What’s Next for the Internet of Things

Businesses of all stripes are ramping up efforts to profit from the budding Internet of Things. But cashing in won’t be easy. The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, is the growing phenomena of cars, drones, street lights, machines and a myriad of other things that can be connected to the web via a network of small sensors. The potential benefits aren’t hard to imagine. Just think of sensor-laden factories that spot malfunctions before they occur or “smart cities” that rapidly collect and analyze traffic data to shorten commuting times. But coming up with a surefire business model keeps telecom providers up at night.

To see where things stand, I stopped by an event last week in Washington, D.C., where technology company representatives, government officials and industry analysts mulled the different ways IoT could lead to smart cities and other services. Here are some of the key takeaways:

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Trump’s Agenda and Challenges

Now comes the hard part for Donald Trump – turning the rhetoric of one of the most divisive campaigns in decades into the reality of governing.

When Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017, Republicans will hold power in the House and have narrow control of the Senate. In normal circumstances, that’s a huge advantage when it comes to implementing an agenda. But these might not be normal circumstances.

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Signs of an Oil and Gas Comeback

You don’t have to be in the oil and gas business to know that the last two years have been brutal. The sell-off in oil markets that began in 2014 saw the price of crude fall from about $100 per barrel to a low of $26 last winter, before a modest rebound to $44 now. At the same time, natural gas prices fell to their lowest level since 1999 during the unusually warm winter of 2015-2016. As a result, dozens of companies have filed for bankruptcy, tens of thousands of workers have lost energy-related jobs, and manufacturers that make drilling equipment and related gear have seen their sales slump.

But there are finally signs of better days ahead. No, the energy industry isn’t going to suddenly return to the boom times it enjoyed up until 2014. But the worst appears to be over.

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Kiplinger Extra – Election 2016

With the presidential election just days away, editors from the Kiplinger Letter sat down to take stock of the race and offer Kiplinger’s forecast.

The bottom line: Hillary Clinton has an easier path to victory than Donald Trump, but the race is close. Kiplinger’s David Morris and Matthew Housiaux talk about the forecast, key states and what to expect when the votes are counted — all in just 12 minutes.

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How Will the Presidential Election Affect the Housing Market?

If Democrats hold on to the White House, will that help the price of your home? Or would the housing market fare better with a Republican victory? The fact is, it won’t matter much which party wins the White House in November — at least not when it comes to housing prices.

A study of real estate in California going back to 1980, found that housing prices rose by as much as 6% in the year before an election and about 5% in the year after an election, but only 4.5% during election years. A possible explanation for the slower price growth is that presidential elections create uncertainty, making people less likely to take chances on large purchases, thus slowing down the rate of increase in home values.

The California Association of Realtors has looked at home prices in the state dating back to 1990 and found that elections historically have had little or no negative impact on the California housing market. It did find that house prices rose slightly faster in the last months of the last five presidential elections.

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How the Next Fed Rate Hike Will Affect You

We expect the Federal Reserve to raise its federal funds interest rate from 0.25% to 0.5% at its meeting on December 14. This will have a domino effect, boosting some loan and deposit rates for consumers, but not all of them.

How the Fed Rate Hike Will Affect Your Loan Rates

When the Fed raises, the bank prime rate will immediately jump by the same quarter percentage point. Interest rates on home equity lines of credit will also rise by the same amount, to a minimum of 3.75%. Auto and personal loan rates should rise, too. In fact, auto lenders may nudge their rates up a tick more in the months to come as delinquencies on subprime auto loans creep up.

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The Impact of the AT&T-Time Warner Deal

AT&T’s plan to acquire Time Warner underscores the seismic shifts rippling through the media landscape. The $85 billion deal would pair the Dallas-based telecom giant with the fourth-largest media company in the country, giving AT&T a stable of high-quality TV channels and movies, including HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and film company Warner Bros. AT&T’s wired broadband service and nationwide mobile network, tied with its recent acquisition of satellite television operator DirecTV, would give AT&T national distribution of all of Time Warner’s media properties. AT&T expects to finalize the deal by the end of 2017.

AT&T sees the deal as a way to jumpstart growth and fend off emerging competition. Vertical integration — owning the pipes along with the content that travels through them — is AT&T’s vision of making money in the shifting media landscape over the next decade or so. AT&T plans to incorporate advanced ad targeting of its 100 million-plus customers while gaining more subscriber dollars to video content. Advertising and media businesses spell faster growth and higher profit margins, with lower capital investment, compared to the business of building wired and wireless networks. AT&T envisions a future where it more closely resembles Facebook rather than a telephone company.

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Can Crude Oil Prices Keep Rallying?

A tentative deal by OPEC to reduce its oil production sparked an early autumn rally in crude oil prices. But now, with rumblings of internal dissent within OPEC, that rally has stalled. Can the oil market recover its recent momentum? Or should oil bulls prepare for yet another downturn?

OPEC to the Rescue?

Oil prices were climbing swiftly this spring after bottoming out at about $26 per barrel in the depths of winter. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate had just crested the psychologically important $50-per-barrel level in late June when British voters shocked the world by opting to depart from the European Union. The ensuing upheaval in financial markets knocked WTI back down to $40 per barrel, halting the rally in its tracks.

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Should You Prepare for Post-Election Violence?

Will America experience an outbreak of post-election violence? It’s a strong possibility. 2016 has been arguably the ugliest election year in recent memory, marred by allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct and fears that talk of “rigged” elections is undermining faith in the country’s political system.

Unfortunately, it’s likely to leave even more ugliness in its wake. Domestic terrorism experts are warning of a potential uptick in violent incidents associated with the result of the presidential election, regardless of who ends up winning the White House.

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Would You Feel Safe in a Driverless Car?

I’m in Boston this week for MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. The yearly event draws technology experts from around the globe, and I’m having a blast picking their brains. Here are some thoughts on riding in driverless cars and Facebook’s plan to make internet connectivity available everywhere.

If you fret about riding in a driverless car — or are quick to say you never will — note that people who have had the opportunity have been relatively quick to overcome their anxiety. So says Karl Iagnemma, CEO and cofounder of nuTonomy, an autonomous car startup in Singapore. His stance is based on surveys NuTonomy has run as it tests cars with a popular drive-hailing app. The company plans to have 100 vehicles on the road by next year. (Uber has started similar tests in Pittsburgh.) One of the key findings: Riders seem comfortable enough to turn their attention to surfing the web on their phones.

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