Inside Finance - August 16th, 2019

Inside Finance (Aug 16th, 2019)

Good News in Consumer Spending / GE Fraud Allegations / Google's Mini-Bond Ads

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Hey everyone, thanks for following Inside Finance! I have started to compile a Twitter list of finance-related accounts, so if you want to check that out you can find it here. Send me your favorite follows and I may add them to the list! Now, on to today's headlines. – Schuyler

1. Stocks are set to cap off a wild week on a high note. At last check, the Dow was up 1.06 percent, the S&P 500 was up 1.39 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 1.63 percent. The good day comes after the Dow had its worst day of the year on Wednesday. During that day's dive, President Trump reportedly held a conference call with the country's major banking executives, and details of that conversation are breaking this morning. And despite all the headlines, Greenland isn't for sale, according to that nation's foreign ministry. – CNN

2. There's been a lot of doom and gloom in the financial headlines lately, and I don't want to minimize that, but let's celebrate one unexpectedly strong aspect of the economy: consumer spending. Domestic spending on retail and dining grew by 0.7 percent in July. Analysts were only expecting to see 0.3 percent of growth. If you ignore the volatile automotive sector, consumer spending grew by a full percentage point. This story's a big deal because consumer spending makes up a whopping 70 percent of the country's overall GDP. – REUTERS

3. Today's #FollowFriday is for investors who love to dive into data and graphs. Bespoke Investment Group uses its Twitter to share its research in easy-to-digest visualizations. This feed is as active as it is informative. Followers get several stat-heavy insights into the markets delivered to their newsfeed every day. Today, tweets have included graphs looking at S&P 500 performance in the past month, compared against foreign markets and long-term Treasury ETFs—and that's just one tweet.

Bespoke Investment Group's main business is providing this kind of insight for paid subscribers. While you won't get access to all of the information for free, the Twitter feed is a good place to catch scraps that Bespoke offers as a taste of their subscriber services. With the release of WeWork information this week, for example, Bespoke did a deep dive into company analysis that was tweeted out to followers a day after subscribers had their first look at it. Following this account makes it easy to catch any market trends forming before the news outlets have a chance to turn the data into an article that reaches broader audiences. – @BespokeInvest

4. GE stock is back up today after Thursday saw a double-digit dive in the wake of fraud allegations. A new report calls GE "the next Enron," citing $38 billion in accounting fraud. The team behind the report was led by Harry Markopolos, a famed whistleblower who first drew attention to Bernie Madoff's illegal Ponzi scheme a decade ago. Markopolos says he uncovered a long-term pattern of fraud that stretches back to 1995. While Markopolos has name recognition and credibility, some analysts say his accounting team's report on GE was filled with unnecessarily sensational language, and they note that the team stands to benefit financially from GE's downfall. – MARKETS INSIDER

5. President Trump has loudly and frequently called for the Federal Reserve to cut benchmark rates, and he isn't alone in his calls for cuts, but how will that affect a future recession? Cutting rates is a way to juice the economy, and it's a move that's usually reserved for times of economic distress. But with rate cuts taking place now, while the economy is relatively healthy, what will the Fed do if (or more accurately, when) the next recession hits? At the start of the last recession, benchmark rates were set at 4.25 percent. Today, the target benchmark rate is between two and 2.25 percent. – CNBC

6. Apple enthusiasts say the newest beta iOS revealed that the new iPhone announcement will be unveiled on September 10. Apple has announced new iPhone models in mid-September for several years. This one will be a test for Apple, which has struggled with slowing iPhone sales for the better part of the past year. – THE VERGE

7. Just so we're clear, mini-bonds aren't the same as high-interest savings accounts—but critics say Google ads weren't making that distinction clear enough. Mini-bonds are a riskier form of bonds, but no bond is equivalent to a savings account. That's why there's confusion over why Google users in the UK who search for things like "high-interest savings" were targeted with ads promoting mini-bonds. In response to the report, Google said it is reviewing the ads and has already taken some down—though it isn't clear which ones. – YAHOO! FINANCE

8. President Trump said U.S. and Chinese negotiators are having "productive" talks ahead of the next round of in-person negotiations. He said the in-person negotiation is "still on as I understand it," despite a new round of tariffs set to take effect just before the talks. However, as I covered earlier this week, some of the tariffs set to take effect September 1 have been delayed or, in a few cases, called off altogether. – REUTERS

9. With regulators eyeing big tech companies, CNBC compiled a nice refresher on our country's 130-year-old law, and how it could apply to tech probes. The last major flex of antitrust laws in the U.S. came in the late '90s. Back then, Microsoft was in the hot seat. – CNBC

10. Get to know your own state better with this list of each state's biggest industry. There are some cool factoids in here, not just about which industry is the biggest, but about growth and how big that industry is compared to others. Separately, you can find a breakdown of each state's biggest single company right here. – USA TODAY

Schuyler Durham writes Inside Finance. He’s a lifelong Portlander who got his start covering the local music scene, but later became enamored with the complexities of financial and political reporting. After three years in broadcast news, he's now diving back into the digital realm. You can keep up with his writing on Twitter at @SchuylerWriter or watch him goof around on Instagram at @bitterbuddha.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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