Here’s a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you’ll just want to know.
o. Here’s a crazy thought: What if the Federal Reserve — America’s central bank, and the source of a major chunk of the government’s economic stimulus in recent years — required a bank bailout of its own? Some critics say it could happen, the result of rising interest rates sapping the value of the $3.5 trillion worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities the Fed now holds. If interest rates rise too fast, the Fed could lose some serious coin when it sells those assets. But Fed Chair Ben Bernanke says, don’t fret, America. First of all, interest rates won’t rise that rapidly; and second, even if it loses a little cash on the far side of the deal, the Fed has sent $320 billion in profit straight back to the taxpayers since 2008. So, its stimulus package has been a net profit to you, me and everyone.
o. But there is a real crisis facing the world that the Fed can’t save us from: A global wine shortage. Thanks to rising consumption — especially in the U.S. and China — and a falling number of acres “under vine” (i.e.: producing grapes), drinkers last year consumed over 300 million more cases of wine than vintners produced. In the not too distant future, there simply may not be enough supply to meet demand.
o. To hear the titans of Wall Street tell it, deregulating their industry would be the best way to create more jobs and make America prosperous again. Not so, says new research from a pair of University of Maryland economists: In fact, the less we regulate the financial sector, the more money it sucks out of the pockets of ordinary working Americans. Their paper provides convincing mathematical evidence that leaving big banks unchecked hurts workers in the “real economy” of goods and services.
o. Apple (AAPL) has every reason to want its faithful fans to snap up new iPhone 5Ss and 5Cs. But is it possible that Apple is subtly sabotaging older iPhones to induce customers to upgrade? A New York Times reporter whose “sluggish” iPhone 4 was also running out of battery a lot faster than it once had did a bit of digging, and here’s what he learned: The new iOS 7 software is making older models run like molasses, and draining their batteries more quickly.
o. And finally, a story from the “love and money” files. A Colorado man claims he converted his $500,000 life savings into gold, and then threw it all away — literally, into a dumpster — to avoid letting his wife of 25 years get any of it in their pending divorce. (We at DailyFinance would probably have suggested arbitration instead.)
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