Business Stories of the Week: Sept. 15

by September 15, 2017

The dollar’s weakness could actually be good news, reported Bloomberg.  (“Dollar photo” via Pexels).

Consumers and investors bear the brunt of Equifax hack

The consumer credit reporting bureau Equifax is facing lawsuits, a huge stock price drop and federal investigations after the credit-rating bureau disclosed it was hacked earlier this year, leaving 143 million U.S. consumers’ personal information exposed. The New York Times reported on Thursday that the data breach has opened up millions of consumers to identity theft, monetary losses and nightmare scenarios, while leaving the company’s executives unscathed. Even investors are feeling the brunt on the hack; Equifax’s stock has plummeted more than 30 percent, losing its shareholders $5.3 billion in market capitalization.

Google accused of gender bias

Three female former employees of Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the technology giant of favoring men in pay and promotions, reported Reuters. The action comes amid a separate investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor into gender bias in pay practices. Other tech titans also have landed in hot water this year. In January, the Department of Labor sued Oracle America Inc., claiming it paid white men more than women and minorities with similar jobs. Microsoft and Twitter are facing similar lawsuits.

Middle-class incomes hit a new high

While incomes remained stagnant in the years following the Great Recession, it appears America is finally hitting its stride again. The incomes of middle-class Americans rose last year to the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau, reported The Washington Post on Tuesday. Median household income climbed to $59,039 in 2016, up 3.2 percent from the previous year and the second year of gains, according to the Census Bureau. The U.S. poverty rate dipped to 12.7 percent, nearly what it was in 2007—before the Great Recession and mortgage collapse.

A weak dollar is actually good news

On Monday, Bloomberg dug into why the dollar has been weaker this year. It’s actually good news: U.S. annual growth estimates for 2017 have fluctuated from 2.1 to 2.3 percent, leading analysts to conclude the dollar’s weakness points to stronger growth overseas. That means the U.S. trade deficit tightens and U.S. firms earn more profit, especially for those that operate abroad in goods-producing industries. And that in turn, could mean a delayed boost to consumer price inflation, Bloomberg reported.

Nordstrom’s rolls out stores with no merchandise

The times they are a-changin. Nordstrom’s newest store will have personal stylists, manicurists, a tailor and plenty of wine—but no merchandise, reported The Washington Post on Tuesday. The Los Angeles store will allow customers to chat with employees, pick up online orders and drop off returns. Stylists will be available to put together personalized recommendations that customers can view on their mobile phones and purchase from Nordstrom.com. Analysts that follow the company says the experiment allows the company to open smaller locations in urban areas and to keep up with changing customer preferences.

China exchange is closing and Bitcoin takes a dive

The cryptocurrency bitcoin plunged 13 percent on Thursday after one of the largest exchanges in China announced it will close its operation, reported CNBC on Thursday. The currency traded at $3,385.15 at 4:17 p.m. in New York, far below its all-time high of $5,013.91 earlier this month. BTC China announced on Twitter it will close down operations by Sept. 30 amid a Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrencies. The currency has had a rough month: Just two days ago JPMorgan and Chase executive Jamie Dimon called the cryptocurrency a fraud and said it wouldn’t end well.