Talking Points

Talking Points

Burger King has Whopper take on Net neutrality

Burger King’s new ad has become a sensation, with more than a million views on YouTube and it’s lighting up Twitter.
Matt Rourke/Associated Press/File 2016
Burger King’s new ad has become a sensation, with more than a million views on YouTube and it’s lighting up Twitter.


Burger King takes on Net neutrality in new Whopper ad

Burger King is delivering its own take on a regulatory showdown over Internet speeds that has enflamed the United States, using a flame-grilled Whopper. The company’s new ad has become a sensation, with more than a million views on YouTube and it’s lighting up Twitter. In the ad, customers, whom the restaurant says are real, are told they will be charged different prices for a Whopper, based on speed, or MBPS (making burgers per second). Prices range from $5 to $26. And the customers grow furious in an art-imitating-life display that mocks new Internet rules that have led to wide-scale protests, even death threats. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Sales of new homes fall in December

Americans cut back their purchases of new homes in December as harsh winter weather dampened demand. The Commerce Department said Thursday that new-home sales skidded 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000. It was the biggest drop since August 2016. November sales were revised lower — to 689,000 from an originally reported 733,000, but were still the strongest since October 2007. December sales had been expected to fall after strong November figures, but the drop was steeper than economists had forecast. The median price of a new US home hit a record $335,400 in December, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Apple to take on Amazon’s digital book market again

Apple is ready to take on in the digital book market again, years after regulators forced the iPhone maker to back down from an earlier effort to challenge the e-commerce giant’s lead. Apple is working on a redesigned version of its iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads and has hired an executive from Amazon to help. The new app, due to be released in coming months, will include a simpler interface that better highlights books currently being read and a redesigned digital bookstore that looks more like the new App Store launched last year, according to people familiar with its development. The revamped app in testing includes a new section called “Reading Now” and a dedicated tab for audio books, the people said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Home Depot latest company to give bonuses in wake of tax overhaul


Home Depot is paying out one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 in cash to its hourly workers in the United States, citing the recent tax overhaul. The home improvement retailer follows others doing the same, including Disney, Starbucks, and Walmart. Home Depot Inc. said Thursday that the one-time bonus will be distributed in the current quarter. Existing bonuses will be paid out as well. The Atlanta company anticipates an approximately $150 million fourth-quarter charge mostly tied to taxes on unremitted offshore earnings. It expects the charge, plus the one-time bonus, to trim its fiscal 2017 earnings outlook by about 19 cents per share. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Climate change could make basement apartments uninsurable, expert says

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Private property below ground in New York and Mumbai may not be insurable in the next decade if climate change advances, the head of one of Europe’s largest insurers said. “If you go much further to 2020, 2030, we can clearly say that at a scenario between 3 and 4 degrees, it’s not insurable anymore,” Thomas Buberl, chief executive officer of AXA SA, said on a panel at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “Your basement shop in New York, your basement shop in Mumbai, will at this point not be insurable anymore.” Global warming and the subsequent rise of extreme weather events are expected to increase insurance companies’ claims, possibly to the point where certain assets are too risky to underwrite new policies in some places. The number of natural disasters from hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean to wildfires in California increased last year. As sea levels rise, cities on coastlines will be much more vulnerable to flooding. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Jobless claims rise from lowest level in nearly 45 years

Filings for unemployment benefits increased last week from the lowest level in almost 45 years, while continuing to signal a tight labor market. Initial jobless claims increased 17,000 to 233,000 in the week ending Jan. 20, according to Labor Department data released Thursday, compared with the median economist estimate for 235,000. Continuing claims fell 28,000 to 1.94 million. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


‘This Is Us’ plot creates headache for maker
of Crock-Pots

A scare over Crock-Pot fires is coming at an unfortunate moment for the product’s owner, Newell Brands. On a day when a grim forecast and strategy shift sent its stock plunging 24 percent, Newell was also dealing with a public relations nightmare sparked by the latest episode of ‘‘This Is Us.’’ A pivotal scene in the NBC drama suggested that a fire started by a faulty slow cooker killed main character Jack. Newell acquired Crock-Pot when it bought Jarden Corp. in 2016, and it’s now looking to tamp down safety concerns among the show’s viewers. ‘‘The safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible,’’ Newell said in a statement Thursday. ‘‘Our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low-current, low-wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements.’’ Even ‘‘This Is Us’’ creator Dan Fogelman sought to allay concerns. The scene depicted a used appliance that wasn’t meant to reflect on current technology, he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Consumer agency to delay rules
on prepaid cards

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday said it would delay, by one year, the implementation of new rules for prepaid payment cards and the agency said it will add more flexibility to the regulations to address industry concerns. The move comes as acting director Mick Mulvaney overhauls the agency’s approach and mission. Republicans and business groups have long complained the CFPB, which was created in the wake of the global financial crisis, was too aggressive. The prepaid card market has exploded in recent years. Consumers uploaded $65 billion to the cards in 2013, up from nearly $1 billion a decade earlier, according to the CFPB. By 2020, consumers are projected to hold prepaid cards worth $116 billion, the agency said. Consumer advocates argue the market has been lightly regulated and offers few protections for consumers, particularly those who are victims of fraud. — WASHINGTON POST


Rates rise
for a third week


Mortgage rates moved higher for the third week in a row. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average rose to 4.15 percent from 4.04 percent a week ago and 4.19 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate is at its highest level in 10 months. The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.62 percent from 3.49 percent a week ago and 3.40 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 3.52 from 3.46 percent a week ago and 3.2 percent a year ago. — WASHINGTON POST