Puerto Rican officials seek debt restructuring to avoid looming defaults

Debt-ridden Puerto Rico is facing a marked slowdown in new revenues, and even under a best-case economic growth scenario would be able to make just a fraction of the loan payments due over the next decade, officials said Monday.

Revised figures from the government’s fiscal and economic recovery plan show that the commonwealth’s long-running recession and fiscal crisis have crippled tax revenues and left the island in a ever-worsening cash-flow situation, even as it has slowed payments to suppliers, creditors and taxpayers due refunds.

The result is that Puerto Rico is sinking deeper into a fiscal hole that officials there said can only be filled with the help of comprehensive debt restructuring — which they have been pushing for many months, but to no avail.

“The information contained in the updated plan makes all the more clear that actions must be taken before the Commonwealth runs out of options to pay its debt and provide essential services to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Melba Acosta Febo, president of the island’s Government Development Bank.

The disclosure by Puerto Rico officials, which comes shortly before a meeting with creditors, seems to be aimed at prodding bondholders to cut

Markets close rocky trading day down 1 percent as oil prices plummet

NEW YORK — Global markets staged a wild ride on Wednesday amid fears of cratering oil prices and slowing international growth, extending a turbulent streak that has wiped out more than $2 trillion this year in value from American companies.

Investors were unnerved by doubts over China’s weakening economy and U.S. oil prices that have plummeted nearly 30 percent since the year began, sending the Dow Jones industrial average plunging early Wednesday more than 500 points.

But the panicked sell-off turned to rally in the afternoon, as the 30-company Dow recovered to about 15,766, a loss of about 1 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, a broader look at the market, slipped 1 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite turned heavy losses into a comeback, posting a gain of less than 1 percent.

U.S. oil prices plunged more than 6 percent Wednesday to about $26 a barrel, their lowest level since 2003, after having plummeted nearly 30 percent since the year began. Investors say a weakening global demand for oil, so vital to construction and manufacturing, could point to a broader underlying danger of slowing global growth.

[The do’s and don’ts of a market crash] Traders work on the floor of

The tiny chip that could power big changes in how you shop

A demonstrator shows what happens when an RFID-enabled jacket is placed in front of a large screen. (Sarah Halzack/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — Next time you’re at the mall, take a closer look at the paper price tag dangling from the clothes you take into the dressing room.

If you hold the tag up to a light, you might see a dark, salt-grain-sized speck in it. Or, if you run your thumb over the tag, you might feel an almost imperceptible bump.

This is a radio-frequency identification chip — better known as an RFID chip — and you can expect to find a great deal more of them in stores this year as retailers increasingly bet the technology can be a critical part of solving their most vexing problems.

This week at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, vendors here showed off some of the ways RFID is being used to make in-store shopping more experiential and to execute behind-the-scenes changes that might boost sales. A demonstrator shows what happens when an RFID-enabled jacket is placed in front of a large screen. (Sarah Halzack/The Washington Post)

Impinj, which shipped 3 billion of these chips last year, demonstrated how its technology is being used at

Technical analysis

In general, forex technical analysis can be defined as a method of price prediction based not on economic but on mathematical calculations. This method has been created exclusively for industrial purposes, that is to generate income while playing initially in the securities market, and then in the futures. All methods of technical analysis were created independently of each other, only in 70-ies. All techniques were united in a single theory with common basic principles, postulates and philosophy. Currently, technical analysis methods are becoming more common, become clear that technical analysis is used to predict a wide variety of pseudo-random and random processes, directly in the economy and in the various fields.

The philosophical tenets of technical analysis formulated by the Americans. Many practitioners believe that the basis of success is in the correct and accurate application of a number of simple techniques well understood by the trader and the complexity of the forecast is false confidence, and as a result, a loss.

It should be understood that the technical analysis of what you had toward him, actually works during many years, bringing considerable income users. However, treat it like a magic wand is not necessary because it is only forecasting tool,

Main Street Morning: Department of Transportation to spend $4 billion on self-driving cars

Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

Washington

  • President Obama announces $4 billion in funding for self-driving cars.
  • Obama halts new coal leases.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO says U.S. businesses are facing many risks in 2016 and few upsides.
  • U.S. patent grants slow in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling.
  • An explanation of what the President means by “wage insurance.”
  • March is quickly coming off the table for a Fed interest rate hike.

The Economy

  • Oil falls below $30 and some are wondering if it may be time to bail out the U.S. oil industry.
  • The average price of gas in the U.S. is below $2 a gallon for the first time in seven years.
  • U.S. coal production hits a 30-year low.
  • James Pethokoukis provides a real-world, center-right approach to preventing a debt crisis.

The Elections

  • Here’s what would happen to the economy if Ted Cruz or Donald Trump were President.
  • Marco Rubio toughens on immigration, a little.
  • Clinton balks at Biden’s remarks on income inequality.
  • What you need to know about Hillary Clinton’s attack on single-payer health care.
  • These are the best

JPMorgan Chase’s earnings rise 9 percent, beat estimates

NEW YORK — Banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profits rose 9 percent from a year earlier, helped by strong performance in its consumer banking division and lower legal expenses.

The largest U.S. bank by assets said it earned $4.91 billion, or $1.32 per share, after payments to preferred shareholders, compared to a profit of $4.49 billion, or a $1.19 per share, a year earlier. The results topped analysts’ forecasts, who were looking for JPMorgan to earn $1.26 per share, according to FactSet.

JPMorgan’s latest results reflected similar themes CEO Jamie Dimon and the bank’s management have been pushing for several quarters. The bank remained focused on cutting expenses, including through layoffs or other headcount reductions, preparing itself for bigger profits once interest rates rise further, as many expect will happen this year. The bank’s total employees fell 3 percent year-over-year to 234,598 workers.

The bank was also impacted by a steep drop in prices for oil and other commodities. JPMorgan had to modestly add to its credit reserves to cover loans to oil and gas companies, who have been struggling as oil plunged near $30 a barrel, as well loans to metal and mining companies.

“We had

At retail’s ‘Big Show,’ a look at the tech merchants hope will keep them relevant

NEW YORK —  If you’re staying at a hotel and realize you didn’t quite pack right for your trip, apparel retailer Gap wants to come to your rescue.

At Virgin Hotels, guests can now open up the hotel’s app, Lucy, and reserve items for purchase from Gap. The idea is that customers might want to buy a jacket if the weather is unexpectedly cold, or maybe some workout gear if they realize they have some free time for a jog. The hotel concierge then picks up the order at a local Gap store, stows it in the guest’s closet and puts the purchase on their hotel tab.

“The ability to share each other’s customers, that acquisition is of high value,” said Tricia Nichols, Gap’s global lead of consumer engagement and partnerships, in a presentation at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show.

It’s an experimental way for Gap to sell clothes, and it shows how far retailers are venturing out of their comfort zones as they aim to stay relevant in a challenging moment: Consumers are spending more time on their gadgets, and on-demand delivery and transportation apps are conditioning them to expect greater speed and convenience.

The NRF’s expo and convention, which has drawn

Holiday shopping season was not as merry as the retail industry expected

As retailers from Macy’s to Best Buy have reported gloomy holiday season sales results in recent days, evidence had been mounting that the retail industry did not have a strong showing in its most important two months of the year.

On Friday, came confirmation.  The National Retail Federation said sales were up 3 percent to $626.14 billion this holiday season, sharply lower than the 3.7 percent sales increase the trade group had forecast. That figure excludes sales at gas stations and restaurants.

“Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry,” said Matthew Shay, the NRF’s president, in a press release.

The industry struggled with a confluence of problems: Unseasonably warm weather gripped much of the country throughout December, a factor that many retailers have pointed to as a culprit for weak sales of goods such as coats, boots and gloves.  Macy’s for example, said, 80 percent of its year-over-year sales decline was attributable to dismal performance in these categories. Meanwhile, some websites had trouble maintaining inventories of hot items such as the Hasbro Pie Face game or Star Wars toys, meaning they likely missed out on sales of those products.

And with restaurant sales and travel spending going strong, it seems the retail industry is

Main Street Morning: U.S. faces an ethanol glut

Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

Washington

  • President Obama declares a state of emergency in Michigan over contaminated water.
  • The President also proposed a new unemployment insurance plan.
  • The Postal Service has hiked some postal rates as much as 14 percent.

The Economy

  • Weaker-than-expected market conditions will keep the Federal Reserve from raising rates as much as predicted in 2016 as company earnings and the global economy will remain strained, according to some Wall Street strategists.
  • The U.S. is facing an ethanol glut.
  • After a rocky 2015, the price of cattle begins to rebound.
  • It hasn’t been this bad for the car-insurance industry in 15 years, and it’s all the strong economy’s fault.

The Elections

  • Hillary Clinton holds a big lead over Bernie Sanders nationally, according to a new poll.
  • Sanders said he would support a bill that revokes legal immunity for gun manufacturers.

People

  • Less than two in five U.S. workers get paid time off for today’s holiday.
  • A new survey explains one big reason there are so few women in technology.

Management

  • This is a guide on how to properly calculate budget variances.
  • The CEO

Trump’s bad bet How too much debt drove his biggest casino aground

For months in 1987, Donald Trump maneuvered to take control of the hulking, unfinished Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. He snapped up stock in the parent company after its owner died and then made a surprise bid to take the company private.

With the Taj, along with two casinos he already owned in the city, Trump could dominate gambling on the East Coast. But first he needed to convince state gambling regulators that he was financially stable and could raise enough cash to complete the $1 billion project.

On Feb. 8, 1988, at a licensing hearing in front of the state Casino Control Commission, Trump said he could pull it off for one main reason: He was Donald Trump. Because of his reputation as a dealmaker, he said, bankers were lining up to lend him money at prime rates. That meant he could avoid the risky, high-interest loans known as junk bonds.

“I’m talking about banking institutions, not these junk bonds, which are ridiculous,” Trump testified, according to transcripts of the hearing. “The funny thing with junk bonds is that junk bonds [are] what really made the companies junk.”

Trump received the approvals he needed for the Taj, but the prime-rate loans never materialized. Determined

Main Street Morning Instagram looks to ramp up small business advertising

Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

Washington

  • A bill giving more small businesses access to Federal contracts heads to Congress.
  • Some early evidence suggests that D.C.’s minimum wage law is having a pretty devastating effect on the city’s restaurant employment.

The Economy

  • A ranking of the economies of all 50 U.S. states and Washington, DC, from worst to best.
  • This is the state of U.S. small businesses entering 2016.
  • A stock market analyst uses data to predict that a win by an “original” National Football League team means the market will be up for the year and a win by a descendant of the old American Football League sends the market down.
  • Oxfam says that the richest 62 people are as wealthy as half of world’s population.

The Elections

  • Michelle Bachmann says something no one was expecting about Hillary Clinton.
  • Here’s what happened when Triumph, the Insult Comedy Dog crashed the Democratic debate spin room party.
  • Most of Bernie Sanders’s big ideas are dead-on-arrival in Congress.
  • Americans from one region turned out in droves to see “13 hours” – and

Johnson & Johnson to cut about 3,000 jobs in medical devices

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that it plans to cut about 3,000 jobs over the next two years as the health care conglomerate works to restructure its medical devices business.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company said that amounts to more than 2 percent of its global workforce of around 127,000 people and 4 percent to 6 percent of its employee total in medical devices.

The cuts come after a tough year for the healthcare bellwether, which has seen sales of its prescription drugs, devices and consumer medicines squeezed by a weakening global economy and unfavorable currency exchange rates.

“These actions recognize the changing needs of the global medical device market,” said Gary Pruden, chairman of Johnson & Johnson’s medical device unit, in a statement.

The restructuring focuses on the company’s orthopedics, surgery and cardiovascular businesses. It won’t affect consumer medical devices, pharmaceuticals or consumer businesses.

J&J has struggled to revive sales of medical devices, particularly brands like DePuy orthopedic implants and Ethicon surgical equipment. In October the company said device sales dropped 7.3 percent to $6.1 billion in the previous fiscal quarter. In the same month, J&J sold its Cordis heart devices unit, which previously accounted for about one-quarter of device sales.

Wells Fargo

Main Street Morning DraftKings hits a wall in Texas

Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

Washington

  • The Federal government spent $406,875 texting Latino men telling them to exercise.

The Economy

  • Homebuilder sentiment stalled in in January.
  • The Baltic Dry Index is imploding.
  • The Federal budget deficit will rise to $544 billion this year.
  • Economist Jared Bernstein explains why cheap oil is not an economic blessing.
  • An absurd number of jobs around the world are going unfilled.
  • CEO confidence heads south before Davos 2016.

The Elections

  • Trump wants Apple to build its products in the U.S.
  • A hardware store’s sign sends a message to Trump that hits below the tool belt.
  • The Hispanic vote will reach a record high in 2016.
  • Sanders has a 2-1 lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, according to a new poll.

People

  • Apple is making strides to diversify its workforce.
  • High-deductible health plans do not, by themselves, appear to turn consumers into savvy healthcare shoppers, results of a large survey suggested.
  • Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and other tech firms are implicated in a child labor report.
  • Ten percent of college graduates think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court, according to a report.

Management

  • Morgan Stanley swings to

“That’s a Buick?” In China, unlike the U.S., there’s no doubt

DETROIT – It might sound surprising to American ears, but 2015 was the best year for Buick in the car make’s 112-year history.

Yes, that’s the same Buick still trying to overcome the American perception that it’s all stodgy sedans. Your grandfather’s Buick. Former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz a decade ago famously called Buick and Pontiac “damaged brands.” While Pontiac was killed off when GM emerged from bankruptcy, Buick was left to find its way. And it’s been a struggle.

In last two years, Buick has been flooding U.S. television airwaves with ads of people reacting with surprise that an attractive vehicle is, in fact, a Buick. “That’s a Buick?” And the GM division has been rolling out new models aimed at younger customers.

“The narrative hasn’t changed as fast as the brand has,” said Buick brand manager Rob Peterson at the North American International Auto Show last week.

Still, Buick managed to sell 1.2 million vehicles worldwide last year, a third consecutive sales record.

And that’s thanks to China.

Eighty percent of all Buicks are sold in China these days. Last year, that amounted to nearly 990,000 vehicles – 4-1/2 times as many sold in the United States.

In China, Buick is everything it wants

The tiny chip that could power big changes in how you shop

NEW YORK — Next time you’re at the mall, take a closer look at the paper price tag dangling from the clothes you take into the dressing room.

If you hold the tag up to a light, you might see a dark, salt-grain-sized speck in it. Or, if you run your thumb over the tag, you might feel an almost imperceptible bump.

This is a radio-frequency identification chip — better known as an RFID chip — and you can expect to find a great deal more of them in stores this year as retailers increasingly bet the technology can be a critical part of solving their most vexing problems.

This week at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, vendors here showed off some of the ways RFID is being used to make in-store shopping more experiential and to execute behind-the-scenes changes that might boost sales.

A demonstrator shows what happens when an RFID-enabled jacket is placed in front of a large screen. (Sarah Halzack/The Washington Post) A demonstrator shows what happens when an RFID-enabled jacket is placed in front of a large screen. (Sarah Halzack/The Washington Post)

Impinj, which shipped 3 billion of these chips last year, demonstrated how its technology is being used

Global stock slide spreads gloom to once high-flying tech industry

Global markets staged another wild ride Wednesday as stocks plunged and then whiplashed into a late recovery that fell short of halting a weeks-long losing streak.

The turbulent sell-off was ignited by familiar fears, including China’s weakening economy and oil prices that have plunged nearly 30 percent so far this year.

But the uncertainty has revealed fresh anxieties for one of the bright spots of the U.S. recovery: the technology sector, whose dependence on lofty valuations and risky investments appears headed for a reckoning some have thought was overdue.

Tech entrepreneurs who have relied on funding from deep-pocketed private investors are having trouble attracting the same interest now because of worries their companies have been overvalued amid a turn toward rockier markets. Larger firms such as Uber and Airbnb have sidestepped the markets altogether by avoiding initial public offerings.

Their reluctance is likely to trigger a wider pause, denying funds for the innovators that disrupt industries and create new markets. Many worry it will become more difficult for start-ups with promising but untested ideas to gain traction in the marketplace, forcing some to the sidelines.

The surprising psychology of shoppers and return policies

January is prime time for returns in the retail industry, the month where shoppers show up in droves to trade in an ill-fitting sweater from grandma or to unload the second and third “Frozen” dolls that showed up under the Christmas tree.

This post-Christmas ritual has always been costly for retailers, comprising a large share of the $284 billion in goods that were returned in 2014.  But now it is arguably becoming more urgent for the industry to think carefully about return policies, as analysts say the rise of online shopping is bringing with it a surge in returns. The return rate for the industry overall is about 8 percent, but analysts say that it is likely significantly higher than that online, since shoppers are purchasing goods without seeing them in person or trying them on.

Against that backdrop, researchers at University of Texas-Dallas sought to get a better handle on how return policies affect shopper behavior and, in turn, whether lenient policies such as offering a lengthy period for returns actually helps or hurts a retailer’s business.

Overall, a lenient return policy did indeed correlate with more returns. But, crucially, it was even more strongly correlated with an increase in purchases. In other words,

Main Street Morning: Self-driving strollers

Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

The Elections

  • One big reason to be less skeptical of Trump.
  • From Davos, Trump is seen as “unbelievable” and “embarrassing” but his candor “hit a vein.”
  • One man’s final request: don’t vote for Trump
  • Hillary Clinton knocks Bernie Sanders on his foreign policy experience.
  • Sanders pulls ahead of Clinton in Iowa, according to a new poll.

The Economy

  • Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region contracted for the fifth straight month in January.
  • The average U.S. rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 3.81 percent.
  • Regional bank executives call the 2016 market sell-off overdone.
  • Oil surges as signs of a U.S. output correction emerges.
  • George Soros says he expects a hard landing for China’s economy.

People

  • The Buffalo Bills hires the NFL’s first full-time woman assistant coach.

Management

  • American Express’ profit f0recast disappoints investors.
  • This is the best way to save a failing business.

Restaurants

  • Chipotle’s woes are reportedly leading to layoffs at their suppliers.
  • White Castle launches a food-“transparency” website to prove it’s the anti-Chipotle.

Retail

  • Some retailers are betting that virtual reality will make their customers buy more.
  • Amazon is offering refunds to customers who purchased hoverboards.

Sales

How driverless cars could kill the speeding ticket — and rob your city

One of the big benefits of driverless cars is that they aim to promote safety on the roads while reducing congestion at the same time. If cars are largely run by computers, talking to each other, they can travel closer together in a more coordinated fashion without fear of causing a fender-bender.

Those machines could obviously malfunction. But on the whole, driverless cars are known to behave more cautiously than their human operators. And by virtue of their, well, virtues, autonomous vehicles won’t know how to speed, run red lights, park illegally or make other traffic violations that would result in a ticket. And that could drive some city budgets into a deep hole.

Take the nation’s capital, which operates the most speeding and red-light cameras of any city in the country. In 2014, the District issued an average of 773 tickets a day from its speeding cameras alone — adding up to roughly $37.5 million worth of fines, according to the latest figures from AAA Mid-Atlantic. Since 2007, speed cameras have been a cash cow for the city’s police, resulting in nearly $357 million in revenue, AAA said.

Last year the city pulled in less money from parking tickets, partly due to new, smartphone-compatible parking meters that allow drivers to keep track of their status online. And driverless cars

How Starbucks rang up gangbusters holiday sales when others struggled

Retailer after retailer has announced in recent weeks that they saw tepid or downright disappointing sales during the crucial holiday season.

And then came Starbucks, dropping a blockbuster earnings report on Thursday that stands out as a clear bright spot in retail. The coffee giant announced that revenue soared 12 percent to a record $5.4 billion. Sales at its U.S. restaurants open more than a year were up 9 percent, and nearly half of that growth came from a surge in foot traffic.

The contrast suggests that Starbucks is outgunning its peers, at least for the moment, in tackling some of the problems that have befuddled the industry. One place where this is evident is in its digital strategy, which has centered heavily on incorporating mobile devices into the in-store experience.  The company’s app accounted for over 21 percent of transactions in the quarter.  At a time where shoppers have not widely embraced mobile payments, Starbucks appears to have built a digital ecosystem that customers have found especially useful.

It may be tempting to think that this doesn’t mean much for Starbucks’s bottom line, because you might presume that people are buying the same latte and croissant they always did, but just paying for it differently. But that overlooks some key, if not immediately obvious,

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