BrokerCheck fails to report broker violations. US jobless claims fall. Staples closes stores. Target CIO resigns. Snow cover at third highest level for this time of year. Consumers plan to spend less when eating out.
BrokerCheck deficient in regulating stockbrokers
In an independent study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, the records of more than 1600 stockbrokers failed to disclose bankruptcy filings, criminal charges or other red flags, in violation of regulations, without the regulators being aware of the lapses. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, requires brokers and the firms that employ them to report a wide range of issues, including bankruptcies and criminal charges brokers have faced. This is meant to allow investors to look up brokers on a Finra website called “BrokerCheck” and quickly find out their professional history. Apparently, many of the brokers fail to report these issues. The study also found that brokers with unreported bankruptcies were more likely to have 3 or more red flags on their records. Maybe investors should check out Best Financial Advisors on MillionaireCorner to find out what real customers actually think of their brokers.
US jobless claims fall but workers are less productive
The number of Americans filing for unemployment fell more than expected last week and hit a three month low, according to CNBC. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level since November. Economists had predicted jobless benefits to be at 338,000. Productivity rose at a 1.8 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 3.2 percent pace. For all of 2013, productivity increased 0.5 percent rather than the projected 0.6 percent, the smallest gain since 1993 and compared to an increase of 1.5 percent in 2012.
Staples to close 225 stores
Staples will close 225 stores due to falling fourth quarter revenue, as reported by USA Today. Staples indicates that nearly half of its sales are online and closing the stores will allow them to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. For the fourth quarter sales fell 10.6 percent to $5.9 billion.
Target’s CIO departs
Target’s Chief Information Officer, Beth Jacob, is departing highlighting the increased pressure facing executives who are charged with protecting corporate computer systems from hackers. The Associated Press reports that Jacob served as the company’s CIO since 2008 and the resignation was her decision. For numerous companies, the Target breach was a pivotal event for many companies and will place greater stress and importance on the role of the CIO in the future. Target is in the midst of overhauling its information and compliance divisions and plans to look outside the company for a chief information security officer and a chief compliance officer, two newly created positions.
North American snow cover at 3rd highest level in history
As of Tuesday, North America is covered by the third-highest amount of snow this late in the season, since records began in 1966. According to NOAA’s US National Ice Center, only 1969 and 1978 had more snow cover at this point. The data includes both the US and Canada, according to USA Today. In the US, over 50 percent of the nation is snow-covered. The Great Lake ice extent is also very high with 91 percent of the Great Lakes being ice-covered, the second-highest percentage on record.
Consumers plan to spend less eating out
Diners expect to spend 9.1 percent less per restaurant meal in 2014 and only about one in 10 customers expect to spend more, according to a survey by AlixPartners. According to USA Today, when the same survey was conducted in 2013 consumers said they would spend 5 percent less per restaurant meal. The largest cutbacks are expected to be in the casual dining sector. Casual dining company Darden reported this week that it projects sales will be down 5.4 percent in its Olive Garden restaurants and 8.8 percent at Red Lobster. Three in ten consumers expect to spend less dining out this year and 59 percent expect to spend the same. In past years, however, consumer intent has not always reflected their actual habits. The National Restaurant Association projects that sales will grow 3.6 percent this year.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.