National / International News
If "A Tale of Two Cities"were written today and Charles Dickens chose social networkers, instead of cities, as his subject, the opening line might go a little something like this:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of metrics.
“If you are a social network, the two most important metrics for you are your user base and the level of engagement of the users,” says Shaym Patil, Vice President of equity research at Wedbush.
The value that Wall Street places on a social network like Twitter or Facebook is primarily based on its MAU’s, or monthly active users--the more active users, the more potential for ad revenue. This is why when Twitter announced its third quarter earnings Monday, its stock took a hit.
Investors are worried that Twitter’s user base isn't growing fast enough. It’s not anywhere near the gold standard of social media companies, Facebook. Twitter’s active user base is about one fifth of Facebook’s
But Nathan Eagle, CEO of Jana, a mobile marketing platform, is skeptical of the one metric fits all approach. “Twitter and Facebook have different models and they are going after different things,” says Eagle.
Twitter, for example, doesn't just sell ads. It has a whole suite of developer tools it sells to companies like Jana. It offers tools for detecting crashes and monetizing, for example.
These are parts of Twitter’s business model that aren't reflected in the MAU numbers. As a result, Nathan Eagle thinks Twitter should have its own more sophisticated metric for assessing its value. “MAU’s are at least a proxy for success,” But says Eagle, “I do think that we will come up with more nuanced metrics.”
Until that more nuanced metric arrives, the almighty MAU will likely reign supreme. Or, as Dickens said, Twitter and Facebook will continue to live, “for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
CNN announced its election night plans Tuesday: the network will take over the Empire State Building to display U.S. Senate vote results.
As results come in, a vertical LED-illuminated "meter" atop the spire of the building will ascend in either red or blue.
Once a meter reaches the top of the spire, that party will take control of the Senate.
Who will win? Apparently CNN will decide.
Quantitative easing – it’s fun and accessible and all the cool kids are talking about it, right?
“Believe it or not, I tend to try not to talk about Quantitative Easing at cocktail parties,” says Ann Owen, an economics professor at Hamilton College. “But just a real brief explanation is that it’s a way for the [Federal Reserve] to increase the money supply by buying bonds.”
The Fed generally has two focus areas: employment and inflation. Historically, a main tool to keep each in check has been setting interest rates through its Federal Funds Rate. But back in 2008, the Fed decided it needed something more and QE was born.
Six years later, the Fed is widely expected to announce the end of QE after its Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.
Owen says while ending QE may sound like a giant leap, it's actually a relatively small step because the Fed now has a balance sheet worth over $4 trillion.
“That’s money that in the banking system and will hopefully finds its way into the economy, says Michelle Girard is the chief U.S. economist with RBS. “As long as those reserves aren’t taken back out, through asset sales or other methods of shrinking the balance sheet, then the reserves that have already been created are still able to boost economic growth.”
Think of the Fed as a jogger who’s not slowing down or speeding up, but keeping the same pace – and there’s still a long road ahead.
The economy is clearly in a better place than it was when QE started.
But Morris Davis, a professor at Rutgers University and a former economist at the Federal Reserve Board, says he’s skeptical about how much of that is due to the bond-buying program.
“We can debate its effectiveness and we should debate its effectiveness,” he says. “But going forward, we’re going to see a lot more of this, actually, by Central Banks all around the world and I think we’ll point back to this episode as having led the pack.”
After QE, the Fed still has its more traditional tool – interest rates. Davis says it’ll probably be a while before the Fed feels comfortable enough to start raising its Federal Funds Rate in any meaningful way.
One Australian report estimated the reef had lost more than half its coral since 1985. The government is considering a new 35-year plan to rescue the reef, but some say it falls short.
Normally, the "central banker of oil" would slow production to push up prices. Not so now. Some say it's a geopolitical tactic aimed at Russia and Iran; others say it's just protecting market share.
They fear that the threat of isolating a returning health worker for 21 days will cause a drop in the number of volunteers at a time when more medical staff is needed to quash the outbreak.
When a bank in northern India opened for business Monday, its staff was surprised to find its strong room breached from underground. Local media say the crime resembles a movie plot.