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The Weekly Recap 3/10/19

Daniel Chase

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There’s something truly spectacular about going to the movies. When you first walk in, you’re greeted, with open arms, by the smell of popcorn cooking to perfection. If the smells aren’t intoxicating enough, the sights of posters with films coming out soon serve as the perfect reason to never leave the hallowed halls of the cinema. One of my favorite aspects of a film is that, when you rewatch it, you learn something new each time. Watching a movie again is kind of like the weekly recap when you really think about it. If you don’t believe me, let’s see how they compare in this week’s recap. 

Not So Fast, Mr. President 

Last week, we spoke about President Donald Trump’s intention to declare a national state of emergency to allocate funding for his wall project, and how Congress voted to pass a measure which would effectively block the President from doing so. Well, that measure went to the Senate and we’ve been patiently waiting to see how Senate members would vote. Interestingly enough, the measure has received bipartisan support because no member of government thinks President Trump has the right, or power, to spend money that was appropriated for other governmental operations. 

According to reports, Sen. Rand Paul may be the final vote needed to block President Trump from his emergency declaration. 

“I can’t vote to give the President the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”

Sen. Rand Paul 

The End Is Near 

The Democrats are celebrating, but possibly too soon, at the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration is nearly complete. Whether Mueller’s report shows anything about President Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia and the 2016 presidential election remains to be a mystery.

Perhaps the most important finding from Mueller’s report will be if Russia, in fact, meddled with the 2016 election. Interestingly enough, members of the Democratic leadership are more focused on finding the secret cause necessary to introduce articles of impeachment against the President, but after news emerging about countless morally questionable actions, and no consequences, I don’t believe Trump is going anywhere, anytime soon. 

“We’re waiting for a report by people who weren’t elected. Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn’t be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit, okay?”

-President Donald Trump 

We Can Do Better

Ironically enough, at one of the more progressive tech companies in the world, Google, a recent TechCrunch investigation found male-identified Level 4 Software Engineers received less money than women in the same role. I bring this up not to pity the men who were paid less than women, but to highlight the fact that Google paid out $9.7 million to adjust pay for wage disparities occurring in the company. When it was found that men were being shorted, Google executives reacted immediately, but where was this response time when women were being paid less? 

“Our pay equity analysis ensures that compensation is fair for employees in the same job, at the same level, location and performance. But we know that’s only part of the story. Because leveling, performance ratings, and promotion impact pay, this year, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees.”

Lauren Barbato, Google Lead Analyst for Pay Equity and People Analytics 

Even in the tech industry, where meritocratic hiring practices are known to be quite prevalent, women still manage to take home less dough than their male-counterparts. Female representation is a non-negotiable need for the workforce, as women are humans, and humans are invaluable specimens until proven otherwise. If anything, based on the train wreck of a situation facing domestic politics, its almost laughable that people aren’t insisting that women take a stab at running the federal government and/or the White House. Delving deeper into female representation in politics, women make up only 25% of the U.S. Senate, and 23% of the House, despite making up 51% of the population in America. 

The Democrats Are At It Again

Those whacky House Democrats are always up to something, whether its waging their ongoing war on President Donald Trump, or surfing on some blue wave, or whatever. In today’s news, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced a new investigation into President Trump’s campaign, businesses, transition and administration, making for a probe that could set the precedent for Democrats to finally introduce articles of impeachment against Trump. 

According to CNN reports, the Judiciary Committee on Monday sent letters to 81 people and entities seeking information for their newly initiated investigation. The requests include asking for documentation and communications on issues related to, but not limited to, FBI Director James Comey’s firing, Trump’s finances and foreign government relations, Trump’s contact with Russia, and a ton of other fun topics!

Until There’s A Cure 

Today, it was reported that there may be a second patient who was cured of his HIV virus. According to Vox, the new patient, who has remained anonymous, had a form of cancer and underwent treatment involving chemotherapy to clear his immune system and, through a stem cell transplant, receive cancer-free donor cells. Back in 2017, nearly a year after his transplant, the patient stopped taking his antiretroviral drugs for HIV and miraculously tested negative for HIV. Outside of the incredible fact that this man was cured, the question remains whether the disease can ultimately be cured. 

According to Vox, of the dozen patients with HIV who received a similar transplant like the London patient and the Berlin patient, eight individuals died from transplant-related side effects. No matter how you look at it, its clear that medical experts are still eons away from finding a mass-production cure for the HIV virus, especially because, in the two cases where the two men were cured, the treatment nearly killed each of them. 

“At the moment the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives, posing a particular challenge in developing countries. Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but it is particularly difficult because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host.”

Professor Ravindra Gupta, University of Cambridge 

A Twister

We cannot explain why mother nature reacts the way she does, but we are often forced to handle the consequences of natural disasters. Presently, there has been an outbreak of tornadoes ripping across the state of Alabama, which unfortunately took the lives of twenty-three people on Tuesday. According to reports from local officials in Alabama’s Lee County, up to eight invidious remain missing. 

No one can predict the devastating effects of a natural disaster, but it is our responsibility as Americans to offer our support to the people of Alabama in their time of need. If you would like to help people affected by disasters, consider donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Facebook Is Going Ghost 

In the case of apps like Instagram, when someone posts to their “story,” these media bites last twenty-four hours before disappearing into the ether of the cosmos. In a recent blogpost, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, which also owns Instagram, spoke about how, for years now, Facebook and Instagram have existed as a digital equivalent to that of a “town square.” He continued to explain that “people increasingly want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room,” referring to the notion that some people choose to message friends privately, as opposed to in a Facebook group or on somewhere more public. Zuckerberg goes on to share that predicts privacy-based communications platforms will soon become all the more important, which is interesting given Facebook’s track record with data privacy-related issues. 

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protection services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing…but I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services..and we plan to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp and Facebook, including in private messages and stories..”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder, Facebook 

It’s a bold strategy for Zuckerberg to suggest that Facebook take the steps necessary to make its platforms more secure, and ephemeral, especially at a time where data transparency is a primary concern for users across all social platforms. 

This Is Why Men Shouldn’t Be In Office 

It amazes me that, despite headlines popping up everyday about how men holding governmental positions, exercise their power to sexually abuse or assault women, and think there’s nothing wrong with doing so. Let me rephrase that, it’s absolutely disgusting that this is taking place. On Wednesday, during a congressional hearing on military sexual assault, Sen. Martha McSally informed the press that, when she served in the Air Force, one of her commanding officers raped her. 

“I also am a military sexual assault survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless…”

Sen. Martha McSally

Airbnb + HotelsTonight 

In an attempt to bolster its portfolio following a $31 billion valuation, Airbnb will acquire HotelTonight ahead of its initial public offering. Assuming the deal goes through, this will satisfy Airbnb’s desire to become the authoritative travel platform with home sharing, hotel booking, experiences and more. Per the details of the agreement, the HotelTonight platform will continue to operate independently from Airbnb, but HotelTonight’s CEO Sam Shank will report to Greg Geeley, Airbnb’s president of homes, according to TechCrunch. 

“We started HotelTonight because we knew people wanted a better way to book  an amazing hotel room on-demand, and we are excited to join forces with Airbnb to bring this service to guests around the world. Together, HotelTonight and Airbnb can give guests more choices and the world’s best boutique and independent hotels a genuine partner to connect them with those guests…”

Sam Shank, co-Founder and CEO, HotelTonight

Airbnb is slowly but surely redefining what it means to travel. Whereas travel logistics have historically been challenging and often frustrating, Airbnb has made key investments in companies to alleviate these stressors and build a better platform. 

Well, That Escalated Quickly

If you’ve managed to tune in, here and there, to the court proceedings regarding Michael D. Cohen, former personal lawyer and alleged fixer for President Donald Trump, then you know that things have been going less than smoothly as of recent. Cohen was sentenced to prison, disbarred from being a lawyer in the State of New York, and has had a rough time since his breakup with the President. 

In an attempt to secure reparations for his trouble, Cohen filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the Trump organization of breaching a contract and “refusing to pay $1.9 million in legal fees once Cohen cooperated with federal prosecutors, according to the New York Times. In addition  to recovering his legal fees, Cohen is reportedly asking for an additional $1.9 million that he was forced to pay in fines, forfeitures, and other reasons after pleading guilty to his myriad of offenses. We shall see how this plays out in the next few days, please standby. 

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Trade Talks Fail, What’s Next For The Market?

Jon Phillip

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The trade war between the United States and China has probably been the biggest economic and diplomatic development since the turn of the year. Although the world’s two biggest economies were locked in talks for months over a new trade deal, it all unraveled quickly.

This happened when US President Donald Trump stated that the Chinese went back on their word. He then imposed tariff hikes on Chinese goods last Friday. The tariffs were raised to an astonishing 25% on goods worth $200 billion. Although Trump might believe this might bully the Chinese into submission, many experts believe that might not be the case.

Difficulty in Completing Deal

The President had imposed these tariff hikes right before the Chinese delegation was supposed to show up at Washington. This was for which many had believed was going to be the last round of talks. However, experts now feel that the escalation of tensions between the two countries following the latest developments will make it difficult to reach a deal that could be considered a win for the US. As soon as the tariffs kicked in, Beijing announced that it was looking at countermeasures as well. However, there were no specifics on the nature of these measures.

Last year, the two nations had been embroiled in a damaging retaliatory tariff war and it could lead to a protracted trade war, if the Chinese decided to resort of the same tactics. The Chinese delegation is going to be in Washington this week to engage in another round of talks but it is believed that a binding trade deal is unlikely to be signed.

Is A Trump Win Likely?

One of the biggest reasons why the deal might not be signed anytime soon is perhaps the fact that the US President needs to be able to claim it as a win for himself. The President has staked his personal weight behind a favorable deal for the US. But with every passing day, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it is going to happen.

If that is to happen, then China’s entire way of doing business will need to change. This is starting at intellectual property theft and expands to technology transfers by force from US companies. If those things are not part of the deal, then it would not be the sort of deal that can be claimed as a win for the US. It doesn’t help that today, China came in with its own tariffs. China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

And in true Trump fashion, the U.S. may not be done retaliating. The U.S. President has threatened to put 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed. The president has signaled he is content leaving the duties in place, arguing they will damage China more than the U.S. What are your thoughts?

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Can 102 Words Really Impact Stock Prices?

Joe Samuel

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trump tweet

In short, the answer is yes.  We’ve witnessed, first hand, this week how just a few words can drastically impact the stock market.  If you’re just tuning in, at the beginning of the first full week of May, U.S. President Donald Trump Tweeted out a 102-word post that ended up triggering a sell-off costing the global markets around $1.36 TRILLION…with a “T”!

The “Trump Tweet” expressed that he would once again increase tariffs on Chinese goods by the end of this week. What followed has been a shock to the global markets with futures pointing at dramatic declines every day this week.  Though some say that the decline are all but a speed bump, it still hasn’t helped the fact that this drop is one of the worst seen all year. People like Kerry Craig of JPMorgan Asset Management think that a trade deal can still be reached.  The expectations, however, have been readjusted to reflect a more long-term time horizon.

Eyes Turn Toward The Second Half Of The Week

Other analysts like Oanda Asia Pacific’s Jeffrey Halley feel that investors are prudently “lightening their loads.” Halley said, “My feeling is that investors are lightening their portfolios as a precaution.”

All eyes are on the second half of this week.  As we reported on May 7th, Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  

“Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” Regardless of what “will happen,” what has happened thus far has been an emotionally charged & very fragile global market. As this story develops we will continue to follow with more updates.

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Chinese Negotiators To Visit US As Tariffs Trigger More Concerns

Jon Phillip

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trump like a boss china

Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  The two countries have been at odds for months now with China trying to leverage the current US tariff situation. Of course, the US has not helped things either by continuing to increase tariffs on Chinese goods. 

Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The markets took a hit on Monday after U.S. President Trump explained that he was not pleased with the speed of discussions and that he planned to raise tariffs by the end of the week.  Chinese authorities initially considered delaying talks in light of this.

What’s Next For China & The U.S.?

Both Mnuchin and Lighthizer were concerned after it was evident that talks weren’t making progress.  This was during a visit to Beijing just last week. Over the weekend, China sent a new draft of an agreement that outlined a pullback on certain language on several issues.  These issues had “the potential to change the deal very dramatically,” according to Mnuchin.

According to reports from the Global Times newspaper, China was prepared for other outcomes to the deal with the U.S. This also included a temporary breakdown. Furthermore, China had also planned to continue talks even if the U.S. decided to raise tariffs. Of course, time will tell but now we must see how the markets will react to these new developments coming from China.

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