Must Read Money Stories for Monday, March 14

by March 14, 2016

Chinese Bet On U.S. Hotels. Just three months after scooping up Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc., Blackstone Group is reportedly set to hand over the U.S. luxury hotel portfolio to a Chinese buyer for around $6.5 billion. That news comes according to unnamed sources who disclosed the pending deal in a story first reported by Bloomberg News on Sunday. That amount is around $450 million more than what Blackstone paid for the portfolio back in December, and it’d mark the biggest U.S. real estate deal by a mainland China buyer. The buyer, Anbang Insurance Group Co., already owns the landmark Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Interest Rate Debate. This week, Federal Reserve officials will gather in Washington D.C. to debate whether the economy has recovered enough from its shockingly rocky start to 2016 to resume raising interest rates and controlling price inflation, the New York Times reported on Sunday. For the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession, the U.S.’s central bank raised interest rates in December by a modest quarter of one percent, with plans for further, gradual increases from there. But those plans were suspended when the global economy was rocked by unexpected dips and volatility in international stock markets that kicked off the year.

GMO Labels. The debate over whether the food industry should disclose the presence of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, through labels on its products is coming to a head in Congress. Vermont is the first state to pass such a law requiring GMO labeling, and Congress is in a race to block that law’s July 1-implementation, the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend. The Senate bill, which cleared out of a Congressional agriculture committee this month, would impose a “national voluntary standard” for GMO labeling and pre-empt states, including Vermont, from requiring otherwise.

Adult Coloring Book Craze. Within the past year or so, coloring books for adults has transformed from being a tiny, little-known niche to big business with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Sales of adult coloring books skyrocketed from 1 million in 2014 to around 12 million last year. The Washington Post this weekend took a look at the craze, which is taking off as a new way for adults to relax amid a digital age, and whether it’s a short-lived fad.