The latest ADP National Employment Report says private employers added 215,000 jobs last month, making it the strongest month for job growth since a year ago. And in October, America's trade gap narrowed on the strength of record exports to China, Canada and Mexico.
The European Commission has hit a half dozen big banks, including Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase, with a $2.3 billion fine for colluding to rig two benchmark lending rates that set the price of money between banks -- something on which they were supposed to competing. It's the largest antitrust fine that the European Commission has ever imposed in a case of this kind.
The European Commission ruled that this group of banks -- some of the biggest and best known in the world -- essentially colluded to form an illegal cartel to profit from derivatives linked to rigged interest rates. The Competition Commission in Brussels said the most shocking aspect was not just the illegal activity, but that banks that were supposed to be competing with each other were actively colluding to the disadvantage of companies that rely on these interest rates every day.
"The indirect impact is if you're dealing with a company that relied on those interest rates to do their business, then those companies are getting rates which are not as good as they could have been, then presumably those companies are going to put up prices of some of the products and services which you want to buy," says the BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris. "So these things do trickle down through the economy."
How have post-recession regulations affected small banks? The House committee on small business just met to discuss that and found some small banks took a big hit. Dodd-Frank, the Consumer Protection Act, and other regulation has meant banks have to have a certain amount of cash on hand, have to investigate certain kinds of deposits and many other rules. Many banks have had to bring in people to make sure they comply.
"Before Dodd Frank, an institution below $500 million had half of a person dealing with compliance," says Michael Moebs, an economist who advises banks. "Today it’s almost 4."
That additional labor brings additional cost. Moebs estimates it can be around $250,000. That kind of money isn’t a big deal for banks like Wells Fargo or Chase, but it is a big deal for smaller institutions.
"It could be the difference between a profitable year and a non-profitable year for a bank," says banking consultant Ken Thomas.
In order to deal with this, many banks have started cutting costs and raising fees. And, Thomas says, many small banks are putting themselves up for sale and being snapped up by larger competitors.
Mexican authorities have issued a public alert and are conducting a wide search for the white Volkswagen truck, which had been heading to a disposal facility.
Diners who grit their teeth when a neighboring customer spends way too much time tapping and talking on a smart phone may be surprised to hear that some restaurants want diners to use their phones more. Mobile apps that allow customers to order and pay are growing. At their best, they offer speed and convenience. But they can also be impersonal, a big problem in the hospitality business. At a recent lunch at City Winery -- a New York live music venue and restaurant that’s a fan of mobile payments -- I found the experience initially frustrating, occasionally weird, but overall, pretty convenient.
City Winery has a carefully crafted environment, with design emphasizing wooden wine barrels and cozy seating. So get the Jetsons imagery out of your mind. You still get a paper menu and order with a human server.
Mine sells me on the day’s soup with his elaborate description of the winter squash, maple cream and pistachios in it. I also order a kale Caesar. He puts my order into the house computer system and returns with a printed slip of paper. It has a code that will allow me to pull up my order on my phone.
Not right away, though. Since this is my first time trying mobile dining, it doesn’t happen instantly. To make it work, I need a PayPal account, which I had, and a PayPal app, which I didn’t. This is by far the most frustrating part of the process and I can see many diners giving up at this stage, not wanting to invest the initial effort.
After I’m finally logged in and set up, it gets a lot easier. The app is simple and user-friendly. I can see my order and realize I made a mistake: kale salad. The overexposed green is such a public radio cliché, so I hit the “alert server” button on the app. Soon he ambles over and I make the switch to a Greek salad. The app is proving useful.
Being able to summon the server with my phone feels a bit creepy, but it’s inarguably convenient. And it could help a business like City Winery, which wants to sell more food and drink during live shows, but doesn’t want servers to ruin a concert by bugging customers.
“It’s a little bit awkward to have one of our servers standing in front of Steve Earle as he’s hitting a great note and ask if somebody wants another cheeseburger,” says general manager David Richter.
It’s also about speed and efficiency, a key part of the pitch from NCR, which sells the technology to restaurants. Both diners and restaurateurs like the idea of paying the check instantly, without having to wait for a server to print it.
“If I’m in rush and maybe I just have 30 minutes for lunch, this really puts the control in my hands as the guest to be able to drive the experience that I want,” says Sherry Shirah, an NCR marketing director.
Restaurants pay NCR a monthly fee it declines to reveal to use the Mobile Pay system. (As an early adopter, City Winery doesn’t have to pay it right now.) If the technology leads to more sales and faster table turns, it can pay its way at restaurants.
Richter and the City Winery staff think carefully about server efficiency. He says it takes 25 footsteps for a server to provide service in the large concert space. If arming customers with smartphones helps ensure that more of those journeys lead to satisfaction and sales, the technology is worth a lot. What’s harder to quantify is the risk of losing human connection.
“There are a number of ways that technology can’t replace the personal touch,” says Mary Chapman, director of product innovation at the food consultancy Technomic. “A computer can’t smile at you or ask you how your day’s going.”
Or describe a dish, which my waiter did so convincingly, scoring the restaurant additional revenue. At City Winery, smartphone payments are growing, but they’re still small, around 3 percent. That’s not even a dozen people on a typical night, though servers still worry about their jobs a little.
“If you’re gonna order your food through a computer, you may as well have a robot take the food to you,” says my server Will Gorin. “There’s no reason for me to be around.”
His boss laughed at this notion and swiftly promised that no robot servers will roll through the dining room. Richter adds that those who pay by mobile tend to tip better. I did the same, even if my server didn’t have to bring a paper check.
Fake newsman Ron Burgundy (played by actor Will Ferrell) is waging a PR blitz for his new movie “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The sexist anchor with the 70s ‘stache is hawking Dodge Durangos. He anchored a real-life newscast in North Dakota last weekend. And today, Emerson College is renaming one of its schools the “Ron Burgundy School of Communication” for a day.
So what’s with all the hype?
The first “Anchorman” movie did okay, but grossed less than $100 million. Ron Burgundy, though, developed a cult following. Now you’ll find him promoting the Dodge Durango. Or at least, its glovebox.
“Comfortably fits two turkey sandwiches,” Burgundy cries, “Uhhh, six ball peen hammers. Seventy packs of gum!”
Keith Simanton, managing editor of IMDb, says it was different when a character like James Bond used to appear in commercials.
“He’s driving a certain car or he’s drinking a certain beer,” Simanton says. “But he’s not making fun of driving that car or drinking that beer. Plus, also, Burgundy’s an idiot.”
“This kind of advertising is anti-advertising, but it really works,” says Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech Capital.
Bibb says Ron Burgundy as anti-spokesman is genius because promotion is all about social media now. The antics of a buffoon are highly contagious on our phones. Bibb expects the “Anchorman” sequel will do much better than the original, precisely because Ron Burgundy can’t stay classy.
The investigation into the Bronx train crash that killed four people Sunday will continue without the direct involvement of the rail employees union. The move came after the union's leader told the media that the train's engineer "basically nodded" moments before a catastrophic derailment.
The more technology kids interact with, the more adults want to set some controls on that interaction. New options do abound. One of the latest from a company called FiLIP: a smartwatch that lets parents control who the kid calls, among other things. Ben Johnson talks to Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief for reviews at CNET.
Hassan al-Laqis, identified as a veteran commander with expertise in technology and intelligence, was reportedly shot in a parking lot outside his home. Hezbollah is blaming Israel for the killing, but Israeli officials denied the claim.
Electronic cigarettes are getting more popular all the time. Which may be why more places are starting to put more restrictions on the technology. Today in New York, the City Council is considering whether to restrict e-cigarettes just like regular cigarettes -- banning their use in offices, in restaurants, and on beaches. Supporters of e-cigs argue that goes too far. And tech critic Molly Wood might agree.
NPR staff and critics selected more than 200 standout titles. Now it's up to you: Choose your own adventure! Use our tags to search through books and find the perfect read for yourself or someone else.
The Sunday pregame shows feature interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches saying the same banal things, one after another. But on female-centered shows, observes Frank Deford, the hosts actually argue, hash things out, laugh and generally behave like flesh-and-blood human beings.
In 2000, Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He spent 12 years in England, but recently returned to his homeland, where he is trying to readjust to — and change — life in a conservative society.
On Thursday, Ford will unveil the new generation of its iconic pony car in the U.S. and cities around the world. The Mustang is eagerly awaited in Europe, where it hasn't been sold since 1979.
House and Senate negotiators are meeting to reconcile their two different versions of a new farm bill. If they don't reach agreement, the nation faces going over "the dairy cliff" – a reversion to 1949 farm policy that would cause a big spike in milk prices.
BuzzFeed's digital traffic is stratospheric, driven largely by animated GIFs and lists, like the 10 most life-affirming dog rescue stories. But the social media outfit is in the process of building up a team of journalists to offer original news reporting, raising questions of just what it intends to be.
The Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management admits no liability in the whistle-blower case brought by the scientist. The agency says it agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation costs.
The government's thumbs down of the proposed trade agreement has sparked widespread anger and street protests that have threatened to topple President Viktor Yanukovych.
The company's Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., carrying the satellite into a geostationary orbit.
AM radio was what folks used to gather around to listen to soap operas, big bands and live drama. Later, it's where baby boomers heard the Beatles. Now, it's largely the province of news and talk — and often hard to hear because of interference. The FCC is proposing some changes it hopes will make the AM band relevant again.