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Video: 5 Takeaways From Walter Scott Murder By Michael Slager PDF Print E-mail

Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed last week by North Charleston police officer Michael Thomas Slager. Scott had fled on foot after his Mercedes was stopped for having a "courtesy" tail light out. The video is pretty graphic and hard to take, and amounts to what appears to be a "snuff film."  

Thieves Steal "Shock Exchange" From San Jose Public Library PDF Print E-mail

My book, Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great And The Pain Ahead is years before its time. It explained inequality in America , long before Piketty's Capital did. It is also the only book featuring Judge Jed Rakoff and his crusade against Wall Street wrongdoing amid the financial crisis. In my humble opinion, it's the best book on Wall Street in the past 20 years and as far as economics is concerned it may be the most important book since the Great Depression. That opinion has just been confirmed by the San Jose Public Library. Sources tell me that Shock Exchange is so hot, thieves have stolen it from the library.

Molycorp, Featured On "60 Minutes", Was First Featured In "Shock Exchange" PDF Print E-mail

Image60 Minutes did an excellent segment on the Molycorp, Inc. - the country's major rare earth miner. The segment was long-overdue given our dependence on rare earth minerals for national defense and the manufacture of high-tech goods. After three years of operating losses and cash burn, Molycorp's going concern value is in question. What 60 Minutes left out of its segment is that the book, Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted The Great Recession And the Pain Ahead was the first to profile Molycorp, its importance to the U.S. and how China may have tipped its hand during its 2010 rare earth embargo:

Three Things Judge Rakoff Knows That The DOJ May Not PDF Print E-mail

ImageJudge Jed Rakoff, who sits on the Federal District Court in Manhattan, has been called everything from “iconoclastic,” to “populist firebrand,” to “perhaps the most important judge not on the Supreme Court.” One adjective observers failed to add was “cagey,” defined by Webster as, “not willing to say everything that you know about something.” In that vein, there are things Judge Rakoff knows about Wall Street that the Justice Department may not.

Judge Rakoff, after all, has been extremely busy since the financial crisis. He has presided over the two most high profile insider trading cases – Goldman Sachs director, Rajat Gupta, and Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Group – the “Tiger Woods” of insider trading. In 2011, Judge Rakoff sent ripples throughout the financial community when he rejected a $285 million fraud settlement between the SEC and Citigroup that included boilerplate language that Citigroup “neither admits to nor denies wrongdoing.” In November 2013, he made headlines again when he wrote an opinion piece for the New York Review of Books where he looked askance on the dearth of white collar prosecutions during the financial crisis.

Here are 3 things Judge Rakoff knows that the Justice Department does not > (i) people, not companies, commit fraud, (ii) shareholders deserve protection from Wall St. wrongdoing, and (iii) Wall St. is incorrigible.

Best Jerome Kersey Story Ever PDF Print E-mail

ImageI was shocked to hear that Jerome Kersey died yesterday - 52 years young. In the early to mid-'80s I was a high school basketball player in Farmville, VA - the same town where Longwood University is located and Jerome Kersey played college ball. When our boy (Kersey) made the Trailblazers we felt like we had all made it. Here is my funniest Kersey story - an excerpt from my book, Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead .

Kersey enrolled there (Longwood University) as a 6’3”, 175-pound 18-year-old and left a 6’7”, 225-pound grown man. His battles with Charles Oakley of Division II powerhouse, Virginia Union, are still a part of Farmville lore. Oftentimes the two had to be separated during heated exchanges. Whenever Longwood played a home game during Kersey’s tenure, the entire town literally shut down. My friends and I would recap the exploits of Kersey and other Longwood greats like Joe Remar and Ron Orr. We would recant how if Oakley had tried to step to Kersey, we would have rushed the court and jumped him … yeah right.

Is "Shock Exchange" Too Dangerous For PDF Print E-mail

I love book lists. They are great ways to discover books you would not have heard about otherwise. I particularly enjoyed 11 Twenty-First Century Books Our Kids Will Be Taught In Schools from It included the usual suspects - books from Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, George Saunders, and Khaled Hosseini, Yann Martel, and Alice Munro. It was a great, "safe" list, which probably explains why Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted The Great Recession And The Pain Ahead did not make the cut.  Shock Exchange examines the stock market and U.S. economy through the eyes of the kids of the New York Shock Exchange (, a financial literacy program Ralph Baker started in 2006 to share my passion for basketball and investing with my 11 year old son and other boys his age.

Library Journal called the book "An innovative look into the Great Recession" and "an intriguing work." Ken Townsend, Elliott Professor of Economics at Hampden-Sydney College exclaimed, "Great Book!"

Qualcomm: South Korea Opens Pandora's Box PDF Print E-mail
Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) recent settlement of its anti-monopoly investigation by China's National Development and Reform Commission ("NDRC") has created other headaches for the company. Qualcomm paid a fine of $975 million and agreed to charge royalty rates of 5% and 3.5% for 3G and 4G devices, respectively. According to the Financial Times, the royalty base in which the licenses are charged declined from 100% of the net sale price to 65%. In effect, Qualcomm's royalty fees received a 35% haircut. The NDRC agreement opens up a Pandora's box whereby other Qualcomm customers may demand similar royalty rates. Read more:
Molycorp Triples On Higher Production Volume PDF Print E-mail

In late November Molycorp (NYSE:MCP) broke the buck after announcing a $38 million debt-for-equity swap with certain bondholders. The stock has closed below $1 per share ever since. On January 30th I posed the question,"Will Molycorp Be Delisted?": 


I believe an NYSE delisting is imminent for MCP. Such an event would cause investors to lose interest in MCP and it would be disastrous for the stock. Investors should avoid MCP.

Molycorp had just been given a delisting notice by the NYSE after MCP traded below $1 per share for 30 consecutive days. The company had been losing money and burning cash for several consecutive quarters; rumors from DA Davidson that bottlenecks at Molycorp's Mountain Pass facility were hurting rare earth production seemed to make matters worse. On February 2nd Molycorp seemed to assuage investors with an innocuous press release stating Q4 rare earth production was up Y/Y and nearly double the amount recorded in Q3 2014. Read more:

Two Metrics That Could Make Or Break NetFlix PDF Print E-mail

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is set to report quarterly earnings after-hours today. Analysts are expecting revenue of $1.48 billion and earnings per share ("EPS") of $0.45. Expectations imply revenue growth of 5% sequentially. The company's Q3 2014 revenue of $1.41 billion was in line with expectations; however, Netflix only added about 3.0 million subscribers during the quarter which was less than the 3.7 million the market was expecting.

  • The company had an 8% contribution margin in Q3 2014 versus 5% in the year earlier period.
  • Netflix's Q3 2014 cost break down as a percentage of revenue was as follows: cost of sales (68%), marketing (10%), technology and development (8%), and general and administrative (6%),
  • However, Q3 contribution margin was lower than the 10% achieved in Q2 2014, which disappointed the market. The lower contribution was due to higher marketing and general and administrative expenses related to the build out of its international operations. Read more:


Baker Hughes To Lay Off 7,000 Employees As Oil Prices Free Fall PDF Print E-mail
Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) delivered stellar earnings Tuesday morning, despite the sharp decline in oil prices in Q4 2014. Revenue was a record $6.64 billion, and earnings per share ("eps") was $1.52. Analysts were expecting revenue of $6.41 billion and eps of $1.07. Revenue was up 13% Y/Y and 6% sequentially. The following chart outlines the company's historical financial results:
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