Things that happened last week:
1. Blackberry made another loss.
Its 2013 Q4 revenue was down 64% from the same quarter in 2012. Which is, you know, not good. Surprisingly, it only made a $42 million adjusted cash loss – which is certainly less than that embarrassing $4.4 billion loss it reported three months ago.
But still. I mean, really. There are only so many ways one can redesign a physical keyboard and trackpad before someone has to say “Enough now.”
2. Mark Zuckerberg had a $1 salary last year, earned $3.3 billion.
“Earning $1 a year” is not that surprising. Why earn more and pay income tax when you could earn nothing and borrow against your shares in the business? I think that sometimes, the gainfully employed forget that a salary is not the only good reason to work every day. In fact, it’s not even the best reason.
You know what is a good reason though? Owning 61% of a company that gives you a net worth of around $28 billion. Because you go to work to make sure that it stays that way. Amirite?
For this, and more related-tax-discussion, here’s this article from Forbes: Tax-Smart Billionaires That Work For $1.
Japan raised its consumption tax from 5% to 8% last Tuesday. According to a survey conducted by the Bank of Japan, nearly 70% of Japanese households now plan to cut-back on spending.
So this is the really uncomfortable part of Abenomics: that second fiscal prong that no one really wants.
4. The FBI started investigated High-Speed Trading.
Years after high-speed trading first started, the FBI is suddenly all “Maybe this is actually insider-trading?”
To be clear, you can do stuff these days like buy a subscription to receive the US jobs numbers release 2 seconds before it gets released publicly. The theory: this isn’t insider trading, because what can you really trade in 2 seconds?
Well, that’s why they invented algorithms. Because 2 seconds is an eternity of time if your trading strategy is pre-programmed into an algorithmic response.
So yes, that’d be an advantage that normal people don’t have. On the other hand – normal people would be disadvantaged even if there weren’t a 2 second headstart. Because by the time you’ve gotten three letters into the title of the announcement, the high-speed traders have come and gone.
5. Investors sue plenty of banks over Forex manipulation in chat rooms.
Large investors, including pension funds and cities, have sued the 12 big banks* for allegedly rigging the forex market since 2003, via chat rooms, instant messages and email.
*Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, UBS, RBS, Deutsche, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, HSBC.
The investors said employees of the defendants would use such names as The Cartel, The Bandits’ Club and The Mafia to swap confidential customer orders and trading positions, and collude to set prices through such tactics as “front running/trading ahead”, “banging the close” and “painting the screen”.
Here’s an awesome video link that explains how the close gets banged.
6. Mozilla’s new CEO resigned over zero love from OKCupid.
In response to Eich’s appointment, online dating site OkCupid sent this message last Monday to any user attempting to access their site off Firefox:
Eich handed in his resignation on Thursday.
Who knew that dating websites could wield such power?
7. Bill Gross goes crazy, mourns cat.
PIMCO is having a tough time of late. Its flagship fund has had its 11th consecutive month of fund outflows, its performance is being outdone by 95% of its peers, and Bill Gross had a fall-out with his “heir-apparent”.
Now, Bill’s cat has died. He dedicated the first half of his April 2014 Investment Outlook letter to Bob (that would be the cat – and, oddly, not a tom). Some highlights:
“Treasure your pets and all living things. Eventually, we all stop living.”
“I often asked her about her recommendations for pet food stocks, and she frequently responded – one meow for ‘no’, two meows for ‘you bet’. She was less certain about interest rates, but then it never hurt to ask.”
“Retrievers love retrieving, even if they’re loaves of bread or rocks.”
Give that man a Bells.
8. Nigeria eclipses South Africa overnight.
Nigeria conducted its first revision of the components of GDP since 1990. The rebasing of its GDP calculation near doubled the official number to $500 billion.
This makes sense. To give some perspective: in 1990, there were no mobile phones, no internet services, and almost no financial services (like insurance, etc). Which means that Africa’s largest mobile phone market, with more that 110 million subscribers, has never contributed toward Nigeria’s GDP.
Some are calling the rebasement an “exercise in vanity”. Well, it isn’t entirely, because foreign investment and World Bank loans chase high GDP numbers and low Debt-to-GDP ratios.
The rebasement improved both.