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  • Comcast-TWC Merger Raises Consumer Concerns - 27 February 2014
  • Comcast's $45 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Cable has raised a host of objections from various consumer and social action groups, with the main concern being that the merging of the two companies would dominate the cable television and broadband industry, edging out competition and leaving consumers with fewer choices. The combined company would have up to 33 million cable subscribers and close to that number of broadband users, a scenario which could give it the power it needs to influence networks with regard to licensing fees, as well has being able to set market rates on its products and services.

  • Fed's Tapering Process Continues - 30 January 2014
  • In a process that has been described as 'tapering', the Federal Reserve made it known that it will be reducing its bond-buying program by a further $10 billion in February, following its January reduction of the same amount. The Federal Reserve had been buying $85 billion in bonds on a monthly basis since September 2012 as part of its plan to stimulate the economy. It started tapering this amount in January by spending $75 billion on bonds and, following the final meeting chaired by Ben Bernanke, an official statement by the Fed noted that the data generated since its last meeting in December indicates that economic activity had picked up sufficiently to warrant the reduction in bond buying. The decision to continuing tapering bond buying was reportedly unanimous among the ten voting members of the Federal Reserve, despite the weak December jobs report which showed that hiring dropped from the average of 205,000 per month in the past three months, to 74,000 jobs.

  • Google's Buyout of Nest Raises Privacy Concerns - 16 January 2014
  • Google's announcement that it's buying Nest Labs for the amount of $3.2 billion has raised a number of concerns, particularly regarding privacy within one's own home. Described as the 'next generation thermostat', the Nest Thermostat claims to reduce a household's heating and cooling bills by up to 20%, and it does this by learning the schedule of the household and adjusting accordingly. It can also be controlled from a phone. Many consumers are concerned that unhindered access to Nest Thermostats will allow Google to gather even more information about internet users, to use or share to its own advantage. Co-founder of Nest, Matt Rogers has assured consumers that the company's privacy policy limits the use of customer information to improving the products and services of Nest, going on to say that this policy will not change and Nest will remain an independent brand.

  • Cautious Optimism on Wall Street for 2014 - 2 January 2014
  • With the CBOE Volatility Index down and major Wall Street indexes all up on the final trading day of 2013, investors are looking forward to 2014 with an air of cautious optimism. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 26.5 percent in 2013, being its best annual performance since 1995, while the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 29.6 percent over the past 12 months, its best performance since 1997. The Nasdaq composite index registered its best performance since 2009 with an increase of 38.3 percent. Moreover, the so-called "fear index" the VIX, fell 23.9 percent over the year, being its largest annual drop since 2009 and seen as a strong indication of improved investor sentiment.

  • Volcker Rule Set to Take Effect in April 2014 - 12 December 2013
  • Described by President Barack Obama as "a rule that makes sure big banks can't make risky bets with their customer's deposits", the Volcker Rule forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and is named for the man who proposed it – former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. A number of exceptions to the Volcker Rule are included in the Dodd-Frank law, but its main aim is to prevent the type of speculative activity which played a major role in the 2007-2010 financial crisis. The Volcker Rule was originally scheduled to come into effect with the Dodd-Frank law on July 21, 2012, but was delayed for various reasons, and is now scheduled to come into effect on April 1, 2014.

  • Retailers Aim to Cash-in on Black Friday - 28 November 2013
  • Celebrated on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day in the United States is followed by Black Friday, with retailers kicking off the holiday shopping season with a host of specials that have some shoppers camping out on their doorsteps overnight to be among the first through the doors when they open. The origin and meaning of the term "Black Friday" is a matter for debate, but today it is generally accepted to mean that retailers operating at a financial loss (in the 'red') for most of the year, are likely to turn a profit on that day (in the 'black') as shoppers descend in their droves to take advantage of specials.

  • Timothy Massad Nominated as CFTC Chairman - 14 November 2013
  • President Barack Obama's nomination of Timothy Massad to replace Gary Gensler as the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) came as no surprise. Massad played a significant role in the bank bailout program brought about by the 2008 financial crisis and should the Senate confirm his nomination, Massad will head the agency charged with implementing the Dodd-Frank Act aimed at regulating trading of complex derivatives on Wall Street. This lucrative, and often volatile, market has been accused of being one of the root causes in the destabilization of the US economy and the CFTC has the task of ensuring this particular piece of history is not repeated.

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