A new study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University found that taking a single does of so-called “magic mushrooms,” the ones that contain the highly hallucinogenic chemical psilocybin, can lead to a measurable change in personality lasting a year or more. In the study, 60 percent of the 51 participants who were given a dose of psilocybin exhibited this sort of change.
US stocks posted heavy losses on Friday as the week, September and the third quarter drew to a close. The last three months have been wrought with peril for investors as the S&P 500 lost 12 percent of its value and investors found it difficult to find any solid performance anywhere. As developments continued to roll in about the European debt crisis, stock markets posted more losses than gains and reflected the malaise most investors feel about the overall global economy.
Recently ousted Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker, after an eleven-month reign that saw the company's market value drop some $40 billion, is reportedly walking away from the post with a cool $13 million in cash and stock. Apotheker's was given a $7.2 million severance payment and earned $2.4 million in performance bonuses in his eleven months on the job, despite the company's poor results.
Facebook, the world's largest social media company, has been named in a trademark infringement lawsuit over its recently launched Timelines offering. The plaintiff in the claim is Timelines Inc., a small company in Chicago that operated the Timelines.com website, which allows users to share personal or historic events, and contribute descriptions, links, photos and videos related to them. Facebook's new Timelines feature essentially copies the idea, serving the same purpose within the Facebook network.
Google's popular Analytics web traffic reporting tool got a major upgrade this week when the company launched a new real time version for some users. The search giant's basic analytics tool, available for free, offers website operators a fairly comprehensive view of the traffic on their sites, but there is a lag time of about an hour for some data and a 24-hour lag for complete data reporting. The all-new Google Analytics Real Time tool changes that by offering instant access to visit counts. The tool was rolled out to some users Thursday and will become available to all users over the next few weeks.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission released its first annual report on credit ratings agencies Friday, which found “apparent failures” at each of the ten agencies it reviewed. Officials sent letters to each of the agencies outlining its concerns and demanded a remediation plan within 30 days. Among the SEC complaints are the ratings firms' failures to follow ratings methodologies, failure to make timely and accurate disclosures and failure in managing conflict of interest. The annual report was mandated by last year's Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
President Obama's proposal to increase taxes on Americans with incomes over $1 million has gained mass appeal, as evidenced by a recent Bloomberg poll in which supporters outnumbered opponents by a margin of 63 to 32 percent. The proposal has come to be known as the “Buffett rule,” in honor of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who made headlines several weeks ago when he said taxes should be raised on the wealthy.
International Business Machines surpassed Microsoft in terms of market value Thursday to become the world's second-most valuable tech company behind Apple. The achievement reflects the ongoing changes in the industry, including a shift away from personal computers. IBM's market value was $214 billion at the close of Thursday's session, while Microsoft's was $213.2 billion. It's the first time IBM closed with a higher market value than Microsoft since 1996.
The US Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending slowed in August as Americans' incomes dropped for the first time in two years. According to the report, purchases increased by just 0.2 percent last month after gaining 0.7 percent in July, while earnings declined by 0.1 percent. Other recent data, meanwhile, show an unexpected rise in business activity this month and consumer sentiment remaining near a three year low.
US stocks posted gains at the end of an up-and-down session on Thursday as investors welcomed a report showing a drop in initial unemployment claims and developments in the European debt crisis. Stocks rose sharply right after the opening bell on the initial claims data and an upward revision in second-quarter GDP growth, then a sell-off late in the session brought all three indexes into negative territory before a late rally brought the Dow and S&P 500 back into the black.