The bottom line
U.S. inflation has hit its highest rate in more than six years, erasing any wage gains for the average American worker. Consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in June from a year earlier, about the same rate as wages. The price of gas has increased 24 percent over the past year, rent for a primary residence by 3.6 percent, and meals at restaurants by 2.8 percent.
The Washington Post
The S&P 500 is up 2.6 percent this year, but technology stocks made up almost all of that bounce. Most of the gains came from Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Without those stocks, the S&P would be down 0.7 percent.
Bank of America’s second-quarter profits jumped 33 percent from a year earlier, thanks to rising interest rates, higher consumer borrowing, and the Republican tax cuts. Quarterly profits soared to $6.8 billion, even though revenue fell 1 percent.
Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in modern history. The Amazon founder and CEO’s net worth reached $150 billion this week, $55 billion more than the world’s second-richest man, Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder previously held the historical wealth record. His worth briefly topped $100 billion in 1999, about $149 billion in today’s dollars.
Personal loans, as measured by outstanding balances, soared 18 percent to a record $120 billion in the first quarter of this year. Online borrowing has helped drive that growth. Fintech firms made only 1 percent of personal loans in 2010. Now they make 36 percent.
America’s last Blockbuster
And then there was one, said Alex Horton in The Washington Post. Blockbuster was once a ubiquitous presence in America: At the video-rental company’s peak in 2004, it had 9,000 outlets across the U.S. But Netflix, RedBox, and “the cold march of digital progress” soon ate into the company’s profits, and stores began shuttering. Earlier this month, only three Blockbusters remained: two in Alaska and one in Bend, Ore. The Alaskan locations shuttered last week, leaving Bend as the lone outpost. As word of this plucky survivor spread, tourists began arriving to take selfies next to the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow sign, and ask, “How are you still here?” says manager Sandi Harding. Customer service and new titles keep people coming back, she says, even if the store is something of a time capsule. Its IBM computers run on the same floppy disks from the 1990s. “No one,” Harding says, “can hack these computers.”