TIME Marijuana

Colorado Approves Credit Union for Pot Stores

The credit union could open in January even as it waits to be granted insurance by federal regulators

America’s rapidly-expanding marijuana industry faces a major quandary: large, national banks are afraid to do business with cannabis businesses for fear of running afoul of strict federal regulations.

That could change with the creation of the first financial institution dedicated solely to serving the cannabis industry. This week, the Colorado Division of Financial Services issued a charter to The Fourth Corner Credit Union, which could be doing business and serving the local cannabis community as soon as January, a spokeswoman for the state’s regulatory agencies confirmed.

The dearth of reliable banking opportunities has turned the marijuana “green rush” into a mostly all-cash affair as business owners are unable to store their pot proceeds in a checking account. Fortune wrote about how banking restrictions have helped give rise to a number of ancillary businesses serving the cannabis industry by offering cash management and security services.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called the charter issued to Fourth Corner, the first credit-union charter granted by the state in almost a decade, “the end of the line” for the industry’s banking problem, The Denver Post reported.

Of course, Fourth Corner still must seek insurance from federal regulators at the National Credit Union Administration while the U.S. Federal Reserve will also have to offer its blessing. The credit union plans to serve any legal marijuana businesses in Colorado, as well as any members of non-profits that support legalized marijuana.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME stocks

Another Record-Breaking Week for U.S. Stock Markets

Dow Climbs Above 17,800 For First Time As Stocks Rise
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 21, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

It was the fifth-straight week of gains for the U.S. market, reversing a big dip earlier in the year

The U.S. stock market closed out its fifth-straight week of gains with new highs Friday, buoyed by positive economic news from China and Europe.

The People’s Bank of China announced a surprising interest rate cut on Friday — the bank’s first in two years and one that sent international markets higher. Meanwhile, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, further boosted global investors’ confidence by saying the central bank is prepared to step up efforts to give the struggling eurozone economy a much-needed shot in the arm.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 91 points, or 0.5%, to finish at a new record close of 17,810. The blue-chip index, which also set a new intraday high by flirting with the 17,900-point mark, hit a record close two out of five days this week after recording new all-time high finishes three times last week.

The S&P 500 also posted another record close Friday by rising almost 11 points, or 0.5%, to 2,064. It was the closely-watched index’s third record finish of the week after posting three new records last week, as well.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite was up slightly, gaining 11 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 4,713. The tech-heavy index continues to climb to its highest levels since 2000.

One of Friday’s best-performing stocks was auction house Sotheby’s, which jumped nearly 7% following news of its CEO’s departure after a long battle with activist investors.

For the most part, it was a week of moderate gains for the U.S. market. But it did mark the fifth-straight week of positive performance coming on the heels of the best four-week stretch since 2011. Earlier this week, the markets improved on news that Japan’s prime minister would delay tax hikes for 18 months in the hopes of stimulating that country’s sluggish economy.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 were both up by about 1% on the week, while the Nasdaq gained just 0.5% over the past five days.

Each of the major indices has rebounded sharply after a series of market-wide sell-offs in early October nearly erased all of the year’s gains as investors showed their concerns over the global economy and the possibility of a sooner-than-expected interest rate hike in the U.S.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Amazon Wants to Book Your Next Hotel

The Amazon logo is seen on a podium duri
The Amazon logo is seen on a podium during a press conference in New York, September 28, 2011. EMMANUEL DUNAND—AFP/Getty Images

Amazon could potentially combine hotel booking information with product offerings

A new feature is reportedly coming to Amazon: hotel booking.

The online retailer, hardware maker, publisher and video distributor is adding a service called Amazon Travel to its litany of businesses, according to a report from travel industry news site Skift.

Amazon Travel will feature a curated selection of hotels within a few hours’ drive from New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. The hotels will load their room types, availability and pricing information onto Amazon and pay the company a 15% commission, Skift reports. Hoteliers would receive their payments for the room from Amazon, and could negotiate a lower commission.

One advantage for Amazon is that it could combine information about a traveler’s hotel plans with other product offerings, depending on the trip.

Skift reports that the service will likely go live January 1.

[Skift]

TIME Companies

European Parliament Wants to Break Up Google

Signage is displayed outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Oct. 13, 2010.
Signage is displayed outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Oct. 13, 2010. Bloomberg/Getty Images

European Parliament reportedly set to call for a break-up of the tech giant’s search engine from some of its other commercial businesses

Officials want the tech giant to unbundle its search engine from some of its other commercial business, according to a report.

Concerned over Google’s growing influence, the European Parliament is reportedly set to call for a break-up of the tech giant’s search engine from some of its other commercial businesses, according to the Financial Times.

Politicians are pushing the European Commission to limit Google’s reach either by passing new legislation or through its antitrust investigation into the company, which the EU recently reopened. A draft of a parliament motion that FT viewed argues that “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” could be one appropriate path to curbing the Internet company’s dominance.

The expected recommendation, which FT says is backed by the parliament’s Socialist and European People’s Party political groups, would represent the most extreme action proposed to date by European regulators concerned over how much control American companies have over the Internet.

A vote on the recommendation is expected early next week, FT reports.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME

See Where Uber Faces the Biggest Competition

Itching to ditch the ride-sharing app? Your alternatives are limited but growing

For those crying foul this week over Uber’s violation of user privacy and alleged sexism, there’s a growing list of alternatives – that is, if you live in a major U.S. city.

Since its founding in 2008, Uber, the dominant ride-sharing service, has spread to 122 cities of the at least 147 U.S. cities with taxi alternatives provided by ride-sharing companies. Uber faces no major competitor in 57 of those cities.

But Uber’s three major competitors – Lyft, Curb and Sidecar – are catching up. By coverage, Lyft appears to be Uber’s chief rival, with drivers in roughly half as many cities. In three cities, Lyft faces no major rival while Curb operates in 13 cities without a major competitor. Seven cities are now home to all four competitors: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Click on the company labels to show cities with that company.

 

Methodology

Cities are taken from Sidecar, Uber, Lyft and Curb websites, and manually edited where different names were used for the same geographic area.

This post was updated on Nov 21 with new cities provided by Lyft.

TIME Parenting

What Bill Gates’ Kids Do with their Allowance

How do you teach insanely wealthy kids how to manage money?

The rich are different from you and I, but they still want to give their kids an allowance. So what do the world’s richest man’s kids do with their money? Melinda Gates came to TIME’s offices to talk about her new focus on women and children and especially on contraceptives, but she spilled some secrets about how she tries to get her kids to be purposeful with their money.

First of all, she tries to be true to her values, to articulate them and live them out. Then, they do a lot of volunteering together, at “whatever tugs at their heartstrings” says Gates. And of course, they’ve traveled with her. “They have that connection I think to the developing world,” she says. “They see the difference a flock of chicks makes in a family’s life. It’s huge.”

Read the 10 Questions with Melinda Gates here

Gates has always made a point of getting into the streets and poorer neighborhoods when she travels for meetings and conferences. And sometimes she takes her kids. It’s there, she says, that she meets mothers who tell her that their biggest struggle is having so many children. Although Gates was raised Catholic, she is heading up an initiative to get family planning information, contraceptives and services to 120 million more women by the year 2020. That includes new technology, better delivery system and a lot of education, including for men.

She’s similarly rigorous about her home life. Her kids save a third of their allowance and designate a charity they’d like to give it to. (They can also list donations to charities on their Christmas wish list.) As further incentive, their parents double whatever money they’ve saved. Which means they may be the only children in the world to get a matching grant from the Gates Foundation.

MONEY interest rates

China Cuts Interest Rates, Sending Stock, Commodity Markets Higher

A man rides his electric bicycle passing the People's Bank of China (PBoC).
A man rides his electric bicycle passing the People's Bank of China (PBoC). Zhang Peng—LightRocket via Getty Images

Beijing moves to support an economy growing at its slowest rate in five years

China’s central bank cut its official interest rates for the first time in two years Friday, in a surprise move that sent international stock and commodity markets sharply higher.

The action by the People’s Bank of China, which comes in response to a string of disappointing economic data and increasing signs of tension in local money markets, is the authorities’ strongest show of support in months.

The economy is currently growing at its slowest rate since 2009, and while Beijing has tried to appear relaxed about that, surveys are now showing output stagnating and jobs being shed across the key manufacturing sector.

The PBoC’s action also adds to the trend of central banks across the world easing monetary policy to fight off a growing threat of deflation–a trend that goes in the opposite direction to the U.S., where the Federal Reserve is preparing to tighten policy as the economic recovery gains traction after six years of emergency measures.

The PBoC cut its one-year deposit rate by 0.25 percentage points to 2.75% and the one-year lending rate by 0.40 percentage points to 5.6%.

It timed its announcement to come after the close of financial markets in China, but European stock markets surged on the news, as did prices for commodities such as crude oil. The benchmark contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose by $1.50 a barrel, or 2.5%, to its highest level in two weeks, while in Europe, the German DAX index soared 2% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 1.0%.

European markets were also buoyed by a strongly-worded speech by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi promising aggressive action to ensure the Eurozone doesn’t fall into deflation.

Official interest rates don’t have quite the same function in China’s economy as they do in western ones, due to their interplay with other tools, such as caps on deposit rates and statutory reserve requirements. And the market for money is in any case effectively sealed off from the rest of the world by China’s capital controls. As such, they may not have the same kind of stimulating effect that a similar move by, for example, the Federal Reserve (in the days before the 2008 crisis).

Interestingly, the PBoC also relaxed its control of the amount that banks can offer for deposits. They can now offer 1.2 times the benchmark rate, rather than 1.1 times. These range from 0.35% to 4% depending on maturity. The PBoC enforces a strict cap of 75% on loan-to-deposit ratios in the banking system.

Taken together, the measures look designed to support liquidity into a banking system that is facing challenges on a number of fronts. The sector is seeing a sharp rise in bad loans, especially to real estate developers and construction companies, which is hitting revenue. In addition, banks are also looking to raise capital themselves and amass cash to service clients’ demands for other stock offerings that are due next week in China.

Earlier Friday, the PBoC had felt the need to issue a statement via its account on the Chinese Twitter-equivalent Weibo reassuring market participants that liquidity was “ample”. Benchmark one-week interbank rates had risen by an alarming 0.2o percentage point to 3.48% earlier, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

MONEY Leisure

4 New Ways Movie Theaters Are Filling Seats and Upselling Patrons

People relax in all powered recliner seats at AMC Movie Theater in Braintree.
People relax in all powered recliner seats at an AMC Movie Theater. Jonathan Wiggs—Boston Globe via Getty Images

The next time you go to a movie theater, you may be coaxed into spending a little extra money—perhaps for a beer, a toy your kid is begging for, or the right to watch the film you just saw over and over.

Even with the blizzard of ticket sales for Frozen starting the year, 2014 has been less than stellar at the box office, with a summer of few blockbusters and overall sales that are down 4% compared to last year. In previous years, theaters and movie studios have resorted to raising admission prices (often using IMAX or 3D screenings as a justification) as a way to offset declining ticket sales.

However, fewer 3D films are being released lately—at least partly because theatergoers have come to see the technology as a gimmick not worth paying extra for in an otherwise mediocre movie—so theaters and movie studios have had to become more creative in their efforts to fill seats and upsell patrons. Here are a few of the strategies that have popped up recently:

Unlimited Admission Ticket
AMC Theatres and Paramount Pictures are experimenting right now with a special unlimited admission for Christopher Nolan’s three-hour space epic Interstellar that’ll get customers to turn over an extra $15. Like it sounds, the unlimited admission ticket allows filmgoers to see the movie as many times as they like—which could be quite a few times, considering how confusing some have found it to be. Unlimited tickets are on sale for $19.99 to $34.99, depending on location, or customers can pay $14.99 to upgrade a one-time admission into an unlimited one.

Combo Concessions
To boost revenues, theater concessions stands have increasingly been offering combo packages that generally include popcorn, a drink in a collectible cup, and often some kind of toy or figurine related to the movie such as How to Train Your Dragon 2 or Transformers: Age of Extinction. The Hollywood Reporter noted these combos cost theaters about $1.50 apiece, and they’re sold to customers for as much as $7.95. As one executive involved in the creation and licensing of such products explained, the natural reaction children have when seeing such combos is to whine until a parent gives in and buys one: “The kid sees another kid with this toy and says, ‘Hey, I want that, too.’” And the popularity of these offers isn’t limited to children, as one theater food service manager said: “We didn’t think we would see 35-year-old guys with collectible cups with little toys on them, but they love them.”

Booze, Food, Recliners… and Wind
To attract more customers and simultaneously squeeze more money out of them at the same time, theaters have been adding or expanding amenities and special features so that going to the movies is much more of an “experience” than sitting at home watching Netflix. Regal Cinemas has been adding luxury recliners to theaters, and plans to have them in as many as 350 locations by 2015. AMC’s Dine-in Theatres program allows patrons at select locations to grab beer and wine, as well as lunch, dinner, or some snacks while taking in a film, sometimes from the comfort of a recliner. In June, the country’s first 4D theater opened in Los Angeles, with artificial wind, fog, scents, and sensor-equipped seats adding another dimension to 3D films.

Gamer Competitions
In October, three Cinemark theaters boasted “multiple sold-out auditoriums” for special screenings that took place in the middle of the night and charged a premium over the usual movie admission. Most curiously, the screening that drew these crowds into the movie theaters wasn’t a movie at all, but a video game competition, the Riot Games League of Legends Championships, which were being held in South Korea and live-streamed at theaters in Texas, Illinois, and Washington.

TIME Technology & Media

A TV Network Should Buy Aereo. Here’s Why.

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone 4S on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

It would help them compete against Netflix and HBO Go

Aereo, an ambitious startup that aimed to stream live broadcast television to subscribers for a small monthly fee, filed for bankruptcy Friday, months after a devastating loss at the Supreme Court. But it doesn’t have to end this way.

Aereo worked by giving each of its subscribers access to a tiny antenna that picked up broadcast television signals, which were then stored in a cloud server before being beamed over the Internet to users’ laptops or mobile devices, either almost live or well after-the-fact via DVR technology. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service, even though broadcasters like NBC and Fox give away their content for free to anyone with an antenna in range of their transmitters, making most of their profits from advertising.

But advertising isn’t the broadcasters’ only revenue stream. Cable companies like Time Warner Cable have for years been legally required to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content to cable subscribers. What sparked the Aereo case is that Aereo didn’t pay those fees, which make up an increasingly large slice of the broadcasters’ revenues. So broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, sued Aereo on copyright grounds. The case ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, which in June sided against Aereo. Aereo then tried a few legal hail-marys to try saving its business, but as prime Aereo backer Barry Diller admitted over the summer, the game was over once the Court’s gavel was struck.

What I have trouble moving past is that Aereo wasn’t really charging for content, as everything you could watch on the service was free anyway. It was charging for convenience — You could watch Aereo on a laptop or iPhone, and it gave customers access to a cloud-based DVR to store their favorite shows. It also made up for the fact that, here in building-packed New York City at least, the free, over-the-air broadcasts are often difficult to watch with a regular TV aerial. Most of the people I know who used Aereo here did so because they couldn’t get reliable signals from the broadcasters. In this sense, Aereo addressed a technical failure, too. With those factors combined, Aereo was certainly worth eight bucks a month.

The broadcast networks used the courts to pummel Aereo into submission, suing a potential industry disruptor out of existence. But instead of walking away smiling, those broadcasters should realize Aereo only foreshadowed a massive industry shakeup that will change everything about television. As more people cut the cord and switch to on-demand services like Netflix and HBO Go (with the latter soon to be available without a cable subscription), cable television will slowly die out — and take those lucrative retransmission fees with them as it goes. CBS, at least, sees the writing on the door: It’s launching an innovative subscription-based online service, from which it’ll likely make money off ads, too. More broadcasters should realize that cable TV is the past, not the future. And what better, bolder move to make than buying Aereo?

TIME Companies

Google Just Took its First Step Back Into China

The Google logo is reflected in windows
The Google logo is reflected in windows of the company's China head office as the Chinese national flag flies in the wind in Beijing on March 23, 2010. AFP/Getty Images

Chinese developers can now sell their apps as exports in Google's app store

Google is trying to woo mobile developers in China.

The search giant has announced that Chinese app developers will now be able to sell apps to Google Play users in more than 130 other countries. It’s one of Google’s first attempts to engage with the Chinese marketplace since leaving the country in 2010 in following conflicts with the government over national censorship policies.

The Google Play Store is severely restricted in China, so app makers in the country will be selling their wares as exports. It’s no surprise that Google is having second thoughts on leaving the country behind: China has more than 600 million Internet users, and that figure is expected to reach 800 million next year.

This olive branch to developers may be the first step in a more ambitious strategy. Google is reportedly looking to partner with a Chinese phone manufacturer or wireless carrier to launch a full-featured version of the Play store in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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