In a document released Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service says bitcoin is not legal tender. You can't use it to pay your taxes. But the IRS says virtual currencies like bitcoin will be taxed like property as opposed to currency. Plus, the Obama administration is planning legislation to overhaul the National Security Agency's collection and storage of phone records – which could now be kept with the phone companies. But as the burden then shifts to the telecom companies, what extra costs might they incur? And we continue our special collaboration with the New York Times on "Work in America." Today we look at the gig economy.
Russians actions are unacceptable, says President Obama, and if the situation escalates, we need to be prepared to impose a greater cost. But what is that cost, exactly, and if sanctions escalate – what will that eventually cost the US? Plus: The importance of reported talks between Apple and Comcast lies in what a partnership would deliver: a streaming service with cable TV’s high picture quality and streaming’s large selection and ease of use via apps. And: The Exxon Valdez was the perfect dramatic disaster to call attention to environmental risks, yet 25 years later it stands out principally as … the perfect dramatic illustration of continuing environmental risks.
Exxon will issue a report estimating the cost of climate change to its business, including a calculation of the carbon emissions its oil and gas operations give off. It’s the first big energy company to respond to shareholders’ concerns about environmental issues. Next: Caterpillar is the latest company to come under the scrutiny of the Levin committee looking at tax avoidance by multinationals. We look at some of the contortions companies make to avoid paying tax. Finally: UC Irvine announced yesterday that President Obama will deliver its commencement address in June, in front of 8,000 diverse graduates. We explore the economic value of a speech from the President.
Air BnB is going public. The company has been a raging success, but there are risks. Regulators are clamping down on it, the taxman is looking askance, and it’s going up against some entrenched and very powerful lobbies (like the entire hotel business, hello!). Next: President Obama appears on the Ellen show today to plug Obamacare. It appears the President has ditched the bully pulpit and is personally delivering his message to a "connected-but-distracted" generation. Swatting away criticism that it's "un-presidential", his advisors say it's an important demographic to reach, and he's willing to take an unconventional route to reach them. Finally: A look at the sanctions put in play by Russia and the U.S.
Qunatitative easing is on its way out, interest rates are still basically zero. The only thing the Fed has left is words -- specifically, a thing called “Forward Guidance”. Also: News media are going to extreme lengths to cover the mystery of Flight 370 – or at least, get a slice of the audience pie. Extreme lengths – like doing stories like this one. Finally: The U.S.’s current account deficit is at its lowest point in 14 years.
The U.S. is inching toward the 6.5 percent unemployment rate the Fed has set as its target, but as it considers continuing its stimulus program, it has to decide whether this 6.5 percent rate is the 6.5 percent rate it wanted. Also: Sanctions are on the agenda in the Crimean penninsula. But American companies doing business in Russia may be reluctant to see any further deterioration of relations between Washington and Moscow. Finally: Walmart is getting into the very lucrative used games business -- a space many other big retailerse have failed to crack.