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Amazon is getting busted by the FTC. The e-commerce site is being sued by the government agency for charging parents millions of dollars for unauthorized in-app purchases made by their tech-savvy children. Kids were (are?) able to purchase virtual goods using their parents very real money without very real permission. Not only does the FTC want Amazon to refund all that cash but it also wants the internet company to actually stop. Amazon’s policy on refunding in-app purchases is to NOT refund them. However, Amazon says it has already done otherwise and was “deeply disappointed” about the lawsuit. No kidding. In January, Apple had to refund over $32 million for the same reason while T-Mobile got sued last week for bogus billing charges.
Trouble in Portugal?
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There is even more reason to blame Portugal today now that country’s regulator suspended trading for Banco Espirito Santo since the price of its shares took a major nosedive. The bank is part of the Espirito Santo International conglomerate that has been causing so much trouble lately. The problem for us here across the pond is that Wall Street isn’t taking to kindly to these banking problems and the Dow Jones took a .4% hit over these events. Wall Street, the rest of the world (and myself ) start to wonder if European banks are “healthy.” The index of European lenders, appropriately enough called STOXX, already fell to its lowest this year with no thanks to Austria and Bulgaria who contributed to these “wonderings” with their own banking issues. And while Banco Espirito Santo might seem like a minor player in the banking field, its very big problems spread to its neighbors in Greece, Italy and Spain. The Portugese Prime Minister said there is no reason to worry for depositors to worry and the country’s banking practices are a-ok. Isn’t that reassuring?
Now that’s healthy…
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On the flip side, Wells Fargo seems very healthy – especially compared to European banks. It was the first of the big banks to announce its second quarter earnings and kicked off the season with a 4% gain with much help, thanks, and a major debt of gratitude (no pun intended – well maybe just a little) to loans, especially commercial, and deposit growth. The company had a net income of $5.7 billion, up from $5.5 billion from a year ago and gained $1.01 per share. Revenue was over $21 billion which was actually down 1.5% from a year ago but shares are still up over 28% since October.
Portugal blame game…
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If you’re just as annoyed as I am about the havoc being wreaked on the markets today, then join me in pointing the finger at Portugal. One of the country’s biggest financial firms, Espirito Santo International, is very rudely causing headaches, and not just in Europe, when it curiously delayed payment to some of the entities holding onto its debt securities. Delaying payment is bad enough but then throw in the fact that an audit done in May showed “irregularities” in its accounting and you’ve got yourself a major problem – for the firm, the investors and even the country of Portugal itself. The company blamed some of the issues on an IT mistake. In the meantime the firm sought judicial protection against its creditors. Hmmm. Since when do IT mistakes require judicial protection?
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Results of a new study have just been released. But it’s not just the results that are newsworthy but the study itself since it’s the first one done, post-pot legalization, using actual sales data instead of survey responses from people whose sobriety might be questionable. Now for the drum roll, please: “This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated.” Ya think? In fact, demand for residents of the open-minded state of Colorado came in at 121 metric tons for its residents and 9 more tons for enthusiastic tourists. The study was conducted by the Marijuana Inventory Tracking System (MITS – and don’t forget that “S”) by Colorado’s Department of Revenue. The study also found a third of the state’s pot consumers consume their weed less than once a month and that visitors account for 44% of sales in the Denver area. On average, an ounce of marijuana will set you back about $220. But you’re worth it.
Closed for American business…
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In case you were in the market for components to add to your personal stash of surveillance drones, you might want to check with the US Treasury first to see if your vendor of choice has been blacklisted by Uncle Sam. And in case that vendor was Stars Group Holding, well then, you’re going to have to take your business elsewhere. Unfortunately, Stars Group Holding is among those blacklisted because it likes to play nice and chillax with members of terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Coincidentally (or not) both Hezbollah and Stars Group Holding hold court in Lebanon. Stars Group helped the anti-humanitarian organization pick up parts for unmanned aerial vehicles – UAV’s if you’re in the know, which were used for Syria’s murderous Assad Regime and to spy on the democratic and diplomatic state of Israel, which Hezbollah is hell bent on annihilating. Americans are banned from doing business with the company that “…relied on false-end user certificates, mislabeled air waybills, and other fraudulent methods.” Charming, huh?