Microsoft Can’t Get Its Phone To Work, Plus American Millennials Think Retirement Is Unattainable

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“If you keep pulling out of every city that tries to regulate, you won’t have any place to operate” — Anthony Beale, chairman of Chicago City Council’s Transportation Committee, during a hearing with Uber and Lyft. After driving out of Austin earlier this month, Uber and Lyft are now threatening to abandon Chicago if they’re forced to license their drivers. Chicagoans, be warned.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

Big Picture

  • U.S. stocks finished higher for the second day in a row, with the energy and materials sectors leading gains. Utilities was the only sector to finish in the red, while the S&P reached a one-month high

Alternatives to Watch

  • Though not breaking through $50 (yet), oil prices haven’t been this high since last Halloween, as a drop in U.S. crude inventories sparked a rally

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CORPORATE PRIMER

Alibaba in the Hot Seat

This just in: another Chinese company has been accused of unsavory accounting practices. Sound familiar? This time it’s a much bigger deal, as the suspect is none other than e-commerce giant Alibaba—aka the Amazon of China. The SEC has ordered Alibaba to fork over all the data related to its largest shopping day of the year (the Chinese Black Friday, if you will). Regulators believe Alibaba hasn’t been reporting its earnings using the standardized GAAP guidelines that all U.S.-listed companies must adhere to—a big no-no, since if every company used its own interpretation of measurements like “net income,” it would be impossible to compare them. Alibaba shares fell 7% on the news.

Microsoft’s Mobile Deficiency

1,850: the number of employees Microsoft is laying off. $950 million: the further write-down in value on its flailing smartphone hardware business. Microsoft (and its employees) have been hit hard by the new reality in which mobile devices outnumber personal computers. As you may have guessed, transitioning its highly successful Windows platform from PC to mobile has been a difficult process, and Microsoft’s shrinking software business is the proof in the pudding. However, there’s still hope—CEO Satya Nadella is turning the software giant’s mobile focus to corporate device management (i.e. the workplace). Godspeed.

Climate Change and Big Oil Companies…

…It’s complicated. Around 40% of shareholders from Exxon and Chevron voted in favor of implementing stress tests to measure the risk that anti-climate change efforts pose to their businesses. In other words, investors are growing worried that efforts to curb climate change are seriously hurting business at Exxon and Chevron, and they want to know just how much. Although the resolution was struck down, environmentalists everywhere see this as a major milestone in the fight for a greener Earth. While executives at both oil powerhouses seemed sure the proposals would fail, we wouldn’t be too sure moving forward. Analysts on the street see the 40% as big-wallet asset managers who see climate change as a future business risk.

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WORLD MACRO

Greece Gets its (First) Mulligan

The International Monetary Fund and the Eurozone officially reached a deal with Greece yesterday, saving the debt-ridden country from defaulting on its debt payments in the coming months. Basically, the powers that be concluded that Greece has engaged in enough economic reform to keep the bailout funds flowing (which were preliminarily agreed to last summer). To be clear, it’s far from over. This deal only unlocks $12 billion—just enough to handle Greece’s July payment—and remember: Greece still has nearly $300 billion of outstanding debt.

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OTHER STORIES

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ECONOMIC CALENDAR

FOR THE BIRDS: RETIREMENT

Just graduated from college? Retirement is only 44 years away…or is it? Turns out this universal concept isn’t so universal. In many countries, including America, millennials figure they’re going to have to work themselves to death (literally). Here are the numbers:

  • First, let’s take a look at those elusive millennials: overall, 12% of them worldwide don’t see eventual retirement in their crystal ball.
  • In Japan, 37% (yes, you read that correctly) expect to work all the way to their graves. And in America, the figure is 12%.
  • Are millennials crazy for having this mindset? Considering that nearly 19% of Americans over the age of 65 are still working—the highest rate since Medicare was introduced—millennials might just be being realistic.
  • Plus, millennials seem to like working: in India, these crazy youngsters clock in 52 hours per week, while in America and Japan, the rate is around 45 hours per week. All this work makes sense: on average, American grads from the class of 2014 owe nearly $29,000 in student debt.

INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY

Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name? (Answer)

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BUSINESS TERM OF THE DAY

Restructuring — A significant modification made to the debt, operations or structure of a company, typically made when a company is experiencing significant problems. Exhibit A: scandal-ridden Takata, which has seen a seemingly endless run of airbag recalls over the past year. Yesterday, the Japanese auto parts company hired investment bank Lazard for—you guessed it—some good old-fashioned restructuring.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Last year, the average raise for CEOs of U.S. companies was 10 times what the average worker received—and we’re just talking about raises. Topping the list: Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi, who reeled in a cool $94.6 million in total compensation this year, an 881% raise from the prior year. To be fair, most of that is in stock options, not cold hard cash.

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