Financial News – September 24, 2016
Yahoo Confirms Data Breach: Over 500M User Credentials Compromised In Hack
Yahoo disclosed that it had been breached in the time between 2012-2014 in one of the largest hacks ever, with 500 million user accounts breached. Basically, if you’ve ever used Yahoo, your credentials have been breached. Change your passwords for Yahoo now, as well as any other sites where you used that password.
Fed Leaves Interest Rates Alone; Dials Down 2016 Forecast
All eyes were on the Fed this week as they met to decide whether to raise interest rate targets this month, ultimately deciding the keep interest rates at the current targets. The results were unsurprising to many investors, but the markets still enjoyed a Fed-fueled rally after the announcement. The Fed will next meet to decide interest rate policy in December.
BOJ Shifts Policy Framework to Targeting Japan’s Yield Curve
The Bank of Japan has said it would fine-tune its asset purchase program in the short-term to better manage short-term interest rates while maintaining the $780 billion in asset purchases per year over the longer term. This move signals it is now looking at how it can move to a more sustainable framework for monetary policy.
The Feds Just Got Real About Self-Driving Cars (It’s About Time)
Regulators have issued new guidelines for self-driving cars, significantly clearing up the rules manufacturers should follow when developing their self-driving technologies. This will help expedite the delays associated with regulatory oversight essentially figuring out rules on-the-fly and help prevent costly litigation later in the product cycle.
The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo
A look at the project that launched the Amazon’s speaker Echo and the AI assistant built into it, Alexa. It’s a great read on some of the internal dynamics of Amazon’s secretive tech lab, Lab126 and how those brought about this smash hit of a device, despite setbacks (or maybe because of setbacks) like the Fire Phone.
State Farm, Citing DOL Fiduciary Rule, Cuts Agents From Mutual Fund and Variable Annuity Sales
State Farm, in a move to preempt the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, has removed the ability of agents to sell variable annuity and mutual fund products due to the inherent conflicts of interest those agents have when selling them for a commission. Basically, as you’ll find with most insurance companies, it’s an admission that their agents are not actual advisors representing their clients’ best interests, they are sales agents for the firm, representing the firm’s best interests.
Making The Case for a Startup Visa
America is a country of immigrants and many of our most storied companies have been founded by first generation immigrants. In today’s immigration environment entrepreneurs looking to move to America to start a company need to first work somewhere else or have to have a significant equity investment already lined up. That needs to change, we need a visa that makes America better accessible to the smart, industrious entrepreneurs the world over.
Bitcoin is Money, US Judge Says in Case Tied to JPMorgan Hack
Bitcoin has been ruled, to indeed, be currency when determining whether a business is engaging in the exchange of the digital currency. This should make digital currency exchanges safer and (I’m speculating here) may set the stage for other challenges as to how cryptocurrency is treated when taxed.
Greenspan Says He Would Like to See Dodd-Frank Bank Law Repealed
Greenspan thinks that Dodd-Frank went too far in its prescriptions for how banks should reform and believes a much simpler bill that increased the reserve requirements for banks would have been sufficient. He would have liked to see the banking system shift to more equity-to-assets, namely around 20% to 30% of assets must be accounted for by equity. While this would shrink the banking system, he posits it would create a much more stable environment.
Twitter Stock Skyrockets on Report that Google and Salesforce are Interested in Buying the Company
We may see a sale of Twitter in the near(ish)-future. Goldman Sachs is reportedly helping Twitter find buyers. Among those it is courting include Google, Salesforce and possibly even Verizon. From the outside, it’s easiest to see the synergies between a Google and Twitter than other companies. It also has the deep pockets required to make the $15B+ purchase.
The FTC is Cracking Down on Predatory Science Journals
Many young researchers have been scammed by high fees and false claims that their research paper will be peer-reviewed in these predatory science journals. Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal would normally be a big break at the start of an academic career. However, once the research paper gets entered into these predatory journals they hold it hostage in exchange for a fee and simply being in the journal can be bad for a career. Can’t wait to see these gutted.
Facebook and Intel Reign Supreme in ‘Doom’ AI Deathmatch
AIs are getting better and better at image recognition and developers are taking on more unique challenges to test the mettle of their AI creations. Tech giants and students alike entered their AIs into a competition involving the classic video game ‘Doom’ and duked it out over multiple rounds in a tournament. The computer vision and navigation systems employed in this competition are the same types of algorithms that are used in self-driving cars and autonomous robots.