Just what did wash up on a beach? At first, there was wild speculation. Now, the thinking is much less dramatic. But check out photos of the rather gross remains found in Spain.
Steve Ballmer became the company's CEO in January 2000. In recent years, Microsoft has come under increasing criticism for not keeping up with the shift to mobile phones.
There were no show-stopping glitches in the stock market Friday. But everyone from day-traders to Securities and Exchange Commission officials were still scratching their heads about Thursday’s “flash freeze” on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.
One puzzled expert was Michael Goldstein, chairman of the finance department at Babson College. “Why didn’t Nasdaq have a back-up?” he asked.
In many cases, it does. The U.S. has 13 stock exchanges. If one goes down, investors can go through the others. That is, only if they know the stock prices, and what failed Thursday was the system that tells everyone Nasdaq share prices.
“It’s kind of ridiculous,” says Joseph Saluzzi, co-founder of brokerage firm Themis Trading. “It’s a Rube Goldberg machine. Here we call it a fragment maze of destinations.”
The complexity of the exchange system makes it vulnerable, Saluzzi says, and as for a back-up, “As far as we know, that does not exist.”
Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld said Friday he agrees that U.S. markets should have a system that backs up stock quotes for all exchanges.
Part of the problem, says Eric Hunsader, founder of market data provider Nanex, is that exchanges haven’t had the incentive to focus on back-up systems for price-sharing programs. That’s because the most lucrative traders don’t need them. They’re so big they have their own.
“Exchanges cater to the high-frequency traders,” he says.
Nasdaq did not respond to a request for comment.
Investors and others are concerned that a single point of failure could close Nasdaq for three hours.
“This is a chokepoint, so you’d thing the chokepoint should have all the redundancy in the world,” says Charles Jones, a Columbia finance professor. Still, he says, no matter how much stock exchanges invest, “I don’t think we’ll ever get to 100 percent reliability.”
The cape hand-off has happened. Ben Affleck will be the next Batman. He'll team up with Superman for the sequel of "Man of Steel." The choice of Affleck sparked a backlash by comic book nerds on the Internet.
“There has been a lot of backlash online. There are a couple petitions to remove Affleck from the film on Change.org,” says Rachel Abrams, who covers the movie biz for Variety. The news got a better reaction from the people who follow the money in Hollywood.
“Good for Warner Brothers for getting Ben Affleck to be a superhero. Because Ben Affleck had said that he’s never going to do it again after he had a horrible experience playing a blind superhero in 'Daredevil,'” says Sharon Waxman, editor-in-chief at The Wrap.com.
As you may recall, there was no "Daredevil" sequel. Did Ben Affleck kill the chances for a "Daredevil" franchise?
“The proof is in the pudding. There hasn’t been a 'Daredevil' franchise. So that’s probably fair to say,” says Waxman.
The buzz in Hollywood is that the Batman deal was less about Affleck chasing a paycheck, and more to do with his relationship with Warner Brothers. The studio backed some of his smaller films, like "Argo," which won an Oscar for Best Picture.
“Ben Affleck now is kind of repaying the studio in some way for that vote of confidence,” says Waxman.
But Rachel Abrams disagrees. “I think he’s going to make a lot of money off this movie. I don’t think he’s doing anyone any favors,” says Abrams.
No word yet on how much Affleck will be paid. But Christian Bale reportedly turned down $50 million to put the cape back on.
Many successful superhero movies have relied on virtually unknown actors. But star power can help the film stand out. Waxman says, “There’s a lot more competition now for superhero movies, because all the major studios are doing that as sort of single diet in the summertime.”
It is possible for a Batman movie to disappoint at the box office. Remember George Clooney is "Batman and Robin"? Keith Simanton is managing editor at the Internet Movie Database, or IMDB. Speaking of "Batman and Robin," Simanton says, “Domestically, it didn’t make back its budget."
Even if Affleck is a monumental flop, don’t expect him to kill the franchise. In the last 25 years, globally, the Batman movies have made almost $4 billion.
Microsoft Corporation now hiring
Position: Chief executive officer
Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Today we are the world’s largest multinational software company.
Our mission and values are to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. We are based in Redmond, Wash.
We are currently looking for a self-motivated, innovative leader who can help us expand our reach as a software maker and generate successful new product lines.
If hired, you will replace current CEO Steve Ballmer, who will retire within the next 12 months.
- Candidate must be able to focus on customer and employee satisfaction while simultaneously satisfying shareholder demands.
- Must be able to make Microsoft likeable (see Google and Apple, e.g.).
- Experience in product development a must.
- Previous role in a leadership position at a Top 10 tech company preferable.
- Baldness a plus (see Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, e.g.).
- Extensive knowledge of mobile hardware and operating systems required.
- Must have reliable transportation.
For more Americans, the process of buying a home starts with their phone. There are apps galore for those on the house hunt. So, how do you decide which software will really help you in your search? Katie Roof, a business and technology journalist in New York, has test driven some of these real estate apps, and says the process of finding a home has gotten easier these days because of these apps.
"There's a lot of apps in the app store. You have the big ones like Zillow and Trulia. They each have four different apps that you can choose from. Some of them are for home buying. Some of them are for renting. You can use your location and it will help find listings near you. Then you can set your criteria," says Roof. "You can help find listings in your area that are suitable for you."
For example, you can look for houses near a certain school district or located within a specific zip code.
"A website out there that's good for that is BlockAvenue, which shows information about schools and crime and different neighborhood data that you might find interesting. Trulia and Zillow also have more detailed information on that on their websites. And some of them, like Lovely, will alert you. Once you've stored your preferences in there it will tell you when a home becomes available that meets your search criteria," says Roof. "Then there are others like Home Snap, where you can take a picture of a home that you see out there already and it will show you information about that home."
Homesnap has been called a Shazam for homes, and there's also a social component where you can get input from your friends on what they think of certain homes.
The best real estate apps out there right now, according to Roof:
Roof says her favorite app is Trulia because it has the best design and is pretty comprehensive nationally. Trulia also has another app, a mortgage calculator, which Roof likes. Zillow and Bankrate also have similar apps. Roof recommends taking a look at one of these mortgage calculator apps even before you begin house hunting.
"Even before you're looking actually, it could be good to take a look at these apps and say 'How much can I afford right now? This is how much I make. This is my credit score. This is the area I'm looking at, so what are the property taxes?' It will help you figure all of that out quickly and then it will help you find people that will help you find a loan at that rate," says Roof.
As for renters, Roof says Trulia and Zillow both have a separate app for people looking for rental listings.
Trader Joe's is suing a small business owner for reselling its products in Canada. The popular grocer doesn't operate in Canada, which is a business opportunity for Mike Hallatt, who runs a Vancouver shop called Pirate Joe's.
As President Obama pressures colleges to limit tuition increases, could colleges with wealthy endowments use some of that money to offset the rising cost of higher education?
Pull up a chart of the Nasdaq on Thursday and you see something crazy: a flat line for hours. Nasdaq halted all trading because of a technical glitch. Things were fixed just before the market close, but many are still looking for answers.
Antoinette Tuff had both courage and heart, President Obama says of the woman who persuaded a young man to lay down his weapons after he entered a Georgia elementary school this week. He's planning to invite her to the White House.
Home ownership can be a way for low-income folks to punch a ticket to upward mobility. However, many experts recommend that low-income people build wealth in other ways before they take on a mortgage.
“You have to be financially ready," advises Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Responsibility at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He suggests that before people dive into the housing market, low-income folks ask themselves a few questions, like: "Do you have sufficient savings? Are your debts at a manageable level? Are your assets somewhat diversified? "
Boshara underscores that final point: "You want to make sure you don’t have all your assets in housing." That's a lesson from the recession. People who had most of their money tied up in home ownership, he says, are the ones who lost more of their wealth during the downturn. For younger families (those under 40), 75 percent of the wealth lost during the recession is because of home ownership. Boshara says many of them got caught up in the housing bubble, and bought a home before they were financially prepared.
Where does buying a home rank in asset building for low-income families?
Boshara says people with modest incomes should take other steps before they buy a home.
“You want to make sure you have savings. You want to make sure your debts are at a manageable level. You want to make sure your credit score is good. And if possible save for your kid’s college,” says Boshara.
He says diversifying your assets and keeping your debt low can put you in a better position to buy a home.
Is a home a way to build wealth or is it just a place to live?
History shows us that if your goal is to make money, then home ownership is not the best route, according to Boshara. He points to data that shows the performance of different asset classes since 1983.
- Financial assets and stocks returned 7 percent
- Pensions returned at 4 percent
- Business assets returned at 2 percent
- Homes returned at 1.6 percent
Although home ownership may not be a big money maker, Boshara says if you hold onto that asset (a home) over time, it will build equity and you may be able to use it to finance your children's education, a business startup or retirement savings.
We're talking about home ownership this week. What does it mean? Is it right choice for you? Buying a house is a complicated process that brings up a lot of questions. So today, we've invited Louis Barajas, a personal finance expert in L.A., to answer some of those questions from our listeners.
A number of our friends on Facebook wrote to us with questions about short sales. Joe, a first-time homebuyer in Washington, D.C., asked about bidding on a short sale condo back in February. He's worried, not only because the sale has taken so long, but also because he's heard rumors that at the last second, the price can go up. So what is a short sale and is it a good way to get into the housing market?
"Technically, a short sale is when someone owns a home and they're underwater. Meaning that if they were to sell their house, they would get more debt than they would get from the proceeds of the home. So, now they're trying to get rid of their house -- they maybe have lost their job and they're handing it back to the bank. The wonderful thing is that in the year 2013, this is the last year that we'll be able to do this, is that any debt that you will have to incur from getting rid of the house or selling the house, you will not be liable for it. You won't have to pay the taxes on it. Because usually with this thing called debt forgiveness, if they forgive a certain amount of debt you have to report that difference on your tax return and pay taxes on that amount. Until the end of this year, you have that on a primary residence. So everybody's trying to hurry up and get their short sales done as quickly as possible right now," says Barajas.
As for Joe's worry that the price will go up at the last minute, Barajas says when you bid on a home that's a short sale, a few things need to happen first -- and that it's a lengthy process. The short sale has to get approved by the bank. Secondly, if there are other liens on the property, the lien holders have to approve it. If there's a condo or homeowner's association, they have to approve. At the same there, there also has to be an appraisal and then the broker who's putting a bid in on the property has to do an appraisal, too. All told, Barajas says the process takes 3-6 months and that Joe needs to hold tight.
Because interest rates are going up and property values are going up, Barajas says the bank may want to hold off on accepting Joe's offer, to see if someone comes in with a higher offer.
Barajas also answered these listener questions:
- Jen and her husband live in San Francisco and have been looking for a townhome. She wants to know how to use the VA mortgage benefit to help her find a home.
- Steve from Arizona is renting right now ,but is thinking about getting into the housing market. He wants to know whether this is the right time to get into the market.
- Leslie from Portland, Ore., wants to refinance her home, but is worreid about qualifying because of her income. What can she do?
Click play on the audio player above to hear the advice. Plus, whether you're buying for the first time or have been around the block, check out our infographic on 10 home buying mistakes you should avoid.
Microsoft announced Friday that its CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire within the year. Ballmer has led the company at a difficult time for the tech giant, which has struggled to transition its products out of the PC era.
Marketplace Tech reporter Queena Kim joins Tech host Ben Johnson with a look back on Ballmer's tenure. Click on the audio player above to hear more.