Aaron Pressman at Daily Ticker 2 yrs ago
The stunning rise of the Yo app – which does nothing but make a friend’s phone utter the vacuous phrase – has cast a spotlight on one of the sillier niches in the multi-billion dollar app industry. There are more goofy, silly and downright absurd apps and services than ever, as every Tom, Dick and Harry with a bad idea can turn to fundraising sites including Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to pump themselves up. With thanks to Techcrunch, Valleywag and a subreddit with an unprintable name, here are 10 of the most ridiculous apps and services vying for your dollars recently. Not all have been funded, of course; technology projects don’t have a great track record of winning financial backing. On Kickstarter, for example, only 33% of projects in the tech category successfully reached their fundraising goals, 13th out of the site’s 15 funding categories (dance and theater projects have the highest success rate). 1. One crazy service that opened its doors in June, only to shutter a week later, was called Washboard. Users could sign up to be sent $20 worth of quarters to use in laundromats – for the bargain price of $27. But the startup attracted fewer than 10 users and shut down last week. “Nearly 100% of the Internet thought Washboard was an absolutely absurd concept,” co-founder Caleb Brown wrote in a final blog post. “I had a very difficult time convincing people the service was even real, but we did have customers that were excited for it.”
If Washington is doing anything right, that’s news to ordinary Americans.
Government approval ratings have hit new all-time lows, according to Gallup, which has been measuring the standing of big institutions since the 1970s. The percentage of Americans saying they have confidence in Congress has dropped to the earthworm level of 7%, the lowest in the history of the poll. The Supreme Court registered its own all-time low of 30%. The presidency, with a confidence rating of 29%, is at the lowest level since Barack Obama took office in 2009, though it was lower in 2007 and 2008, the last two years of George W. Bush’s second term.
The last recession technically ended five years ago, so the government’s reputation ought to be improving. Instead, there’s been a steady decline since 2004. There was one exception -- a surge in approval ratings for the presidency after Obama was first elected in 2008. But that honeymoon has clearly ended.
Facebook continues to give users reasons to dislike the tech giant. Over the weekend news broke that the social media site had manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge. It undertook an experiment in 2012 to test the notion that users feel bad when they see lots of positive news from their "friends." The experiment involved reducing the number of positive news feeds for some and reducing the number of negative news feed for others. The study found that the more positive the news feeds a user received, the more positive their postings became, and vice versa. Related: Facebook: What’s not to like?
The results were published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.Then on Sunday the experiment's lead researcher Adam Kramer posted an apologyfor the experiment on his Facebook page, publicizing the news:
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No part of the economy has dished out a stronger head fake than housing. In the first half of 2013, home prices bounced back, sales rose and it looked like the bust was firmly over. But since then, rising mortgage rates have spooked buyers, sales have trailed off and the ranks of renters have swelled.
So when will the false starts cease and the housing market recover for real? “Several challenges still remain,” Daniel McCue of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Research tells me in the video above. “Sales and construction levels are up but still at depressed levels historically.”
Twentysomethings must leave their parents’ basements. Between 2007 and 2012, incomes for 25-to-34-year-olds dropped 8%, while many in that age group ended up saddled with much higher student-debt loads than graduates carried in prior decades. So it’s no surprise many traditional first-time buyers are staying out of the market. There’s some evidence college students are getting a better handle on debt, and as younger Americans improve their finances, demand ought to pick up for cheaper homes, allowing some of those owners to sell and upgrade to fancier properties.
Michael Santoli at Daily Ticker 2 yrs ago
Americans are preparing to celebrate Independence Day, and most of the world is fixated on Brazil as the World Cup tournament field tightens.
Yet market attention might soon swivel toward Europe, with a full economic calendar set for the days ahead. Next week's activity comes amid concerns that economic lethargy could displace investor optimism about a return to growth and the effectiveness of central-bank stimulus efforts in the region.
The European Commission Friday reported an unexpected decline in household and business economic sentiment, and inflation in the euro zone has stubbornly remained below 1% since the fall, keeping big-picture fears of deflation nearby. The European economy nudged ahead by 0.2% in the first quarter, down from 0.3% the prior period, and now higher oil prices and skittishness over Russia and Ukraine are serving as the unanticipated threats of the moment. As Reuters quoted Christoph Weil, economist at Commerzbank: "The good news from the euro zone is that the economy is growing again. The bad news is that growth is excruciatingly slow."
A stagnant economy has undoubtedly put a lot of financial stress on the middle class. And that is bumming out America’s 1 percenters. “Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society,” entrepreneur Nick Hanauer wrote recently in Politico, in an open letter to “my fellow zillionaires.”
He’s not the only wealthy worrier. Venture capitalist Tom Perkins complained earlier this year about the “persecution” of the rich through high taxes, while magnates such as Sam Zell, Wilbur Ross and John Mack have griped of late about the unschooled masses scapegoating America’s moneyed elite.
Chill out, rich folks
More power for the wealthy
Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
Nicole Goodkind at Daily Ticker 2 yrs ago
One of the most iconic pieces of Americana, the shopping mall, isn’t really American at all. In fact, the first mall was created by an Austrian refugee who wanted to recreate an American version of downtown Vienna.
Victor Gruen escaped to America from Nazi Austria in 1938 with, “an architect’s degree, eight dollars, and no English.” By the late 1940s, World War II was over and the American economy was in full swing. Suburban sprawl and consumerism were the new normal, and this bothered Gruen. “[Strip malls are] avenues of horror… flanked by the greatest collection of vulgarity—billboards, motels, gas stations, shanties, car lots, miscellaneous industrial equipment, hot dog stands, wayside stores—ever collected by mankind,” he wrote.
Gruen conveived of a central, indoor shopping location that would allow Americans to get out of their cars and socialize. He envisioned a crop of apartment towers popping up around the mall, the creation of an urban downtown within the suburbs - that's not what he got.
Around this time online retailers like Amazon.com took a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar business.
Lauren Lyster at Daily Ticker 2 yrs ago
Shares of GoPro (GPRO) closed at $31.33, up more than 30% from their IPO price of $24. Thursday was the first day of trading for the maker of HD high-action cameras. The company may be a darling of Wall Street but is the stock a good bet for average investors?
Jeff Reeves of InvestorPlace.com tells The Daily Ticker why he thinks GoPro is a risky investment for the average Joe. While he thinks IPOs are risky investments in general for individual investors, he does point out some red flags for GoPro in particular. He says the company's S1 revealed that revenue and net income dropped signficantly in the last quarter and revenue growth continues to outpace profits (sales are up 87% but gross profit is up less than 60%).
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Universal makes big bet on Harry Potter -- again
Earlier this week the Obama Administrationlifted the longstanding ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ruling allows just two Texas companies -- Pioneer Natural Resources andEnterprise Products Partners to export.
In an unusual twist, the ruling wasn't made public and the White Housesaid its policy hadn't changed because the ruling pertained to the export of light condensate, not conventional crude oil.
The Commerce Department, which granted the permits, reclassified the oil as processed petroleum product, which is not banned for export.
Greg Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of the book The Frackers, tells The Daily Ticker that the administration's move is a "first step" in a change of policy and is a result of the shale revolution underway in the U.S.
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