Money and Technology

Saving, investing and making money with technology

About Inequality in America

thAs we all know the rich get richer and the poor gets poorer in America. That’s the way it seems like it has been for a long time. And the trend seems to be continuing. Although rich people took a hit in the financial crisis, the stock market has recovered strongly. Income inequality has been on the rise since the late 1970s, but the economic and financial crisis of 2008 instigated an unemployment epidemic that dramatically compounded this problem in the United States and catapulted the issue to the center of debate. There is wide agreement across the political spectrum that high inequality is contributing to undesirable circumstances such as stagnant household income, rising poverty rates, and increased borrowing and debt, though there is much less agreement on remedies. A bedrock American principle is the idea that all individuals should have the opportunity to succeed on the basis of their own effort, skill, and ingenuity. —Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Read more: But still once again the rich are getting richer as the poor get poorer in America. But Main Street has not: Median household income has fallen 10% since the beginning of the recession and unemployment has increased by nearly 5 percentage points. The Populist movements among Democrats and Republicans have finally put this issue in the spotlight. If you haven’t seen any charts about inequality, then prepare to have your mind blown. Here are some charts about the facts of inequality in America from 2011 and that trend has continued in 2014. Read more: Inequality in America provides a snapshot of the issues posed by the growing concentrations of income, focusing on the United States but drawing on international comparisons to help set the context. Here is the URL link                                                                      of a book about inequality in America that’s featured on Amazon written by Un Dadush and Kemal Dervis. The authors examine the economic, technological, and political drivers of inequality and identify worrying trends associated with its rise. They demonstrate how specific factors have exacerbated income inequality, including technological change, international trade, changes in labor market participation, and the increasing role of the financial sector. Their clear and concise exposition makes the issues surrounding income distribution accessible to a wider public. As they write in the conclusion: “We have argued that tackling the worst effects of inequality and re-establishing a measure of equal opportunity requires increased investment in crucial public goods: first, education; second, a more progressive and simplified tax system; and third, increased international cooperation to avoid a race to the bottom. Education, tax, and other such policies are pursued by other highperforming advanced countries and can be shaped for the United States in a way that is fully consistent with an efficient and competitive American economy.” There has been inequality in America for a long time. And there is an inequality in wealth in America also. Check out this video below. Wealth Inequality in America

This superb six-minute video builds on pioneering research about American attitudes toward wealth by economists Michael Norton and Dan Ariely. Most Americans, the research shows, would like to see wealth in the United States much more equally distributed than they believe it is. But most Americans underestimate how staggeringly unequal the United States has become. Thanks to politizane on YouTube.

– See more at:

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Hapimomi bringing families together directly from their phones

Rthunning a household is no small feat. By the time school, extra-curricular activities, social calendars, work events, and travel schedules are coordinated parents can feel overwhelmed only to realize that they now need to synchronize all of this into their devices to make sure no child is left behind on the soccer field! If on top of all that there is an extended network of support such as grandparents, tutors or nannies, parents can find themselves making multiple copies of calendars and updating them constantly.

Developed by two successful professionals who became those mommies that are constantly juggling household activities, Hapimomi is an incredible app that allows parents and their network to seamlessly coordinate the family’s needs. Hapimomi has six basic features that will make all the difference in the world. A social wall to share messages with the family, as well as a calendar to remind users of important appointments and a to-do list function is only the beginning. Hapimomi also features a diary where family members can store their pictures and memories and the option to have a shared contact list. This feature allows numbers for doctors, baby-sitters, teachers and neighbors to be within reach to the whole family. Last, it also helps household members develop a shopping list that can be seen by all members. How exciting would it be to send hubby to the store for a few things and get exactly what you wanted! You can sort the shopping list by store and item, making it easy for everyone involved. All members can add to the list and even check off items as they are no longer needed.

The best part about Hapimomi is that is free and easy to download from itunes. All you need is your email and a password and to add your family members so they can also join in your family group. You can keep information private or share it with all or selected members of your family.

If you are a busy parent, Hapimomi’s features and accessibility will make it become your favorite app in no time at all!

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IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield; Smart Way to Protect Your Vehicle

Car maintenance is a difficult and time-consuming job, regardless of your vehicle’s condition. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about complicated car repair jobs, or simpler tasks such as scraping the ice off your windshield during the colder expensive at all, and it will do much more than just keep ice off your windshield. Using this product will alsomonths. If you are a driver, then you’ve probably performed this task numerous times, because your windshield gets easily covered by a layer of ice when the temperatures outside drop below zero. If you country has a colder climate, then we are absolutely sure that the process of scraping ice off your windshield has become very tedious, but don’t despair, because there is a quick and easy solution to your problems – the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield. This great new item isn’t  make driving during the cold months much safer tasks, because you won’t have absolutely any visibility issues due to the complete lack of ice on your windshield.

So what makes the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield so special? This product is fairly new, but it is already being used by thousands of drivers who live in countries that are known for their harsh winter months, and according to the latest sales figures it is quickly gaining popularity across the entire world. Scraping the ice off your windshield can often take up to 10-20 minutes, and even more if you don’t have the right equipment. In the meantime mounting the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield takes just 1-2 minutes, and you won’t notice any ice on your windshield even if you leave your car out in the cold for days. The product is so durable that it can be used for years, and thanks to the handy self-storage bag you get. It will take minimum space while you keep it unmounted in your car. The shield features a double water proof design that will prevent water from staying on your windshield long enough for it to freeze. The mounting technique is incredibly simple& effective, so you will be able to easily mount & unmount the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield in a matter of minutes. The product’s designers have also come with up a unique security pocket that will help the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield to endure strong winds, as well as protect it from thieves.

Did we mention that the shield features two sides? The more unique one will protect your windshield from ice & frost, but if you turn the shield you’ll find a reflective coating that will keep the sun away from the interior of your car. This way you won’t risk your dashboard, steering wheel and front seats’ condition during the hot summer months. The mounting mechanism consists of 4 to 7 magnetic pockets, as well as two flaps which are secured by your car’s doors, so you can rest assured that your IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield won’t disappear during a windy night.

And if you are worried about your car’s aesthetics, then you’ll be pleased to know that the IceScreen Magnetic Ice Shield comes in several color schemes that will match your vehicle’s style & maintain its good visual appearance. You can also get a custom logo or text printed on your shield for some extra money, so don’t hesitate to visit the official website if you’d like to see all the customization options. The affordable price & 5-year warranty are other two things that we think turn this product in one of the best and most helpful car accessories many drivers have seen in years.

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What’s making the stock market act so crazy?

Jeff Macke

It’s not your imagination: the stock market has gone a little bonkers lately. This week alone the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) plummeted 272 points on Tuesday, rocketed back 274 points Wednesday and sank more than 330 points today. October has already recorded five days where stocks moved more than 1%. That’s as many 1% moves as we saw in the prior five months combined.

So why are stocks so crazy? There’s no set answer but here are three of the most obvious explanations making the rounds on Wall Street.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has had a very volatile week

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has had a very volatile week

It’s OctoberI know it sounds crazy but October is almost by tradition the most volatile month of the year. Whether it’s because of the upcoming holidays, the end of the fiscal year for mutual funds or because we hold elections every other November, October sees far and away the most 1% moves of any month. Remarkably since 1970 nearly one third of every trading day in October has seen the price of stocks change by 1% or more. It’s also worth noting that historically bad days like the 1929 crash and 1987’s Black Monday crash both took place in October.

Global concerns

The world is always crazy but right now things seem to be rockier than normal. Government officials in Europe are arguing over the best way to ward off an impending recession, growth is slowing to a relative crawl in China and Japan is tipping into a recession. That’s never good for companies driven by exports like General Motors (GM) or McDonalds (MCD).

For their part the Federal Reserve acknowledged these global concerns yesterday and suggested they would be very cautious about raising interest rates because of such worries. That sentiment sent stocks surging, just the latest bit of evidence that investors pay very close attention to every word uttered by the Federal Reserve.

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October is traditionally a very volatile month for markets and stocks are behaving accordingly so far this month

October is traditionally a very volatile month for markets and stocks are behaving accordingly so far this mon …

Bad news outbreakIt’s not just overseas. The Ebola outbreak has some investors worried that the U.S. economy, which hasn’t been great to begin with, could freeze. Despite good headline data on employment many economists point out that wage growth in the U.S. has been almost non-existent. The fear may be overblown but this time of year traders tend to sell first and ask questions later.

So what should you do? Probably nothing. If you’re like most investors you’re not looking at your portfolio more than once a month unless or until you see bold headlines about stocks plunging. That can make the prospect of opening up those statements pretty daunting.

The truth is trying to time the market is always a sucker’s game and that’s especially true during volatile times. Days like this aren’t a good time to radically change your long-term strategy.

Professional traders would love to see you panic into dumping some quality blue chips. Don’t be that person. Take a long-term view and if you’re in doubt make an appointment to meet with your financial planner.

More from Yahoo Finance:
Schiff: The Fed is planning for ‘QE infinity’
The truth behind market ‘bubbles’Bull market may end by middle of 2015: Schatz

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The US deficit is shrinking, but better look quick

 Rising rates will hurt progress on federal deficits

But with interest rates expected to start rising soon, the good news is only temporary.

The level of government overspending-usually referred to as the budget deficit-fell by nearly a third during the fiscal year that ended last month, mostly because revenues grew a lot faster than spending, according to a Congressional Budget Office report on Wednesday.

The Treasury collected a little over $3 trillion-nearly 9 percent more than it did a year ago-while spending rose just 1.4 percent to $3.5 trillion, according to the CBO.

That shrank the deficit to $486 billion for the latest year-about $195 billion less than the budget gap in fiscal 2013.

Higher discretionary spending-up $44 billion-was fueled largely by the cost of expanding health-care coverage. And the total paid out in Social Security checks was $37 billion more than last year. Those spending increases were offset by a $30 billion cut in spending by the Defense Department and a $24 billion drop in jobless benefits.

Read More Fed’s Kocherlakota: ‘inappropriate’ to raise rates

The improved job market also helped the government collect more money than expected. That’s because the expanding pool of jobs boosted overall wages, generating more tax revenue for the government.

“Growth in wages and salaries explains most of the increase in withheld receipts, but almost one-third of it stemmed from changes in law,” the CBO said, citing an increase in payroll tax rates that pushed up withholding.

Higher corporate profits also boosted corporate taxes up $48 billion. The Federal Reserve’s massive bond buying also generating a pile of interest on those bonds, which the Fed turns over to the Treasury. That added another $23 billion to Uncle Sam’s coffers-about 31 percent more than last year.

But interest rates are a double-edged sword for the government; the Treasury also has to pay interest to holders of nearly $18 billion in U.S. debt. Since the Fed began engineering super-low rates following the 2008 financial collapse, the Treasury has been getting a break on those payments. Think of it like a low teaser rate on your credit card.

Those low rates are expected to start rising next year, as the Federal Reserve phases out its bond buying program and allow rates to rise to more normal levels.

Read More ‘Weak and uneven’: IMF cuts global growth forecast

That’s one reason the recent progress on trimming the deficit will likely be short-lived, according to economists at Wells Fargo Securities.

They note that spending cuts, known as in Washington-speak as “budget sequestration” are set to expire in 2016. And rising interest rates will boost Treasury payments to holders of U.S. debt.

“Even with only modest increases in short-term interest rates, the year-over-year rise in interest expenses is already materializing,” the Wells Fargo economists noted.

Read More ‘Enormous’ rise in global inequality: OECD

They figure on rates rising a little higher than the CBO estimates, an note that Congress is likely to extend tax breaks that could also cut into revenues.

“Interest expenses will begin to play a much more dominate role in the federal budget,” they said. “All of these factors set up growing fiscal pressures in the later part of this decade.”

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Want to get back into stocks? Check junk spreads first

A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York

 A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York, February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A positive vibe returned to the U.S. stock market Friday, leaving some to wonder if, after two weeks of losses, the latest selloff scare was over. The best clues may come from what happens to low-quality corporate bonds.

The most recent decline in the S&P 500 marks the third time in six months that the market has looked wobbly and threatened a significant reversal. Each time, so far, it has bounced back quickly.

But what has some investors most worried this time around is the recent, notable underperformance in junk bonds in the past few months. In the past this has been a precursor to bearishness in the equity market.

High-yield corporate bond spreads , the premium investors get for purchasing low quality corporate debt as opposed to benchmark U.S. Treasuries , have been increasing steadily since late June. A widening spread means their performance is lagging higher-quality bonds.

The spread has since widened by more than 100 basis points, according to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch data. Previous spikes of this magnitude have preceded pullbacks in the S&P 500, and the greater the selloff in high-yield debt, the worse the outcome was for stocks.

“Spreads are widening and it’s certainly not a good time for equities. It doesn’t have to be a terrible time, but it’s telling you people are on the margin taking risk off,” said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of Multi-Asset Strategies and Solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.

He said that while reduced liquidity in the high-yield bond market could exaggerate the moves in spreads, the overall signal is of a marked shift in sentiment.

“I do think (the spread) has some information in terms of risk appetite and how people see economic growth,” Zemsky said.

High yield most recently started widening against Treasuries beginning on June 23, when the S&P 500 was around 1,960, with the peak set earlier this week at an increase of 116 basis points. The S&P closed the week at 1,967.90 while the yield spread tightened slightly to 107 basis points.

The last time such a shift in spreads started was in May 2013, and it preceded a near 6 percent fall in the S&P. Weakening in junk bonds in early 2012 also preceded an S&P downdraft between April and June 2012, when the S&P last flirted with a 10 percent drop.

However, the move may not yet signal a market correction. As has been the pattern in 2014, investors are content to move money between different stock market sectors rather than flee altogether. Small-cap shares entered a correction at one point this week and the S&P energy sector fell 13 percent from their 2014 peak, but investors piled into the healthcare sector (.SPXHC), which hit a lifetime record early last week.

In April 2011, high yield spreads began widening in a move that eventually reached 450 basis points. Stocks didn’t begin to correct until the spread had moved nearly 100 basis points, but eventually they sank nearly 20 percent.

“If you run a chart of junk spreads going back five years this move is tiny. We’ve seen much, much bigger moves in junk, and much bigger selloffs in junk in the last five years,” said Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.

The current spike, he said, “did predict (the move) in stocks, it did follow through and we’re probably now reaching a climax of panic,” he said.

This is why the next move in credit spreads becomes key. Next week is relatively light for economic data. Investors haven’t run entirely from bond markets, but have shifted funds around. High yield funds saw an outflow of $2.3 billion in the most recent week to Oct. 1, the most since early August, according to Lipper, as they moved money into high-grade corporate debt.

The focus may shift again to escalating conflicts in the Middle East, the stubborn weakness of the European economy, or the outcome of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests that are challenging the authority of Beijing.

For Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, the key lies in earnings reports, which begin in two weeks.

“If we don’t get earnings corroborating the (bearish) story being told by spreads, then I think we’ll see the spreads come in.”

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Dow jumps 200 pts on job gains; Gold, bonds fall

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 200 points Friday in late afternoon trading after a surge in hiring by U.S. employers added to evidence that America’s economy is strengthening, even as other countries stumble.

The good news pushed up the value of the dollar against other major currencies to the highest level in four years. U.S. bonds and gold fell as investors anticipated higher interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow rose 214 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,015 as of 3:12 p.m. Eastern time. The index is on track for its third 200-point move in a little over a week as markets turn more volatile.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,969. The Nasdaq composite rose 55 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,485. Even with the gains, all three indexes are headed for a second week of losses.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The solid payroll report is great for economic growth and stock prices,” said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. “The U.S. really stands out” from the rest of the world.

STRONG HIRING: U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, beating market expectations of a 215,000. The hiring helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. Hiring in July and August was also stronger than initially estimated, the Labor Department said.

GOLDILOCKS: Investors like the jobs report because it showed the economy is strengthening, but perhaps not so much to drive up inflation and force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates quickly. One key to low inflation: few pay raises. Average hourly wages barely budged last month, the Labor Department reported. Wages are now up just 2 percent in the past year.

Most economists predict the Fed will wait until mid-2015 to start raising rates, then proceed slowly. The central bank’s low-rate polices have helped keep borrowing rates low for consumers and businesses.

EUROPE’S STRUGGLES: The good U.S. news contrasts with troubling signs in Europe. On Thursday, the European Central Bank disappointed investors by not announcing details of more stimulus measures as the 18-country eurozone once again teeters on recession. Stocks rose there on Friday, but major European indexes are still down sharply for the week.

DOLLAR SPIKES: The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against six other major currencies, surged 1.1 percent to its highest level in more than four years. The euro fell 1.3 percent to $1.2511 while the dollar gained 1.3 percent to 109.84 yen.

STOCK VALUES: The big job gains could mean more people buying things and higher company profits. Investors will get a better clearer of view of profits next week when aluminum maker Alcoa reports results and kicks off the unofficial start to corporate earnings season. Financial analysts expect earnings per share for the S&P 500 to rise 6.8 percent from a year earlier, then surge 12 percent the next quarter and for all of next year, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm.

The S&P 500 seems reasonably valued, if you buy those bullish forecasts. The index is trading at 15.6 times its expected earnings per share over the next 12 months, according to S&P Capital IQ. That is only a point higher — that is, more expensive — than the long-term average.

DRUG HIGHS: Shares of Mylan jumped 9 percent after the generic drugmaker raised its outlook for the third quarter and year. The stock rose $4.07 to $50.57. Salix Pharmaceuticals rose 3.2 percent. The company gained on news it is scrapping its merger with the subsidiary of an Italian drugmaker after the U.S. created new limits on the tax benefits of incorporating overseas. The stock was up $4.91 to $156.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index erased an early loss and closed up 0.6 percent, even as pro-democracy protests continue. Stocks rallied after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offered talks with protesters, who oppose plans to require candidates in the 2017 election to be approved by a panel dominated by pro-Beijing business leaders. Protesters say the communist mainland government is reneging on a promise of “universal suffrage” for the territory. Stocks in retailing and tourism have plunged, but analysts say the economic impact of the protests is limited.

ENERGY: The price of oil fell despite data showing a stronger U.S. economy. That data pushed up the value of the dollar, which makes oil more expensive to buyers using other currencies because it is priced only in dollars.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.27 to close at $89.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level since April of 2013. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.11 to close at $92.31 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to close at $2.379 a gallon, heating oil fell 2.2 cents to close at $2.616 a gallon and natural gas rose 10.7 cents to close at $4.039 per 1,000 cubic feet.

GOLD AND BONDS: Prices for gold and Treasurys fell as traders moved money out of assets that are considered safer. Gold fell $22.20, or 1.8 percent, to $1,192.90 an ounce. Silver fell 22 cents to $16.83 an ounce and copper was flat at $3 a pound. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.45 percent from 2.43 percent on Thursday.

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FACT CHECK: Obama in UN speech spins statistics

United States President Barack Obama addresses the Climate Summit, at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Barack Obama glossed over some inconvenient truths Tuesday in his climate-change speech to the United Nations. For one, as the U.S. cleans up emissions at home, it’s sending dirty fuel abroad to pollute the same sky.

As well, the U.S. is not cleaning up quite as aggressively as Obama implied in his remarks.

Obama was among scores of world leaders at the gathering, which followed by days a mass demonstration in New York City in support of action to combat global warming. Among those who marched: Al Gore, whose 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” shed light on the problem.

A look at some of Obama’s claims and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth.”

THE FACTS: Europe as a whole has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.

From 2005 to 2013, the period cited by Obama, the European Union reduced carbon dioxide by 13.9 percent, compared with a 10 percent reduction in the U.S. Because the United States pollutes more, it has reduced more raw emissions than the EU — cutting raw tonnage by 649 million tons since 2005, compared with Europe’s reduction of 614 million tons. But Europe has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.

From 1990 levels, the benchmark year from which the EU measures progress, emissions were down about 18 percent in Europe. Meanwhile, compared with 1990, U.S. emissions are up about 10 percent, based on data from the Global Carbon Project.


OBAMA: “So, all told, these advances have helped create jobs, grow our economy, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades — proving that there does not have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth.”

THE FACTS: About half of the 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions the U.S. has achieved in recent years can be attributed to the economic recession, not any specific actions from the Obama administration. Obama’s comments also left out that U.S. carbon emissions rose 2.9 percent from 2012 to 2013, the first increase since 2007, because higher natural gas prices spurred more coal use.


OBAMA: “We’re helping more nations skip past the dirty phase of development, using current technologies, not duplicating the same mistakes and environmental degradation that took place previously.”

THE FACTS: The U.S. is actually sending more dirty fuel abroad even as it takes steps to help other nations transition to cleaner energy. The U.S. has cuts its own coal consumption by 195 million tons in six years. But according to an AP analysis of Energy Department data, about 20 percent of that coal was shipped to power plants and other customers overseas. Emissions from that coal were not eliminated but rather moved to other countries. As well, the U.S. exported more products refined from oil — another dirty fuel — than it imported, starting in 2011.

On the other side of the pollution ledger, the Obama administration has placed restrictions on U.S. financing of coal plants overseas that don’t control for carbon dioxide and wants to lower tariffs on trade in clean energy technology.


OBAMA: “Today I’m directing our federal agencies to begin factoring climate resilience into our international development programs and investments.”

THE FACTS: Not an entirely new effort. The U.S. Agency for International Development already factors climate-change impact in its assistance programs, says Oxfam America. Raymond C. Offenheiser, Oxfam America’s president, welcomed news that more U.S. agencies will do the same while saying that amounts to “a drop in the bucket” without additional financial commitments.


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: From a White House background document: “The Climate Action Plan is working. In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades.”

THE FACTS: That plan has nothing to do with reductions in emissions in 2012 because it was not announced until June 2013. Moreover, two of its cornerstone regulations — controls on new and existing coal-fired power plants — are at this point just proposals. The administration isn’t expected to complete those rules until next year and some states may not submit plans until after Obama leaves office. The statement also leaves out the fact that in 2013, emissions in the U.S. rose for the first time since 2007.

Obama did invest in renewable energy and boost fuel economy before announcing the climate plan. But the plan can’t be credited with improving anything before it came into existence.


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EMC Stock Soars After Investors Learn About Mega-Merger Talks With HP, Others


HP HP CEO Meg Whitman

For nearly a year, EMC and HP have been kicking the tires on a merger that would have created one the biggest enterprise tech companies on the planet — with over $130 billion in annual sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For comparison, IBM is expected to do $98 billion in annual sales this year.

Apparently, the talks have stalled because they couldn’t agree to terms. Both companies were concerned they couldn’t sell the deal as it was to shareholders, reports the WSJ.

But they had a lot of details ironed out including who would be the boss — HP CEO Meg Whitman — and which executives would run which units.

Another source close to the company told Barron’s Tiernan Ray that the deal isn’t completely dead:

“Meg was going to run the company, Joe’s guys were going to have significant roles, it had been worked out who would run the divisions, they’d done all this work on it,” says the source, referring to HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, and EMC’s CEO, Joe Tucci. “They were very close last week, and then things went on pause,” says the source. “Things feel imminent-ish.”

This is surprising news for all sorts of reasons.

HP is only now digging itself out of a hole from its decades-long acquisition binge that left it heavily in debt, laying off up to 50,000 employees. Whitman even admitted it paid too much for at least one mega-deal (the $11 billion it paid for Autonomy).

In 2012, HP wrote off a whopping ~$17 billion from its mega deals, including Compaq, EDS and Autonomy.

HP’s track-record on mega-mergers is iffy at best.  The deal, however, would have been an all-stock transaction, billed as merger between equals, not as an acquisition by HP, according to the WSJ.

Still, Whitman indicated in February  that HP was not going to be making another mega-deal anytime soon, but would be doing “small to medium-sized acquisitions.”

Just last month, when talks with EMC would have certainly been going on, Whitman told analysts in the quarterly conference call that HP’s acquisition strategy would be “focused on only things that we cannot do organically, and given the choice, I would rather invest organically this is the heritage of Hewlett-Packard.”

The WSJ said EMC was talking to Dell about a merger, which may have involved just selling parts of itself off. Dell is working hard to get a piece of EMC’s enterprise storage business.

This means that EMC is open to talks with others, too, with names like Oracle and Cisco being dropped to the WSJ and Barron’s.

Cisco would be interesting match with EMC.

The two companies are close partners, but in recent years, EMC subsidiary VMware has been threatening Cisco with a new technology called “software-defined networking.” SDN threatens Cisco’s Cisco’s $21 billion router/switch business with a new software-centric way to build networks. Everyone from Goldman Sachs to Facebook has jumped aboard the SDN bandwagon.

Then again, HP, Cisco’s main rival in the network industry, has been all-in on SDN. Owning EMC/VMware would be sweet for HP on that count.

All this merger talk might amount to nothing, but EMC is at a crossroads.

EMC’s bread-and-butter technology, enterprise computer storage, is under attack from a whole slew of young new technologies that offer bigger, faster, and cheaper storage options — and from cloud computing.

Its longtime CEO Joe Tucci, who has already put off retirement once, is said to be possibly stepping down early next year, but has yet to announce a successor.

Meanwhile the company has been the target of activist investor, Paul Singer and his Elliott Management Corp. Elliott bought 2% stake in EMC, the WSJ reports, and has been pressuring Tucci to break the company up, sell itself off, or otherwise take radical steps to beef up EMC’s stock price.

EMC’s stock has languished at under $30/share for more than 5 years, far off the the nearly $100/share it commanded in 2000, the heady Internet bubble days.

This merger talk has driven shares up to a 52-week record high on Monday of $30.16.

HP’s shareholders are less ebullient. Its share price is down a little on Monday.

We reached out to EMC for comment and will update when we hear back.

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Home Depot breach bigger than Target at 56 million cards

A closeup of an electronic payment station at a Home Depot store in Daly CityA closeup of an electronic payment station is shown at a Home Depot store in Daly City, California, in this February 21, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

BOSTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Home Depot Inc (HD.N) Thursday said some 56 million payment cards were likely compromised in a cyberattack at its stores, suggesting the hacking attack at the home improvement chain was larger than last year’s unprecedented breach at Target Corp (TGT.N).

Home Depot, in providing the first clues to how much the breach would cost, said that so far it has estimated costs of $62 million. But it indicated that costs could reach much higher.

It will take months to determine the full scope of the fraud, which affected Home Depot stores in both the United States and Canada and ran from April to September.

Retailer Target incurred costs of $148 million in its second fiscal quarter related to its breach. Target hackers stole at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data.

Home Depot said that criminals used unique, custom-built software that had not been seen in previous attacks and was designed to evade detection in its most complete account of what had happened since it first disclosed the breach on Sept. 8.

The company said that the hackers’ method of entry has been closed off, the malware eliminated from its network, and that it had rolled out “enhanced encryption of payment data” to all U.S. stores.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused and want to reassure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges,” Chief Executive Frank Blake said in a statement.

Of the estimated cost so far of $62 million, which covers such items as credit monitoring, increased call center staffing, and legal and professional services, Home Depot said it believes that $27 million of the amount will be paid for by insurers.

But the company said it has not yet estimated the impact of “probable losses” related to the possible need to reimburse banks for fraud and card replacement, as well as covering costs of lawsuits and government investigations.

“Those costs may have a material adverse effect on The Home Depot’s financial results in the fourth quarter and/or future periods,” the company said in its statement.

Wesley McGrew, an expert of retail breaches who is an assistant research professor at the department of computer science at Mississippi State University, said that Home Depot is going to be expected to bear the costs related to fraud and payment card replacement.

Banks typically seek to get retailers to cover those costs if there are any indications of shortcomings in their security.

Criminals have frequently used software that evades detection, but retailers are expected to closely monitor their networks using tools that are designed to uncover signs of a crime in progress, McGrew said.

“It’s hard to feel sorry for them when there are things they could have done to improve the security of these transactions,” McGrew said.

Hitesh Sheth, chief executive of Vectra Networks, a cybersecurity firm in San Jose, California, said Home Depot’s breach exposes a weakness, noting that the company said hackers used unique, custom-built malware.

That “essentially means the technology they are using is only designed to detect malware that has already been used in a previous attack, and that is symptomatic of the retail industry,” Sheth said.

“Retailers need to upgrade to technology that is available and detects behavior of malware that is new because these attacks are not going to stop anytime soon.”

For its fiscal year ending in February, Home Depot revised its earnings estimate to $4.54 per share from $4.52. In addition to the cost related to the breach, it said the estimate includes a pre-tax gain of about $100 million on the sale of 3.6 million common shares of HD Supply stock.

The company left its outlook for sales growth for the year at 4.8 percent.

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