In theory, a class-action lawsuit allows the little guy to stand up to a big corporation and seek redress. Alone, the little guy wouldn’t have the means. Justice comes down to money, and class-action lawsuits add leverage. In theory. It’s a world-famous American product, infested with flaws. And it’s about to be imported by ... France!
Entries in Consumer (25)
Contributed by Ross Thomas. As the value of a Bitcoin soars and dives and soars in mega-percentages, and as perfectly sane people wonder what the heck it is and then suddenly jump on the bandwagon with both feet, Ross, a computer security researcher and software developer, pokes around in its ugly innards.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Despite late winter storms that blanketed the Mid-West and East Coast with snow, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the 2nd worst drought since the Great Depression will continue to lay waste to wheat and corn production. Compounding effects will slow the economy and cause food prices to rise.
Internet companies know practically everything about their users. And servers never forget. Advertisers, ID thieves, insurance companies, and others are trying to get this data. But “law enforcement” around the world can simply bully its way to it. Now Microsoft confessed: even your data and conversations on its encrypted services that you thought were secure aren’t because, upon request, it gives the crypto keys to governments around the world.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Desperate to halt its stock’s dismal slide since going public, Facebook has increasingly sought new ways to make more money and prove its worth. As the builder of the largest “Big Data” treasure trove in history, Facebook is selling marketers and shady characters veiled access to its users’ deepest secrets.
New vehicle sales have staged a phenomenal recovery from the financial crisis, when buyers went on strike. Sales below the replacement rate create a vacuum that wants to be filled. Pent-up demand. When it kicked in, sales jumped by over 10% annually. Exuberance took over the bludgeoned industry. But late February, something happened to that vacuum.
We’ve had an endless series of products whose ingredients have been cheapened in order to maintain the price. Consumers won’t be able to taste the difference, the theory goes. So, as the horse-meat lasagna scandal in Europe is spiraling beautifully out of control, we’re now getting hit where it hurts: Maker’s Mark is watering down its bourbon.
Despite optimism-mongering in the media, in certain quarters of Washington, and elsewhere, we’ve had indication after indication in the economic data that American workers have not benefited from whatever lousy progress has been made in nudging up GDP. But now we know from the horse’s mouth: they’re mired in a tough new reality that is getting worse.
Contributed by Chriss Street. With the average cost of attending college in America at $120,000, a family of four should expect their children’s college to cost more than a home. Yet, optimism about the value of education provided justification for students to borrow $42 billion from the US this year. And many of them will end up as student-loan debt slaves.
A sadly familiar theme in the US—the growing ranks of the working poor—was fleshed out today. But the report did something else: it added graphic details to the conundrum of US healthcare spending: while it ballooned to $2.7 trillion, 17.9% of GDP, or $8,680 per capita, households have lowered their share. So have businesses. What gives?
Americans under fifty are paying the price. We don’t know exactly why. Even the panel of experts that authored the massive report, "US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health," admits that it can’t entirely pinpoint the reasons. But we do know how Americans under fifty, particularly males, are paying the price: with their lives.
Now some new fodder for the gun-control debate that the horrid events in Connecticut suddenly stirred into a frenzy, though it had been snoozing through the daily drumbeat of murders in Oakland, CA, a few miles across the Bay from me, or in Richmond to the north, or really in any other city. The fodder is inconvenient, however. For both sides of the debate.
Shocked and appalled—that was the reaction to the shopping-season debacle in the US. It was triggered by MasterCard’s ugly report. But now there’s a new term to describe “consumer spending,” “consumer debt,” and ultimately “trade deficits” when they occur as a function of such uplifting concepts as “holiday season” and “Christmas” whose magic is boiled down to just one issue: how much did everyone spend?
Friday’s plunge in consumer sentiment was hastily ascribed to the Fiscal Cliff. Like Sandy, it's recruited to explain everything that goes wrong. But over the last few days, one monkey wrench after another has been thrown into the hope machinery, including the collapse of small-business hiring plans to the record low set during the catastrophic post-Lehman days.
Especially of CEOs who parachute into the executive office. Wall Street's knee-jerk reaction can be phenomenal. Citigroup’s massacre of 11,000 souls caused its stock to jump. But the same day, we learn that wages adjusted for inflation dropped 1.4% in the third quarter—a continuation of 12 years of declines that has hollowed out the middle class, pushed people into the lower classes, and devastated the poor.
The inexplicable American consumer, the strongest creature out there that no one has been able to subdue yet, has come to grips with a new reality, euphemistically called “New Normal,” though it isn’t normal by any means, but dismal. Feeling more upbeat, they nudged up the Consumer Confidence Index to a level not seen since February 2008—a level that caused people to tear their hair out at the time.
Anecdotal evidence has been coagulating into numbers, and these numbers are now beginning to weigh down corporate earnings calls. It appears the toughest creature out there, the one that no one has been able to subdue yet, the ever wily and inexplicable American consumer, is having second thoughts about prescription drugs. And is fighting back. A paradigm shift. Causing “unprecedented concerns” in the industry.
Contributed by Lee Adler, The Wall Street Examiner. Retail Sales rose by 1.1% in September (month to month) and 5.4% annually. Those are seasonally adjusted idealized estimates. Neither figure is adjusted for inflation. The median forecast of economists was for a gain of 0.7%. As usual, they had mostly extrapolated the prior month’s gain. And as usual, their forecast was wrong by a wide margin.
There has been anecdotal evidence. But now GE’s quandary confirms it: the toughest creature out there that no one has been able to subdue yet, the inexplicable American consumer, has apparently accomplished a miracle: putting the screws to runaway health-care costs that are taking over the economy and that are bankrupting the country. Motive? Profit.
The strongest and toughest creatures out there that no one has been able to subdue yet, the inexplicable American consumers, are digging in their heels though the entire power structure has been pushing them relentlessly to buy more and more with money they don’t have, and borrow against future income they might never make, just so that GDP can edge up for another desperate quarter. But it’s been tough.