Showing posts from September, 2013

Ireland's Economic Comeback

On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a billion dollars of financial help to Ireland, as the country complied with the requirements set up in its 2010 bailout plan. The plan, which saved Ireland from bankruptcy after it suffered a massive banking crisis starting 2008, is reaching its end, as Ireland is getting ready to start issuing sovereign debt again in December. However, the country has to reach a minimum annual growth of 2% for its debt to become sustainable. Ireland is now out of its second recession in five years with a 0.4% second quarter expansion. This positive data, however, falls short of the optimistic 1.3% growth over the entire year predicted by the Irish government. Irish exports have grown by 4.3% over the same period, while household consumption grew by 0.7%. The IMF decision came almost one week after other good news for Ireland: on Friday, September 20, Moody's announced positive forecasts on Ireland's sovereign debt, which it now judg

Telangana: To be or not to be?

Telangana supporters gather to advocate for the region's statehood. The concept of statehood has always been a contentious debate in India. It’s recently gotten international press as Telangana, a region of Andhra Pradesh, is fighting a stormy battle for statehood. When India gained independence from the British in 1947, the modern-day Indian map began to emerge. States were created and borders were drawn. The map continued to take shape in 1956 with the States Reorganization Act, a piece of legislation resulting in the single largest change in state borders since India’s independence. The act called for state boundaries based on linguistic differences.  So, Karnataka was created for Kannada speakers, Kerala was created for Malayalam speakers, Gujarat for Gujarati speakers, and so on. Modern day Andhra Pradesh was created for Telugu speakers.  It seems despite their linguistic alignment with the other regions of Andhra Pradesh, the people of Telangana were unhappy from the sta

Beats Takes the Next Big Step

Top private equity firm, Carlyle Group, gave Beats Electronics $500 million Friday valuing the company at $1 billion. In exchange for growth capital, it will be taking two of six positions on the high end sounds and audio tech company's board. The money will be used to buy back HTC's final twenty five percent stake in the company, ending a partnership that did not go quite as planned. The Taiwanese smart phone company bought half of Beats three years ago for $309 million dollars, and used the technology in its smart phones. As its cell phone sales have since far lagged behind Samsung, it has moved to sell its holdings in its partner, in order to focus on its most important business segment. Beats has started to expand into the speaker business, revealing a new line of pill speakers marketed in notable pop songs "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke and "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus. It has already captured sixty four percent of the premium headphone market,

Shanghai Free-Trade Zone Entices Foreigners, Raises Land Prices

China's official news agency, Xinhua, reported on Tuesday that Shanghai would open up its planned Free-Trade Zone on September 29. The roughly 29 square kilometer area in Shanghai will be exempt from trade barriers and censorship rules that affect all parts of China outside of its Special Economic Zones. The ridding of mandated customs inspections of all imports and exports aims to boost trade volume and attract foreign investment in China's most populous city. The most attention-grabbing quality of the new Free-Trade Zone is the lifting of internet censorship bans on Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times, allowing unrestricted access to these sites only within the small zone in the city. The new policy aims to attract foreign firms to spur local banking, insurance, shipping, and healthcare industries, among others. “In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them fe

Netflix Expanding

Netflix recently announced a second deal with a cable company to bring its online streaming service to cable. The deal with Swedish company Com Hem would add a potential 600,000 customers to its service. This comes after Virgin Media struck a similar deal in the U.K to bring Netflix to at least 1.7 million of its customers. The two cable providers would begin offering the service to subscribers of their respective TiVo DVR services. While this deal may seem like big news for the two companies, Netflix and Com Hem's DVR service must have a balance to properly coexist. This is because any DVR system can undercut the streaming service provided by Netflix or vice versa. For example, if I wanted to watch an episode of Law and Order SVU, I could potentially look it up on Netflix or just have TiVo record all SVU broadcasts onto the DVR hard-drive. The TiVo service that Com Hem provides can be anywhere from twice as expensive to seven times as expensive as Netflix, and with Netflix right o

Obama pushes for diplomacy on Iran's nuclear program

President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both openly stated their support for a new diplomatic effort regarding Iran's nuclear program. Obama, addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, stated that there was "basis for a meaningful agreement." In recent weeks, Rouhani, who was elected in June, has suggested that he is open to developing a program in which Iran is allowed to further their nuclear energy program but prevents them from building a weapon, claiming that a nuclear weapon program would "contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions." Obama said that Secretary of State John Kerry was working with the Iranian government to resolve the negotiations about Iran's nuclear program. In his statement to the UN General Assembly, he stated that success in the negotiations would be a "major step in a long road to a difficult relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect," adding that "the roadblock

Bye-Bye Blackberry

Blackberry, Blackberry, Blackberry. It looks like it's time for you to take a giant step away from the highly competitive smartphone market. Anyone remember when these things were the cool phone to have? That lasted all of 6 months. 4 or 5 years ago when smartphones were in their early beginnings and people had to deal with the horrible data plans that offered sub-3G speeds, Blackberrys were a viable option. So viable that the market loved their stock, and it enjoyed levels above $70/share. In 2011, it had a pretty solid run too since companies worldwide adopted the Blackberry as a cheap and efficient work phone for employees. But now with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Iphone 5, 5s, and 5c dominating the market, there's no room for the tiny screen and tiny keys that Blackberry offers. Their new smartphones haven't been cutting it. Blackberry failed to penetrate the consumer market, and that's the market where the money lies. Just today, Blackberry was finally acquired by an

Money Mayweather Cashes In

The highly anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez took place last weekend at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Showtime Networks announced this past Thursday that the mega-fight generated over $150 million in pay-per-view revenue with 2.2 million purchases which broke the previous record also held by Mayweather for his $136 million fight with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Mayweather himself received a guaranteed payout of $41.5 million for the fight, but the money trail does not end there.  Estimates suggest he may very well earn over $80 million for the fight because he also receives reimbursements for each PPV sale that somebody buys.  While he is recuperating from his dominating win over Canelo last weekend, Mayweather is taking off some time to relax on vacation before his next fight in May.  The opponent is still to be determined. Some critics have suggested boxing is a dying sport.  But big payout days like these suggest that boxi

The Apple Response: Two Phones and a New Platform

              Yesterday hundreds of Apple stores opened their doors to eager customers eager to get their hands on the newest iteration of the iPhone. However for the first time Apple was launching not one, but two new iterations of the iPhone. Labeled the iPhone 5c and 5s, this newest iPhone lineup represents a departure from Apple’s typical one-phone strategy. In the wake of increasing competition from Android-powered smartphone providers, most notably Samsung, and decreasing market share, Apple has been hard-pressed to find way to reestablish itself as the dominant player in the smartphone space. In addition to the release of the “budget model” 5c and “mainline” 5s, the company has also majorly overhauled its operating system. The straightforwardly-named iOS 7 was designed to address the concerns of many Apple users that the iPhone was functioning on an outmoded platform.               Yet although Apple’s recent bid to reassert itself it the smartphone has been aggressive, Apple ma


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Grand Theft Auto V: The Right Way to Usher in a New Era of Gaming?

Grand Theft Auto V, more commonly known as GTA V, is unquestionably one of the greatest games of the year. Though it was only released yesterday, the game is already breaking records. In its first day alone, it had over $800 million dollars in sales. This number easily beats the previous record of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 which had around $500 million in first day sales. The movie could continue breaking records as it is not only a commercial success, but also has gotten great reviews, with a 98 on metacratic for the Xbox version. The fact is though, that a new generation of consoles is about to emerge, with the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, and GTA V will be one of the last blockbusters on the current generation (though versions of the game will be available for the new consoles). This game cost $266 million to produce and came a few years after GTA IV. The problem I see going forward with the industry is that on the heels of the massive success of GTA V, companies will spend

Race: Chairman of The Federal Reserve

Earlier today, Lawrence Summers, a contender and front runner in the race to become the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, withdrew from the race, leaving Janet Yellen as the new prospect. Mr. Summers is a close economic advisor to President Obama and former Treasury secretary.  This news adds to the unusual interest and coverage of this election, which first gained its popularity when speculation that Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, would no longer serve as the chairman. Other candidates in the running include Timothy Geithner, who has not officially entered the race but is being heavily pressured by the media to enter, and Christina Romer, a former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Ultimately, all these candidates have similar stance on ways to approach the economy but differ in their intensity of action. For instance, Janet Yellen, the current vice chairman of the Fed, is in favor of printing money. She has a tendency to approach every economic