Brazil lost 75k stores, 26k jobs in 2020

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SAO PAOLO – Despite a weak increase in sales of 1.2%, retail trade in Latin America’s largest economy suffered its biggest pullback since 2016 — when the country was in the midst of the worst recession in memory — according to data from the National Confederation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism of Brazil. The figure reflects the net loss taking into account new store openings and new jobs versus closings and job losses.

Dividing the past year in two, however, the report noted a trend showing that losses in the first 6 months were of 62k stores and that the second half lost only 13k stores, fueling speculation that a recovery is under way, awaiting the figures for the first half of 2021.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Mythical place for the history of rock in Hollywood closes abruptly after 22 years

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The iconic hotel The Standard on the Sunset Strip was a perennial bastion for Hollywood stars and a legendary boutique hotel, and was said to have been a model for boutique hotels worldwide. It closed after losing its lease.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Dominion sues MyPillow for $1.3 billion, accusing the company of lying to sell pillows to Trump supporters

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Following similar defamation lawsuits in federal court against former Trump attorneys Rudy Guiliani and Sidney Powell (both also sued for $1.3b) for claiming election fraud to enrich themselves, this lawsuit has a twist in that it alleges MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell used conspiracy claims against the voting systems company “because the lie sells pillows,” according to the suit.

Citing numerous recurring untruthful statements by Lindell on TV interviews, a 2-hour YouTube video, and social media posts that got him and MyPillow’s corporate account banned from Twitter for “spreading misinformation,” the lawsuit charges, “MyPillow’s defamatory marketing campaign  —  with promo codes like “FightforTrump,” “45,” “Proof,” and “QAnon” —  has increased MyPillow sales by 30–40% and continues duping people into redirecting their election-lie outrage into pillow purchases.”

By Milan Sime Martinić

Bolivian town wants to charge woman for calling town “ugly”

Uyuni Salts
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Authorities in the tourist town of Uyuni, famous for its salt flats, are demanding the extradition (from one department to another) and prosecution of a Bolivian singer who goes by the pseudonym Frances P. The musician in a social media post said the town was so ugly she would not move there even for $3,000,000.

Bolivian law has a “duties of tourists” clause that prohibits “discriminatory comments.” Bolivia has in the past arrested a newscaster for making derogatory comments about another city.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Tech Stocks Continue Downward

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The drop started last Friday, and continued over the weekend and on Monday. The big tech stocks, like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, which have been on a long upward trend, have dropped significantly.

The drop is considered possibly overdue given the high out-performance and positioning of the stocks.

The Pay TV Market in North Africa and the Middle East

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17% revenue growth is expected between now and 2022, according to a recent report by Research and Markets.

Currently, revenues for these 20 countries is $3.5b. The 2022 number will be $4.1, and of the 20 countries, 5 countries will make up 75% of that revenue.

The 17% gain in revenue will be from 5m new pay TV homes, bringing the number of pay TV homes to almost 20m by 2022, a 4% change from 2016.

The region is mostly serviced by TV operator Digiturk. They have a large margin over second-place beIN, and this is expected to continue.

Softbank Buying Google’s Robot Company

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Japanese telecom company Softbank (the 62nd largest public company in the world) is buying Boston Dynamics from Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Softbank also got Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft as part of the deal.

Details of the deal weren’t published.

Google bought Boston Dynamics in 2013 but put it back up for sale again last year. There were questions about what Google could really make of the venture, and also there were questions about the effect giant metal dog-like robots, which might find applications in warlike settings, would have on the image of Google.

Japan is a country that has publicly made it known that they will not look to immigration to add labor to support their aging population of baby boomers. They will instead look to robots.

Chinese Brand Enters Top 10 Most Valuable, Along With 9 American Brands

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Who is Tencent? It’s the largely unknown (maybe because it’s pretty media shy) parent company of China’s ubiquitous WeChat social media app.

Their market cap is $330b, more than JPMorgan Chase.

500m people in China (of 650m total) use WeChat for communicating, finding goods and services, getting directions, and paying for things.

Who else is on the top 10 list?

Google is still #1, for the last 11 years. It’s market cap is around 600b.

After that, there’s Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, Visa, Tencent at #8, IBM, and McDonald’s.

It’s Called ‘Ringless Voicemail’

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Why You Get Spam Voicemail When Your Phone Doesn’t Even Ring Now

It’s the latest thing in telemarketing. The phone doesn’t ring, but you hear a notification that you have a new voicemail.

It’s called “ringless voicemail” and it’s getting more common this year.

The great thing about ringless voicemail — if you are a telemarketer or debt collector — and the worst thing if you are a person with a phone is that you can’t block the call.

Yes, there are consumer protection laws that ban certain types of telephone marketing, but ringless voicemail is not currently classified as a call. The companies that provide ringless voicemail services are arguing that they shouldn’t be classified as calls. And regulators are considering the issue.

On the other side, consumer advocates are arguing that these calls will just become more popular and will end up clogging up voicemail inboxes with automated messages. People won’t be able to get their important messages, it might cost more, it will take more time, and it will prevent people from using their phones in the way they want to.

The matter is a new one, so the chips are still in the air as to how governments will deal with the ringless voicemail phenomenon.

Russia’s Oil Sector Should Be Privatized in 8 Years – Ex-Finance Minister

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According to Alexei Kutrin, speaking at the SPIEF economic forum this week, “The oil sector should be fully privatized in the next 7-8 years. No state companies are required there now as the statehood brings more harm than benefit to those companies.”

He added that oil companies are able to deal with business issues without assistance from the state.

Russia’s Central Bank to Develop National Cryptocurrency

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The popularity and value of dealing in cryptocurrency has been established over the past couple of years, with Bitcoin the most prominent of many new digital moneys.

The Russian Central Bank’s Deputy Chairman Olga Skorobogatova spoke at SPIEF 2017 spoke about Russia’s interest in developing their own.

“Regulators of all countries agree that it’s time to develop national cryptocurrencies, this is the future,” said Skorobogatova. “Every country will decide on specific time frames. After our pilot projects we will understand what system we could use in our case for our national currency,”

She wasn’t the only Russian banking official to speak in favor of it at this year’s economic forum. Part of the interest comes from the current state of cryptocurrencies, including that transactions can’t be traced to any person, and that recently there have been new legislative restrictions imposed by various countries.

Lexmark Sued a Company That Let Buyers Refill Their Ink Cartridges … and Lost

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The Supreme court in a 7-1 decision found that consumers can do what they want with the printers they buy, despite Lexmark forcing buyers to “sign” a “post-sale restriction” contract that the buyer won’t tamper with their patented product after they buy it.

The case is “Impression v Lexmark.”

Lexmark makes two similar types of printers: the cheaper one comes with ink cartridges that have a chip on them that prevents users from refilling them and putting them back in the printer, so the user has to go buy a new one from a store. Impression removes the chip so users can refill their cartridges.

Lexmark sued, saying that infringes on their property rights (which they said they maintained post-sale) that prevented third parties from modifying or repairing their products.

The court reasoned that if companies could maintain property rights preventing modification and repair after a product was sold, pretty much every repair shop in the country could be sued, the “smooth flow of commerce” would be impaired, and all parties involved would end up harmed.