Posts belonging to Category Personal Finance

Amazon is Eyeing the Banking Industry

How Amazon is planning to break into Wall Street

Banks have been warily watching Inc. for signs it would threaten their world. The tech giant’s latest move looks more like an opportunity — at least for one of them. A proposal to start offering a product similar to checking accounts is “for now not showing any signs of disrupting the industry,” Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research, said in a note to clients Monday. “While the ‘Amazon effect’ has dictated trading in several sectors, for banks it seems a much tamer story.”

Amazon is in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. about the product, people familiar with the matter said Monday. The targets are millennial consumers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The strategy could help Amazon lower fees it pays to financial firms and give it a bigger window into customers’ income and spending habits. The Wall Street Journal reported the talks earlier Monday.…  March 07, 2018

Bull Market Heading for Major Correction in 2018, Bank of America Says

The bull market is showing signs of cracking

Bank of America Corp. (BACGet Report) says signs are growing that the eight-year-old bull market in stocks and risky assets could soon come to an end. And, as with all late-stage bull markets, the trick for investors is in getting the timing right. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a key benchmark for U.S. stocks, could peak at 2,863 during the first half of 2018, Bank of America analysts predicted in a report. That’s 8% above current levels.

But the second half could bring mostly gloom for investors, as the Federal Reserve tightens financial conditions by raising interest rates and shrinking its balance sheet. Volatility — a measure of the size of daily price swings — could rise from this year’s unusually low levels. Inflation is likely to increase. Yields on corporate bonds could widen relative to those of U.S. Treasuries — an indicator of fading investor confidence in companies’ ability to repay their debt. “Signs of bubble-like behavior abound,” according to the report, which cited examples like record-high art prices, soaring Bitcoin prices and a 100-year-bond sale by Argentina, the South American nation that has defaulted on its debt eight times in the past 200 years. Next year “could represent the move toward euphoria, which typically heralds the end of a bull market.”

http://www.the…  March 05, 2018

Stocks or Bonds: What Happens When Rates Rise?

Basic rules

Although there are no specific rules about how bonds and dividend-paying stocks respond to rising interest rates, there are some broad tendencies you may want to consider, suggests Mary Ann Bartels, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Portfolio Strategy.

With bonds, the “coupon rate” is the interest rate that an issuer uses to calculate regular interest payments to investors. The longer the term of a bond, the higher the coupon is likely to be; you’re paid more to wait longer to get your principal back. Higher risk, too, affects the coupon, with high-yield bonds from less solid companies offering more generous interest payments than you’ll get from higher-rated corporations or from U.S. Treasury bonds.…  Febuary 23, 2018

Despite Trump’s attacks, Obamacare sign-ups dip only slightly

Millions of Americans opted to sign up for coverage on the exchanges for 2018 anyway

Some 11.8 million people selected plans on the federal and state-based exchanges, down 3.7% from last year, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. The data, released Wednesday, provides the first look at sign-ups for 2018 nationwide. Just over 8.7 million people signed up on the federal exchange, while a little over 3 million picked plans in the 11 states and District of Columbia, which run their own marketplaces. Obamacare advocates had feared that sign-ups would plummet after the Trump administration cut the open enrollment period in half, slashed advertising by 90% and reduced support for enrollment assistance. Also, insurers hiked premiums for many plans amid the uncertainty in Washington, D.C. and President Trump’s elimination of funding for Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies. However, in a strange twist, richer federal premium subsidies actually made coverage more affordable for many people.  Febuary 08, 2018

The store of the future

Inside Amazon Go

Long lines at checkout are common at grocery stores. But at Amazon’s new cashier-free store, you’ll only need to worry about clumps of tourists. The small test store in Seattle, which opened to the public for the first time on Monday, could be what automated shopping spaces will look like in the future. It uses cameras and sensors to detect what food you’ve taken from a shelf, then automatically charges you when you walk out. I stopped by to try out the store, located in the base of Amazon’s corporate skyscraper, on Thursday morning. Three days after its grand opening, the massive lines had mostly disappeared. There were only a handful of shoppers inside at 10:15 a.m., but business picked up at lunchtime and there was a short line to enter.

To walk in, you need a few things: an Amazon account, a recent smartphone, and the Amazon Go app. You enter the 1800-square-foot space through six high-tech turnstiles. Open the app and wave a code on your screen above a gate to open it. It’s a familiar experience to anyone who has ridden a subway or used a mobile boarding pass at the airport.…  January 29, 2018

The 1% grab 82% of all wealth

More than $8 of every $10 of wealth created last year went to the richest 1%

That’s according to a new report from Oxfam International, which estimates that the bottom 50% of the world’s population saw no increase in wealth.

“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.

The head of the advocacy group argued that the people who “make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food” are being exploited in order to enrich corporations and the super wealthy. The study, released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, was produced using data from Credit Suisse’s(CS) Global Wealth Databook. …  January 22, 2018

Telegram wants its own blockchain platform and native cryptocurrency

Enormous Initial Coin Offering

Encrypted messaging startup Telegram plans to launch its own blockchain platform and native cryptocurrency, powering payments on its chat app and beyond. According to multiple sources which have spoken to TechCrunch, the “Telegram Open Network” (TON) will be a new, ‘third generation’ blockchain with superior capabilities, after Bitcoin and, later, Ethereum paved the way.

The launch will be funded with an enormous Initial Coin Offering, with forthcoming private pre-sales ranging into the hundreds of millions, potentially making it one of the largest ICOs to date. Demand is driven by the fact that rather than the ICO coming from a fresh startup, Telegram is a well-established messaging platform used around the world.

Adopting a homegrown cryptocurrency could give Telegram’s payment system enormous independence from any government or bank — something Co-founder and CEO Pavel Durov is known to covet after investors took over his last company, Russian social network VK. Durov has not responded to TechCrunch’s several attempts to contact him regarding this story. … Tue., 16  January 2018

Tax cuts could risk overheating the U.S. economy

Wages to quickly rise

New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley is worried new tax cuts could risk overheating the U.S. economy in the next few years.
Economic prospects in 2018 are looking “reasonably bright,” Dudley said in a speech to the Securities and Financial Markets Association on Thursday. He expects unemployment to remain low and wages to quickly rise.

But Dudley warned that central bankers may have to “press harder on the brakes” at some point in the next few years to help stave off a possible recession. … Fri., 12  January 2018

Eastman Kodak unveils cryptocurrency

Stock doubles

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co (KODK.N) more than doubled on Tuesday after the one-time leader in photography became the latest company to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon.

The storied Rochester, New York-based company said in a statement it is launching a cryptocurrency called “KODAKCoin” for photographers, part of “KODAKOne,” an image rights management platform in a licensing partnership with WENN Digital.

The platform uses blockchain technology, the backbone of bitcoin and other digital currencies that have surged in recent months and raised fears of a price bubble. … Wed., 10  January 2018

Who are the world’s 500 richest people?

Bloomberg Billionaires index

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index is a daily ranking of the world’s richest people. Details about the calculations are provided in the net worth analysis on each billionaire’s profile page. The figures are updated at the close of every trading day in New York.… Thu., 28  December 2017