Catching Up With the Past

By | 2014-09-18T09:41:08+00:00 August 30th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Could the cash-for-clunkers program be catching up with the past? Faulkner famously remarked, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” What he meant is that our heritage of years ago always informs and affects our thoughts and actions of today. […]

Back in the USSR?

By | 2014-09-18T09:41:43+00:00 August 29th, 2014|Global Market Update|

So far the markets have shrugged off Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine and the Crimea. Will this continue? Russia’s expansion in Crimea and eastern Ukraine haven’t affected US markets much, although the German stock market fell over 10% in July. But Ukraine is small, economically, with an economy slightly bigger than Alabama’s. Their principal exports are iron ore and steel. This crisis has set other factors in motion, though. Sweden and Finland have recently tightened their ties to NATO—a natural consequence of their connection [...]

Main Street, Internet Style

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:15+00:00 August 28th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Is Amazon consuming the consumer? It sure feels that way. Over the past five years they’ve grown and grown and grown, while traditional retailers like Sears, Radio Shack, and JC Penney have struggled. Office supply stores like Staples and Office have really been hit. In fact, foot traffic is down in all the malls: Source: WSJ, 1/16/14 Retail is changing. It’s just more convenient to order stuff from the internet than to go to a store. As smartphones with shopping apps become more ubiquitous, [...]

Private Eyes?

By | 2014-09-18T09:42:46+00:00 August 27th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What is private equity? The Burger King / Tim Horton’s deal is being driven in part by Burger King’s majority shareholder, 3G Capital. 3G is a multi-billion dollar Brazilian private equity firm that focusses on iconic brands. They have significant stakes in Heinz, Anheuser-Busch, and America Latina Logistica, the largest railroad company in Latin America. Private equity firms have direct stakes in the firms they own. Their shares aren’t traded publically. That means their investments can be locked up for years. It’s like investing [...]

Doughnut Burgers?

By | 2014-09-18T09:43:11+00:00 August 26th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Why is Burger King merging with Tim Horton’s? The American fast-food restaurant Burger King and the Canadian doughnut shop Tim Horton’s are discussing a merger in which Burger King would shift its headquarters to Canada. In doing so, Burger King would save a lot in taxes. They’ll still pay 35% on US-source income; but if global growth is their goal, Canada’s territorial system and 15% Federal tax rate will allow them to sell burgers and coffee from Berlin to Beijing and not have to [...]

Icy Virus

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:15+00:00 August 25th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What is the “Ice Bucket Challenge”? The Ice Bucket Challenges involves getting filmed having a bucket of ice-water dumped on your head to promote awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Someone nominates you to do this, and within 24 hours you have to get dunked or to buy your way out via a charitable donation. Often the person getting soaked makes a donation anyway. The phenomenon has gone viral: over 2.4 million videos have been posted, and the ALS Association has raised $53 [...]

WWJS

By | 2014-09-18T09:44:23+00:00 August 22nd, 2014|Global Market Update|

What will Janet say? The Fed’s confab at Jackson Hole used to be a sleepy academic conference. At first blush, it’s not the most obvious location for a gathering of monetary policy mavens: it’s hard to get to, cell coverage is spotty, and bears can be a problem! But it has the virtue of being remote. In fact, the striking scenery and remote location are reminiscent of the Bretton Woods global monetary conference of 1944, or even the 1910 meetings on Jekyll Island, South [...]

Big Data, Big Issues

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:15+00:00 August 21st, 2014|Global Market Update|

Can Big Data be abused? Many folks are concerned about privacy when it comes to Big Data. And there are real issues. It’s a little creepy to be greeted by, “Hello, Mr. Tengdin. Did you like the shirts you bought last week?”— when I call a customer center. But that’s just efficient service. It makes sense for a retailer to know who’s calling. Most people like being greeted by name. No, our online world creates other issues. With a little ingenuity, data scientists can [...]

Big Data, Big Deal

By | 2014-09-18T09:45:13+00:00 August 20th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What is Big Data? Big Data is any data set that is too large or complex to analyze via traditional means. Every day over 2 ½ exabytes of data are created. An exabyte is a billion gigabytes, and would require a stack of CDs 1000 miles high to store. That’s a lot more information than you can put on a spreadsheet! All this data is coming from the smartphones, credit cards, store sensors, and highway monitors that are part of everyday life. Think you [...]

A Bad Bet?

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:15+00:00 August 19th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What’s wrong with gambling? I don’t mean morally, although many folks object an industry built on betting. I’m asking about the business: by the end of September four of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos will have closed or gone bankrupt. Gambling revenues in New Jersey have fallen to $2.8 billion from almost $5 billion. In Mississippi, revenues have fallen from $2.9 billion to $2.1 billion. Takings have even tumbled in Nevada, though not by as much. Part of the problem has been the proliferation of [...]