Rally Interrupted as Jobs Data Leaves S&P 500 Unchanged for Week

The budding optimism that lifted U.S. equities to a seven-month high couldnt stand up to Fridays employment report.

Stocks in the the S&P 500 Index ended the week little changed despite a late rally that pared losses in the final session, after the weakest labor report in six years strained hopes for a quick economic rebound. As traders pushed back expectations for the Federal Reserves next interest-rate increase, banks had one of their worst days since shares bottomed in February.

The flat week followed the longest streak of monthly gains in two years, reinforcing concerns that the S&P 500 remains trapped in the same trading range that has prevailed since the index last hit a record 12 months ago. Slowing employment growth put the emphasis back on market challenges such as earnings, which are mired in the longest decline since the financial crisis, and the highest valuations in six years.

The jobs report does give ammunition to those in the market who have been defiant in their belief that the economy is not gaining momentum and cant handle a rate hike, said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc., which oversees more than $1 trillion. Its been very much a traders market, because youll see some days one sector is leading and some days another sector. If you are of the belief that the economy is not gaining momentum, you may see this market become more defensive.

The S&P 500 ended Friday at 2,099.13, compared with 2,099.06 a week earlier, after briefly climbing above 2,100 for a second time this year and closing Thursday closer to its May 2015 record than any time in seven months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 66.16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,807.06. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

The addition of 38,000 jobs last month was less than the most pessimistic of forecasts in a Bloomberg survey, bucking the trend of improving economic data that in the past month have shown strength in housing and consumer spending. The report cooled a rally that sent the S&P 500 within 1.2 percent of its all-time high. Before the week, the index had surged 15 percent from its February low as confidence grew that the economy will be strong enough to weather a rate increase as soon as this month.

Stocks in the S&P 500 erased about two-thirds of their decline Friday on hopes that a weakening labor market may force the Fed to keep rates lower for longer. Based on Fed funds futures, traders are now pricing in a 27 percent chance of a Fed boost by July, down from 55 percent earlier, while odds for a June hike have fallen to 4 percent from 22 percent.

This has moved investors not only to the idea that the Feds backed off but truly to question of if this thing is rolling over, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which manages $349 billion. Weve gone from the Fed may tighten to rates in two weeks to My gosh, are we recessing? I do think some of the intensity of that emotion will fade as we get through the next week. 

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a gauge of investor fear also known as VIX, climbed 2.7 percent to 13.47 for its third weekly advance in four.

Financial shares slumped the most among S&P 500 industries on Friday, leaving them down 1.3 percent for the week, as lower interest rates and bond yields curb lenders earnings power and erode profits at insurers that make money by investing premiums in fixed-income. Energy producers fell the second most of any industry over the four days, sinking 1 percent, as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rejected a proposal to adopt a new production ceiling.

Utility shares touched an all-time high and jumped 2.5 percent for the week, as investors turned to equities that pay out more as dividends relative to their share prices. The shift to defensive shares is a reversal from the last three months where companies more geared to economic growth, such as commodity producers and banks, led the markets advance.

Fridays decline did little to change the sideways movement of the market. After closing up or down less than 0.5 percent for six straight days, the longest stretch since November, the S&P 500 finished with the smallest weekly change for the year. At 18 times forecast earnings in the next 12 months, the index traded at a multiple thats near the highest level since 2010.

There is no real catalyst to drive valuations higher simply because everyone is waiting to see whether in fact things are going to continue to get better as the market has pretty much priced in, said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Massachusetts, which oversees $100 billion. People are desperately trying to figure out whats going on, but the news keeps changing and there is no secular trend to ride.

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This new app will pay you to go on a walk

To get your hands on Bitcoin, you need a computer with some considerable processing power to mine the cryptocurrency for you. Bitwalking has a different approach for distributing its virtual cash: Just put one foot in front of the other.

The idea behind Bitwalking is harnessing human movement. It tracks stepsjust like a standard fitness tracker or pedometerbut with a different outcome. As your steps rack up, so does your money. The smartphone app keeps a counter of currency along with distance traveled so users can see cents stacking up through the day.

As the money comes in, Bitwalking takes on an additional role as a digital wallet, storing the Bitwalking dollars (BW$) and allowing users to partake in transactionsbe it sending some of the custom cryptocurrency to friends or cashing it in on the app’s marketplace.

Andrew Whyte, a spokesperson for Bitwalking, told the Daily Dot the team behind the app believes “everyone should have the ability, and freedom, to make money.”

The concept has been in development since since 2014, with a mission to make walking worth something. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, a step is worth the same value. What matters is how much you walk,” Whyte said.

Bitwalking insists that it isn’t simply dangling cash as a motivator to get people to walk more, nor is it just creating a “points system” for rewards or trying to “gamify” walking. What it has created is a legitimate cryptocurrency that is generated through movement; the app is just the platform for collecting it.

“At the heart of Bitwalking is allowing everyone to generate their own money by walking. The added benefits of this mining processincluding healthier lifestyles and cleaner environmentsare certainly welcome,” Whyte said.

According to the BBC, Bitwalking has already attracted the attention of Japanese investors, who have infused the platform with more than $10 million to help create the currency and the accompanying bank that handles transactions.

It’s tempting to draw comparisons between current king of cryptocurrency Bitcoin and Bitwalking dollars. (One could even say they invite the comparison by using the “bit” moniker.) Whyte explained that he and his team “align with Bitcoin-related technologies and the vision of modernizing the world economy. Blockchain technology, for example, is used to secure Bitwalking transactions. “

Despite sharing a similar vision, the currencies are still completely separate from one another; Bitcoins are generated by computer power, Bitwalking dollars by human power. That basic difference changes a considerable amount about the currencies, because while Bitcoin creates increasingly complex equations that have to be cracked by computers, Bitwalking is capped primarily by physical limitations.

For the time being, it takes 10,000 steps to generate one BW$. While there is an artificial cap placed on earnings at three BW$ per day, the 30,000 steps (about 15 miles) threshold isn’t likely to be passed by the majority of peoplethough running is tallied by the app, so a marathoner could reach the limit and keep going. Whyte said that will direct the amount of BW$ in circulation.

Unlike Bitcoin, which exchanges at more than $450 USD for one BTC, Bitwalking Dollars is linked to USD; one BW$ is equivalent to $1 USD. “This value will fluctuate as the Bitwalking economy grows, within reason to our central management,” Whyte explained. He also said that users would be able convert BW$ to fiat currencies, or currencies with no intrinsic value. Once that process begins, an exchange rate will become more clear.

That cash can be used in a variety of ways once it’s in the wallet of the walkers. Within the app, Bitwalking offers a marketplace of curated goods that can be snapped up for BW$ or USD. Going forward, the company hopes BW$ will take form as a currency that is accepted at retailers and other locations. Whyte said Bitwalking is working on partnerships with “sports brands, fitness technologies, health clubs, and insurance companies” to help legitimize the currency.

One of the more interesting aspects of Bitwalking is its potential to be utilized in developing markets. Because it doesn’t require an overclocked processor working day and night, just an increasingly affordable smartphone to passively count steps while a person goes about their day, it presents a possibility to generate additional income without extra effort.

According to a Pew Research poll conducted earlier this year, nearly 25 percent of people in emerging and developing countries have smartphones, a figure that has risen considerably over the last few years. Young people in particular are much more likely to own an Internet-capable device, making Bitwalking a tempting prospect.

If Bitwalking can make its way onto fitness trackers or pedometersdevices that can penetrate a developing market at an even lower cost than a smartphoneit could create a secondary economy for those with the technology and access to utilize it.

The app is still in its early stages, releasing only a handful of invitations to the platform at a time. With an entire economy functioning within the app, volatility among the currency and scarcity of products that can actually be bought present concern. But the ambition behind it seems plentiful, the intent noble, and the method intuitive.

H/T OddityCentral |Photo via laprimadonna/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) and Jericho/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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Revenge porn: the industry profiting from online abuse

Sites charge $100 a year to access private photos and videos of non-porn stars in the nude, usually posted by spurned ex-lovers but it doesnt end there

Six years ago, Rebekah Wells Googled her name to see what turned up. The results horrified her: nude photos of herself taken by her ex-boyfriend, along with her name and address, on commercial porn sites such as ImageFlea, ImageEarn and PinkMeth.

She went to the police in her home town of Naples, Florida, and a sheriffs deputy was assigned to her case. One year later she became romantically involved with the deputy, and after the relationship fizzled, Wells claims the police officer threatened to upload a new batch of her nudes.

She felt nauseated, embarrassed and angry. Wells managed to get her photos removed and filed suit against her ex and the sites, but the lawsuit fizzled. She also launched a site, Women Against Revenge Porn, to help other victims of abuse, though it is closed for now. But the sites that posted her photos werent just trying to satisfy her exs pathological desire for revenge they were there to make money.

According to the Pew Research Center, four out of 10 people have been insulted, shamed, stalked, bullied or harassed online. Revenge porn is just one of the ways sites are profiting from internet abuse. And even sites that dont profit directly may benefit in other ways from the attention online abuse can bring.

Cops dont do this cyber stuff

Revenge porn sites such as SeenMyGF or MyEx charge $100 a year to access private photos and videos of non-porn stars, almost invariably women, usually posted by spurned ex-lovers. But it doesnt end there. As with every adult site, theres an entire ecosystem supporting them from domain registrars and web hosting services to upstream bandwidth providers and online payment systems. Everybody gets their cut.

Is this even legal? It depends. At present, 27 US states and the District of Columbia have laws barring nonconsensual (ie, revenge) porn, but penalties vary and prosecutions are rare. One problem is that most law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to handle crimes of cyber exploitation, says attorney Bennet Kelley, founder of the Internet Law Center.

I have had clients tell me the cops confessed to them they dont do this cyber stuff, he says. Another barrier to prosecution is the blame the victim mentality, which is still fairly prevalent.

A handful of victims have also won high-profile civil lawsuits. Last December, a Texas court awarded Bindu Pariyar $7.25m after her ex-husband posted thousands of nude photos and videos of her online. (She also claims that he forced her to work in a strip club and as a prostitute.) But Pariyar told a Nepali news site she doesnt expect to collect much from her ex, and the damage is probably irreparable: her nude photos have spread to mainstream porn sites.

Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 28, sits in court during his sentencing hearing in San Diego. Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison for operating a revenge porn website and charging victims to remove the images. Prosecutors said he earned about $30,000 from people who paid to remove the images. Photograph: Nelvin C. Cepeda/AP

Go directly to jail, pay $400

Kevin Bollaert thought up an even better money-making revenge porn scheme: extortion. First, the 28-year-old from San Diego published more than 10,000 nude photos on his site YouGotPosted and linked them to the womens social media accounts. When victims demanded their photos be removed, Bollaert directed them toward another site he owned, ChangeMyReputation, where he charged $300 or more to have images expunged.

Last February, Bollaert was convicted on 27 felony counts of identity theft and extortion and sentenced to 18 years in prison. But the business model he helped foster continues in less illegal but no less unsavory forms.

Scores of businesses routinely scrape law enforcement sites for mugshots of recent arrestees, republish them, then charge $400 or more to remove them. A handful of US states now prohibit the release of mugshots to commercial sites or have outlawed the practice of charging to remove a mugshot; in most cases, though, the practice is perfectly legal because mugshots are considered part of the public record.

Then there are advertising-sponsored gossip sites such as TheDirty, as well as tell-all sites such as ShesAHomewrecker, DatingPsychos, DeadbeatDirectory and BadBoyReport, where readers share often defamatory material about others.

These sites are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes them from legal responsibility for material posted by their users. (Reader comments on US sites are also protected under Section 230.) And because scandalous material drives readership, sites are usually loathe to remove anything unless it violates copyrights or involves a minor.

Future attack prevention

This, in turn, has spawned a cottage industry of virtually identical services with names such as Reputation Stars, Remove My Name, and Online Defamation Defenders, which claim to expunge negative material from these sites for fees ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Reputation Repair charges $1,459 for expedited removal from cheater sites and future attack prevention.

Another, IC Media Direct, advertises a $6,300 reputation control service that churns out positive press releases for its clients and claims to place them on well-trafficked sites in an attempt to push negative results farther down in a Google search.

The odds of actually getting these companies to remove negative content are low, however, and most of them dont stick around for very long, says Michael Fertik, who founded Reputation Defender, now, in 2006. He adds that only a tiny fraction of his 2 million customers are worried about being harassed online.

Theres a very limited market in fixing online harassment – thank god, Fertik says. There are far more people interested in basic data privacy who want to be proactive about their online reputation, as well as enterprises who want to make sure theyre getting real reviews from real customers.

Cesspools of abuse

The indirect benefits of online abuse are harder to measure. Message boards such as Reddit, social networks such as Twitter, and chat apps such as YikYak foster anonymous speech in all forms, including often unsettling amounts of harassment.

The most notorious recent example is Gamergate. Both Reddit and Twitter were epicenters of this phenomenon, where the ire of mostly male gamers was directed at a handful of female journalists whose only offense was to express their opinions in public. The result was months of harassment and death threats, as well as some limited but welcome changes to how Twitter responds to negative content.

Do these sites benefit from the traffic, attention, and virality that abuse often brings?

Definitely not, says a Twitter spokesperson, who asked that his name not be used but provided the following statement: Our rules are designed to allow our users to create and share a wide variety of content in an environment that is safe and secure for our users.

When content is reported to us that violates our rules, which include a ban on violent threats and targeted abuse, we suspend those accounts. We evaluate and refine our policies based on input from users, while working with outside safety organizations to ensure that we have industry best practices in place.

YikYak, the anonymous social chat app popular on college campuses, was also forced to adopt stricter rules after it suffered a backlash from students using it to harass other undergraduates. YikYak did not respond to requests for interviews. Similarly, last May Reddit modified its policies to allow members to report offensive content to system moderators, in large part because it feared that harassment was turning new users away.

Overall, Gamergate had little impact on Reddits traffic, says data scientist Justin Bassett, who notes that Gamergate-related subreddits account for less than 1/10th of one percent of the sites 8 billion monthly pageviews.

But even sites that enjoy a brief rise in traffic due to abuse are damaged in the long run, says Catherine Teitelbaum, chief trust and safety officer for ASKfm. Cyberbullying on the teen-oriented social network was linked to several teen suicides in 2012 and 2013.

Teitelbaum, who took on her role after IAC acquired ASKfm in August 2014, says cleaning up abuse was her top priority. Among other measures, the network increased the number of moderators by 40% and required all users to register for the site, allowing it to ban those who violated its terms of service.

People pay attention to the negative, she says. In the short run you can see spikes in traffic, but as a long-term strategy, trying to incite that kind of negativity is not a viable business model. Escalating negativity doesnt draw people for the long run, and advertisers dont want to be associated with that content.

The indirect benefits of online abuse are harder to measure. Some news organizations acknowledge that having readers fight in the comments can be beneficial for their bottom lines, says Natalie Stroud, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Despite that, some will attempt to remove the most abusive commenters; others lack the resources to moderate them.

There is a tension between revenue potential and what is happening in that space, says Stroud, director of the Engaging News Project, which studies how publications deal with engagement and negativity on their sites.

Lots of organizations want to create a space for people to have a dialogue, which is admirable, and theyre disgusted by some of the things they see there. But they dont know what to do about it. Theyre in a tough spot.

Doing it for the lulz

For the vast majority of online harassers, however, the benefit is not monetary but psychological, says Danielle Citron, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.

You think of a site like 4chan, where people actually proclaim themselves trolls, she says. They derive pleasure from other peoples pain. Theyre doing it for the lulz.

Perversely, while the internet has given a voice to vast numbers of people who might not otherwise be heard, unfettered free speech can have a chilling effect, whether its Gamergaters ganging up on female writers or Donald Trump using Twitter to attack his enemies, notes Stephen Balkam, CEO and founder of the Family Online Safety Institute.

I think the people who profit most from online harassment are those who use it to suppress other peoples thoughts, suggestions, comments, and criticisms, he says. We are often so focused on making sure governments dont chill speech, and here are anonymous stalkers and harassers doing just that.

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Vietnam: Free Blogger “Mother Mushroom” – Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

Vietnam: Free Blogger “Mother Mushroom”
Human Rights Watch
(New York, June 28, 2017) – Vietnam should immediately free Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (also known as “Mother Mushroom”) and drop all charges against her, Human Rights Watch said today. Police arrested her in October 2016, and pressed a charge of …

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5 Reasons To Never Give Up On Your Dreams, As Told By Alan Rickman

In a world of overnight successes and Internet celebrities, Alan Rickmans story truly inspires.

If youve been hustling on your dream for years, or even decades, let the eventual Professor Snapes story encourage you to never give up.

1. He Got a Degree In a Different Field

At a young age, he took up art and became very skilled at calligraphy and watercolor.

This led him to get an art degree at the Royal College of Art in London.

Upon graduation he began working as a graphic designer and achieved some success working for a newspaper.

He even started his own business:a graphic design studio with a couple partners.

But art had always been his fall back degree, and after a few years of career success, he decided the time to pursue his acting dream was now or never.”

2. He Left Success For His Dream

He wrote to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and asked for an audition.

I love this; imagine what his friends, family and even the faculty at RADA, must have thought.

Why is this graphic designer, who is actually making a decent living with his art, going to acting school? Dont people start acting in their teens? Dont you already have a college degree?

Still, he chased his dream, auditioned, was accepted and earned a second degree in the arts.

3. He Paid His Dues

But the chase was a long one, filled with small role after small role.

He pressed on in the theater circuit for a decade, supporting himself as a dresser for other actors.

To recap, he left his own successful business and then spent years literally dressing other actors to make money.

You could ask any actor about their early days, and I think you know if you decide youre going to do it, and then you train and youve committed you know there are going to be long periods out of work.

I dont remember it now, but Im sure the difficult moments made me stronger, or at least thats what Ive trained myself to think.

Rickman on starting out as an actor, (June 2015)

4. He Said Yes To Opportunity

Rickman landed his big break at 42, as one of the leads in the stage version of the book, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”

The play was a huge success, however that big break probably felt like a big flop because Rickmas was passed over for the movie role.

His performance, however, caught the eye of Joel Silver, who eventually offered him his first large movie role — in an action movie.

I read it and said, ‘What the hell is this? Im not doing an action movie.’

But people said, ‘Alan, you dont understand, this doesnt happen, youve only been in LA two days and youve been asked to do this film. (April 2015)

So he walked through the door that was opened to him.

5. He Never Lost His Passion

You have to think that year after year of dressing other actors would be enough for anyone to quit, but Rickman didnt.

This is probably because he truly loved the work itself — a key for any dream chasers success.

Its what Im built to do. [laughs] Until one finds something else, thats what I do… Its not just work, its your life. (December 2008)

Thank goodness he didnt, because Rickman brought so many characters to life for us, like Hans Gruber, Sheriff of Nottingham, Colonel Brandon and of course, Severus Snape.


What will you bring to life if you don’t give up?

Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference.

It can change the world. (December 2008)

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What it's really like to be a social media couple traveling the world – CNN


What it's really like to be a social media couple traveling the world
"Being a nomadic couple, making a decent living through social media and blogging definitely seems like the perfect life," Salem tells CNN. And when every photo is a gorgeous landscape or an amazing adventure, it's easy to think life is just sunshine

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Which Game Will Be A Statement Opportunity For The Cowboys In 2017? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Which Game Will Be A Statement Opportunity For The Cowboys In 2017?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
We've discussed which games could be a potential litmus test for Dallas, but when will they have a chance to stake their claim at the NFL's throne? by RJ Ochoa@rjochoa Jun 26, 2017, 5:00pm CDT. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports.

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Hillary Clinton and the ‘vampire squid’: is Wall Street really a deadly threat?

Demonisation of Clintons Goldman Sachs speaking fees aside, Wall Street isnt in great shape and its influence over country and politics is declining

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Wall Street and the banks have emerged as Public Enemy Number One.

That Hillary Clinton accepted $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for three speeches in 2013 probably did more damage to her battle for the Democratic nomination than any other single issue. Even for Clinton, half of a political couple with an estimated net worth of $110m and 2014 earnings of $28m, that figure was not insignificant. For most Americans, its more money than they can imagine seeing in a single year or even a single decade, absent a lottery win.

Worse still, it came from Wall Street. And not just from Wall Street, but from Goldman Sachs, the infamous giant vampire squid.

Clinton, whose views on Wall Street regulation have been middle of the road and who seems to focus on averting the next crisis rather than revisiting the last one, could be telling us the truth when she says such speaking fees in her past would not affect her willingness to crack down on malfeasance. But a perception of conflict of interest remains.

Theres a bigger question out there, though, and that is whether Wall Street really is as massive a threat to our national wellbeing as it was a decade ago. If it is, is it really for the reason that most of its critics argue: that the banks are too big?

True, the banks are back to being profitable by some measures (eyeing their bottom line in isolation) more profitable than ever. But increasingly those earnings are being achieved only by CEOs cutting costs.

Thats a far cry from seeing growth in profitability amidst growing revenues and expanding businesses: rather, its a sign banks are fearful of headwinds. Certainly, there is little confidence that profits will prove lasting but Ill get back to that in a minute.

Then theres the matter of the all-important return on equity measurement. This tells a banks CEO, his board of directors and investors just how well the bank is doing at generating profits from all the billions of dollars (in the case of the countrys most massive institutions) on the balance sheets. Right now, the answer has to be that they arent doing a very good job.

Historically, banks have earned returns on equity (ROE) somewhere in the low to mid-teens. Recently, that figure has hovered around 9.2%. Many of the biggest banks are faring far worse: Citigroups ROE is only 6%. Goldman Sachs delivered a mere 3%, a far cry from the 33.3% it earned in 2006, when the average bank ROE was 23%.

Right now the banks are less healthy than their profitability would suggest. Consider bankers bonus checks: while lavish by any normal standards, in 2015 the average payout fell 9% to $146,200 and the total bonus pool shrank by 6%. It doesnt make sense that CEOs would suddenly scale back bonus payouts during a blockbuster year for earnings.

Nope, winter is coming.

Goldman Sachs may be feeling the chill. It is one of a handful of banks which has not yet warned investors to expect some bad news when first-quarter results start trickling out next month. Analysts at Credit Suisse, however, kindly undertook to do so on Goldmans behalf, publishing a research note last week predicting that Goldmans investment banking income would fall by nearly a third in the first three months of 2016 and that its trading revenues would slump 17%.

Like many other banks, Goldman is trying to diversify: its asset management business bought an online retirement benefits company, Austin-based Honest Dollar. Its an interesting twist, given that Goldman ended up in the spotlight in 2010 as the poster child for bad behavior on Wall Street, in connection with a particular set of transactions where the bank sold mortgage investments that its own bankers thought (and documented in e-mails) were lousy deals. In a subsequent Senate hearing, Republican Susan Collins of Maine grilled four Goldman Sachs officials as to whether they felt a duty to act in the best interests of their clients. Only one indicated, indirectly, that he did and it wasnt CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

That was, and remains, one of the real problems with Wall Street and with the banks as a whole: the business they undertake and the way they approach that business. The emphasis on trading rather than lending will continue to leave them with volatile earnings and riskier-than-necessary business models. Banks have moved slowly to incorporate the concept of risk appetite the institutions willingness to take on risk and tolerance for losses into actual business decisions.

So, theres a lot of stuff besides just the size of a financial institution to worry about. Breaking up Citigroup into three or four small banks, each of which ends up behaving precisely the same way and having lots of exposure to the money losing energy sector (as many banks have warned they now do), isnt a guarantee that the level of systemic risk will fall, especially if they are all linked together through trading relationships. The problem lies in behavior.

Happily, six years after the Senate hearings exposed the attitude of Goldman Sachs to its clients, were on the verge of seeing a new fiduciary rule. This would require big banks and other financial advisers to put our interests ahead of their own when advising us on our retirement assets, at least. (Though for institutions, its still caveat emptor.) Not surprisingly, banks and brokerages are threatening to stop serving smaller clients, claiming the business will become less profitable.

Wall Street is still far more powerful a force than it should be. Rampant financialization remains a problem for society as a whole. But critiques cant stop demonizing the big banks. This isnt 2006, and while the banks may report big bottom-line profits, those profits are more fragile and they face significantly more constraints both from the markets and the regulators. Dont cry for them, but dont assume they are the only source of risk in the financial system today.

Some of the smartest people with a keen interest in finance are no longer trying to build careers in finance; instead, after spending a few years there, they are heading off to make money in the fintech world, ideally by launching new ventures that will disrupt the banking world and seize a bit of their revenues and profits. They are profiting some lavishly from our distrust of Wall Street. And were not yet thinking about whether there are new risks emerging here, because were happy to applaud the innovation.

Or, if youre looking for dangerous behavior on Wall Street, look no further than the world of hedge funds, where a lack of ability (by both their own investors and regulators) and fast-moving, freewheeling and risky trading strategies can be just as risky as anything a bank can do. (Remember, it was a hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, that nearly brought the financial system to its knees in the late 1990s.) A new bill, the Brokaw Act, co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, aims to make their activities more visible.

Then there are dark pools in trading, whose lack of transparency makes it harder for regulators to understand what is happening with stock prices from one millisecond to the next.

We can wrestle with these tough, complex issues. Or we can take the easy way out, and banish all the bankers to work at Waffle House.

The latter option might be more satisfying, but the first is wiser policy.

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In A Country That Bans Women From Driving, Uber Sees Profit

Uber received the single largest investment ever made in a private company on Wednesday — a $3.5 billion check from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which values Uber itself at $62.5 billion. The company’s CEO called it a “vote of confidence in our business.”

In other words, a ride-hailing company that bills itself as the future of transportation is cozying up to a country where women who have the audacity to drive can be sentenced to floggings

Uber denies that the investment makes for awkward bedfellows, instead portraying the company’s presence in Saudi Arabia as the first in a long line of incremental positive changes for women in the country.

“We’ve been operational in Saudi Arabia since 2014,” Uber spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told The Huffington Post. “Today, 80 percent of our riders [in Saudi Arabia] are women. The government has made clear that they are working to increase entrepreneurship and women’s employment, and we are uniquely positioned to help in both areas,” she said.

That figure isn’t surprising given that the country’s women and girls, who make up roughly 43 percent of the population, have no choice but to call a taxi when they need to get somewhere. Because of this, many women have trouble holding down jobs for lack of secure transportation. 

And hired drivers aren’t necessarily the safest option for women. “Every time I get in the car with my driver, I feel scared because of the way he drives,” one teacher, Amal B, told the outlet Al Bawaba. Another teacher, Soad Al-Harbi, said she feels captive to her driver and pays him even when he doesn’t show up because “I’m scared he will get angry and stop driving me to work. As women, we need drivers and we have to put up with all the trouble they cause us.”

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A woman waits for an Uber at a shopping mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since women are not allowed to drive in the country, they must hire cars.

“Like most Western companies who have been making billions by helping the Saudi oligarchs [in] suppressing their subjects, Uber’s moral commitment is to make money at any cost,” said Ali Alyami, the director for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

By chauffeuring women around, Alyami said, the ride-hailing service only “reassures women’s continued marginalization.”

Asked about the company’s role in pushing for women’s rights, an Uber spokesperson said that “of course” women should be permitted to drive, but while they cannot, Uber provides a valuable service. The person also said that Uber’s acceptance of the investment did not mean it endorsed the government’s policy.

Note: The Huffington Post’s Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington is a member of Uber’s board of directors, and has recused herself from any involvement in the site’s coverage of the company.

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9 jobs you can do from home – Times of India

9 jobs you can do from home
Times of India
Adsense pays on the basis of clicks and views the ads receive.Alternatively, you can take up affiliate marketing or product sales through your blog to turn it into a moneymaking venture. If your blog already attracts traffic, you could enlist blog

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