Today, China's central bank officially barred Chinese banks from offering services connected to the virtual, digital currency Bitcoin. The government also issued a new set of regulations for Bitcoin exchanges in China.
Bitcoin is a currency that transcends political boundaries, but China is quickly becoming Bitcoin's biggest market when you consider that the world's biggest Bitcoin exchange in Shanghai. China, of course, is home to a lot of speculators, and at the moment, the returns on Bitcoin are better than investing in China's booming property market. But it's not without its dangers – and that's where the People's Bank of China -- or the PBOC -- comes in.
"I think the comments we've seen from the PBOC are positive insofar that it is a measured approach and it's not shutting down something that's completely not understood, that they recognize that it does have potential, that they just want to limit it at the beginning at least," says Zennon Kapron, head of Kapron Asia and an expert on all things Bitcoin.
The way to regulate Bitcoin would be to target the Bitcoin exchanges, where you exchange Bitcoin for either a physical good or another currency. And the People's Bank of China did announce that it would require licenses from Bitcoin exchanges inside of China, they'll be required to file trading records and to take measures to prevent money-laundering risks.
In October, a Bitcoin exchange registered in Hong Kong shut down over night, taking more than $3 million worth of people's money along with them. Police finally caught the suspects, but it showed how dangerous investing in this digital currency can potentially be in China – part of the reason China's central bank is cracking down on Bitcoin.
U.S. real gross domestic product rose from a 2.5 percent gain in the second quarter. And the number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 298,000 last week.
The economy doesn’t care if you volunteer in your community. In fact, the Gross Domestic Product doesn’t count volunteer work at all, and that includes unpaid care-giving for a sick loved one. But with such high costs for elderly home care, there’s often no alternative, as Marketplace’s Chris Farrell says.
“The economic value of this unpaid work? It’s enormous,” says Farrell, noting how the MetLife Foundation tried to come up with a figure for adults taking care of their aging parents. Including lost wages, lost Social Security benefits and lost potential savings, they added it all up to $3 trillion.
Click the audio player above to hear more of Chris Farrell’s thoughts on what unpaid care-givers face in today’s economy.
Today, fast-food workers in cities across the U.S. are walking off the job. They're calling for a raise in their wages to $15 dollars an hour. Meanwhile, President Obama invoked a similar theme in a speech he gave yesterday that made the case for increasing the minimum wage.
In his speech, President Obama discussed minimum wage in the broader context of what is happening to the middle class in America today. He talked about how a lot of good paying jobs, especially in manufacturing, are being replaced by minimum wage service sector jobs. And he pointed out that the federal minimum wage is so low today compared to the cost of living that it's hard for many American families to make ends meet. At one point, Obama even gave a shout-out to the striking fast food workers.
The president took great pains to frame his argument in a bipartisan way, referencing Abraham Lincoln and even paraphrasing the father of conservative thought, Adam Smith.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are about to begin a push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over the next few years. In a recent CBS News poll, two-thirds of Americans -- including more than half of Republicans -- said the federal minimum wage should be higher.
The restaurant industry says an increase would push them to downsize their work forces.
Arizona's worker safety commission has imposed multiple fines on the state's forestry unit, with the largest coming for "willful serious" violations that left firefighters in dangerous positions. The Yarnell Hill fire killed 19 elite firefighters in June.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. One of the legacies is the lingering existence of dry counties, especially across the South. The number is declining, in part due to the economics of not selling alcohol.
Lubbock County, Texas, has a lot of new options for dinner and drinks. “One of them is Johnny Carino’s. The Funky Door Bistro and Wine Restaurant,” Eddie McBride, president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, can reel off a list.
With the exception of one retail strip Lubbock was dry for years. But that changed after a 2009 ballot initiative. Until the new law, McBride says restaurants were reluctant to move in.
“You see about a 6 percent increase in retail sales in the area when they switch from dry to wet,” says economist Ray Perryman, head of the Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm in Waco, Texas.
Towns that don’t offer alcohol can lose out on other sales as well, Perryman says. “If you go to an other area to go to liquor store and while you’re there you may stop and buy groceries, you may do some shopping at local stores, just because you’re out and you’re making a trip.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says states spend billions on excessive drinking. But Perryman says allconsumers have access to alcohol, so even those areas that ban drinking end up with alcohol-related bills for healthcare, crime and justice -- without getting any of the of benefits of selling the drinks.