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25
Jan-18
Thursday

Starbucks to pass tax savings on to employees

5
Starbucks in the US announced that $250 million from the tax savings under the new taxation regime in the US will be passed on its employees in various forms of payments.  It will be interesting to see what this continuing tax flow on effect will have on the US economy.  With already low unemployment rate (around 4%), could the US economy overheat as a consequence?
24
Jan-18
Wednesday

Michael Hill to exit US

4
Inside Retail reported that Jewellery retailer Michael Hill (MHJ) is exiting the US.  This doesn't surprise us.  The US is a very tough market for foreign retailers.  One more reason to admire those who were able to successfully establish themselves in the US - companies such as Cotton On and Rodd and Gunn.

Bitcoin holders: lock in your profits

6
The Australian Financial Review published a sobering comment from Michael Glennon (from Glennon Capital) who referred to Bitcoin as a quasi-ponzi scheme, selling something that has no value.  Michael reiterated our earlier sentiment (expressed a few days ago) that Bitcoin is a ‘currency’ that doesn’t do anything, is not backed by any sovereign nation, is not accepted in most places, is hard to buy and sell, and has no fundamentals to support it.  His advice to Bitcoin holders is to ‘lock in your profits’ and get out, considering yourself lucky you have made profit in the greatest bubble in recent times.
23
Jan-18
Tuesday

About 45% of Americans get their news from … Facebook

5
About 45% of Americans get their news from … Facebook.  Scary statistics, considering that Facebook doesn’t have to abide by the principles applicable to official networks and their journalists.   With Facebook’s stated intention to make the data flowing through its environment more people-driven, the level of unverified, opinionated data will go up.  Expect even more polarised societies in the years to come.

The evolution of Humans 2.0

8
We keep a watchful eye on the continuing evolution of Humans 2.0 (the term we use to describe people permanently paired with their smartphones).  The Wall Street Journal reported that an average 2-11 old US child spends 4.5 hours a day in front of a screen.  This is time that is no longer available for physical activities, human contact and “the good time of boredom that spawns creativity”.  This looks like a looming tragedy, yet some people argue that kids need more rather than less time on the Web, to capitalise on the extraordinary learning opportunities.  They missed the point that the content on the Internet is a volatile mix of facts, opinions and nonsense.  How are kids going to figure it out?
19
Jan-18
Friday

New tax rules boost US economy

6
The Australian Financial Review noted that large US corporations started to move capital back to the US, post the introduction of the new tax rules.  Experts estimate that in excess of $3 trillion has been kept offshore.  Whether the repatriated cash will be invested in the US economy or distributed to shareholders, it will certainly boost the US economy.  

Myer continues to flounder

5
It was announced that Myer has restructured its management team and made 50 jobs redundant in the Head Office.  Myer’s CEO said the changes would help to “create a business that is more integrated across channels and better equipped to capitalise on the structural shifts” occurring across the retail environment.  We now wait to hear what specific measures Myer will adopt.  Cutting staff and replacing the CFO doesn’t seem to be helpful in the pursuit of these goals…
18
Jan-18
Thursday

AUD jumps over 80 US cents overnight

4
The Australian dollar jumped over 80 US cents overnight, mostly due to the weakening of the USD against most currencies.  Many factors impact the exchange rate, including commodity prices, interest rates within each of the compared countries, political upheavals and more.  We think that the best indicator of where currencies ultimately need to head can be obtained from The Economist’s BigMac index.  The latest index (published yesterday) indicates that AUD has been undervalued at least 10% when compared against the greenback.  According to the index, the British Pound is 18% undervalued and Euro about 9%.  The Canadian dollar is on par, while the Swiss Franc is at least 25% overvalued.  Interesting (BigMac) perspective indeed.
17
Jan-18
Wednesday

What is the perfect age?

4
The Wall Street Journal posed the question, if there is an ideal age when we feel our best? They spoke with researchers exploring the notion of a perfect age, measuring worry or stress levels at different times in our life and the peak years for having fun. The question had some surprising results: Many people in their 50s don’t want to be 30, 70-year-olds are among the most satisfied, and no one, regardless of age, wants to look or feel old, which is why anti-aging creams that promise to remove wrinkles and eye bags sell so well.
16
Jan-18
Tuesday

South Dakota seeks to overturn online tax ruling

4
The US state of South Dakota is seeking to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court decision regarding the collection of sales tax on online purchases. The 1992 decision says online sellers can only be required to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence.  The ruling was driven by the need to clarify tax rules for mail orders; no one expected the emergence of online commerce.  Clearly, Australia is not the only place with major consumer tax anomalies…