APHere’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.
• Good news: Republican congressional leaders finally released their economic hostage, allowing votes to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Bad news: The 16-day government shutdown cost the U.S. economy an estimated $24 billion, and took a significant bite out of GDP growth, according to a preliminary analysis by Standard & Poor’s.
• And, even though it’s over, the federal budget brouhaha is expected to translate into holiday season hum-buggery at the mall. The National Retail Federation reports that shoppers plan to cut their spending on presents and holiday preparations this year, and many blame the economy and the political outlook for their negativity.
• Think your boss is difficult and that you’re underpaid? Well, there are still about 30 million people trapped in actual slavery worldwide, according to the newly released Global Slavery Index 2013. India has the most people living as slaves: 14 million. But the island nation of Mauritania has the highest proportion: About 4 percent of its population is enslaved.
• A Texas jury ruled billionaire Mark Cuban not guilty of insider trading Wednesday. The Securities and Exchange Commission had charged him with having used nonpublic information when he sold his 600,000 shares of Internet search company Mamma.com in 2004 — then worth $7.9 million. By selling when he did, he dodged a $750,000 loss — pocket change compared to his estimated $2.5 billion net worth.
• Financial industry titan Goldman Sachs (GS) saw its revenue plunge by 20 percent last quarter due to its clients pulling back on their trading activities, but the bank kept its earnings about the same by cutting costs — primarily employee compensation. It also boosted its dividend by 10 percent.
• In the world of alternative energy, fuel cells occupy a troubled place: They work well, are environmentally friendly — and remain a boutique technology that has never turned a profit for any manufacturer because they’re just too expensive. Chip Bottone, CEO of FuelCell Energy, may be very close to changing that.
• And finally, we’ve long known that thinking about sex can make men … well, stupider. A new study reveals we’re not alone: Just thinking about something sexy makes women more likely to engage in risky financial behavior.