810,000 federal workers, give or take a few, were furloughed this week as Shutdown 2013 began. Those employees had to report to work to "prepare" for a shutdown, in many cases simply reporting, signing a form acknowledging the furlough, and leaving again. The "average" American lives 16 miles from wherever they work, driving 32 miles round trip in a car that averages 24.6 miles per gallon. This trip uses 1.3 gallons of gas, at an average price of $3.39 per gallon, which comes out to $4.41 per trip. Going on national averages for fuel economy, commuting distance, and gasoline, these 810,000 furloughed federal employees collectively shelled out at least $3,572,100 on gas for a short, short workday.
$150 billion is the stock buyback that Carl Icahn would like to see from Apple Inc. Apple might like for Carl Icahn to go away now, but he's not going to. Icahn met with Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook over dinner earlier this week to discuss the buyback, but the two decided to table the discussion for the next three weeks. Apple has the cash on hand for such a buyback, but around $100 billion of that is held offshore where it's taxed at 2%. If Apple repatriates that money to fund the buyback, it will have to pay the U.S. 35% rate. Carl Icahn suggested that Apple borrow the buyback money at a very low interest rate.
14 amendments down into the U.S. Constitution, in the single most-litigated part of the document, readers will find language to the effect of "the validity of the public debt, authorized by law... shall not be questioned." This language could provide the president with the authority to direct the Treasury Department to simply ignore the debt limit and make payments on the debt. We're sure that would go over without a hitch! The 14th Amendment has been the subject of more than 84 Supreme Court cases since 1868.
$1.1 billion was the price tag for Monsanto's acquisition of Climate Corporation. The sale represents a fascinating picture of Big Ag merging with Big Data. Climate Corporation uses thinking machines to analyze weather patterns on very large and very small scales, which yields hyper-accurate forecasts that can be used to develop agricultural and risk-management strategies. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the medicines we take, Big Data will be one of the most important factors determining our future.