Supreme Smackdown to Apple; Wall Street Bonuses Shrink, But I’d Still Take One; Amazon Store: The San Diego Sequel

Un-appealing…

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Not everyone has the ability to say no to one of the world’s most valuable companies. But the Supreme Court did just that to Apple when it graciously told its lawyers that it was not interested in hearing its appeal on an earlier ruling from June of 2015. Now, the iPad maker has to pony up some $450 million for its role in conspiring with publishers to increase book prices that apparently violated Federal antitrust laws. Apple feels that this ruling will “chill innovation and risk taking.” Maybe. But consumers still didn’t appreciate the way that Apple caused e-book prices to go from $9.99 to $12.99 and $14.99. Except Apple didn’t act alone, bringing in Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and MacMillan to help fleece e-readers everywhere. Basically, any publisher from whom you’ve ever read a book helped facilitate this antirust breach. Apple wanted to make sure the iPad got a nice little boost when it made its grand debut in 2010. So publishers got to set the price they wanted for e-books on Apple devices and in return Apple would enjoy a 30% cut of sales. This, my friend, is the nefarious practice known as “agency pricing.” Publsihers played along because they didn’t like that the price of e-books on Amazon was going down and this method provided a convenient way to recoup that cash. The publishers started charging Amazon the same prices that it charged Apple, forcing Amazon to raise its prices also. Apple will pay $400 million to e-book customers in the form of credits, in addition to $20 million to the thirty states that sued. Of course, that doesn’t include the $30 million in legal fees that Apple’s lawyers get to collect or the changes that Apple is being forced to make to its business practices.

Whose your daddy…

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New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released some pricey data for one of New York’s top industries: Securities. Not that this will have you shedding tears, but the average Wall Street bonus fell 9% for 2015, checking in at $146,200. And while most people don’t come close to making that kind of cash in a year, the average Wall Street-er scored that, in addition to his or her salary. While that salary might seem high, consider that in 2006, the average Wall Street bonus was $191,360. And even though a whopping $25 billion worth of bonuses were awarded in 2015, it was 6% less than the previous year, as profit from broker-dealer operations dropped $1.7 billion to $14.3 billion. Profits for the six biggest banks hit $93 billion, by the way, which is more than 35% higher than the previous year. If you can believe it, that figure is still not as high as it should be and signals that the economy is still having a hard time bouncing back from 2008’s fiscal crisis. If you’re thinking about a career in securities, that might not be such a bad idea as the average Wall Street salary rose 14% in 2015 to $404,800. Except that prospects for 2016 look a bit grim and are actually expected to drop. There are approximately 172,400 people employed in the securities industry and 4,500 jobs were added in 2015. That figure, however, is still 8% less than it was pre-2008 fiscal crisis. By the way, these figures, we are warned, are not accurate estimates since they don’t include stock options and other forms of deferred compensation. The numbers also don’t include those for securities employees outside of New York City.

Isn’t it ironic…

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Mega e-commerce site, Amazon, arguably best known for being the largest online marketplace in the U.S. – not to mention some really great television –  is poised to open its second brick-and-mortar store where it will sell books, naturally, in addition to its own comprehensive line of tablets and devices. In fact, there will be nothing in the store that you wouldn’t be able to purchase on the company’s website. Rumors of the brick-and-mortar first surfaced when a big sign went up during the summer over the vacant space in a swanky San Diego mall. Then, last month, job postings for the 7,500 square foot store began appearing. Amazon’s store will be in good company as Tesla and Apple will be its mall neighbors. Meanwhile, the revenue expected from setting up an actual store isn’t expected to leave any meaningful dent in the company’s earnings. I guess it’s just a cute gesture for people who prefer to leave their homes to enjoy an actual physical shopping experience.

Bit Who? Is Mother Nature Losing Her Cool and @GSElevator Pushed the Wrong Button

Bit of confusion…

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The founder of Bitcoin has been revealed. Well…sort of…um…okay so nobody’s a hundred percent sure on that one. Here’s what is known: The virtual currency was created in 2009 – and NOT – it should be duly noted – by the Winklevoss twins. However, the creator remains a mystery (cue the eerie music).  Or does he (or she? or it?). Many believe(d) that the creator went/goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. A man by that name has been found in California and following a wild car chase in Los Angeles (duh…where else?) it’s still unclear who the founder is. Nor does it change the fact that the Winklevoss twins used bitcoins to pay for their galactic voyage or that bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox went buh-bye.

Take that Mother Nature…

Image courtesy of samarttiw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of samarttiw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you were wondering why Wall Street was putting out some record highs today (and it’s okay if you weren’t  – that’s why we’re here), it’s because 175,000 new jobs were added to the work force beating analysts’ expectations. Not only is that a positive sign that the economy is starting to regain some of its mojo, but it’s also seen as big kick in the butt to mother nature who has been toying so rudely with our economic emotions (bet you didn’t know you had those). But don’t break out the champagne just yet. Unemployment still climbed up .1% to 6.7% when that number should have stayed put like a good little estimate.

The final chapter?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And so the individual behind the twitter account @GSElevator is not @ Simon & Schuster anymore either. Straight To Hell, the book John Lefevre wrote based on things overheard in the hallowed elevators at Goldman Sachs has been canceled. The problem with the story is that Lefevre is not only NOT an employee of Goldman Sachs, but he resides in Texas which makes it kind of hard to overhear conversations in elevators in New York. But just so we’re clear, he did interview with Goldman Sachs, albeit, many many years ago.