Getty ImagesHere’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.
• What do you get when you combine Tea Party fantasies of a tiny, cash-starved U.S. government with a Silicon Valley icon’s daydream of a techno-utopia? You get the proposal from Balaji Srinivasan that Silicon Valley should pull an “Atlas Shrugged” on America and secede. “We need to build opt-in society, outside the U.S., run by technology,” said the Stanford lecturer and cofounder of genetics startup Counsyl during his talk at Y-Combinator.
• Wall Street’s overall profits may drop by 37 percent this year, due to a combination of rising interest rates, massive legal bills, regulation, and the ripple effects of Washington’s budget battle, government shutdown and debt ceiling fight, said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He predicts the securities industry will rake in a mere $15 billion in 2013, vs. its $23.9 billion profits from 2012. That’s sure to have an impact on Wall Streeters’ bonuses.
• Consumer Reports, that independent advocate for shoppers everywhere, wants to clarify its opinions on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. A few weeks ago, a blog post on its website warned people to stay away from HealthCare.gov — until the website is fixed.
After some right wing pundits pointed to that advice as an indication that CR had jumped on the anti-Obamacare bandwagon, a new post was published Monday to disabuse the confused. Its subtitle says it all: “HealthCare.gov problems do not negate benefits of new health law”
Our advice remains the same: The best place to buy coverage on your own is through the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. That guarantees you will get comprehensive coverage, and it’s the only way you can lower the cost of your premiums and possibly even your deductibles and copayments.
And, as CR notes, you have until Dec. 15 to sign up for a plan that will begin to cover you and your family on Jan. 1. So if you check back in at HealthCare.gov when you need a break from your holiday shopping, you should be just fine.
• J.C. Penney has thrown in the towel in its legal battle with Macy’s over the right to sell kitchen, bed and bath products designed by Martha Stewart. It’s pulling the “JCP Everyday” line from shelves, though it will keep selling some Martha Stewart-branded merchandise under its “MarthaHome” label, such as window treatments, lighting and rugs. Macy’s declared the result a total victory.
• Energy Future Holdings, which was purchased in the largest leveraged buyout in history, is on the verge of collapse — and fracking is to blame. The company, which owns Texas’s biggest electricity utilities, is sliding toward bankruptcy, and in a nutshell, here’s why. When it was taken private for $48 billion back in 2007, the buyers were anticipating that U.S. energy demand would grow faster than supply, pushing electricity costs up. Turns out that was a really bad bet. We’ll let our friends at Quartz explain further.
• And finally, for shoppers with a well-developed sense of nostalgia, here are 18 photographs that sum up why you probably don’t shop at Sears anymore.