Must Read Money Stories for Friday, April 29

by April 29, 2016


Amazon win. 

Online retailer Inc. handily beat analysts’ quarterly profit and revenue expectations as its Prime membership program helped Amazon recruit more customers, Reuters’ Narottam Medhora reported. The Prime loyalty program offers one-hour delivery, original TV programming and access to digital products such as Prime Music and Prime Video for an annual fee of $99. Net sales in North America, Amazon’s biggest market by revenue, increased 26.8 percent to $17 billion in the first quarter.

Productivity quandary.

Neal Irwin of The New York Times mused about why productivity has remained stagnant despite sharply rising employment in the last few years. He wrote that economic output is moving in tandem with the number of hours workers put in, rather than climbing as it has historically. This economics trend is worrisome because—should it hold true indefinitely—your grandchildren would be no richer than you. Under the most dire scenario: stagnant productivity could indicate Americans’ standards of living will grow more slowly going forward. But a more optimistic read of the current conditions is that the economy is undergoing huge technological changes. Meanwhile, businesses are adding workers to prepare for the future. For example, workers at a company are developing a driverless car. During the development phase, these employees are a drain on resources with little economic output to show for their labor. But a successful driverless car could eventually dramatically increase productivity for decades to come. Irwin writes that scenario is possible across many fields: industrial goods, pharmaceuticals, medicine and technology firms.

Top security. 

Facebook Inc. revealed the hefty price tag the social media company paid for Mark Zuckerberg’s personal security last year. The amount was the highest among companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that have filed proxy statements for 2015, Bloomberg’s Anders Melin reported. Facebook spent $4.26 million on Zuckerberg’s security last year, and a total of $12.5 million from 2013 to 2015, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Bloomberg reported that Facebook provides Zuckerberg with a home security system and a team of guards, led by a former U.S. Secret Service agent who protected President Barack Obama.

Movie merger.

Marketplace reported Comcast Corp. on Thursday announced it will pay more than $3 billion for DreamWorks Animation, the maker of popular animated movie franchises such as Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Dreamworks has tried to find a buyer for years as competition has increased in the animated film genre. DreamWorks co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media after the deal closes. The deal is expected to close by December 2016.