J.C. Penny Closes Down Three North Dakota Department Stores

Retail giant, J.C. Penny has decided to close down three of its North Dakota stores within this year as part of its effort to lower its costs and boost profitability. The North Dakota stores are located in Dickinson, Wahpeton, and Jamestown.

J.C. Penny is also closing down its department stores at the Philadelphia Mills Mall and the King of Prussia Mall. Its store at Willow Grove Park will also be closing. In South California, J.C. Penney’s department store at the Village at Orange will also be closing. North California stores in Bishop, Richmond, and Lodi are also set to close.

J.C Penny spokesman Joey Thomas said, “It is essential to adjust our store portfolio and invest in those locations that offer the best expression of the J.C. Penny brand and can function as a seamless extension of the omnichannel experience.”

These closures which represent 14% of the total store portfolio of J.C. Penny, are part of the 138 stores that J.C. Penny is closing nationally. A major reason for the closures is the competition brought forth by online retail. Online shopping has led to the demise of many department stores in malls.

There is a silver lining to these closures as these stores to be closed less than 5% of its yearly sales. They will also save $200 million yearly on payroll expenses and lease or occupancy agreements.

Moody’s vice president Christina Boni said in an October 2016 report, “Department stores have felt the sting of the shift to off-price retail and e-commerce competitors, which is reflected in declining mall traffic. Increased markdowns to clear merchandise experienced by major players dampens consumers’ willingness to pay full price and underscores the sector’s biggest Achilles’ heel: Its slow supply chain.”

Most of the layoffs will happen in June and will lead to 5,000 people becoming unemployed. J.C. Penny said that the liquidation of the affected department stores should start on April 17.
Another reason for the decline of department stores such as J.C. Penny is because off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx are getting more popular. Nordstrom Rack, which focuses on value pricing is also getting a slice of the pie in the market share of department stores.

Other department stores that have downsized includes Sears and Macy’s.

Last month, J.C. Penny offered retirement packages to around 6,000 of their employees.

J.C. Penny’s performance and profits declined significantly under the leadership of Ron Johnson in 2012 and 2013.

The current CEO, Marvin Ellison, led J.C. Penny to a $1 million profit performance in 2016. One of the areas that he is looking to enter is the home services market which is valued at $300 billion. Ellison is looking to add more kitchen and laundry appliances in its stores. It is also seeking to partner with Trane so that it can provide heating and air conditioners.

Ellison said, “We believe the future winners in retail will be the companies that can create a frictionless interaction between stores and e-commerce while leveraging physical locations to minimize the growing operational costs of delivery.”
Marvin Ellison was previously with HomeDepot.

Uber President Jeff Jones Resigns

After six months as Uber’s President, Jeff Jones has had enough and called it quits. Jones is among the top executives of Uber to have recently resigned. Last week, director Raffi Krikorian also resigned. Krikorian was in charge of Uber’s self-driving department.

A few days before Jones resigned, CEO Travis Kalanick announced it was looking for a chief operating officer to lead the company’s next chapter.

Earlier this March, Ed Baker and Charlie Miller left the company. Baker was VP of product and growth while Miller was a security researcher. In February, Amit Singhal was forced to resign from a sexual harassment case. Singhal was in charge of Engineering.

Jones took over board member Ryan Graves who was previously CEO of Uber until he gave up the role in 2010 to Kalanick. Both Kalanick and Jones met last year at a Vancouver TED conference. Kalanick said that in that meeting, “Within minutes we were debating how Uber could improve its reputation.”

Jeff Jones said, “I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term. It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.”

Jones added, “There are thousands of amazing people at the company, and I truly wish everyone well.”

CEO Travis Kalanick said in an email to the company’s employees, “In 6 months, he (Jeff Jones) made an important impact on the company- from his focus on being driver obsessed to delivering our first brand reputation study, which will help set our course in the coming months and year.”

Jones became part of Uber last August and had the task of running the majority of Uber’s global operations as well as taking the lead in marketing and customer service. His other main task was to rebuild Uber’s damaged image. Jones was previous head of marketing in Target Corp and was the chief architect in the modernization of Target’s brand.

There was a viral blog post by a former Uber employee that highlighted Uber as a workplace where sexual harassment was rampant. CEO Travis Kalanick was also involved in a controversy where he publicly rebuked an Uber driver. Kalanick was thus forced to make a public apology. Early this year, over 200,000 Uber users deleted the app as part of the #DeleteUber operation.

Uber is also facing a lawsuit from the self-driving Department of Alphabet Inc. Uber is accused of stealing the designs of an advanced car technology called Lidar. Uber was also involved early this month in a secret project called “Greyball.” This technology allows evasion from authorities where Uber is banned.

Jones departure represents a big loss for Uber as many Uber employees had great respect for him and viewed him as an experienced leader that could help Uber with its state of internal turmoil.
Uber is currently valued at $68 billion.

Trump Administration American Firsts

There are cornerstones to highlight the start of every presidential administration governance. They are initial steps to realize the targeted act, “Making America Great Again. ” To show proof of the resolute and inspiring stewardship of President Donald Trump he is committed to undertaking the following concerns of great interest to the nation and to the American people as well:

American First Foreign Policy

Understanding the spirit of promoting the national interest of the nation, including its people, this administration is committed to a foreign policy which is providing an efficient formula in the campaign for a stable, more peaceful country with common ground, thus avoiding conflicts.

It is worthy to note that this administration has set his eyes in the pursuit of national interest through formulating a foreign policy which peace through strength as its point of reference.

This requires competent institution and governance. This simply shows that a good leader is not measured by his promises unfulfilled. He can never be distracted in his determination to arouse initiative, including enthusiasm to realize the vision set for the entire nation and its citizenry.

Various initiatives in helping bring peace in the US as follows:

Defeating SIS and other identified radical Islamic terrorist group.

Presidential Memorandum Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
TRUMP: Defeating ISIS ‘will be our highest priority.’
Trump Executive Memorandum on Plan to Defeat Islamic State

Destroying public enemies of the USA by pursuing aggressive joint and coalition military operations.

Trump Administration Releases “Briefing Issues” on Foreign Policy and Security
Donald Trump admin makes defeating Islamic terrorism top foreign policy goal

Working with international partners of the country to stop providing funds for terrorists

Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States
Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security

Next, we will rebuild the American military. Our Navy has shrunk from more than 500 ships in 1991 to 275 in 2016. Our Air Force is roughly one third smaller than in 1991. President Trump is committed to reversing this trend, because he knows that our military dominance must be unquestioned, according to the America First Foreign Policy.

Finally, in pursuing a foreign policy based on American interests, we will embrace diplomacy. The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies, as clearly emphasized in the same American first.

An America First Energy Plan

Recognizing the valuable importance of energy as a staple of the nation’s economy, making it a part of the people survival, the Trump Administration is committed to institutionalizing energy policies that are necessary for helping lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximizing the use of American resources, freeing them from dependence on foreign oil.

TRUMP’S ENERGY PLAN: ‘We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves.’
Trump’s “America First” Energy Plan Leaves America Behind

To what extent do these American first foreign policy and America first energy plan contribute to the restoration of peace and security and bring faster economic growth and social progress to the USA? Leave your comments below, if you have valuable thoughts on the issues.

Japanese Households’ Inflation Expectations Remains Weak

Shinzo Abe

A survey by Japan’s central bank showed inflation expectations by households in the country remained weak for the June-September quarter, dipping to its lowest level in almost four years.

The share of Japanese households that expects a rise in prices one year from now was 65.1 percent in September, according to the report of a quarterly survey by the Bank of Japan released on Thursday. The ratio of the households dropped from the 72.4 percent reported in June to the lowest level since December 2012.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been on a drive to return the economy of Japan to a path of growth for years. The BOJ’s target of 2 percent inflation is a part of efforts to drive expansion, but this has remained out of reach so far.

The households’ inflation expectations surged following the commencement of the BOJ’s large-scale bond-buying program back in April 2013, with this aimed at driving growth. They reached their peak five months after the adoption of the program by the Japanese central bank.

However, the decline that set in in subsequent months suggested the expansionary monetary measure may have had just temporary effect. Falling household spending and consumer prices have further made the apex bank’s inflation target harder to attain.

This has led many economic experts to write off the efficacy of spending by the government to drive growth.

The latest survey also showed that fewer households expect inflation to rise five years from now – 80.1 percent, compared to 83.6 percent in June. Percentage of the households which said they felt prices increased from a year ago also fell to 64.5 percent, a decline from 73.1 percent seen in June and the lowest since June 2013.

However, another index in the survey which gauges the view of households on the state of the economy showed an improvement of 4.2 points to minus 23.1, from minus 27.3 in June.

The households’ confidence index is arrived at by subtracting the ratio of households that believe the economy has worsened from those who think it has improved. A negative figure indicates a greater number of households feel conditions of the economy have become worse.

Another BOJ quarterly survey released last week showed business confidence among largest manufacturers in Japan was at its weakest since the government began its spend-for-growth program, which has been christened Abenomics.

In the survey of more than 10,000 Japanese companies, the reading of business confidence among large manufacturers remained unchanged at six. But that for big non-manufacturing companies slumped to 18 from 19.

The closely-monitored tankan report showed slight improvement in confidence among medium and small-scale manufacturers, although slightly more of those in the latter group felt economic conditions have deteriorated.

Meanwhile, the BOJ has revealed that it would shift emphasis from interest rates to 10-year government bonds, according to The Business Times. Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the central bank would purchase necessary amount of benchmark instruments to ensure their yield is kept steady at nearly zero. The bank will also reduce its longer-date bond holdings.

Chip Cards Are Gaining Influence in the Financial Marketplace


Nearly 50% of credit cards, or about 600 million cards, hold computer chips. That information was provided by the Electronic Transaction Association. In addition, information provided by MasterCard and Visa shows that about 33% of all merchants are using readers to accept the chip cards. Chip card technology has been used since the 1990s. However, the complexity and cost of chip card transitions postponed the cards’ adoption in the US.

Since the rollout last October, the switch from the traditional swipe type of credit card to the more secure chip card method has not been totally smooth. According to Julie Conroy, who works as a research director for the Aite Group, the transition has been a challenge. She said, “We’ve certainly had our bumps, which most of us expected.”

The move to the chip cards was propelled, in part, by the retailer, Target. In 2013, Target indicated that the data from 40 million of their credit and debit cards was stolen during the holidays. In addition, an extra 70 million individuals had their personal details, such as email addresses, compromised.

According to a report by NerdWallet, shoppers have positive feelings about using the chip charge cards although the cards require a longer wait time per transaction. The switch to the smart credit card technology is indeed safer. The chip in the card creates a code that is unique for each transaction – one that cannot be easily duplicated by thieves like the magnetic stripes can.

By the end of 2016, it is estimated that 50% of all merchants will have migrated to using chip technology. Remaining merchants will give in to using chip cards in 2017. MasterCard stated that 88% of its credit cards currently contain chips and that two million retailers were accepting the cards. Visa reports that it currently has 363 million chip cards in circulation, all accepted at 1.5 million retail locations.

Payday Loan Stores Located in City’s Poorest Postal Codes

poor city

Calgary has been vigilant over the past year in tackling the growing issue of payday loans. City Hall recently passed legislation that would rein in the payday loan industry, which would double what the provincial government has done since the beginning of the year.

Despite policies meant to combat the rise of payday loans, a new study has found that Calgary’s payday loan companies are situated in the city’s poorest postal code.

Metro newspaper looked at the city’s data from Statistics Canada and discovered that roughly one-third of payday loan businesses operate in Calgary’s low-income neighborhoods. With 50 payday loan businesses open in Calgary, 32 percent of them had stores in the T2A region, which is the city’s poorest postal code with a median family income of more than $61,000.

The growing number of payday loan stores in these kinds of areas is due to the lax in laws surrounding ordinance legislation. Moreover, financial institutions and credit unions have been gradually exiting these neighborhoods over the past couple of years.

Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean is not surprised by this revelation. Government officials, consumer advocacy groups, and anti-poverty activists have been warning about the cluster of payday loan companies in low-income parts of the city.

“It’s pretty easy to see. I am not surprised, but there was also an abdication of the banking and financial sector,” the provincial minister told the newspaper. She added that this is evidence of the industry’s predatory nature.

Tony Irwin, president of the Canadian Payday Loan Association (CPLA), doesn’t believe in the idea that payday loan stores are predatory. Instead, he just thinks that payday loan companies are setting up locations in high-traffic areas. Irwin added that these businesses want to be competitive and see that there is a growing need for payday loans, especially in areas where residents do not have access to conventional forms of credit.

“Maybe it is because banks and credit unions have left and now it’s under-served,” Irwin said. “We strongly disagree with that (predatory) characterization — this is a legal, licensed industry just like any others.”

Alison Karim-McSwiney, executive director of the International Avenue BRZ, told the newspaper that even with new ordinance regulations in place, the streets with these stores would have to deal with them until they move out.

“They were allowed to proliferate and go where they want,” she said. “They know who their market is: people who are desperate for that short-term loan. It is, in fact, predatory.”

Jurisdictions all over Canada have been putting forward legislation that restricts the creation of payday loan stores by prohibiting them from opening up in clusters. Right now, Calgary has a 400-meter rule in place that affects only new payday loan companies.

Critics of payday loans often make the case that these alternative financial products send the most vulnerable into perpetual debt that is hard to escape from. Proponents of payday loans retort by noting that the impecunious do not have access to conventional means of credit and often have to resort to payday loans to pay the rent, pay the light bill or pay for car repairs.

Medical Malpractice Impacts Over 100,000 People Each Year in the US

Medical Syringes Vial And Wad Of Dollar Bills On The Rough Wooden Background. Medical Mistake Or Drug Abuse Concept
Medical Syringes Vial And Wad Of Dollar Bills On The Rough Wooden Background. Medical Mistake Or Drug Abuse Concept

While committing one’s self to healing the body is considered a noble undertaking, mistakes in Western medicine are currently a rampant problem. A news report in July 2016 called the situation a crisis. Although medical professionals are human and make mistakes, the high frequency of errors—many of which are preventable—have led to bankruptcy filings for some patients.

Using the Wrong Processes

Medical errors are normally defined as a failure to complete a planned action as intended or to use the wrong process to achieve a specific outcome. These types of lapses in the medical field impact 44,000 to almost 100,000 people each year.

Those numbers are more than the yearly deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. Researchers found that mistakes that are preventable cost consumers billions of dollars annually. Part of the expense involves taking care of the errors medically and the patients loss of income and reduction in household productivity.

Common Medical Errors

According to 2008 statistics, just over $17 billion was paid for medical mistakes, with just around $5 billion paid per year in hospital readmissions that could have been avoided. Research identified over 1.5 million avoidable mistakes and found the median cost for a mistake was just over $11,300. Almost 70% of the entire medical expenses for measurable medical mistakes was related to ten common errors. These errors included:

  • Pressure ulcers
  • Postoperative infections
  • Hemorrhage, which leads to complications
  • Post-laminectomy syndrome
  • Accidental puncture
  • Mechanical problem with a non-cardiac device
  • Mechanical problem with a cardiac device
  • Hematoma, leading to complications
  • Abdominal hernia (with no mention of obstruction)
  • Unspecified and adverse effect of a drug

5 Main Malpractice Areas

The National Practitioner Data Bank, or NPDB says that the main five areas of malpractice include:

  • Treatment
  • Diagnosis
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics
  • Medication

Also, during a ten-year period, from 2004 to 2014, over 182,095 malpractice claims were registered against doctors and 270,300 of the claim were filed against nurses. Dental professionals, therapeutic practitioners, and assistants and technicians followed in the number of claims. What’s more no federal law exists that requires medical facilities to report medical mistakes. Although 27 states do require the reporting, the resulting data is not regularly compiled and is rife with inaccurate information.