What’s the news about Spotify?

Online music service Spotify has launched what it hopes to be an iTunes rival, allowing users to synch music on their iPods and other MP3 players without using Apple’s proprietary service. Can Spotify’s success in Europe be repeated on American soil? This question should be put to test starting now as the music-streaming company officially launched its services July 14, 2011 in the U.S.
 

 Questions:

1. What are the differences between iTunes? Construct a chart to explain.

2.  Do a cost benefit analysis between Spotify and iTunes, based on your use? Which one wins out?

3.  Do a cost benefit analysis between the three Spotify plans?  Make assumptions as needed.  Which one do you prefer, based on your analysis?

Source:

CNN.com Video. Spotify to challenge iTunes, July 14, 2011

Saavedra, S. (2011). Can Spotify Succeed in the U.S., too? The Christian Post: Business, July 14 (Retrievable online at http://www.christianpost.com/news/can-spotify-succeed-in-the-us-too-52285/)

Negotiating Down Student Loans

According to these experts, it is possible that you can negotiate down your student loans. Outstanding student loan debt is a major problem for many graduates. It is possible to negotiate with your creditors and possibly reduce or even eliminate your student loan debt. If you’re not up to the negotiations yourself, you can hire a company to negotiate with creditors on your behalf. However, if you fully intend and have the ability to pay your debt, it’s usually better to contact your creditors yourself. If you reach the stage where you can’t keep up with the repayments, it’s vital that you contact your creditors as soon as possible and explain your situation.

Questions:

1. What are the key issues to consider in the negotiations? What is the difference between consolidation and forgiveness?  From the loaning entity’s point of view, would the accounting be different for these two options?  

2.  What percentage of student loans did these experts indicate were in default?

3.  Which types of student loans did these experts suggest were easier to negotiate?

 

Source:

CNN.com Video. Negotiating Down Student Loans, July 13, 2011

Staff. (2009). Negotiate your Student Debt. Tidbits and Stuff.com, November 4, 2009 (Retrievable online at http://www.tidbitsandstuff.com/money-matters/credit-debt/82-negotiate-your-student-loan-debt/)

Barry Minkow UPDATE

Barry Minkow, a sixteen year old wonder-boy of Wall Street in 1983 created ZZZ Best as a carpet cleaning and later insurance restoration business.  He took the company public in 1986, making him the youngest CEO of a public company and had a net worth exceeding $100 million at age 21.  The only problem was that these millions were part of a fraud, with the boy-wonder indicted in 1988 for various counts of securities fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion, and credit card fraud.

Sentenced to 25 years in prison plus restitution, Minkow was released in 1995.  Upon release he started an anti-fraud business and assisted the FBI and SEC in capturing white collar criminals.  He also became a senior pastor at San Diego’s Community Bible Church and appeared to have redeemed himself. 

However, he recently was accused of securities fraud (specifically insider trading) again involving his dealings with Lennar, a construction company.  He pleaded guilty and his sentencing was to take place on June 16, but was postponed while the judge reviews his objections to the pre-sentence investigation report.    

Questions:

1.  What is a “presentence investigation report”?  Who can waive this in a fraud trial and why?  Find an example by Googling the terms “presentence investigation report” and “fraud.”

2. What were Minkow’s objections?

3. Which of these, if any, do you believe have relevance to his sentencing? Discuss.

 

Source:

Catanach, A.H. and J.E. Ketz (2010). Update on Barry Minkow’s Sentencing, Grumpy Old Accountants, June 27 (Retrievable only at http://blogs.smeal.psu.edu/grumpyoldaccountants/archives/201).