Here’s What’s Going On In The World Of Business and Finance…
Hold On To Your Pin Numbers…
Target (TGT) confirmed Friday that debit card PIN data was part of its recent massive security breach, revising its earlier statement that the codes were not part of the hacking. In a statement released on Friday, the company said, “We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure. The PIN information was fully encrypted, remained encrypted within our system, and remained encrypted when it was removed from our systems.” Target also said that the PIN encryption can only be decrypted by the independent payment processor which holds the decryptions key. Target said that the decryption key was not part of the security breach. As a precaution, any Target customers who shopped during the security breach should contact their banks to request a replacement card and to change their PIN.
I’m Feeling Disconnected…
Several years ago, there used to be something called the “Wealth Effect.” Basically, when the stock market is higher, people’s 401Ks are better, then they feel like the economy is better and that they have more money. A new poll released on Friday may suggest that times they are changing. A new CNN/ORC poll showed that people feel pessimistic when it comes to the economy improving. Nearly 70% of those surveyed said the economy was generally in poor shape, and only 32% rated it as good. Two-thirds of the respondents also said that most of the economic news they have heard recently was predominantly bad news. Just half of the responders expect the economy to remain poor a year from now. So here we know:
• The stock market is surging with the Dow Jones hitting its 50th record high for the year on Thursday, and the NASDAQ is up nearly 40% since January 2013;
• Unemployment is at a five year low;
• Gas prices have dropped;
• GDP (Gross Domestic Product- a gauge of a country’s economic health) for Q3 was over 4% growth;
• The housing sector, which helped drag the economy into recession, is rebounding;
• The Fed thought the economy was doing well enough to start pulling back on its economic stimulus starting in January.
In full disclosure, the facts above are impressive and cheery; however, behind these figures are countless long-term unemployed and under employed. Many people couldn’t find work and have decided to completely drop out of the workforce all together. The survey shocked the people who still thought the wealth effect was still in existence while others didn’t find it too surprising as the stock market has been Fed-drunk for most of the year.
KJ’s Take: There is not a right or a wrong answer, or even opinion in this case. I see the survey as one more reason why the rally has been primarily fueled by institutional money instead of retail (a.k.a. average Joe’s) money. People across all walks of life were burned badly by the recession and a lot are still hurting. I personally think that the economy is getting stronger, but I am not foolish enough to think that there are still not hundreds of thousands of Americans out there who still struggle with their own economies. We, as a country, will get there, but it’s going to take time, patience and us helping each other however we can.
In The Markets:
Asian markets closed higher on Monday. A quiet trading day had investors and markets looking ahead to a slew of economic data from the region starting mid-week.
European share closed out the week positive. With no real economic news to sway investors’ minds the giddiness of another record high for the Dow Jones keep them buying.
US markets closed mostly flat on Friday as investors took a breather after another week of weekly gains. DJIA: -1.22 16478.66 NASDAQ: -10.59 4156.59 S&P 500: -0.60 1841.42
In Dinner or Drink:
Baked Pasta Primavera
• 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing
• 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 1 large carrot, cut into 3/4-inch matchsticks
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1 cup small cherry tomatoes
• 3/4 lb. gemelli pasta, cooked according to the package instructions
• 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
• 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
• 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 Tbs. cream cheese
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and two-thirds of the garlic and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the yellow squash, zucchini and carrot, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook just until they start to soften but still hold their shape, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the cooked pasta.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining garlic and the lemon zest and sauté just until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the cream cheese and whisk until the cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the cream sauce into the bowl with the pasta and the vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the bread crumbs.
Bake until the pasta is warmed through and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Spoon onto plates and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).
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“A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step.” ~Lao Tzu