Financial News from The Wall Street Journal

  • Pell Grants to Be Restored for Prisoners The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 9:32 AM AEST

    The Obama administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college courses, a potentially controversial move that comes amid a broader push to overhaul the criminal justice system. The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students.

  • Philanthropists, Lawmakers Behind New Push for College Education in Prison The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 6:11 AM AEST

    Philanthropy groups and lawmakers are giving college education for prisoners a fresh look, as criminal-justice policies around the country place greater emphasis on preparing inmates for life beyond bars. Public funds for college education largely dried up in the 1990s, when Congress rendered prisoners ineligible for federal grants.

  • Free Bank Services Alive and Well The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 2:01 PM AEST

    In the July 20 op-ed “After Five Years, Dodd-Frank Is a Failure,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling implies that an amendment I authored to reduce debit-card swipe fees is to blame for a 2012 Bankrate survey showing a decrease in free checking-account offerings. In 2014 Bankrate senior financial analyst Greg McBride said, “For all the talk about the death of free checking, nothing could be further from the truth.” Bankrate found that last year 72% of surveyed credit unions offer a free checking account.

  • Tech Firms Resist Role Of Policing Terror Talk The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 2:01 PM AEST

    Ever since former CIA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance, tensions have simmered between the government and technology companies over access to users’ online communication. The Senate Intelligence Committee included language in an annual intelligence-funding reauthorization bill last month that would require companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to disclose any content they spot on their networks that could indicate terrorist activity. The move comes as law enforcement struggles to deal with the increased use of social networks for recruitment and planning among terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State’s use of Twitter.

  • Doctors Serve Patients Without Insurance The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 2:01 PM AEST

    In his July 23 letter, Dr. Karl Hafner laments that, “As a physician I would love to provide free service sometimes, but insurance prohibits it.” There’s a simple solution to this problem and it is one ...

  • Goodbye Wall Street, Hello Silicon Valley The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 11:19 AM AEST

    Blackstone Group LP said Friday that its chief financial officer, Laurence Tosi, is leaving the private-equity firm to become finance chief at Airbnb Inc., the booming home-rental service. Mr. Tosi, 47 years old, has made a good living by any standard since he joined Blackstone following its 2007 initial public offering. Mr. Tosi’s pay arrangements there aren’t known, but he is expected to receive an equity stake in the firm that could be worth tens of millions of dollars following an IPO.

  • Social-Media Firms Resist Role of Policing Terror Talk The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 10:38 AM AEST

    Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance, tensions have simmered between the government and technology companies over access to users’ online communication. The Senate Intelligence Committee included language in an annual intelligence-funding reauthorization bill last month that would require companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to disclose any content they spot on their networks that could indicate terrorist activity. The move comes as law enforcement struggles to deal with the increased use of social networks for recruitment and planning among terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State’s use of Twitter.

  • Kill Switch Is No Dead Certainty to Stop Phone Theft The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 9:39 AM AEST

    Rusty Redenbacher was delivering kegs of beer in Indianapolis last month when his new iPhone 6 was swiped from his van. Mr. Redenbacher went to his iCloud account and activated “lost mode” to display a message on the phone saying it was lost or stolen, with a number to call. When no one called, Mr. Redenbacher remotely erased the phone the next day.

  • Senate Links Funding of Ex-Im Bank to Highway Bill The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 8:50 AM AEST

    WASHINGTON—The Senate advanced a measure Sunday to link an extension of the Export-Import Bank to a must-pass highway bill, showing the chamber has the votes to extend the controversial bank but also complicating the underlying transportation legislation, which must be passed by a July 31 deadline. The vote was one of a series of interlocking dramas on the floor of the Senate as it went about the task of completing a highway bill before the Friday deadline. Republican leaders also quashed a rebellion led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who used the fight over the bank to mount a challenge to the Senate’s procedures and to air his grievances with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) He wanted a vote on his own amendment to bar the lifting of sanctions on Iran until the Islamic nation recognizes Israel’s right to exist, but was unsuccessful on Sunday when he lost a motion to appeal the decision preventing a vote.

  • Greece Makes Fast Recovery in Tourism The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 8:01 AM AEST

    ATHENS—Tourists are returning to Greece in big numbers, easing fears that capital controls and antiausterity protests would undermine one of the cash-strapped country’s few successful industries in the middle of the summer season. Hotel bookings, which suffered early this summer as the country teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, have recovered since the Greek government reached a tentative bailout deal with creditors on July 13. Tour operators and airlines meanwhile say their reservations are showing renewed vigor.

  • French Bistros Battle Over Secret Sauce The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Jul 27, 2015 6:53 AM AEST

    BORDEAUX—Marc Vanhove grew tight-lipped as he entered his laboratory and approached a 130-gallon steel vat designed to house a secret weapon in a long-running culinary conflict: steak sauce. “I am the only one who knows its composition,” says Mr. Vanhove of the sauce that underpins his burgeoning bistro empire. Nonsense, says Corinne Gineste de Saurs, proprietor of rival l’Entrecôte, which has been serving—and guarding—a similar sauce for decades.

  • New York City’s Yellow Taxis Face Trouble The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 1:30 PM AEST

    Wednesday was a tough day for owners and drivers of New York City’s yellow taxis. Local officials backed off a proposed temporary cap on growth of the city’s fleet of for-hire vehicles driven by Uber Technologies Inc. and other car services they believe may be slowing traffic in Manhattan’s central business district.

  • ‘Modest’ Bathing Suits Make a Splash: Leggings, Sleeves, ‘Skorts’ The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 11:56 AM AEST
    ‘Modest’ Bathing Suits Make a Splash: Leggings, Sleeves, ‘Skorts’

    WEST ORANGE, N.J.—When Deborah Nixon heads to her local pool in her swimsuit—a pair of long black leggings and a matching short-sleeved top like surfers wear—she gets compliments and admiring glances, at least from other women. The 58-year-old, who has abandoned her conventional one-piece bathing suit in favor of the more elaborate get-up, is convinced she looks and feels better with less of her showing. Ms. Nixon, a former nurse and retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, is a fan of so-called modest swimsuits.

  • A Chocolate Lover’s Lunch in Greenpoint The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 10:51 AM AEST

    The rich smell of chocolate drifting through the doors of Cacao Market is enough to lure Greenpoint locals to this new restaurant by MarieBelle, but its offerings go beyond just desserts. The apothecary-style shop started serving “very simple” lunch options in May because “it’s hard to get a good salad,” owner Maribel Lieberman said.

  • At 78, Scientist Is Starting a Hedge Fund The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 9:24 AM AEST

    George Zweig discovered the quark at age 26, assisted with a covert military operation during the Vietnam War and helped design one of the first cochlear hearing implants. Now, at 78, he is starting a hedge fund. Mr. Zweig said he accepted this new challenge as he nears his ninth decade because “life can be very boring” without work.

  • A Bad Summer for Indie Movies The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 8:23 AM AEST

    The quirky comedy was the darling of January’s Sundance Film Festival, where it played to standing ovations and ignited one of the fiercest bidding wars the event had ever seen. It was another sad lesson for film fans who pray that the multiplex world of theatrical releases can support more quality films.

  • A Vintage Modern Mashup Home in Malibu The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 12:17 AM AEST

    Kevin and Carolynn Cozen bought a 2-acre property in the Ramirez Canyon neighborhood in Malibu, Calif.—and then spent the next decade building their home around them. Mr. Cozen, 57, is head of Classical Progression, a Santa Monica-based design-and-build firm whose mission is to mix architectural antiques and recycled materials to create “progressive and modern design.” For example, the firm installed antique doors from a South American prison on a Hollywood Hills home, and hung vintage, hand-carved wooden surf boards along the ceiling of the World Surf League’s Santa Monica headquarters. The result is a 5,000-square-foot four-bedroom, five-bathroom home made mostly from recycled and salvaged materials, some of which took years to track down. Vivian Johnson for The Wall Street Journal Owners Kevin and Carolynn Cozen at their home’s pivoting front door.

  • Highflying Prime Central London Comes Down to Earth The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 12:07 AM AEST

    Sellers of some of London’s top luxury properties are suddenly doing the unthinkable: They’re cutting their prices. Not so long ago, central London’s property market was the envy of the world, with prices in golden neighborhoods like Kensington and Belgravia reaching new heights every year. In the year ending in June 2015, prices in “prime central London” or “PCL”—the upper end of the market in coveted neighborhoods such as Chelsea, Knightbridge and Mayfair—fell 4.3%, according to real-estate firm Savills.

  • At Etsy, 86% of Sellers Are Female The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 3:01 PM AEST

    Here are a few details about the person who made the brocade dog collar you might have bought on Etsy: She has a college degree, she probably used her savings to start her online shop and most of her household’s income comes from other sources. Think eBay Inc., Airbnb, Uber Technologies Inc. and TaskRabbit. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Etsy Inc. found that about 30% of its sellers use their creative business as their sole source of earnings.

  • Piling On, Goldman Forecasts Further Drop in Gold to Below $1,000 The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 9:48 AM AEST

    Hedge funds and other money managers are holding more bearish than bullish wagers on gold for the first time on record going back to 2006, according to data released Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Until then, there had been a sense in some corners of Wall Street that just about any bank deal had the potential to be squashed by regulators.

  • Ohio State Fans Are Not the Swiftest The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 8:09 AM AEST

    Ohio State rules the Big Ten in football. But in running, Buckeyes alumni and fans trail the pack. The Big Ten Network operates the BTN Big 10K, an annual race that allows people to register under the ...

  • Chills, Spills as Tour Hits Col d’Allos Descent The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 7:48 AM AEST

    Tour de France teams had circled the Col d’Allos stage months ago. Except, for a few riders, perilous descent also means golden opportunity—provided they have the intestinal fortitude and bike-handling artistry to fly down a mountain pass at more than 50 miles per hour. On Wednesday, during Stage 17 of the Tour, those downhill cowboys were stage winner Simon Geschke of Team Giant-Alpecin and runner-up Andrew Talansky of Team Cannondale-Garmin.

  • U.S. Stocks Drop, Weighed Down by Apple, Microsoft The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 6:46 AM AEST

    Investors poured out of technology stocks Wednesday, spooked by disappointing results from Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The retreat pushed the Nasdaq Composite Index down 36.35 points, or 0.7%, to 5171.77 and added to a dour mood in markets as the rout in commodities including gold and oil continued. Investors scraping for growth amid the soft economic recovery had driven the Nasdaq to a record as recently as Monday, encouraged by solid results from Google Inc. and Netflix Inc. But Apple’s drop Wednesday was a reminder that expectations for technology companies have soared to the point that any disappointment can leave shares vulnerable.

  • Silverware Style: New Yorkers Prefer a Louis XV Look The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 3:38 AM AEST

    Over the past year more U.S. shoppers have bought Christofle’s sterling-silver place settings, the most expensive finish made by the French luxury silversmith, which also offers silver plate and stainless steel designs. The move signals an economic recovery among U.S. luxury shoppers, says Ginny Gerard, Christofle’s executive vice president. Last fall, Christofle lowered its prices to reflect market shifts.

  • Jumbo-Loan Market Remains Strong in First Half of 2015 The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 1:05 AM AEST

    The volume of jumbo mortgages—those above $417,000 in most places and $625,500 in some high-price areas—reached an estimated $160 billion in the first six months of 2015, up about 36% from a year ago at the same time, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, which covers the industry. Low interest rates triggered a refinance flurry in the first few months of 2015. Jumbo mortgages accounted for about 20% of all mortgage originations, indicating a comeback to prerecession levels, he adds.

  • High-End, Built-in Barbecues Get Hot The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 12:39 AM AEST

    To find one of the most popular cooking appliances in a new upscale home, head outside to the built-in barbecue grill in the backyard. Instead of being wheeled out on a cart, many luxury barbecues are built into elaborate islands that form the heart of the “outdoor kitchen.” These days at least 75% of sales of high-end grill companies like Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, Alfresco Open Air Culinary Systems and RH Peterson are generated by built-in models, versus cart versions. Tricking out one’s outdoor kitchen adds up.

  • California Estate Returns to Market—at a $60.1 Million Discount The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 12:03 AM AEST

    A 47.4-acre estate in Hillsborough, Calif. with a century-old mansion is going back on the market for $39.9 million—60% less than its original asking price of $100 million in 2013. When the property was first marketed, its seller Christian de Guigne IV, 78, had made any sale contingent on him retaining a life estate in the property, which would give him exclusive use of it during his lifetime. The estate was then taken off the market last May. Now, all of these conditions have been removed, said Mary Gullixson of Alain Pinel Realtors, who shares the listing with Brent Gullixson.

  • Wells Fargo & Co. Is the Earth’s Most Valuable Bank The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 2:12 PM AEST
    Wells Fargo & Co. Is the Earth’s Most Valuable Bank

    San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. recently surpassed Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. as the lender with the largest market value in the world. Now, Wells Fargo’s market capitalization is approaching $300 billion, a first for a U.S. bank—and $42 billion and $120 billion more than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., respectively. The bank’s size underscores the relative strength of the U.S. economy, as China is racked by stock-market gyrations and Europe labors with existential questions about the eurozone.

  • Plots and Ploys: Destination Puerto Rico The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 10:32 AM AEST

    Fundamental Advisors, a private equity firm that focuses on distressed assets, led a buying group that became the latest to acquire a hotel in the Commonwealth. Fundamental Advisors Chief Executive Laurence Gottlieb said the buying group, which includes private equity firm Leon Mayer & Co. and hotel management firm Aimbridge Hospitality, plan to spend $35 million to renovate the 1957 property.

  • Government Report Cites Shortfalls in Medicare’s Screening Process for Doctors The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 10:09 AM AEST
    Government Report Cites Shortfalls in Medicare’s Screening Process for Doctors

    Thousands of medical providers signed up to bill Medicare using questionable addresses, and dozens of doctors enrolled despite disciplinary actions by state medical boards, according to a congressional probe of the $600 billion-a-year taxpayer-funded program. Medicare records listed doctors and other providers as practicing at invalid addresses, such as commercial mailbox stores, construction sites and, in one case, a fast-food restaurant, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office that examined data through March 2013. Over the past five years, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, has been revamping its enrollment system and verifying provider information, such as addresses and licensure.

  • Hackers Show They Can Take Control of Moving Jeep Cherokee The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 9:41 AM AEST

    Two computer-security researchers demonstrated they could take control of a moving Jeep Cherokee using the vehicle’s wireless communications system, raising new questions about the safety of Internet-connected cars. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, owner of the Jeep brand, on Tuesday blasted the researchers for disclosing their ability to hack into the sport-utility vehicle’s software and manipulate its air conditioning, stereo controls and control its speed by disabling the transmission from a laptop many miles away. The hackers, one of whom works for Twitter Inc. and is a former analyst for the National Security Agency, counter they are bringing attention to an issue auto makers have for too long ignored.

  • Canadian Pacific Railway Chairman Resigns The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 9:30 AM AEST

    Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said Tuesday that the handling of a board director’s recent resignation led Chairman Gary Colter and another director to step down from the company’s board, in a rare public airing of boardroom politics. The surprise news fed speculation among investors and analysts about the state of a board that in 2012 was the center of a boardroom coup by activist investor William Ackman. Mr. Colter “caused the company to issue a press release” announcing that Stephen Tobias had resigned from the board on June 29, when Mr. Tobias didn’t notify Mr. Colter of his plans until July 3, the company said in a statement late Tuesday.

  • U.S. Charges Five in Cases Connected to J.P. Morgan Hack The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 8:50 AM AEST

    U.S. authorities charged five people Tuesday in the first cases bearing some link to the massive cyberattack on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. last year. The men were accused of crimes ranging from securities fraud to money laundering—not with anything directly related to the attack on the bank—but U.S. officials confirmed there was a link. The names of two of the men arrested Tuesday appeared in an Federal Bureau of Investigation memo circulated last fall that listed several people of interest related to the J.P. Morgan hacking, a person familiar with the matter said.

  • Condos Left Behind in Housing Rebound The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 6:37 AM AEST

    California developer Intracorp Cos. built thousands of condominiums from 2002 to 2008. Since then, it has built none, opting for rental apartments and single-family homes even though they can be less profitable. “I see demand for condos, because in California people want to live in urban environments,” said Intracorp President Peter Lauener.

  • L.A.’s ‘Red-Hot’ West Side Story The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 3:03 AM AEST

    The deal “shows how red-hot the west side of Los Angeles is,” said Ron Harris, one of the Marcus & Millichap brokers who represented the seller, California Landmark Group. Rents in the 90049 ZIP Code, which includes Brentwood, averaged $3,200 a month in the second quarter this year, up from $2,984 a month in the second quarter last year, according to Marcus & Millichap.