"After Edward Snowden’s leaks allowed the Guardian to reveal the phone-records bulk collection in June 2013, deep political opposition coalesced around the bulk program – eclipsing the FBI’s acquisition of other data, which has long been an issue only for civil libertarians.
But a Justice Department inspector general’s report finally released on Thursday covering the FBI’s use of Section 215 from 2007 to 2009 found that the bureau is using the business-records authority “to obtain large collections of metadata”, such as “electronic communication transactional information”."
"Verizon, which will pay $50 a share for AOL, says the deal will help its “wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy.” Verizon says the transaction should close this summer.
Armstrong, who left the top sales job at Google to run AOL in 2009, will stay on to run the business after the deal closes, Verizon says."
"Facebook failed to beat earnings estimates in Q1 2015, coming in with mixed results after 10 straight quarters of beating them. Its revenue of $3.54 billion fell short of its $3.56 billion estimate, though it exceeded the 40 cents EPS estimate with 42 cents."
"That said, questions have been asked about AdBlock Plus' controversial whitelisting service, which has been described as a racket. Advertisers whose content isn't obnoxious can apply to be exposed to web users, but one unnamed party claimed that it was asked for 30 percent of its revenue to remain on the list. "
"There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.
The financial crisis precipitated the worst recession since the Great Depression. The spectacular rise in house prices and household debt during the first half of the 2000s, which is illustrated in the first two charts, was a crucial factor behind these events. Yet, economists disagree on the fundamental causes of this credit and housing boom. "
"Living in an apartment? Expect your rent to go up again.
Renting has gotten increasingly expensive over the last five years. The average U.S. rent has climbed 14 percent to $1,124 since 2010, according to commercial property tracker Reis Inc. That's four percentage points faster than inflation, and more than double the rise in U.S. home prices over the same period.
Now, even with a surge in apartment construction, rents are projected to rise yet another 3.3 percent this year, to an average $1,161, according to Reis. While that's slower than last year's 3.6 percent increase, the broader upward trend isn't going away."
Italian grandma tries to ask Siri the time in Italy, it doesn't end well
Economists (German ones, as it happens) have calculated that, allowing purely for inflation, Greece’s 1942 loan to Germany would today be worth £9bn. But if one adds even a modest rate of interest of 3 per cent, then that debt increases to a staggering £6
"The price index for personal consumption expenditures, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, was up 0.7% in December from a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was the smallest 12-month gain for consumer prices since October 2009 and the 32nd straight month it was below the central bank’s 2% target."
"This is fast becoming the popular explanation for low borrowing costs across the West. One endorsed by an FT leader this week.
The argument is that low yields simple reflect the bond markets belief that interest rates are going to remain very low for a very long time. UK thirty year yields at just 2.4%, US at 2.6% and German at an almost unbelievable 1.3%.
Expectations of low central bank rates for years ahead imply explanations of low inflation and weak growth.
That might reflect what some have called Secular Stagnation. The idea that aggregate demand is weak and that the rate of interest required to generate full employment and decent growth is now negative."
"The U.S. government has released proof that it repeatedly spied on American citizens without being allowed to—and you probably missed it. "
"The world’s largest miners are choosing to overproduce, driving prices lower and forcing the closure of higher-cost suppliers, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The commodity will average $70 next year and $65 in 2016, it said on Dec. 3, cutting forecasts. Citigroup Inc. said on Nov. 11 that iron ore may drop below $60 in the third quarter of 2015. "