Category Archives: Blog

Google and Microsoft will include a kill switch in the their smartphone.

The technology allows for a stolen Google (GOOG) Android and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) Windows Phone-powered Nokia (NOK) device to be disabled, making it useless to the thief  With Google and Microsoft on board, kill switches will be available for 97% of the smartphone market, said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who made the announcement.

Newer versions of Apple’s iOS currently include a kill switch called Activation Lock and tracking software that requires a password before the iPhone or iPad is reset. In May, Samsung launched a similar system it calls Reactivation Lock.

Schneiderman issued a report citing data that showed the number of smartphone thefts were on the rise, but that thefts of devices with kill switches were decreasing.

Although the technology is spreading, some older phones can’t or likely won’t be updated. “With the majority of phones still without a kill switch, smartphone-related thefts and violence remain a tragic reality,” Schneiderman’s office said. “Criminals now target devices not likely to be equipped with a kill switch, increasing the importance of immediately implementing the life-saving technology across all manufacturers.”

Cybersecurity: How safe are you?

P.F. Chang’s acknowledged that a “security compromise” of customers’ credit and debit card data occurred at some of its restaurants.

“We have concluded that data has been compromised,” said CEO Rick Federico, in a prepared statement. The admission comes just days after cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs claimed that thousands of credit card and debit card numbers that appeared to have been stolen from P.F. Chang’s restaurants earlier this year had gone up for sale.

Federico said that P.F. Chang’s learned of the “security compromise” on June 10. Related: Simple tips to avoid getting hacked

He said an investigation with the U.S. Secret Service and “a team of third-party forensics experts” is ongoing. Meanwhile, Federico said the company has moved to a manual credit card imprinting system for all of its U.S. restaurants.

Rich investors worry about stock market

A comprehensive study of wealthy families by private bank U.S. Trust found that only 40% of high net worth investors feel “bullishly optimistic” about the market. At the same time, 10% said they felt downright pessimistic and 12% described themselves as fearful of losing money

Jim Quinlan, Chief Market Strategist for U.S. Trust, says a lot of rich people continue to worry about regulation, Washington gridlock, and the lingering effects of the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented stimulus program, which has propped up stocks and the housing market but hasn’t done much for the rest of the economy.

U.K. Warns Scottish Nationalists Not to Threaten Business

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said nationalists shouldn’t try to stop businesses publicly opposing independence ahead of the Sept. 18 referendum on whether to stay in the U.K.

Speaking to reporters in London yesterday, Carmichael cited comments by Gavin Hewitt, the former chief executive officer of the Scotch Whisky Association, who told the Herald newspaper June 13 he had received “intimidating calls” from senior members of the pro-independence Scottish National Party.

“If that’s true, and we hear these stories ourselves, that doesn’t help the debate,” said Carmichael, the minister responsible for Scotland in the U.K. government. “This debate has got to include an awful lot more than just politicians. People need to hear the voice of business in particular, because business voices are voices that are trusted.”

Carmichael also referred to the online response to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s 1 million-pound ($1.7 million) donation to the anti-independence campaign for which he said she was “quite frankly, monstered.”

Two business leaders have commented on independence in the past month. Ivan Menezes, CEO of drinks-maker Diageo Plc (DGE), said on May 30 that it was “extremely important” Scotland remains in the European Union. The same day, Ian Cheshire, CEO of retail group Kingfisher Plc, said a vote for independence would lead the company to “pause” investment as a result of uncertainties about Scotland’s currency and EU membership.

The SNP didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Argentina’s Debt Appeal Dies at U.S. Supreme Court

You don’t have to be an Argentina fan to worry about the precedent set on June 16, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the nation’s appeal in a case brought by hedge funds that hold Argentine government debt. The high court let stand a lower court ruling that blew a hole in the country’s attempt to shrink its debt burden following a 2001 default on $95 billion in bonds. Although the U.S. courts’ actions apply only to this case, they send a message about the empowerment of creditors that could make it harder for other countries to stretch out or cut debt payments in hard times.

Argentina, as a defiant, serial defaulter that offered creditors the worst terms since World War II, isn’t the ideal poster child for debt relief. But France, Brazil, and Mexico submitted friend of the court briefs on its behalf because of the principle involved—that U.S. courts should not be able to force sovereign nations to do the bidding of bondholders. The International Monetary Fund planned to submit a brief but didn’t last year because of opposition from the U.S.

“I’m reeling a little bit,” says Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network. “It’s clearly the worst possible outcome.” The coalition of religious and other organizations says it has helped coordinate efforts to win $130 billion in debt relief for governments of the world’s poorest countries.

“It is a pretty remarkable precedent for the U.S. to allow a lower court judge to push around a sovereign nation,” says Karen Hooper, director of analysis for Latin America at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence company. Some countries could choose to issue debt in countries that are more favorable to debtors, she says. In 2012, Greece, whose bonds were issued under Greek and English rather than New York law, reduced its debt by about €100 billion ($136 billion) in a restructuring.

Holders of about 92 percent of the Argentine bonds accepted restructuring deals in 2005 and 2010 for about 30¢ on the dollar. The Supreme Court’s inaction is a win for investors, led by billionaire Paul Singer, who refused. Federal courts have ruled that Argentina can’t make payments on the restructured bonds unless it pays holdouts in full. A federal district court in Manhattan issued an injunction that could put banks in contempt of court if they pass along Argentina’s payments on the restructured bonds without a deal in place to pay holdouts. Many new bonds avoid the holdout problem by including clauses requiring all investors to accept the same terms.