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The fall of Sears has been well documented. But who else is feeling the grip of Amazon on their once thriving retail business and who will be next to declare bankruptcy?

Questions:
1. According to the article, what is the toxic combination that will take the eight named retail companies out of the game?
2. What are the problems with private equity takeovers of failing companies?
3. What does the article mean when it says there is no longer a middle to the market and why do you understand that this is a problem?
4. Would you think that RiteAid and Pier One are in better or worse positions than the rest of the companies? Discuss.

Source:
Pandey, E. (2018). The next eight retailers at risk of Sears’ fate. Axios, Nov. 8 (Retrievable online at https://www.axios.com/retailers-at-risk-bankruptcy-sears-private-equity-debt-b33084a4-8d73-484b-b769-d25867156189.html)

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Verizon Communications Inc.’s new chief executive is restructuring the carrier’s business lines, including its massive wireless business, in one of the first major organizational changes under his leadership.

Questions:
1. Who are and will be the new leaders of the reorganized company?
2. When will the changes take place?
3. What is the divider in this newly organized system?

Source:
Krouse, S. (2018). Verizon breaking up wireless unit in reorganization. Morningstar, Nov. 5 (Retrievable online athttps://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/TDJNDN_201811054166/verizon-to-break-up-wireless-unit-in-reorganization.html)

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Business owners and landlords tend to be about four times as wealthy as the average American. That’s more than almost any other country included in a new study.

Questions:
1. What were the three household groups in the study?
2. Who are the bottom 40 percent in the housing market?
3. Which countries are the top 5 with the biggest gaps are between those who own businesses and rental properties and their customers and tenants?
4. What was the most interesting part of this article for you?

Source:
Van Dam, A. (2018). Owning your own home doesn’t make you rich. Owning somebody else’s does. Washington Post, Oct. 30 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/30/owning-your-own-home-doesnt-make-you-rich-owning-somebody-elses-does/?utm_term=.53a93b6363dc)

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Last week signaled a sad turn for the “widows and orphans” stocks — classic income providers that were once bread-and-butter favorites of investors.

Questions:
1. Why was it a sad time for “widows and orphans” stocks?
2. What did Anheuser-Busch do that also signaled bad times?
3. Why does dividend income matter?
4. How many companies have been dropped from the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats since 2006 for cutting or not increasing their dividends?
5. What was the most interesting thing that you learned from this article?

Source:
Heath, T. (2018). Why GE’s penny dividend signals a sad turn for ‘widow and orphan stocks.’ The Washington Post, Nov. 2 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-ges-penny-dividend-signals-a-sad-turn-for-widow-and-orphan-stocks/2018/11/02/3f0233ac-dc6d-11e8-85df-7a6b4d25cfbb_story.html)

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to consumers that criminals are posing as government officials and asking people to use a gift card to pay a bogus tax bill or get a new Medicare card.

Questions:
1. How much money was lost to this scam in 2015?
2. How much money was lost to this scam in the first three quarters of this year?
3. What is the increase in percentage from 2015 to 2018?
4. What are the various forms of the gift card scam?
5. What are some of the red flags that people should be aware of?

Source:
Singletary, M. (2018). Is ‘the IRS’ asking you to pay by gift card? It’s the latest ‘impostor’ scam. The Washington Post, Oct. 25 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/25/is-irs-asking-you-pay-by-gift-card-its-latest-impostor-scam/?utm_term=.b214d6f9eabc)

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According to the Washington Post, with the $750 iPhone XR, arriving in stores on Friday, you have the opportunity to leap ahead to better technology — like a superior camera and more screen — without getting a nosebleed from the price tag.

Questions:
1. What is the benefit with the XR battery?
2. What other benefits do you get with the XR?
3. Explain the $250. Is the phone cheaper? Also explain the $250 in terms of benefits.

Source:
Fowler, G. (2018) iPhone XR: The best $250 you ever saved on a new phone. The Washington Post, Oct. 23 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/10/23/iphone-xr-best-you-ever-saved-new-phone/?utm_term=.e873dfeb92d9)

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Men feel better about the economy than they have in over a decade. Women are far more skeptical. And the sharp divide has emerged since President Trump was elected two years ago.

Questions:
1. What is the divide between men and women in terms of percentages that believe family finances had improved in the past year?
2. What is the divide about the future (i.e., expectations about the American economy over the next five years)?
3. How do these recent polls compare with Polls by the Pew Research Center going back to the mid-2000s before Mr. Trump took office?

Source:
Casselman, B. and J. Tankersley. (2018). Red-Hot Economy? Women Aren’t Convinced. The New York Times, Oct. 27 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/business/economy/women-usa-economy.html)

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General Electric’s 119-year-old dividend is a source of pride inside this once-dependable company.

Questions:
1. Why is a dividend cut expected?
2. What is the estimate of how much might be cut?
3. Even with the cut, the dividend is expected to do what to GE’s financials?

Source:
Egan, M. (2018). GE’s 119-year-old dividend is on life support. CNN Business, Oct. 19 (Retrievable online at https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/19/investing/general-electric-dividend-stock/index.html)

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To keep Amazon at bay and remain the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart is ramping up its groceries and buying trendy digital brands. The retail giant is also redesigning its stores and building up online assets.

Questions:
1. What are signs that the plan is working?
2. What is the proximity of most Americans to a Walmart store?
3. What percentage do groceries make of Walmart’s annual sales?

Source:
Meyersohn, N. (2018). Walmart’s strategy to solve the Amazon puzzle is working. CNN Business.com, Oct. 20 (Retrievable online at https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/19/business/walmart-stores-grocery-pickup-amazon/index.html)

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In a new report, the prediction is that beer could become more scarce worldwide over the next few decades.

Questions:
1. Why will beer become more scarce?
2. Beer shortages could reduce the amount Americans consume each year by how much?
3. What is the prediction about beer prices?

Rice, D. (2018) Suds shortage? Warming climate threatens world’s beer supply. USA Today, Oct.15 (Retrievable online at