Smackdown: Google, Facebook vs. Fake News; Controversy Over New Balance Seems Unbalanced; Ford Revs Up Tariff Debate with Trump

Just faking it…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the Trump controversies keep on pouring in, Google and Facebook have now decided to crusade against fake news, as widely shared, yet wholly fabricated stories about the candidates may (or may not) have adversely influenced the presidential election. Part of the problem began when Google realized that the top results for search phrases such as “final election results” and “who won the popular vote” were directing users to a fake news site. By Monday, Google started pulling AdSense from several sites that “misrepresent, misstate or conceal information” and were profiting off such bogus political news stories. As for Facebook, it plans to put the kibosh on ad money from fake sites, but it’s not entirely clear how it will achieve this objective and identify these sites. However, it seems to be a prudent move considering that, according to a Pew study, 44% of Americans get their news from the social network giant. No matter how you slice it, the internet and social media figured prominently last Tuesday and now everyone’s looking to find out what went wrong – or right.

Unbalanced…

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Image courtesy of sukanda/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Privately-held company New Balance has inadvertently, and presumably unwillingly, become the unofficial “official shoes of white people.” Unlike its much more enormous rival, Nike, the 110 year old Boston-based New Balance has always been committed to manufacturing its products in the U.S. across 14 factories where it employs over 1,400 people of various races, ethnicities, genders, religions etc. Hence, the company never cared much for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement that gives companies – like Nike – a very humongous edge because they can manufacture a greater quantity of goods abroad, for a lot lot less money than doing it here. The TPP basically jeopardizes companies who choose to domestically produce goods by making for a very un-level playing field. Because Trump is a huge fan of domestic manufacturing and job creation, his election was welcome news for New Balance. And when New Balance said as much, social media either skewered the company and called for boycotts and mass destruction of the sneakers or had white supremacists proclaiming it as their footwear of choice.  Incidentally, New Balance supported the trade policies of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders too.  A fact that both Trump haters and white supremacists seemed to have overlooked.

Have you manufactured a Ford lately?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After congratulating Donald Trump on his election last week, Ford Motors CEO Mark Fields shared some thoughts about Trump’s proposed 35% tariffs on imports – he thinks they’re a bad idea. After reporting a 12% decline in car sales for October earlier this month, Fields said in a speech given at the L.A. Auto show, that those tariffs will have a very big bad impact on the U.S economy and trusts (or hopes) that Trump will do what’s in the best interests of the United States. However, Trump, early on in his campaign spoke about how he didn’t appreciate the fact that Fields moved Ford’s small car production to Mexico, where wages are a whopping 80% less than what they are in the U.S. If you recall, Trump thinks NAFTA is “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country” and he’s licking his chops to put the kibosh on it. Although, to counter that last tidbit, Fields did say that Ford added 25,000 jobs since 2011. In the meantime, experts have said that Trump’s tariffs, which are on this side of punitive, in fact, violate the rules of the World Trade Organization. So it’s anybody’s guess how far those tariffs will actually go.

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Bernie’s Big Ticket Plans; Trump: Print Me the Money!; A Glazing Good Deal for Krispy Kreme

 

Hey big spender…

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Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Studies were done on Bernie Sanders’ spending plan and the results just might churn your stomach, no matter how you feel about the potential presidential candidate. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center and the also non-partisan Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center explain how Bernie’s plan could harm the economy by dangerously increasing the federal deficit and the national debt – an ugly combo. His plan involves raising taxes across all income levels with nobody getting a pass – which almost sounds fair. His plan literally requires trillions of dollars in tax increases but hey, it includes FREE universal healthcare, expanded social security and FREE college tuition. Don’t even pay attention to the strain on economic growth under this plan. Because there won’t be any growth. Just cold hard strain. According to the study, Sanders’ domestic agenda plan would add $18 trillion to the national debt over ten years. That’s not including an additional $3 trillion in interest payments. And that number is just from Sanders’ lofty goal of providing free healthcare for all. The study also mentions a $32 trillion increase in federal medical spending over ten years plus another $3 trillion added for additional long-term care costs. But hey, it’s worth it right? Just maybe not for you. Or anyone you’ve ever known. At least Bernie Sanders would do away with all those annoying premiums, co-pays and co-insurance costs. Those in the lowest income bracket would end up paying, on average, $200 more in taxes. But that additional $200 taxes comes with $10,000 in benefits. So that’s a win. Sort of. For those who whose incomes fall more in the middle, they’ll find their tax bill going up, on average, by about $4,500. Seems awfully steep but hey, that bigger tax bill will get those middle income earners $13,000 more in benefits from the U.S. governments. Not that they necessarily need $13,000 more in government benefits, but whatever. With low and moderate income levels gaining the most benefits, it will leave the lucky top 5% of earners paying, on average $130,000 more in taxes. But if you’re in the top 5%, well then consider yourself fortunate. Or not. Feeling the Bern yet? Your additional $130,000 gets you not much of anything more. Well there is that additional $19,000 in benefits but if that’s not enough then too bad. Bernie Sanders administration doesn’t care about you. Sanders’ campaign officials did release their own cost estimates which, of course, weren’t nearly as traumatizing as those released by the non-partisan outlets. So whose math are you going to trust?

Poetry in motion…

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More gems escaped from the mouth of presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. This time he said that the U.S. won’t ever have to default on its loans because it can just print the money. This latest pearl was imparted after he was asked to clearly stipulate his strategy on how to handle the national debt. He insists he never said that he thinks the US should default and renegotiate with its creditors. He also said that he would do his super duper best to try and NOT touch social security – so gallant of him. The Donald also called himself the “King of Debt” because he loves debt. I mean, how could you not? He went on to say ,”I understand debt better than probably anybody. I know how to deal with debt very well. I love debt.” I could not have made up that quote if I tried. Trump wants us to know that he would like to take advantage of a drop in value of U.S. treasury debt and buy it back with better terms. That’s if and only the rates go up and those bonds can be purchased for a discount. It’s a legit tactic but the problem is it’s coming from the self-proclaimed “King of Debt.”

Glazed and not confused…

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Image courtesy of Keerati/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Krispy Kreme’s Wall Street days are about to be history as the company, famous for its delectable glazed doughnuts, is going private again after being acquired by German company JAB to the tune of $1.35 billion. JAB is getting the yummy company for $21 per share, a nearly 25% premium over Friday’s closing stock price of $16.86. The company, which went public in 2000, boasts over 1,100 stores worldwide. Interestingly enough, Krispy Kreme has more stores outside the US, over 800 actually. Back in August of 2003, shares of the company hit a high of $49.37, but alas, those days are long gone. A majority of Krispy Kreme stores are operated by franchises and plenty of the international franchises have been hit with weaker sales, in part, because of the strong dollar. Krispy Kreme, however, will fit in nicely at JAB, which already acquired Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee. Wall Street seemed sweet on the acquisition as it sent shares up today over 24% to almost $21 a share.