Bitcoin’s Not Feeling the Hacker Love, Fly The Divisive Skies and A Credit To Your Score

And then there were none…

Courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mt. Gox, once Bitcoin’s largest exchange, now bears the dubious distinction of being the most broke.  That’s right. Mt. Gox has officially officially gone bust.  “First of all, ” (Former?)French CEO Mark Karpeles said, “I’m very sorry.” No doubt. But he also wanted to reassure folks that “the bitcoin industry is healthy and it is growing.” Just not at Mt. Gox. It’s believed that 750,000 bitcoins, or about half a billion dollars –  as they say in the regulated currency languages –  went missing after some particularly adept hackers had the nerve to exploit weaknesses in the system at Mt. Gox.   But no need  to fret if you are still planning a foray into crypto-currency.  Major bitcoin players feel that it was Karpeles’ fault and the bitcoin industry is still very much a worthy pursuit.  What a relief.

We’re just not that into you…

Courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Attention coach passengers: Now you need not be bothered having to sit so close to those pesky first-class passengers.  Airlines are coming up with new ways to further divide us, socio-economically speaking, by creating actual physical distance between economy and upper class passengers Those flying coach – or economy, if you will –  will likely no longer have the ability to watch those upper-class passengers dine on their sumptuous gourmet meals (though they will still have to inhale the intoxicating aromas that float tauntingly toward the rear of the aircraft). Flying United Airlines or American Airlines any time soon?  Well you’re in luck. If you’re fortunate enough to fly upper-class, then be ready to check in at a specially designed tricked out private room then be led out secret doors to the head of the security lines. Kind like a Batcave.  But rest assured, those elite few will have to pay hefty fees for such prestigious services, some airlines charging in the ballpark of $19,000. So there!

Give credit where credit is due…

Courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ever needed to find out your credit score only to discover that, ironically, you need to whip out your credit card to do so?  Well the good news is that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to do away with that practice and instead is asking credit card companies to just do it – FOR FREE!  If there are any errors, providing that information on your statement could make it soooooo much easier to correct, critics argue than having to go through the three major credit bureaus.  In fact some companies have already graciously been providing that information out of the goodness of their own hearts.  Sweet. If your credit card company hasn’t caught on, it’s still possible that in the near future, when the dreaded statement arrives in your mailbox, your credit score will be prominently displayed right there next to your balance (and hopefully not next to any late fees).  The bad news: It’s merely a strong suggestion and your chosen credit card company can opt not to do it.

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Hail to Retail, Janet Yellen’s In the Hot Seat and Lego’s Leg Up

A tale of retail….

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m guessing you did a lot of shopping in the last few months, huh?  No? Not you? Well somebody around you did.  Actually a lot of people around you did. A lot. Retail stocks shot up beating forecasters expectations.  Companies like Sears and JC Penney, which took some big hits in recent months, rebounded with better than expected earnings.  And Best Buy?  It’s like whoa! Up 7% as I write this. Sadly you weren’t feeling the love for Chico’s.  What’s that all about? It was the glaring exception to this upward trend whose shares dipped an unflattering 8% after disappointing earnings.  Yikes.

Everything’s coming up chilly…

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arguably one of Wall Street’s biggest It people, Janet Yellen, took center stage today before the Senate and yes, she is a sensible central banker. Phew. Glad we got that out of the way.  And she thinks just like you do when you were surveyed by the consumer index, which, btw,  speaks volumes to both of yours intellect – namely that the economy is recovering. But darn be that chilly weather, she says, that keeps messing everything up (though it’s difficult to say just how much) – from the economy right on down to my very own driveway. Among her other important statements (none of which included anything about my driveway) she repeated the Fed’s promise to keep interest rates low as long as unemployment is still above 6.5%.  Does that make the situation a win/win or a no win?  Well that depends, I suppose on whether or not you are gainfully employed.

Go Go Lego…

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you still haven’t seen The Lego Movie you’re missing out. But Lego’s not too worried.  While the toy flick stayed #1 at the box office for the last three weeks and continues to pull in some impressive digits worldwide, it’s their other brands like Chima and Lego Friends that has this toymaker pulling in about $4.65 billion in 2013.  And while those numbers are nothing to sneeze at (yes, that ended in a preposition and ironically I did just sneeze )  it’s still second to Mattel with its $7.1 billion worth of Barbies and Fisher Price line.

Flying the Pricey Skies, Tesla’s Going Ga Ga For Giga, and Swiss Diss

What’s your loyalty worth…

Photo courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“A new model for earning miles will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent-flier program for our premium travelers,” says Jeff Robertson, the Delta Vice President who oversees the airline’s loyalty operations.  But just how loyal are you going to feel towards Delta? If you spent a big chunk of time racking up frequent flier miles on Delta, you might want to start cashing them in.  In about ten months they’re making some big changes to their rewards program that you might not find so rewarding.  Delta’s not gonna care how much you’ve flown and how much time you’ve spent on their aircraft – only how much cash you shelled out to have the privilege of flying with them.  Yep.  Mileage reward based on actual miles traveled will be a thing of the past.  If you’re looking to get rewarded your gonna have to pony up. While they’re not the first company to that, they are the first of the bigger airlines to do it.

The excitement is electric…

Photo courtesy digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s good to be Elon Musk these days.  The Tesla Chief Executive is gearing up to build a gigafactory.  Now what on earth is a gigafactory, you ask?  You could say it’s a battery factory.  But that would be like saying a Tesla is just a car, which – let’s be real-  is so much more.  Because Morgan Stanley is just as stoked,Tesla’s market value went above $30 billion.   And if you were on the fence about acquiring the sweet battery-powered ride, know that it just became the first US car to receive  “best overall pick” in Consumer Reports magazine.

Yodel-ey-hee-boo-hoo…

Photo courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doesn’t look like Credit Suisse will be yodeling a happy tune any time soon.  Switzerland’s second largest bank acknowledged misconduct by a small group of private bankers.  Well that’s a relief  – just not a tax relief. Credit Suisse Chief Brady Dougan  – who happens to be a US citizen  – deeply regrets “that some Credit Suisse bankers appear to have violated US law.”  Rest assured that the bank’s management had allegedly no knowledge that nearly 22,000 US customers were hiding $10-12 billion in assets with them.  But you really gotta wonder what that says about their management skills. 

Not @GSElevator, A Big Bite of Bitcoin and Your Innermost Thoughts

In a strange twist of corporate Goldman Sachs drama…

Image courtesy of sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The identity of twitter account @GSelevator has finally been identified.  The tweeter had over 600,000 followers, as he/she tweeted about Wall Street’s corporate culture. The author of the account, John Lefevre, isn’t and was never even an employee there.  If he were, however, he’d have had one hell of a commute since he’s a resident of the great state of Texas.  Apparently it’s not necessary to have ever been employed at a particular firm in order to tweet about it.  Simon & Schuster agree as Mr. Lefevre has a six-figure advance from them for his book.  To be fair, though, he interviewed there seven years ago so it’s safe to say he had a glimpse of a genuine Goldman Sachs elevator.  Must have been some elevator.

There seems to be a Bitcoin of a problem…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ever heard of Mt. Gox?  Well that’s probably just as well since the Tokyo based Bitcoin exchange mysteriously misplaced about  744,000 Bitcoins.  And just how much is that worth, you might be wondering.  Hundreds of millions of dollars, that is,  if you don’t take into account the currency’s volatility.  What that means for the future of virtual currency depends on whom you ask.  Venture Capitalist Marc Andreesen compared it to MF Global, the brokerage that filed for bankruptcy in 2011.  Thinking he was reassuring Bitcoin investors and enthusiasts with that comparison, Andreesen said, “Bitcoin protocol is unchanged and other Bitcoin exchanges and companies are doing fine.”  Feel better about that now?

How thoughtful of you…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you consider yourself a consumer, say like…um…everybody,then I know what you’ve been thinking about these days. No, really.  I do.  Your thoughts were thoughtfully expressed on the consumer confidence index.  You see, a bunch of people were surveyed on their consumer thoughts – as they consider themselves to be consumers just as you do – are those thoughts are meant to represent yours as well.  How ’bout that.  First of all, you think that the economy has improved.  You also think that jobs are plentiful.  But then again you also weren’t feeling totally optimistic about the economy either.  And you were definitely concerned with “the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and earnings.” Did you know that’s what you were thinking?  Well, I hope you thought this through carefully.

Board Members Smackdown, Darn That Weather and Netflix Has Its Own Drama

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re looking for a good fight today then look no further than Carl Icahn vs. eBay.  The activist investor who owns about 2% in eBay stock said that CEO John Donahoe “was completely asleep, or even worse, either naïve or willfully blind…” Yikes.  Icahn is peeved because he feels that some eBay board members have commitment issues and wants eBay to spin off its PayPal unit.  So what does this mean for you, o’ faithful consumer of online goods and services? Well probably not much.  At least for now…

Maybe it wasn’t that awful tie after all…

The money guys say, chillax.  It’s not your lousy interview skills or your beer-stained tie that (probably) cost you the job.  Blame it on the totally annoying Polar Vortex instead.  Though economic data proved to be much worse than what was originally predicted in both housing and hiring,  the investors are blaming it on Mother Nature and the nasty weather she’s been dumping on us.

Image Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

If that is in fact the case, does this mean we can expect to see some growth in those sectors as the weather warms up (if it ever does)? Hmmm.

Big Netflix fan, are ya?

Well let’s see just how big a fan you really are?  Are you willing to pay even more for the service.  If you answered yes then guess what…it’s entirely possible that you might MIGHT in fact get the opportunity to prove your customer loyalty and fandom now that Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast to stream its content way smoother than in recent months.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

It’ll all be worth it, wont it?  After all, that means that those pesky little pauses and other snags reported by subscribers are soon to be a thing of the past…it is hoped…