For-profit colleges: ITT Tech shuts down
ITT Technical Institutes, one of the nation’s largest forprofit-college chains, abruptly closed its doors this week, said Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in The Washington Post. The decision came after an “unprecedented move” by the U.S. Department of Education to bar the college chain from enrolling new students who rely on millions of dollars in federal loans and grants to finance their tuition. ITT Tech, which has more than 35,000 students at 137 campuses, has been dogged in recent years by allegations of “fraud, deceptive marketing, and steering students into predatory loans.” The nearly 50-year-old career school is currently under investigation by more than a dozen state attorneys general and two federal agencies.
The “once high-flying” for-profitcollege industry has shriveled in recent years, said Melissa Korn in The Wall Street Journal. Enrollments at the largest chains have plummeted by more than half since 2011, amid a government crackdown on the industry’s aggressive recruiting practices. But this shake-up “is leaving taxpayers with a potentially enormous tab.” The government is now obligated to forgive up to $500 million in federal loans held by current and former ITT Tech students. In 2015, the education chain received about 80 percent of its cash from students receiving some form of federal aid.
Economy: August jobs report underwhelms
A modest jobs report has “clouded the prospects for an interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve later this month,” said Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times. Employers added 151,000 jobs in August, lower than the 180,000 analysts were expecting “and down sharply from revised gains of 271,000 jobs in June and 275,000 in July.” In August, Fed Chair Janet Yellen appeared to hint at a September rate increase, citing the job market’s “continued solid performance.” Now most experts say they don’t expect a modest rate hike until December, “at the earliest.”
Manufacturing: General Electric expands 3-D printing
General Electric is doubling down on 3-D printing, said Ted Mann and Eyk Henning in The Wall Street Journal. The industrial giant announced this week that it’s spending $1.4 billion to acquire Sweden’s Arcam AB and Germany’s SLM Solutions Group, “two of the world’s leading producers of machines used for 3-D metal printing.” GE, which already uses 3-D printing to manufacture parts for jet engines, says the technology “can produce complex metal parts at lower weights and cheaper engineering costs than traditional forged or cast parts.”
Tech: Apple debuts new iPhone 7s
The new iPhone will be more or less the same as the old iPhone, said Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post. Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus this week at a packed event in San Francisco, offering modest internal upgrades like longer battery life and increased storage space. The biggest physical change “may be an unwelcome one”: Apple is ditching the traditional headphone jack. Users instead will be encouraged to switch over to new $159 Apple wireless headphones, or buy an adapter that plugs into the phone’s “lightning port,” currently used for battery charging.
Autos: Six-year sales boom loses steam
The auto industry’s post-recession boom may be coming to an end, said Bill Vlasic in The New York Times. Automakers last week reported a “bigger than expected” decline in August car sales, which fell 4 percent compared with a year earlier. For the past six years, monthly sales have “routinely surpassed those of the previous years.” But analysts say August’s disappointing numbers could signal that the market has peaked, with pent-up demand from consumers who had put off replacing their vehicles during the recession having run its course. The industry is now on pace to sell 17 million vehicles this year, lagging behind last year’s record of 17.4 million.
Getting inside traders’ heads
“Emotional surveillance” is coming to Wall Street, said Hugh Son in Bloomberg Business-week. No strangers to harvesting insights from customer data, big banks are experimenting with technology to analyze the behavior of their own employees. Startup Humanyze uses a sensor-laden badge to collect data on speech, activity, and stress patterns, hoping to identify the secrets of high-performing teams. Another, Behavox, analyzes traders’ phone calls, looking for trouble signs like an angry outburst. Eventually, wristwatch sensors measuring vital signs like pulse and perspiration “could warn traders to step away from their desks when their emotions run wild,” or alert their bosses. “The technology exists, as does the motivation— one bad trade can cost $100 million,” said Andrew Lo, an MIT finance professor who studies emotions and trading. “But you’re talking about a significant privacy intrusion.”