Business Stories of the Week: June 16

by June 16, 2017
After peaking on Monday, Bitcoin is now on pace to have its worst week since 2015. (“bitcoin accepted here” by Flickr user Francis Storr, CC BY 2.0.)

After peaking on Monday, Bitcoin is now on pace to have its worst week since 2015. (“bitcoin accepted here” by Flickr user Francis Storr, CC BY 2.0.)

Investors go bonkers for bitcoin

A recent move by the Japanese government to legalize bitcoin may have convinced investors that cryptocurrencies are here to stay, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The price of bitcoin has tripled since the beginning of the year, surging above $3,000 on Monday before dipping back down the following day. Some investors are worried that too much of this rides on speculation regarding what these digital currencies could be worth rather than what they actually are worth today. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Bitcoin took its biggest tumble in two years.

Uber continues to spiral

Challenges continue to mount for ridesharing company Uber, as reports of sexual harassment and on-the-record sexist remarks by board members pile up. The company’s founder, Travis Kalanick, announced that he’d be taking a leave of absence, his “A-Team” of trusted advisors is starting to fray and about 25 percent of Uber’s C-suite positions are vacant, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. Ironically, the sexist remarks were directed to Arianna Huffington, who was added to the board in 2016 in an effort to build a more diverse workplace where intimidation isn’t tolerated.

The Fed forges ahead

As expected, the Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point rate hike on Wednesday, the second of the year, CNBC reported. “The simple message is—the economy is doing well,” said Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. In March, Business Insider reported on the not-so-simple part of the message, explaining why the Fed raises rates and how it affects the bottom lines of both banks and consumers. While rates typically increase when the economy is strong, the hikes this year are considered slightly unusual, as inflation remains below the level the Fed desires.

Germans play supermarket sweep

With plans in place to open more than 100 stores in the U.S. within the next year, German grocery chain Lidl could prove to be a disruptive force in a competitive market, CNBC reported Wednesday. The company currently operates stores across Europe and will join another German grocery behemoth, Aldi, in taking on the American market. Experts say Wal-Mart will likely feel the squeeze the most, but that other food retailers should be concerned as well, as the German discount chains take more market share.

Democrats sue Trump

Nearly 200 Democrats in Congress have filed a lawsuit against President Trump, asserting that he is violating the U.S. constitution by profiting from business deals with foreign governments. As The Atlantic reported on Monday, these conflicts range from a lobbying effort in Saudi Arabia to a tower in Toronto. Nearly all of them come back to the fact that many of his business holdings represent a conflict of interest because they bring him revenue from banks owned and operated by foreign governments.

Nike joins the local movement

One of the most recognized brands in the world announced plans on Thursday to refocus its business on consumers in just a dozen cities, according to the New York Times. The move comes on the heels of reports that North American sales for Nike are down nearly 10 percent as the company tries to keep up with rapidly changing consumer preferences. To foster more personal service, stay relevant and address local tastes, the brand plans to “deeply serve” customers in 12 cities around the world. The athletic-wear company will cut 2 percent of its global workforce as part of the changes, resulting in about 1,400 lost jobs.