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Walmart’s Dumb Blame Game

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Walmart continues to blame outside factors—the food stamps cut, the ACA, and the government shutdown—for dwindling sales. But the real reason for its troubles? Its own business model.

Wal-Mart touches more consumers than virtually any other company—140 million customers each week. The registers at its 4,135 U.S. stores ring up millions of transactions every day. Its sophisticated IT systems collect a wealth of information about the supply chain, the behavior of consumers, and real-time action in the consumer economy. And yet at some level, America’s largest retailer remains remarkably clueless about what is happening in the economy.


Best Business Longreads

WPA Pool

From the man behind American suburban mindmeld to the famed Moon family, The Daily Beast brings you the best in business journalism from the week of November 16, 2013.

Simone Levitt’s Memories of Her Marriage to Bill Levitt, the Mastermind of the Suburb Rich Cohen – New YorkAfter promising the Navy during World War II to build quickly a number of houses that usually took four years, famed developer Bill Levitt turned an occupation (construction) that had once been done by artisans into another American assembly line.  After the war, he predicted that millions of Americans would be pursuing the American dream of a house, but without affordable options.

The Next Big Thing

Facebook Dissed By Snapchat

The Daily Beast

When Snapchat shot down Mark Zuckerberg’s billions this week, the markets got a clear picture of the perverse logic that now rules social media—and the problems that lie ahead.

The buzz of this week was that Snapchat, the pre-revenue/no-revenue instant-messaging craze, turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook.Much of the commentary centered around the folly, or heroism, of Snapchat’s young founders Evan Spiegel, who is 23, and Bobby Murphy, now 25. Why should they take a lowball offer and go to work for someone else when an independent Snapchat might be worth $6 billion, or $12 billion, or $20 billion, in a few years? On the other hand, should the energy surrounding social media dissipate, should investors start demanding that companies have actual revenue and profits again, or should Snapchat be surpassed by the next new thing, the founders will look like chumps.


Coin’s Wallet of the Future


A new startup has created a miracle gadget that unites all your credit, debit and gift cards into a single card.

Credit cards may soon be relics of the past if Coin lives up to its hype.Coin has created a gadget the size of a single credit card that can store payment data for all the cards in your wallet. It can be swiped for payment just like any other credit card. “Coin is designed for the lifestyle of today but with the technology of tomorrow,” said founder and CEO Kanishk Parashar in a release.The company says that the product is a completely unique and secure device that fits seamlessly into your wallet or purse.

Tablet Tax

Did Apple Cook the Books in Italy?

Eric Risberg/AP

Italian prosecutors are investigating Apple for allegedly hiding $1.3 billion from local tax authorities, but the tech company dismisses the accusations.

In a country where even a former prime minister has been convicted of tax fraud, it should be little surprise that major corporations think they might be able to pull a fast one.The Italian subsidiary of multinational tech magnate Apple is under investigation by prosecutors in Italy for allegedly hiding $1.3 billion from the local tax authorities. The alleged fiscal fraud supposedly took place in 2010 and 2011, during the waning years of Silvio Berlusconi’s troubled reign when Italy’s government was on the brink of collapse.

This Smart Old House

How to Hack the Perfect Home

Christian Science Monitor/Getty

Apple alum Tony Fadell reinvented the boring market for home thermostats with his sleek and eco-savvy digital Nest. Coming next: a smoke detector that could be a real disruptor.

Silicon Valley’s latest hot new app doesn’t have a funny name or purport to be a new social medium. In fact, it’s a pretty pedestrian piece of hardware. The hipster former Apple guys who reinvented the thermostat have come up with the next big thing: a smoke alarm.Nest Labs, founded a few years ago by Tony Fadell, who helped design the iPod, has a smash hit with the Nest thermostat—a digital, Apple-looking temperature regulator that is easily programmable, hooks up to the Internet, learns your family’s habits, and just might save the planet.

Aced It

Yellen Sails in the Senate

Alex Wong/Getty

While Obama crashed and burned over health care, his nominee to head the Fed sailed through her confirmation hearing. But will Janet Yellen be any different from her predecessor?

President Obama’s press conference on Thursday was something of a horror show. By contrast, the confirmation hearing of Janet Yellen, the president’s nominee to be the next Chair of the Federal Reserve, was more like something from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The general theme of the three-hour session was Damn it, Janet. I love you! The Senate remains a remarkably politicized place. Tea Party rogues like Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah are gumming up the works.


Snapchat Rejects $3B Offer

Jae C. Hong/AP

From Facebook.

In a sign of just how hot the tech market has gotten, Snapchat, the popular photo messaging service, has spurned an all-cash offer from Facebook for $3 billion. Snapchat, which allows people to take pictures, draw on them, and have them disappear after a certain amount of time, is run by its 23-year-old founder Evan Spiegel. Snapchat is also being pursued by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, which offered an investment that would value the service at $4 billion. Spiegel reportedly will not consider any offers until 2014, as he believes Snapchat's continued rapid growth will engender an even higher valuation.

Read it at the Wall Street Journal

Political Calculus

Obama’s Bull Market?

Andrew Burton/Getty

Stocks are booming, with the S&P and the Dow each near record highs. Does President Obama deserve the credit? The answer is: yes, but only some of it.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stands about 1766, near a record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at about 15,727, also near a record high. Since the lows of March 2009, both indices are up nearly 140 percent.Does President Obama deserve the credit? This was a question I was asked earlier this week on CNBC in a discussion with Reagan-era economist Art Laffer. The answer is: yes, but only some of it.In general, I believe that efforts to pin stock market success (or failure) on political figures aren’t useful.

Out the Door

New York Times Brain Drain

The Daily Beast

Star reporter Brian Stelter just jumped ship to CNN, the latest in a string of big-name exits. But does the talent exodus signal trouble at the paper or only a changed media landscape?

Is The New York Times hemorrhaging talent? By most accounts, it is. Is that cause for alarm? Depends on whom you talk to.Some insiders at the Times—like most newsrooms, a hotbed of smart, ambitious, and gossipy malcontents, except more so at America’s best newspaper—claim things are getting dire. But senior management insists everything will be all right, better than all right, and advises the doomsayers to chill out and count their blessings.


Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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Noah has Down Syndrome. But that didn’t stop him from getting accepted to Edgewood College. And when he reads his admission letter, his jubilant reaction is priceless.

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