National / International News
That's how much Japan's gross domestic product shrunk on an annualized basis in the third quarter, pushing the country into a recession. Many are blaming a second-quarter sales tax hike, which raised taxes to 8 percent. A second increase to 10 percent was scheduled for next fall, but will likely be delayed, Bloomberg reported. Consumers weren't spending after the first tax increase, the Wall Street Journal noted. Businesses weren't stocking near as much, making the GDP contract further.
That's what it costs the U.S. to make a penny because zinc prices are on the rise. The logistics of minting coins are just one of many challenges ahead of the militant group ISIS as it looks to establish its own currency. Quartz lays them out in a handy three-step guide to creating and distributing legal tender. Step one? "Establish authority."$1.2 million
The price nonprofit Organizing for America is paying each year for access to President Barack Obama's campaign email list, which the Wall Street Journal notes could be the largest of its kind, at over 30 million subscribers when Obama was reelected. All those emails and data will be useful to OFA, an Obama campaign offshoot, as it begins fundraising for 2016.$34.6 billion
That's how much Halliburton will pay for Baker Hughes, as announced on Monday. As the New York Times reports, the deal prevents what could have been a hostile takeover.$38 million
"Dumb and Dumber To" pulled in $38 million over the weekend, claiming the top spot at the box office. This in spite of its 27% on RottenTomatoes.com. Not so dumb after all.
The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect opens for business Monday. For the first time, investors from each market will have access to the other. It also means it will now be a lot easier for international investors to invest in mainland China.
"China’s markets are [currently] somewhat protected," says Peter Marber, head of emerging markets at Loomis, Sayles & Company. "They’ve got some stocks that list themselves on the New York Stock Exchange and around the world, but it’s only a small percentage of, really, what’s listed in China. This will allow us to invest in companies that we’ve just never had access to in the past."
While the linking of exchanges is important on its own, it’s also symbolic of a larger journey of financial reforms in the country.
"This is a historic development," says Nicholas Consonery, director of the Eurasia Group's Asia practice. "The second biggest economy in the world has a closed capital account, a very restricted stock market, and as it opens, I don’t even think we can even fully appreciate what a cataclysmic event this is going to be for the global capital markets."
Consonery thinks Chinese officials are committed, but still cautious about these larger reforms, so they’ll be watching the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect very closely before pursuing others.
Both Consonery and Marber say investors should proceed with caution. The rules that govern companies in Shanghai can be very different than Hong Kong and around the world.
"We’ve had a recent IPO for Alibaba, there’s been some questions about enforceability of certain kinds of commercial rights," Marber says. "But I would hope that most investors would have such a diversified exposure to the country that they wouldn't put all their eggs just a few baskets."
A survey out today shows the overall financial picture for Americans improving, but that still hasn’t translated into actual prosperity.
According to the November Financial Security Index, compiled by Bankrate.com, the number one financial concern among Americans isn’t job security, or the housing market—it’s pocketbook issues like just being able to pay bills.
“And it has been to an increasing extent each year,” says Brian McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
“This year, 41 percent of Americans cited that as their top priority. That’s up from 36 percent last year and 32 percent in 2012.”
One explanation for the concern about paying bills is that even as economic indicators like unemployment improve, incomes remain largely flat.
“People have jobs, but both the hours and the wages are not what they might hope for,” notes Steve Fazzari, an economist at Washington University in St. Louis.
On the positive side, the Bankrate survey showed that American’s feelings about job security and net worth are both improving.
Half of people of Asian descent have double eyelids — folds above the lash line — and the other don't. There's a controversial surgery some people get to give themselves that crease.
Test your ability to tweet a recipe in 140 characters or less. Amateur cook and writer Maureen Evans tells us how she manages to do that, and breaks down her code in her Twitter cookbook, Eat Tweet.