End of an Era

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A slice of Americana is about to “leave the stage.” For those of you who are too young to remember, Howard Johnson is not an old movie star. It was a bustling restaurant chain across the U.S. Sadly, the last of two remaining Howard Johnson restaurants will close on Sep. 6, making it the end… Read more »

Amazon and the 30 hour work week

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According to the Washington Post, the U.S. online retailer, Amazon, will try out teams that log 30-hour work weeks. But here is the catch: employees will receive the same benefits as those putting in 40-hour weeks, but get three-quarters of the pay. Questions: 1. Will this change be company-wide? 2. Last year the New York… Read more »

Extortion or Business as Usual?

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Aetna announced this week that it pull a majority of its participation in the insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Critics see this as payback to the Obama administration for blocking its proposed merger with Humana. This comes after Aetna CEO, Mark Bertoilini is on record as saying that selling insurance in… Read more »

Be Afraid, be very afraid!

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Unilever is paying $1 billion for Dollar Shave Club, a five-year-old start-up that sells razors and other personal products for men. Questions: 1. Why does the author of this article say that all companies should be very afraid of this deal? 2. After Michael Dubin’s YouTube ad premiered, what happened in terms of orders and… Read more »

Big Brother and Hedge Fund Land

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Ray Dalio, billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, claims that one of his firm’s core operating principles is “radical transparency, regarding employee grievances and concerns. However, according to Stevenson and Goldstein in this New York Times article, at least one Bridgewater employee sees the firm as a “cauldron of fear and… Read more »

$35 here, $35 there and it all adds up!

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While strict rules require account holders to affirmatively opt into banking overdraft protection plans, a U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant, Santander Bank, which acquired Boston-based Sovereign Bank in 2009, crossed the line. Questions: 1. Briefly summarize what the bank did? 2. Who is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and what was their role… Read more »

The changing world of streaming

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Netflix’s growth in the U.S. has slowed dramatically, and the company is adding new international users slower than expected. Statistically, the company added 1.7 million new subscribers in the last three months, which is less than the 2.5 million the company predicted. Just 160,000 of them were in the U.S. Questions: 1. Netflix is available… Read more »

Trapped by Debt?

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Belkin Antonio Hernandez-Vargas was desperate to see his wife and get out of U.S. custody, so he turned to one of the biggest names in the business of helping immigrant detainees secure bail bonds. As a result, the company Libre by Nexus helped Belkin, an El Salvadorian secure an $8,000 bond after he was able… Read more »

Big Deal!

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For years, Yahoo was the front door to the web and its services still attract a billion visitors a month. But…times are changing and as a result, Yahoo’s core internet operations and land holdings are being sold to Verizon Communications for $4.8 billion. Questions: 1. Why was the Yahoo model changing and how? 2. What… Read more »

Amazon goes into student loan business, sort of ……

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This week a partnership between Amazon and Wells Fargo was announced. Members of Amazon Prime Student will receive a 0.5 percent interest rate discount on student loans taken out through Wells Fargo’s Education Financial Services. Questions: 1. Why are financial advisors wary of the deal? 2. How much did the Washington Post calculate a student… Read more »