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News Analysis for the Investor on October 17, 2013

 Can brokers expunge their record of customer complaints?  Check out how American taste buds are changing and Verizon's whopping profit.  And which police cars do you need to look out for? 

| BY Catherine McBreen

 Brokers allowed to scrub complaints from their records

Stockbrokers are being allowed to scrub some customer complaints from the public records, according to a study of more than 1600 arbitration cases.  The Wall Street Journal indicates that brokers asked to remove customer disputes from their records in 1625 arbitration cases filed from 2007 to 2011.  According to the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, arbitrators approved removal requests in more than 90 percent of the 629 cases settled. During the period, there were 17,635 cases filed overall.  The systematic polishing of the records raises concerns over how FINRA is overseeing brokers.  FINRA issued further guidance regarding expungement requests last week.

 

American taste buds change due to Hispanic influence

The Associated Press reports that American taste buds are changing due to the influence of the growing Hispanic population in the US.  Hispanics make up more than 25 percent of the US population and Hispanic foods and beverages were an $8 billion market last year and are predicted to increase to $17 billion by 2017.  Tortilla sales increased at a faster rate in grocery stores last year than potato chips – a 3.7 percent increase compared to a 2.2 percent increase over a 52 -week period.  Though potato chips continue to be the top-selling salted snack, tortilla chips are growing faster.  Last year it is estimated that Americans consumed 85 billion tortillas.  Keep in mind that pizza was originally an Italian food….and it’s now considered an American food.  Will this be the fate of tortillas and quesadillas?

 

Verizon’s profit improves 40 percent

Verizon Communications Inc.’s third quarter profit jumped 40 percent as the largest US phone carrier continued to build its base of wireless and FiOS customers.  The Wall Street Journal reports that last month Verizon purchased its 45 percent stake from Vodafone Group PLC, allowing Verizon to have full control of its joint venture.  To fund the deal, Verizon sold $49 billion bonds, making it the largest debt deal in history.  Verizon added 927,000 of the most profitable postpaid subscribers in the third quarter, down from 1.54 million a year ago.  It added 1.06 total subscribers during the quarter.  Revenue grew 4.4 percent to $30.28 billion.

 

Wisconsin adds sales tax to Amazon shopping cart

Reuters reports that Wisconsin will become the 14th US state to begin collecting sales tax on online purchases through Amazon.com.  The new tax will become effective on November 1st because the online retailer is opening a distribution center in Kenosha, WI.  Under the law, that means the state can require Amazon to begin collecting state sales tax.  In states where Amazon has no physical presence, the company does not generally collect the tax, giving it a pricing edge over local merchants.  The new 5 percent “Amazon tax” will add about $30 million a year to state revenue.  Fitch Ratings has estimated that states in which Amazon does not collect sales tax are losing out on $11 billion in revenue.

 

Ford has the fastest police car

Ford says that tests prove it has the fastest police car, according to USA Today.  The new turbocharged Ford Taurus, modified into its Police Interceptor sedan, proved faster than the Chevrolet Caprice V-8And Dodge Charger with a Hemi V-8 in tests conducted by Michigan State University.  Police units tell Ford that if they see the police in close pursuit, they are less likely to try to run, therefore, roads will be safer if the police are faster.  The market for police cars is up for grabs since Ford’s Crown Victoria, the former most popular police car, is now out of production.



About the Author


Catherine McBreen



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.