King Digital Entertainment, the company behind the mega-hit game Candy Crush, has filed its IPO papers with the SEC, offering investors a look inside its massive popularity. And, well, dear God. Last year the company took in $1.88 billion with $568 million in profits—half $1 billion in profits! To put this in perspective, a mobile gaming company specializing in colored sugar baubles made more than a quarter of Amazon’s lifetime earnings in a year.
This afternoon, the Obama administration delighted marijuana advocates by announcing new guidelines meant to make it easier for cannabis businesses to open bank accounts in states where the drug is legalized.
Whether or not those new guidelines will have much of an affect, however, is an open question.
Financial institutions have largely shunned the pot industry, even in weed-friendly locales like Colorado, out of fear of violating federal drug and banking laws. As a result, dispensaries and growers have had to operate on a mostly cash basis, which is not exactly the most safe or efficient way to run company. They’ve also been denied access to credit.
The new guidelines, released by the Justice and Treasury Departments, essentially give banks an assurance that, as long as they play by the right rules and file the right paperwork, they probably won’t be prosecuted for letting your local pot shop open a checking account. Emphasis on probably. Back in August, the Department of Justice issued a memo stating that it would only focus on prosecuting marijuana businesses that broke state law or committed certain egregious offenses, like trafficking the drug over state lines or selling to minors. The DOJ now says, essentially, that banks are unlikely to be prosecuted so long as they only deal with marijuana customers that play by those rules.
Meanwhile, any financial institution that chooses to offer their services to cannabis businesses will have to file paperwork stating that they believe their customer is operating within the DOJ’s guidelines.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The Fed is trying to put back with the right hand what it’s taking away with the left. But it might need to use both together if it’s going to speed up the recovery.
Ever since Lehmangeddon, the Fed has been stuck in a brave, old monetary world where even zero interest rates aren’t enough to jumpstart the economy. It’s a world that, outside of Japan, we haven’t seen since the 1930s. And one that the Fed has tried to find a way out of in fits and starts. By late 2012, it had settled on a two-pronged strategy to do so: purchases and promises. The Fed purchased $85 billion of long-term bonds a month with newly-printed money, and promised to keep rates at zero at least until unemployment fell below 6.5 percent or inflation rose above 2.5 percent.
But now these programs are winding down, and we still haven’t gotten the catch-up growth that’s always a day (or 6-12 months) away. The Fed started this return to normalcy last May when Ben Bernanke said that it would soon start reducing—or, in financial lingo, “tapering”—its bond-buying. Investors didn’t like this surprise, but the Fed didn’t like the one it got either. Even though its forward guidance hadn’t changed at all, the taper talk made markets expect the Fed to start raising rates much sooner than before. In other words, markets didn’t distinguish between the Fed’s purchases and promises. That’s because the purchases are what made the promises credible, the Fed putting its money where its mouth was.
So how much are the Fed’s promises worth today? Well, more than you might think, though there are still a few difficulties.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
On a clear day in Laguna Niguel, California, Anthony Franco and Shawna Stewart stood together at the altar, surrounded by 40 family members and friends. It was a traditional ceremony: The two Colorado natives smiled in a sea of purple and white, Franco’s lilac tie matching the strapless dresses of Stewart’s five bridesmaids. Sunlight bounced off of the round brilliant-cut diamond on her left hand. But one small detail set their ceremony apart from others. When the time came to exchange wedding bands with one another, Franco was already wearing a ring.
According to a recent survey by XO Group Inc.—parent company of leading wedding Web site The Knot—5 percent of engaged men are wearing mangagement rings. It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of this little-known piece of jewelry, but it certainly predates the 21st century. Vicki Howard, author of Brides, Inc: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition and an associate professor of history at Hartwick University in New York, spent hours poring over jewelry trade magazines to trace the history of what the industry calls the “mangagement ring.”
In 1926, jewelers tried to popularize the concept, but to no avail. Companies like L. Bamburger & Co., a large department store later rebranded as Macy’s, joined together for a cooperative advertising campaign. The ads, which ran in East Coast newspapers, featured black and white photos of a man’s left hand, a cigarette resting between the first two fingers and a large rock flashing on the fourth. The rings even had ultra-macho names: the Pilot, the Stag, the Master. But these campaigns were unable to overcome the ingrained femininity of the symbol, and the movement flopped.
Read more. [Image: Etsy.com]
Today is the day of unmet expectations. It’s the day for rushing to make your way-too-early dinner reservation, only to be wedged between two tables of loud talkers. Or of trying hard not to hope for surprise flowers because you’re not officially boyfriend-girlfriend yet. Or of trying to find a last-minute gift, only to make a desperate run to CVS to buy some crappy little thing.
Most people agree that Valentine’s Day is a good, if somewhat random, opportunity to shower loved ones with affection. At the same time, people also seem to resent the holiday’s obligatory nature. A survey of 6,400 people by the National Retail Federation found that fewer people are expected to participate in Valentine’s Day this year (54 percent compared to 60 percent last year). Those who do take part will drop $134 on the day’s festivities.
And yet, people expect that their significant others will spend more on them for Valentine’s Day than they themselves want to spend. As Martha C. White pointed out in Time, both men and women who are in relationships want their lovers to shell out an average of $240, yet men themselves say they plan to spend $98, and women just $71.
For many, Valentine’s Day showboating just doesn’t evince the same excitement that, say, Christmas dinner or a surprise birthday does.
Read more. [Image: lolostock/Shutterstock]
It would create a national behemoth out of two already-maligned companies. Then again, it’s hard to make the anti-trust case if the cable providers barely compete for any customers.
Humans are easily confused, especially by double y-axes.
Exhibit A: The chart above that’s been making the rounds again. It shows how the stock market today looks—dun, dun, dun—just like it did in 1929. Hurry up and invest with the geniuses who first identified this spooky pattern before it’s too late!
Except don’t. Please don’t. Double y-axes have their time and place, but too often they’re the first, last, and only refuge of charlatans and cranks. That’s because you can use them to make almost anything look like a pattern.
Suppose, for example, that you had some stock prices from a historic boom and bust. And then suppose that you had some other stock prices from a much, much smaller boom. Well, you can make them look identical if you use devious enough y-axes. All you need is a small range for the small boom, and a big range for the big boom—and voilà, you have a “pattern.”
Around this time last year, I considered writing a story claiming that Facebook and Twitter were the new “homepages” for news on the Internet. It was going to be about how, if the Web had ripped out the article pages of newspapers and magazines and scattered them to the wind, Facebook and Twitter had pinched them from the air and stacked them in easy, vertical columns that were becoming our new first-look sources for the day’s events.
A year ago, social networks are the new homepage seemed like an (almost) original observation. Today, it’s just a boring fact.
In the last twelve months, traffic from home pages has dropped significantly across many websites while social media’s share of clicks has more than doubled, according to a 2013 review of the BuzzFeed Partner Network, a conglomeration of popular sites including BuzzFeed, the New York Times, and Thought Catalog.
Facebook, in particular, has opened the spigot, with its outbound links to publishers growing from 62 million to 161 million in 2013. Two years ago, Facebook and Google were equal powers in sending clicks to the BuzzFeed network’s sites. Today Facebook sends 3.5X more traffic.
Read more. [Image: Facebook]
How much money is morality worth? This is one of the questions looming in the recent slew of court cases concerning birth control and the Affordable Care Act. As judges at the district, federal, and Supreme Court level decide whether religious groups and businesses can be exempt from new rules about contraceptive coverage, organizations are having to make a choice: Are moral objections to birth control and pregnancy prevention worth millions of dollars?
Under the health care law, big companies that have made recent changes to their insurance plans are required to cover 20 FDA-approved forms of birth control—or face significant fines if they refuse. Only companies with more than 50 employees have to provide insurance coverage; small businesses are exempt. Large companies can also choose to opt out of providing plans, but at a significant cost: $26 million in fines every year, plus any intangible losses that might come from not being able to offer insurance as an employee benefit.
One of the most prominent cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, will be argued before the Supreme Court in late March. It concerns David and Barbara Green, the owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain. The couple have expressed moral objections to four of the 20 forms of contraception included in the mandate—specifically, types of birth control that keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
Read more. [Image: tomo(+)/flickr]
Every generation likes to believe that it came of age at an especially trying moment in history. Millennials have the Great Recession to lament. Gen X had the dotcom bust. The Boomers had Vietnam. And the Silents had the early Cold War, complete with the not-so-silly threat of nuclear war.
But at least when it comes to the job market, I think we can all agree by now that today’s young adults are deserving of at least a few extra pity points. And should there be any doubt, here’s a wonderful, one-chart demonstration of why from a new Pew report. At every education level, the 25- to 32-year-olds of 2013 confronted a higher unemployment rate than past generations did when they were stepping into the workforce. And keep in mind, that’s 2013—four years after the economy was supposed to have started mending.