FlickrHere’s a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you’ll just want to know.
• Some people who fear that money printed by governments will eventually prove worthless are big fans of gold. Other skeptics about so-called “fiat money” (as well as people who would prefer that governments not be able to track their spending) have been flocking to Bitcoin, the digital crypto-currency that exists almost entire online and is “mined” by computers solving complex problems. Funny thing: Gold bugs have seen the value of their hard assets drop by almost a third since last October. But Bitcoin values have exploded. This weekend, one Bitcoin hit a record high value of $1,242, within spitting distance of the price of an ounce of gold.
• Early figures from the National Retail Federation indicate a record 141 million people shopped in stores and online from Thanksgiving through Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million. But total Thanksgiving weekend spending appears to have fallen for the first time since 2006, by an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion. Shoppers on average spent about $407 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from 2012.
• From one point of view, Cyber Monday really should have become less of a “thing” by now. After all, most people have Internet access from home or mobile devices that’s just as good as they used to have only from their office computers. But instead, it just keeps growing, thanks to to the marketing power of retailers. So if you’re planning to do a little shopping as soon as you’re done checking out the business news on DailyFinance, you might want to check the list of best Cyber Monday deals from Barrons.
• The price tag for the gifts from the “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is up to $27,393.17 this year, a $1,192 or 7.7 percent increase over a year ago, the largest jump since 2010’s 9.2 percent spike. The culprit was neither gold nor birds, nor even musicians: It was almost all about the folks with the fancy footwork. The cost of nine ladies dancing shot up 20 percent, and the 10 lords a-leaping leaped 10 percent, combining for a $1,736 increase over 2012. Mostly, those jumps were justified, as they made up for some very paltry pay raises in years past.
• And finally, the “water cooler” story we’re all talking about today: Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos went on “60 Minutes” Sunday to let us know that within five years, he plans to be using flying robot drones to deliver Amazon packages to our doorsteps. Bezos said the octocopters could carry a 5 pound package to any point within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center within 30 minutes. (Frankly, we’re still waiting for flying cars to become mainstream, but flying robotic package delivery is sci-fi enough to satisfy us for now.)