Last week: In the world of sports, the U.S. Men’s National Team qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup this week with a 2-0 win over Mexico. This will be the seventh-consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance for the U.S. MNT.
Looking ahead: The new Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C were announced this past week with much anticipation, and little post-event enthusiasm. Wall Street’s immediate response was not incredibly positive, so it will be interesting to see how the “new” iPhones are received by consumers when they start shipping next week.
Last week: The return of college football! With the passing of Labor Day, fall slowly inches its way closer and one of the best things about this time of year is the return of college football. And while this was really not the “biggest” or “most important” story of the week, it has made many people, me included, very happy.
Looking ahead: The City of Fort Lauderdale unveiled its proposed five-year strategic plan this past week. The plan, titled “Press Play Fort Lauderdale – Our City, Our Strategic Plan 2018” is a road map for the next five years, and an impressive step forward for Fort Lauderdale as we move to achieve our shared community vision. The plan is broken down into 12 goals, 38 objectives, 192 strategic initiatives, and 157 key performance indicators for every area of the City and how it operates. The plan, now up for discussion and comments, will be before the City Commission for adoption later this month.
Last week: After three years of on-again, off-again deal talks, BATS Global Markets and Direct Edge have agreed to merge. This deal, expected to close in the first half of 2014, will create the second-largest U.S. stock exchange, leapfrogging over the NASDAQ and landing right behind the New York Stock Exchange.
Looking ahead: Here we go again with the forthcoming debate on raising the federal debt ceiling, in what seems like a never-ending cycle of our elected officials playing a game of high-stakes “chicken” to see who will blink first. Unfortunately the collateral damage of these political antics are a distant thought to many of those who have the power to actually make the decisions. According to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the U.S. will hit its borrowing limit by mid-October; hopefully Congress and the President can agree to resolve this well before then to avoid the economic volatility their posturing will bring.
Last week: By a vote of 4-0, the city commission voted to approve the Marina Lofts Fort Lauderdale project this week. As stated last week, this gorgeous project, designed by a world-famous architect, will help transform what is currently an eyesore along the Riverwalk into a vibrant and thriving part of Fort Lauderdale. Marina Lofts will generate jobs, density in the downtown core, and create millions in tax revenues. With this vote, we took a huge step in moving our City forward to realizing our shared vision for the future. #FastForwardFortLauderdale.
Next week: The callous and shocking murder of Christopher Lane, a 23-year old college baseball player from Australia, has once again drawn international attention to the United States for gun violence. The spotlight will be on Duncan, Oklahoma where three teens have been arrested and charged with this heinous crime.
Last week: Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement this week that the Justice Department will no longer pursue mandatory minimum drug sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders was welcome news. This common-sense approach, which is effective immediately, will eliminate the “one-size-fits-all” punishment for those convicted of federal and state crimes.
Looking ahead: The Marina Lofts project is up for final City Commission approval this week. This gorgeous project, designed by a world-famous architect, will help transform what is currently an eyesore along the Riverwalk into a vibrant and thriving part of Fort Lauderdale. Marina Lofts will generate jobs, density in the downtown core, and create millions in tax revenues. I hope all of our City Commissioners vote to support this project.
Last week: Barack Obama's decision to cancel a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin for harboring fugitive Edward Snowden was announced this week with mixed reviews. This is yet another low in the diplomacy between the two countries which seem to have more to disagree about, than to agree about, in recent years. I hope this action does not jeopardize other global issues and conflicts that seem to matter far more to the United States than they do Russia.
Looking ahead: Jeff Bezos, the Founder/CEO of Amazon.com, Inc. agreed to buy the Washington Post this week for $250 million. Pundits are speculating as to what this will mean for the paper, and the entire industry. However one topic that has not received enough attention is the fact that the Washington Post is the “hometown” newspaper to our nation’s capital, and is the paper of choice for many policymakers, elected officials, and others who operate “Inside the Beltway.” Could Mr. Bezos be more interested in helping shape the conversation on important policy matters than running a newspaper? Only time will tell.
Last week: "Who am I to judge?" With these five simple words, Pope Francis, and the entire Catholic Church took a huge step forward this week.
I am Catholic, and was raised and married in the Church, and always found it discomforting how the Church and Clergy would treat so many. The bible clearly states repeatedly to "judge not, lest you be judged" (see Matthew 7:1-5, James 4:12 or Luke 6:37, among many), yet the words and actions of so many did not reflect this.
I hope and pray Pope Francis continues to lead us down this path of humility and love of all mankind.
Looking ahead: The White House has narrowed down its candidates to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to three names: Current Fed Vice-Chair Janet Yellen, former Fed Vice-Chair Donald Kohn, and long-time Washington, D.C., economist Larry Summers.
As of now, Mr. Summers, a long-time advisor to President Obama, appears to be the leading candidate. Worth noting is if Ms. Yellen is selected, she would be the first woman ever appointed as Chair of the Fed.
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 flirting with all-time highs, the markets are going to be watching this selection, and the process leading up to it, very carefully.
Last week: On July 18th, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in federal court. While this had been telegraphed, it is still quite significant because the bankruptcy filing makes Detroit the largest city in U.S. history to do so. This should be closely followed as the looming battles in federal court can potentially set national precedents on issues ranging from whether bondholders get repaid when municipalities run out of money to whether public pensions are protected in these types of bankruptcies. I am sure financially troubled cities and counties from around the country will be watching closely for lessons that might apply to them.
Looking forward: A recent New York Times article titled “Prices Fuel Outrage in Brazil, Home Of The $30 Cheese Pizza” discussed high inflation, political instability and how some economists are predicting a recession in the near term for the world’s sixth-largest economy. The cost of everyday items is becoming impossibly expensive for many poor and middle-class Brazilians. And last month’s riots — incited by a proposed 9-cent bus fare hike — are still fresh on the minds of the international community. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup coming up and the 2016 Olympics not far behind, the entire world will be watching how the next several weeks play out in Brazil.