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McDonald’s stock raced toward an all-time high Monday, June 19. What was the trigger? Wall Street reacted to the news that the burger giant was upgrading its technology, including kiosks, to meet on-demand orders.

Questions:
1. Which product has anchored the McDonald’s menu for decades?
2. How is McDonald’s going to change its process of preparing food?
3. How does the average wait at a McDonald’s drive-thru compare to Wendy’s and Starbucks?
4. Do you think that McDonald’s new strategy will regain customers? What is your opinion and why?

Source:
Heath, T. (2017). Is McDonald’s made-fresh quarter pounder worth the extra minute wait? Washington Post, June 21 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/is-mcdonalds-made-fresh-quarter-pounder-worth-the-extra-minute-wait/2017/06/21/276d1cc4-5696-11e7-b38e-35fd8e0c288f_story.html).

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An Ireland-based company, Horizon Pharma, makes a drug called Vimovo. The drug combines the two over-the-counter drugs of Nexium and Aleve and you won’t believe what they charge for it!

Questions:
1. According to the article, how much does it cost to buy the new drug. Compare Vimovo’s price to the $40 for a month’s supply of the over-the-counter drugs. What percentage increase is this in the price?
2. What techniques has Horizon used to make sure that doctors will write for Vimovo?
3. According to the article, what barriers has Horizon eliminated in order to cash in on the combination drug? Do you think that any of these are deceptive? Why or why not?
4. Go to Horizon’s annual reports for 2015 & 2016. Find the section that describes why Vimovo and Duexis as better solutions than the over-the-counter components taken separately. What are the benefits they tout?
5. How much did Horizon make in sales of each drug, as shown in the 2016 annual report? Were either of these their top money maker? If not, what was the top selling product and what does it do?

Source:
Allen, M. (2017). How Two Common Medications Became One $455 Million Specialty Pill. ProPublica and The Atlantic, June 20 (Retrievable online at https://www.propublica.org/article/horizon-pharma-vimovo-common-medication-455-million-specialty-pill)

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Interestingly, some entrepreneurs are following a new path, which avoids venture capital pitches or crowd funding. In this quest, before they even have a working product, they are creating their own digital currencies and selling so-called coins on the web, which sometimes raises them tens of millions of dollars in a matter of minutes.

Questions:
1. What are some of the names of these currencies?
2. What are some of the abuses of these currencies that you can identify?
3. Typically, what types of products or services are being financed in this way?
4. What are some of the reasons or ways in which these new currencies may violate U.S. laws or regulations?

Sources:
Popper, N. (2017). Easiest Path to Riches on the Web? An Initial Coin Offering. The New York Times, June 23 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/dealbook/coin-digital-currency.html)

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A report released Thursday by a workers’ advocacy group says Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, routinely refuses to accept doctors’ notes, penalizes workers who need to take care of a sick family member and otherwise punishes employees for lawful absences.

Questions:
1. According to the accusations, what Acts has Walmart violated?
2. The article talks about a group known as The Better Balance. What is this group?
3. According to the article, what is wrong with the written policies and procedures for how managers and supervisors should respond to employees who need help because of medical issues?
4. What are the eligibility requirements for employees to be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act?
5. Go to the specifics of the lawsuit filed by the two former Walmart employees by clicking on the hyperlink in the article. Who did the two women file discrimination complaints with?
6. At this point, what type of disclosure (if any) do you think Walmart should include in the notes to its financial statements regarding the suit?

Source:

Abrams, R. (2017). Walmart Is Accused of Punishing Workers for Sick Days. The New York Times, June 1 (Retrievable online at www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/business/walmart-workers-sick-days.html).

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While women account for 57 percent of college enrollees as of the fall of 2016, the most recent data from the Department of Education indicates that they hold close to two-thirds of the $1.34 trillion in outstanding student debt in the U.S.(according to a report released by the non-profit American Association of University Women).

Questions:
1. Explain whether this situation has worsened over time and why.
2. What are some of the reasons for this disparity?
3. What is your opinion about giving women a grant for college or increasing financial aid? Discuss some of the issues.

Source:

O’Neal, L. (2017). Women Have More College Debt Than Men And Take Longer To Pay It Off. IBT, May 24 (Retrievable online at http://www.ibtimes.com/women-have-more-college-debt-men-take-longer-pay-it-2542797).

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The Supreme Court dealt a blow to patent law use by corporations, saying that companies can only be sued for patent infringement in the places they actually do business.

Questions:
1. What was the name of the case and what did it deal with?
2. What is the practical question of the case in reference to an automobile, for example?
3. Describe how you see this ruling impacting digital goods, like streaming subscriptions.
4. What impact could this have on accounting for intangible assets?

Source:
Funk, B. (2017). How a Supreme Court ruling on printer cartridges changes what it means to buy almost anything. The Washington Post, May 31 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/05/31/how-a-supreme-court-ruling-on-printer-cartridges-changes-what-it-means-to-buy-almost-anything/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_switch-lexmark-1125am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.29eb83312ae4)

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While Bloomberg indicates that younger generations aren’t saving enough, older Americans are sitting on top of unprecedented piles of assets built through stock market and real estate booms.

Questions:
1. What does a new study find about many U.S. retirees?
2. What are the financial statistics for American households and nonprofits according to the article?
3. What are some of the ideas you would suggest about training people to spend?
4. Why is the situation for wealthier older Americans different than that facing younger generations?

Source:
Steverman, B. (2017). Rich Retirees Are Hoarding Cash Out of Fear.Bloomberg, May 16 (Retrievable online at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-16/rich-retirees-are-hoarding-cash-out-of-fear)

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According to the BBC, the Court of Appeal judges in London have denied Nestle’s attempts to trademark the shape of its famous four-fingered KitKat bar.

Questions:
1. Which countries have granted Nestlé’s four-finger shape a trademark registration?
2. According to the article, why is it difficult to prove the case in U.K. courts?
3. Briefly discuss the “Chocolate Wars.”
4. How do you see this case impacting the company’s accounting records?

Source:
Neville, S. (2017). Nestle fails to trademark four-fingered KitKat shape. BBC.com, May 17 (Retrievable online at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-39948718)

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Tens of thousands of computer users around the world made the decision, to refuse to pay the anonymous hackers behind the ransomware attack known as WannaCry. The attackers had demanded that individuals pay up to $600 by Friday to regain control of their machines or face losing their data.

Questions:
1. At the writing of this article, how much ransom has been paid so far?
2. What is the name of the anonymous group that posted the first batch of N.S.A. tools online?
3. According to experts, how powerful are these tools and how easy are these tools to use?
4. If you were working with accounting client data and received the Wannacry demand, what would you do?

Source:

Mozur,P., M. Scott, and V. Goelmay. (2017). Victims Call Hackers’ Bluff as Ransomware Deadline Nears. The New York Times, May 19 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/business/hacking-malware-wanncry-ransomware-deadline.html)

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A little-noticed accounting change is coming down the pike that will have a major impact on business. According to the New York Times, this one has corporate executives up in arms — and scrambling to comply.

Questions:
1. What is the title of the new FASB rule?
2. Which equity investments are affected?
3. How could the new standard curtail investments by large companies in smaller companies?
4. What are the significant accounting changes proposed?
5. Discuss whether you believe this standard will improve or impede transparency.

Source:
Cohan, W. (2017) A Little-Known Accounting Change Could Have a Big Impact. The New York Times, May 12 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/business/dealbook/a-little-known-accounting-change-could-have-a-big-impact.html?ref=dealbook)