Financial News from The Wall Street Journal

  • Reward Credit Cards: How Much Cash Can You Get? The Wall Street Journal - Sat, Dec 10, 2016 9:51 AM AEDT

    Forget about that free plane trip or the private dinner with a famous chef. When it comes to collecting rewards from credit cards, most consumers just want cash. Cash-back rewards cards are increasingly ...

  • Transportation Department Weighs Allowing Phone Calls During Flights The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 9, 2016 1:44 PM AEDT
    Transportation Department Weighs Allowing Phone Calls During Flights

    In a surprising and likely controversial step, U.S. aviation regulators on Thursday suggested they are leaning toward eventually allowing in-flight calls from airline passengers—with two important caveats: airlines will have the option of whether to provide the service, and passengers must be informed well in advance if the flight allows calls. While the Transportation Department likely is years away from making a final decision, here’s why it is stepping up its review and a change could happen: calls on trains, buses and subways already are commonplace, and advances in onboard Wi-Fi—the technology enabling such calls miles above the Earth—are improving call quality. Airlines also could veto the move, and DOT could decide to ban all such airborne communications.

  • Barely Half of 30-Year-Olds Earn More Than Their Parents The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 9, 2016 8:43 AM AEDT
    Barely Half of 30-Year-Olds Earn More Than Their Parents

    Economists and sociologists from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California set out to measure the strength of what they define as the American Dream, and found the dream was fading. “My parents thought that one thing about America is that their kids could do better than they were able to do,” said Raj Chetty, a prominent Stanford University economist who emigrated from India at age 9 and is part of the research team. Although there are many definitions of the American Dream—the freedom to speak your mind, for instance, or the ability to rise from poverty to wealth—the economists chose a measure that they said was possible to define precisely.

  • Feel Squished? Airlines Are Shrinking Headroom, Too The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 8, 2016 4:00 PM AEDT

    Stop thinking about legroom on flights. It’s the headroom that is shrinking, and making us feel really uncomfortable. One passenger’s nose may be 3 inches closer to the back of the head in front of her. ...

  • Donald Trump Says He Will Personally Negotiate Air Force One Price With Boeing The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 8, 2016 12:14 PM AEDT

    President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would personally “negotiate the prices” with Boeing Co. of the planes to be used as Air Force One, promising to block a future order if necessary and to continue using the existing aircraft for the presidential plane. Mr. Trump, in a Wednesday morning interview on NBC, said he had spoken to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday following criticism Mr. Trump leveled at the company about what he perceived were elevated prices for the planes. Mr. Trump accused the company of attempting to charge more than $4 billion to build the new planes, a figure that the White House and Air Force have disputed.

  • CEOs’ New Vow: Advancing More Women At Work The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Dec 7, 2016 8:00 AM AEDT

    More than two dozen chief executives of companies, including Bank of America Corp., LinkedIn Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp., have signed a pledge to speed women’s progress up the corporate ladder. The corporate commitment is the opening salvo of “Paradigm for Parity,” a drive by a new group dedicated to achieving gender equality in the upper echelons of American companies by 2030. Its game plan, to be announced Wednesday, demands that businesses set measurable targets for women’s representation at every level, train employees in spotting hidden biases, and ensure influential senior men sponsor promising women.

  • CEOs Enjoy Richer Perks The Wall Street Journal - Wed, Dec 7, 2016 2:00 AM AEDT

    Perks such as exit payments and trips on corporate aircraft account for the fastest-growing segment of executive-pay packages at some of the world’s largest companies. According to new data from research firm Equilar, the median compensation—without perks—for C-suite executives at Fortune 100 companies jumped nearly 15% to $7.4 million in fiscal year 2015 from $6.5 million in 2013. Over the same period, perks jumped 21.6% to a median value of $126,550.

  • For Cash-Strapped Workers, ‘Insurance on Insurance’ The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Dec 6, 2016 11:00 PM AEDT

    As health insurance deductibles rise, employers are offering workers special policies to help cover out-of-pocket costs. For many workers, paying for health care has become such a difficult budgeting exercise that the insurance industry is marketing additional products to help. The policies help cover the cost of high deductibles or copays for treatment—the gap that employees face before their health insurance kicks in.

  • Supply of High-School Graduates to Decline The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Dec 6, 2016 4:01 PM AEDT

    The sharp decline in births during the Great Recession will result in a drop in the number of students graduating from U.S. high schools starting around 2024, a phenomenon likely to translate into additional pressure on U.S. colleges already struggling to fill classrooms and employers seeking university graduates. The dip follows 20 years of growth that saw the number of high-school graduates increase by 30% between 1995 and 2013, according to a report released Tuesday from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The projected decline is driven by a sharp drop in the number of white high-school students, which will be somewhat offset by the growth among Hispanics.

  • Amazon Working on Several Grocery-Store Formats, Could Open More Than 2,000 Locations The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Dec 6, 2016 11:57 AM AEDT Inc. unveiled Monday its first small-format grocery store, Amazon Go, one of at least three brick-and-mortar formats the online retail giant is exploring as it makes a play for an area of shopping that remains stubbornly in-store. Two of the other store formats Amazon is considering are bigger than the convenience-style Go store, according to people familiar with the matter. In November, Amazon’s technology team approved a proposal to open large, multifunction stores with curbside pickup capability, clearing the way to start hiring and planning, according to one of the people.

  • New York Seeks up to $35 Million from Federal Government for Protecting Trump Tower The Wall Street Journal - Tue, Dec 6, 2016 5:53 AM AEDT

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was requesting up to $35 million from the federal government for city expenses in protecting Trump Tower, where President-elect Donald Trump resides. Mr. de Blasio said the sum was the estimated cost to the New York Police Department for securing Trump Tower from Election Day on Nov. 8 through Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Mr. Trump has been conducting presidential-transition meetings at Trump Tower, leading to a heavy security presence in Midtown Manhattan.

  • The New Retirement-Advice Rule: Where Things Stand The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Dec 5, 2016 3:28 PM AEDT
    The New Retirement-Advice Rule: Where Things Stand

    A new rule that proponents say will protect retirement savers from conflicted advice and inflated fees is looking more likely to be delayed or repealed in the coming months in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. The Labor Department’s so-called fiduciary rule, set to take effect April 10, 2017, requires brokers and others who give retirement advice to act in clients’ best interests. Previous rules required that brokers’ advice merely had to be “suitable” for a retirement investor.

  • U.S. Syria Policy at Crossroads as Rebels Falter The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Dec 5, 2016 1:18 PM AEDT

    Steep losses by antiregime rebels in Syria have scrambled U.S. policy calculations at a crucial moment in the country’s long-running war, with the election of Donald Trump already pointing to the possibility of a dramatic shift when he takes office in January. Mr. Trump hasn't detailed his plans for Syria, but has outlined a likely break from the Obama administration, which has supplied small amounts of arms and funding to militias attempting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and has separately fought the Islamic State extremist group. The recent gains by Mr. Assad’s forces have added impetus to calls among some of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers, as well as other top U.S. strategists, to cut back on support for the Syrian opposition.

  • Apple Signals Interest in Self-Driving Software The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Dec 5, 2016 7:04 AM AEDT
    Apple Signals Interest in Self-Driving Software

    Apple Inc. confirmed for the first time its interest in autonomous-vehicle technology, but it remains unlikely the company will design or build a complete car. In a Nov. 22 letter to U.S. transportation regulators, Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, suggested Apple’s focus is on the software that would control a self-driving car. The letter, which came to light late Friday, marked Apple’s first public statements about its car effort, dubbed Project Titan, after years of secrecy.

  • Credit Restrictions Cost Home Buyers ‘Deal of a Lifetime’ The Wall Street Journal - Mon, Dec 5, 2016 5:03 AM AEDT

    Sean Dobson wanted to start a mortgage bank four years ago to serve borrowers with middling credit or irregular income. He eventually decided that growing regulatory hurdles and other costs would erase his returns. Instead, he purchased thousands of homes in states from Texas to Indiana and now rents them to people who might have been his borrowers. U.S. consumers and businesses have enjoyed ultralow borrowing costs since the financial crisis because the Federal Reserve pinned interest rates near zero.

  • Vancouver Tax on Foreign Homebuyers Raises Costs for One Couple by Almost $113,000 Overnight The Wall Street Journal - Sat, Dec 3, 2016 11:00 PM AEDT

    When the Canadian province of British Columbia imposed a 15% tax on foreign home buyers in Vancouver this summer, Frank Daams and Sabine Bosklopper faced an unenviable choice. The American couple could walk away from a deposit worth the equivalent of roughly $38,000 on the Vancouver home they were planning to buy and risk being sued by the seller, or they could dip into their retirement savings for the nearly $113,000 they would need to cover the tax. The couple, in Canada because of a company transfer, unexpectedly found themselves caught up in a global crackdown on foreign home buyers.

  • David Sacks Stepping Down as Zenefits CEO The Wall Street Journal - Sat, Dec 3, 2016 4:01 PM AEDT

    David Sacks confirmed Friday he is stepping down as chief executive of Zenefits, less than a year after taking over the troubled health-benefits broker. In an email to employees, Mr. Sacks said he would take over as chairman and lead a search for a permanent CEO. People familiar with the matter earlier said Mr. Sacks was expected to assist billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel in the transition of President-elect Donald Trump.

  • Italian Referendum to Determine Matteo Renzi’s Fate The Wall Street Journal - Sat, Dec 3, 2016 12:56 AM AEDT

    ROME—When Italians vote on a much-awaited popular referendum on Sunday, they will also be deciding the fate of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government—and expressing the country’s appetite for change. The ballot is ostensibly over Mr. Renzi’s proposal to overhaul Italy’s legislature. Italy’s referendum kicks off a momentous electoral year in Europe, where populist parties are expected to do well.

  • David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz Takes a Swing at the Private-Equity Game The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 1:56 PM AEDT

    David “Big Papi” Ortiz is becoming a player in the private-equity game. In his first major announcement about his retirement plans since wrapping up a triumphant final season with the Boston Red Sox, Mr. Ortiz said he and a star-studded group of former players are launching Dugout Ventures, a private-equity fund that will focus on companies manufacturing the next generation of baseball equipment. Other investors in the fund include Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Barry Larkin, as well as retired players Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter.

  • Trump’s Carrier Shakedown The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 11:40 AM AEDT

    A giant flaw in President Obama’s economic policy has been the politicized allocation of capital, from green energy to housing. Donald Trump suffers from a similar industrial-policy temptation, as we’ve seen this week with his arm-twisting of Carrier to change its decision to move a plant to Mexico from Indiana. Carrier announced Wednesday that it will retain about 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis that would have moved to Mexico over the next three years, and on Thursday Mr. Trump held a rally at the plant and claimed political credit.

  • Baby Boomers vs. Millennials: The Uneven Jobs Recovery The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 9:06 AM AEDT

    Friday’s jobs report shouldn’t break the benign trend of sub-5% unemployment rate and improving wage growth. Millennials, who surpassed boomers in sheer numbers last year, account for more than one-fourth of the nation’s population. Consider the Labor Department’s employment-population ratio, which measures the share of people who are employed.

  • The Downside of Pardoning Hillary Clinton The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 8:57 AM AEDT

    The thrust of your Nov. 23 editorial “Democracy’s Verdict on Clinton” is that President-elect Donald Trump did the right thing by deciding not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email and Clinton Foundation issues. Was Mrs. Clinton’s server hacked and her emails stolen by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran or other states or individuals? Were crimes committed by anyone else involved with Mrs. Clinton?

  • Car Dealers Take Steps to Help ‘Underwater’ Buyers Trade Up The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 7:53 AM AEDT
    Car Dealers Take Steps to Help ‘Underwater’ Buyers Trade Up

    In the housing industry, negative equity is typically seen as a deal breaker. Values of “SUVs, trucks and (crossovers) are through the roof,” Bob Carter, a top U.S. executive for Toyota Motor Co., said in an interview Thursday. “But then on the car side, you’re seeing the used-car values come down and that’s what creates” negative equity.

  • Miami Beach Penthouse Aims For Record $65 Million Sale The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 6:19 AM AEDT

    Lawyer-turned-entrepreneur William Duker is putting his Miami Beach penthouse on the market for $65 million. If it fetches its asking price, the property will set a new record for a residential sale in the Miami area, according to listing agent Carlo Gambino of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The penthouse spans the 22nd, 23rd and 24th floors of the Apogee, a waterfront condo tower at the southern tip of Miami Beach.

  • Bob Dylan Is Blowin’ Everybody Off, but Minnesotans Don’t Mind The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 6:12 AM AEDT

    DULUTH, Minn.—When Steve Goldfine heard that Bob Dylan wouldn’t be in Stockholm to pick up his Nobel Prize Dec. 10, he couldn’t have been less surprised. Mr. Dylan, the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, has proven to be quite a headache for the Swedish Academy, which awards the prizes. First, he took several weeks to acknowledge the award, sparking concerns he would be the first laureate in literature since Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964 to reject it.

  • Card Companies Give Gas Stations Three Extra Years to Install Chip Technology The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 6:02 AM AEDT

    Gas stations are getting a big break from the credit-card industry. Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. each announced Thursday that they are giving gas stations three extra years to install equipment that accepts the new generation of chip-embedded credit and debit cards meant to reduce fraud. The chip-card push creates a delicate balancing act for Visa and Mastercard, which have clashed with merchants over many issues for years.

  • The Really Rich Got Richer, According to IRS’s Top 400 The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 3:05 AM AEDT

    The total income reported on the top 400 individual tax returns rose 20% in 2014, according to Internal Revenue Service data released Thursday. The figures reveal the concentration of earnings at the pinnacle of the income distribution, in a club that required $126.8 million of adjusted gross income to enter.

  • Trump’s Money Men The Wall Street Journal - Fri, Dec 2, 2016 12:20 AM AEDT

    Financial markets have been buoyant since Donald Trump’s election, and even the downbeats at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are now forecasting faster global growth due to Trumponomics. Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin is a Wall Street denizen who led fundraising for the Trump campaign but is a newcomer to political or policy debates. The good news is that he’s adopted the Trump mantra on economic growth and told CNBC Wednesday that “I think we can absolutely get to sustained three to four percent” GDP growth rates.

  • U.S. to Forgive at Least $108 Billion in Student Debt in Coming Years The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 12:23 PM AEDT

    WASHINGTON—The federal government is on track to forgive at least $108 billion in student debt in coming years, as more and more borrowers seek help in paying down their loans, leading to lower revenues for the nation’s program to finance higher education. The Government Accountability Office disclosed the sum Wednesday in a report to Congress which for the first time projected the full costs of programs that set borrowers’ monthly payments as a share of their earnings and eventually forgive portions of their debt. The GAO report also sharply criticized the government’s accounting methods for its $1.26 trillion student-loan portfolio, pointing to flaws that have led it to alter projected revenues significantly over the years.

  • Amazon Uses Trucks to Drive Data Faster The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 11:19 AM AEDT

    LAS VEGAS—In Amazon Web Services, Inc. has built one of the most powerful computing networks in the world, on pace to post more than $12 billion in revenue this year. To the sound of throbbing heavy-metal music and flashes of strobe lights, Amazon drove a big rig onto the floor of the Sands Expo & Convention Center during the company’s annual customer conference. The tractor-trailer hauls a massive storage device, dubbed Snowmobile, in the form of a 45-foot shipping container that holds 100 petabytes of data.

  • Trump’s $1 Trillion Promise vs. Congress The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 11:10 AM AEDT

    Donald Trump’s cabinet is off to an impressive start. Mr. Trump has picked accomplished leaders, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross. Mr. Trump is now viewed favorably by the same share of Americans that he won at the ballot box.

  • The World War That Never Ended The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 10:45 AM AEDT

    This range of years puzzles those who believe that the fighting ended with Germany’s defeat in November 1918, but the inscriptions are a testament to the fact that the victorious Allied troops continued to fight and die in the conflicts that followed the war, especially in the intervention against the Bolsheviks in Russia. For many of the Great War’s defeated nations and peoples, as Robert Gerwarth shows brilliantly in “The Vanquished,” the full course of strife and bloodshed ended only in late 1923, when the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Europe and the Russian successor states finally settled down, at least for the time being. The “aftermath,” Mr. Gerwarth reminds us, began before the war was over.

  • The Cable-Cutting Dream Is Kind of a Myth The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 7:12 AM AEDT

    The world’s largest pay-TV company, AT&T, is getting into the cable-cutting business with an app called DirecTV Now. For as little as $35 per month, you can turn on your big-screen TV or your phone and stream a lineup of live channels that comes close to basic cable.

  • Some Google Accounts Hit by Malicious Android Apps The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 6:39 AM AEDT

    Malicious software disguised as legitimate apps for Android smartphones and tablets has seized control of more than one million Google accounts since August, according to research from security firm Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. The malicious Trojan-horse software known as Gooligan was found in 86 fraudulent apps and has been infecting about 13,000 Android devices a day, Check Point said. The Gooligan apps come from third-party app stores rather than Google’s authorized Play store, but some apps downloaded without authorization can be found on Play, Check Point said.

  • Buying a Home? Prepare for Surprise Closing Costs The Wall Street Journal - Thu, Dec 1, 2016 2:56 AM AEDT

    Note to house hunters on a budget: A home’s sale price isn’t really the sale price—there are lots of closing costs and expenses that jack up the final number. Since the financial crisis, there’s more transparency on the part of lenders when disclosing the costs associated with a mortgage, so buyers know in advance how much they’ll need for the closing. Buyers must also pay appraisers, home inspectors and settlement agents, as well as the cost of title insurance, homeowners insurance and property taxes.