Ed’s Daily Notes for June 19th   1 comment

Bloomberg: Fed Dots Ignored as Investors Focus on Yellen’s Message

Investors trying to anticipate Federal Reserve interest-rate policy are ignoring the dots and focusing on Chair Janet Yellen’s words.

Fed officials yesterday released forecasts, represented as dots on charts, showing that starting next year interest rates would rise from zero faster than previously expected. Equity markets rallied on Yellen’s pledge of monetary stimulus for as long as necessary to achieve the central bank’s goals.

Yellen brushed aside concerns about quickening inflation, diminishing labor-market slack and asset-price bubbles in a prepared statement and press conference, emphasizing the Federal Open Market Committee’s view that rates are likely to stay low “for a considerable time.”

Yes, the “Mighty Oz” doesn’t want you looking behind the curtain. Just keep buying stocks, and all will be well…

Fox News: Amazon launches Fire Phone, takes personal shopping mobile

After months of rumor and speculation, Amazon has jumped into the smartphone market with the launch of its eagerly-anticipated Fire Phone.

Most of the hype over the last few months has focused on the device’s 3D capabilities, which Amazon duly delivered at the launch event in Seattle. Shrewdly, though, the online giant has also built a host of features into the Fire Phone that will pull users further into its vast retail empire.

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Fire Phone has a 4.7-inch screen and will be available exclusively on AT&T when it ships on July 25. Pricing starts at $199 for a 32GB version of the phone with a two-year contract. A 64 GB version will be priced at $299 with a two-year contract. The 32GB and 64GB versions will also be available with zero money down from $27.09 a month and $31.25 a month, respectively, on AT&T’s Next 18 plan.

The device’s Firefly feature offers image, text and audio recognition, letting users scan QR and bar codes, Web and email addresses, and over 100 million other items, according to Amazon. This includes movies, TV shows, and song recognition in the style of the popular Shazam app. When Firefly recognizes a song, for example, it taps into the Amazon Music catalog. The retailer says that Firefly can identify 35 million songs.

In addition to movies, TV shows and music, Firefly can recognize 70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs and video games. Fire Phone users can then access the relevant product details and order them from Amazon.com.

…Amazon is also offering a free 12-month membership to its Prime service for Fire Phone customers, further underlining the company’s desire to bring new customers into its world. Existing Prime users will receive an additional 12 months added to their account.

Additionally, the company is touting free unlimited cloud storage of photos taken with the phone and a ‘mayday’ feature, which establishes a live video link with an Amazon expert to walk users through the phone’s features.

…As expected, plenty of attention has been focused on the Fire Phone’s 3D capabilities. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced these features during the launch event, which the company describes as “dynamic perspective”. This gives users the ability to scroll through Web pages by tilting the screen and see different views of products in the Amazon Shopping app. Dynamic perspective could have a big impact in video gaming. Amazon has applied the technology to the Lili game, with users tilting their heads to alter a character’s perspective.

While I don’t see the Fire Phone as a game changer, it does look competitive. However, I also see the smartphone industry getting a little crowded.

Bloomberg: Half-Price Kurd Oil Threatens Iraq Breakup With Turkish Help

A tanker containing a million barrels of crude oil is floating around the Mediterranean, and its cargo is available at half-price. Yet if any country seizes the bargain, it may be pushing Iraq closer to disintegration.

The oil aboard the tanker is at the center of a fight over its ownership between the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, which pumped and shipped the crude from its territory in northern Iraq, and the central government in Baghdad, which claims the rights to all oil revenue.

Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces seized on the anarchy in northern Iraq, where militant Islamists routed the Baghdad government’s army last week, to occupy the region’s key oil hub, Kirkuk. The oil dispute has raised the possibility of the Kurdish region achieving financial self-sufficiency to go with those expanding territorial ambitions.

“If that tanker docks, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government will take an important step toward independence and hasten the break-up of Iraq,” said Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by phone June 13.

The potential sale has embroiled Turkey, the conduit for the Kurdish oil, and Iraq in legal arbitration, while the U.S. has sought to dissuade the Kurds from going it alone.

I find myself rooting for the Kurds in this situation. Maybe it’s just me, but they seem to be the only group in the Middle East that has shown any kind of rational behavior. For the rest of the Middle East, it is all about politics of one sort or another.

Financial Times: Advertisers have lost the attention of a generation

The sub-headline says it all:

Tech-savvy US teens now watch only about 21 minutes of broadcast television a week

The advertising industry has been turned on it’s head. The worst part is the industry is in denial.

On the bright side, the kids have this one right: Television is a big waste of time. Since I gave up my television service a year ago in April, I find I have much more time in my life. I still have Netflix on my tv, so if I feel like watching tv, I can. But I do it on my own time, and not according to some programmer’s schedule.

Advertisements

Posted June 19, 2014 by edmcgon in Federal Reserve, News, Politics, Stocks, Technology

One response to “Ed’s Daily Notes for June 19th

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: