around the world: Facebook's losses so far are equal to one Morgan Stanley. Spain's budget cuts aren't enough, and a 20-year-old tests AOL's search capabilities by squatting at its offices undetected for two months.

Consumer confidence in the US economy: Cold or hot?

One of the most important economic indicators in the US is down. Or is it up?
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Consumer confidence in the US economy is cold. Or is it hot? Maybe it's both? This Japanese Macaque monkey probably feels the same way right about now. (Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

When you come right down to it, confidence is the whole deal in economics.

That's because consumers need it to reach into their wallets, and spending makes up about two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States.

But businesses big and small also need confidence to hire people, buy capital goods and other stuff, and make investments in the future.

And all kinds of investors — from US Treasury note buyers, to Greek debt holders, to those looking to own shares in Facebook or any other company — need it, too.

In short, confidence matters.

A lot.

So how's consumer confidence these days in the world's largest economy?


Or great.

It depends on which report — and which group of two-handed economists — you want to believe.

Today the Conference Board said consumer confidence this month plunged to its lowest level since January.

Here's how Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, put it in a statement:

"Consumer Confidence fell in May, following a slight decline in April. Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate."

Now try this one on for size.

Just four days ago, the Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers rose to its highest point since 2007 — before the Great Recession began.

That consumer sentiment index, by the way, has risen for nine straight months.

Here's how Richard Curin, the Surveys of Consumers chief economist, put it in a statement:


Macro chatter: Greek recession killing Athens sex business

Around the world: Greek banks get another chance at getting in good with the ECB, but it may be too late to save the Athens' sex shops.
Even strippers say they're having a tough time making ends meet in Greece. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Need to know:
As the US barbecued and relaxed on beaches and boats across the country Monday, Greece was busy setting up some of its largest banks with an 18 billion euro lifeline.

The funds provided to the four banks will allow them to begin borrowing from the European Central Bank again. The ECB, which has become a last-resort lender for many Greek banks, had cut them off.

The banks were dangerously low on capital, a feeling likely somewhat familiar to Greece itself. Greece is running low on funds and may not be able to cover its bills starting next month.

Want to know:
Even the sex business is suffering in Greece.

Athens alone used to be home to about 400 sex shops, but now only 100 remain, Reuters reported. Strippers are suffering, too, as customers increasingly choose to keep what little cash they have in their pockets.

A value-added tax of 23 percent on certain sexual products isn’t helping, Reuters said.

Dull but important:
China and Japan no longer need a middle-man to trade currencies.

The world’s second and third largest economies are scheduled to begin directly trading yen for yuan June 1, the Wall Street Journal said.

The move should help business in Japan and China save money, but it will do so at the expense of the US dollar. It is the latest in a series of actions China has been taking to reduce its reliance on the US dollar for international transactions and could threaten the dollar’s long reign as the world’s reserve currency.

Just because:
Spain is, as Kenny Loggins might say, on the highway to the danger zone.

Spanish borrowing costs were creeping toward fresh records Monday. Investors are becoming increasingly worried about Spain’s ability to deal with troubles in its banking sector.

Spain has been forced to provide a $24 billion bailout to one of its largest banks, and some fear Spain could have to cough up even more cash to keep its banks afloat.

Strange but true:
A memo handwritten by a teenaged Steve Jobs is up for auction.

Jobs wrote the four-page memo in 1974 when he was 19-years-old and working nights at Atari. In it, he detailed his recommendations for improving Atari’s World Cup soccer arcade game and shared a Buddhist mantra.


Macro chatter: Obama yuan rap video still says it all

Around the world in business: Spain ponies up a lot of euros for Bankia. Greeks don't want to be told to pay their taxes, and an animated rap video is still the best explanation of why the US and China can't stop arguing abou the yuan.
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Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. in Huaibei, Anhui Province on April 18, 2011. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Need to know:
While the US is off for Memorial Day, Spain is bailing out its third-largest bank.

Spain plans to provide Bankia with $24 billion in what would be the largest bank bailout in Spanish history. The figure is twice as much as Spain has spent addressing banking weaknesses triggered by the collapse of a Spanish housing bubble.

The bailout is bigger than what had been expected.


China's economic model: Just how weak is it?

There is good news, and bad news, for the world's second-largest economy.
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A model on the catwalk at China Fashion Week, November 1, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Here's one of the more colorful sayings attributed to China's new material girls, most notoriously on a Chinese television dating show:

"I'd rather cry in the back of your BMW than laugh on the back of your bicycle."

Funny, yes.

But the remark also reveals the aspirational urge across China to leave behind symbols of the past and to race headlong — wallets open and arms outstretched — into a more prosperous future.

As the Economist points out today in a must-read special report on the Chinese economy, the bicycle has long been a useful analogy for thinking about China's remarkable and complex economy: everything's fine as long as you keep peddling.

Here's how writer Simon Cox puts it:

"Bikes—especially when heavily laden—are stable only as long as they keep moving. The same is sometimes said about China’s economy. If it loses momentum, it will crash. And since growth is the only source of legitimacy for the ruling party, the economy would not be the only thing to wobble."

But as the Economist report also makes clear, that metaphor may be outdated.

China's government no longer sees gross domestic product growth of 8 percent as mandatory — it lowered that target to 7.5 percent last March.

And it is investment — on plants and machinery, infrastructure and other modernizing inputs — that's really driving the country's economy these days. It's not exports, as the conventional wisdom goes.

So big change is afoot in the world's second-largest economy.

And that begs the following questions: what's changing, and what does that change mean for the rest of us?


Macro chatter: How one man paid off his $111,000 student loan bill in cash

Around the world in business: A Canadian pays off a student loan in cash, Indians rush to the pumps ahead of a price hike, and how long a minimum wage worker toils to earn a CEO salary.
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A crowd of motor-cyclists line up a petrol pump to fill their vehicles after the announcement of the biggest hike in Indian fuel prices in a decade. (AFP/Getty Images)

Need to know:
The US housing market may be doing a little bit better, but nearly one in three homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, according to the real estate website Zillow.


Euro crisis: Just bang your head

EU leaders urge Greece to stay in euro zone. Bloomberg Businessweek urges the rest of us to crack our own skulls.
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What can headbangers teach us about the euro crisis? Plenty. (Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

Who doesn't love a bit of good humor, especially when it's aimed at a deeply frustrating, politically intractable and potentially devastating economic problem?

So kudos to Bloomberg Businessweek and its bold "Bang Head Here" cover, which is the perfect response to what was, yet again, another frustrating week for those waiting for Europe to implode.

But first, here are today's euro crisis lowlights, if you can bear to follow.