Your Money: The (Long) List of Financial Documents You Should Keep

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There is more, though. If you somehow neglect to report income that you should have, and it’s more than 25 percent of the gross income you did report, then you should keep your records for six years from the due date. If you don’t bother filing at all in certain periods, the I.R.S. expects you to keep records for those years forever.

Our tax collectors also offer the following bit of unintentionally hilarious guidance on a tip sheet for people who own small businesses: “Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.” In other words: Please, don’t cheat on your taxes. But if you do, ignore the voice in your head telling you to shred all records of your activities from that year, lest you end up in trouble one day and are unable to reconstruct the truth.

Deductible Expenses

So you have some receipts. Hundreds, perhaps, from charitable contributions and meals purchased for customers in pursuit of side hustles or full-time small businesses. The I.R.S. says that if you scan things on paper and save them digitally, the auditors won’t demand originals years later. Credit-card statements will suffice too. There are a few quirks with keeping records on charitable contributions; consult I.R.S. Publication 526 for more on those.

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Amid his financial files, Ron Lieber found an autographed picture of Artis Gilmore and a flier from a Chicago dance party.

Can your bank bail you out with transaction data years later? Ask before you assume anything. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, keeps records of checks, credit and debit card transactions going back seven years. If you’ve left it for another bank, it will still look up the information (since you won’t have online access anymore), but there may be a fee.

Investments

One troublesome area for people with taxable brokerage accounts is that you need to keep track of what you paid for a stock or a mutual fund in order to calculate capital gains or losses later.

Generally, you can rely on your brokerage firm to do this for you, especially since new record-keeping rules went into effect for most transactions starting in 2011. Even if you switch firms, the so-called “cost basis” information for your investments is supposed to be transferred electronically to your new firm. Check carefully within a month or two of switching to make sure this actually happened.

It also can’t hurt to keep these records yourself as a backup. For instance, you could just dump every electronic trading notification into an email file, or scan a paper statement or a year-end summary of all transactions and store it in a cloud account, or perhaps two of them just to be safe.

Keep in mind that technology reaches back only so far. Fidelity has records for brokerage transactions going back to 1993, while Vanguard has records dating from 1998. Vanguard adds that it can provide duplicate tax forms for any year it generated one for a participant who invested in a 401(k) plan.

Fidelity warns that it may not be able to serve as your backstop when it comes to nondeductible individual retirement accounts. That’s because it doesn’t have access to the relevant I.R.S. form, 8606, that taxpayers fill out. So you’ll want to hang on to that one until you’ve withdrawn all your nondeductible contributions to the account.

Another crucial bit of I.R.A. record-keeping is any record of conversions from regular I.R.A.’s to Roth I.R.A.’s, which allow you to withdraw the money free of taxes decades later. Your accountant may have these documents too. Mine did when I went looking for them last year, and that backstop was a good reminder of the benefit of doing business with the same people for long periods of time.

Everything Else

There are dozens of other things you should hang onto as well. I’d follow the I.R.S. rules up above for receipts related to a health savings account. UnitedHealthcare keeps relevant data from its explanation of benefits forms for 10 years from the claim date, and it will give you copies for free even if you or your employer are no longer customers.

If you or a parent expect to qualify for Medicaid coverage for long-term care, your state will probably want to examine all of your transactions (not just health-related ones) for several years prior to the year you apply.

Keep copies of all major insurance policies, and a home inventory of things you’ll want to replace if they are damaged or stolen. And hang onto the agreements for all major loans, from student to mortgage, and any letters confirming payoff. Keep child support, alimony and other payment records forever too, along with the divorce documentation, especially if things are acrimonious.

Home improvement receipts are essential if you think the value of your home will rise hundreds of thousands of dollars over time, as I explained in a 2015 column. Birth certificates and Social Security cards still seem to come in handy, and you may need military discharge papers once in a while too.

Estate planning documents can also be a source of contention, so hold onto the originals of any will, trust and related documents, plus beneficiary designations from insurance policies or investment accounts. If you’ve received an inheritance or gift, you’ll need to document the event and the value as well, perhaps through a formal appraisal. Vanguard notes the need to keep the relevant I.R.S. forms — 706, 709 and 8971 — indefinitely. Yes, the I.R.S. may be able to retrieve lost tax forms for you, but that could take a while.

The Joy of Paper

As much as I know that I should digitize everything, I still haven’t quite come around on going completely paperless. I like being able to write on statements easily and enjoy the well-sorted feeling of opening an orderly filing cabinet.

And as I examined my files with a more critical eye than usual this week, I noticed something else. While I have a few memory boxes elsewhere in my apartment, there are artifacts of my life in nearly every filing cabinet drawer too. There was the flier from my first-ever high school dance party at Cabaret Metro in Chicago in 1985, and out fell an autographed picture of Artis Gilmore, from the days when he played basketball for the Bulls and I still answered to “Ronnie.”

Seeing these artifacts makes the filing chore tolerable, even pleasurable. Just be careful if you pare back the files and put things through the shredder every so often. You wouldn’t want photos of childhood sports heroes like Dave Kingman and Dave Corzine sliced into 1,000 pieces.

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Your Money Adviser: A New Tax Scam, and Tips on How to Deal With It

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“This one is really worrisome to us,” Mr. Lemons said. “Scammers are getting a government deposit into your account.”

In the past few years, the I.R.S. said, its Security Summit — a collaboration with state tax agencies and makers of do-it-yourself tax software — has helped reduce incidents of tax-related identity fraud, in which someone files a fake return in your name to collect a refund.

But now, criminals are increasingly targeting businesses, including tax professionals and human resource departments, because they are rich sources of sensitive personal information — including W-2 forms, bank statements and tax returns — that thieves can use to impersonate taxpayers and file bogus returns with authentic data.

“Criminals go where the data is,” said Jonathan Horn, senior manager for tax policy and advocacy with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

How does putting the money in your account benefit the criminals? The thieves think you’ll give it to them.

The crooks, for example, will call victims and pretend they’re a collection company for the I.R.S., which has deposited the funds in error. They then demand that victims transfer the money to a different account. “They say, ‘We made a mistake; send it back to us,’” Mr. Lemons said.

Or, they will leave voice messages threatening the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges or an arrest warrant if they don’t call the number provided to return the “refund.”

“It signifies the ingenuity of the fraudsters out there,” said Russell Schrader, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, which promotes online safety and security.

The scam has the ring of truth for victims, as there is actually an erroneous deposit sitting in their bank account (or in some cases, a paper check in the mailbox). That can frighten victims into acting, especially if a caller is bullying them. But it’s always best to hang up and independently check whether the information you were given is valid, said Eva Velasquez, chief executive of the nonprofit group Identity Theft Resource Center. “Always go to the source when you get these kind of contacts,” she said. Look up a public number for the I.R.S. online, she advised, and contact the agency to ask if the call was legitimate. (The I.R.S. identity theft unit’s number is 1-800-908-4490).

Here are some questions and answers about tax refund fraud:

What should I do if an erroneous tax refund is deposited in my account?

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, Mr. Lemons said. Don’t forward the money, he said, and don’t spend it: “Don’t go out and make a down payment on a new car with the cash.”

If the refund arrived as a direct deposit, the agency said that you should contact your bank’s automated clearinghouse department and have the funds returned to the I.R.S. (Consumers may also need to close their account.) Call the I.R.S. to explain why the money is being returned, notify your tax preparer and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

In the case of paper checks, the next steps depend on whether you have cashed the check. The agency provides details on its website.

What questions about security procedures should I have for my tax preparer?

Mr. Horn with the accountant association recommended that consumers ask whether their tax preparer uses encrypted email — standard email isn’t secure and should never be used for sensitive financial information — and where the agency stores its paper files.

Mr. Lemon offered his own suggestions: Do you update security protocols regularly? Do you train employees to recognize phishing attacks? How is information shared securely with clients?

David Thomas, chief executive of Evident ID, an information security company based in Atlanta, suggested asking which employees have access to your files, and inquiring whether the firm offers extra login security. He particularly likes YubiKey, a token that authenticates a user’s identity.

The tax preparation firm “should have confident answers” to your questions, Mr. Thomas said.

Does a bogus refund in my account mean a fake tax return was filed in my name?

Most likely yes, but you should contact the I.R.S. to verify if it has accepted a return using your Social Security number, Ms. Velasquez said. In some fraud cases overseas, she said, criminals have been known to mix and match stolen information. So it may be possible that criminals used one person’s data to file a tax return, but someone else’s bank account to deposit the refund. If a fraudulent return was filed in your name, she said, you’ll probably have to file a special affidavit with the I.R.S. explaining that you are a victim of identity theft. Victims can contact the resource center for free help, she said.

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Leading Investment Firm Replaces Chief After Client Complaints

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But Abraaj clients weren’t satisfied, and they demanded that an independent accountant be hired to determine how the funds were used over the past year.

Mr. Naqvi hired KPMG, the auditing giant, to look into the matter. Earlier this month, KPMG said that the Abraaj Group had acted appropriately in its use of client funds.

In Friday’s statement, Abraaj said that two senior executives, Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorgancioglu, would become co-chief executives, replacing Mr. Naqvi as stewards for Abraaj funds.

Mr. Naqvi, Abraaj said, would retain a nonexecutive role as a member of the firm’s investment committee.

The Abraaj Group also said it would hire independent consultants to scrutinize its governance standards and how the firm is organized.

Until now, Mr. Naqvi had controlled every aspect of Abraaj, from the investments it made to the people it hired and, critically, how client money was deployed

A native of Pakistan, Mr. Naqvi was Abraaj’s public face and its primary fund-raiser. His pitch was that investing in markets like Egypt, Turkey and India would generate great returns and have a positive social impact as well.

The World Bank in particular championed Mr. Naqvi’s cause and the idea that private investors like Abraaj could replace traditional financing techniques — namely, loans from the public sector — to foster economic development in developing nations.

Through the World Bank’s private sector investment arm, the International Finance Corporation, the bank was among the larger clients of Abraaj, putting $300 million into the firm.

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Citi to Refund $330 Million to Credit Card Customers It Overcharged

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Citigroup said it would issue refunds averaging $190 to customers who were overcharged. Credit Shin Woong-jae for The New York Times

Citigroup is preparing to issue $330 million in refunds after the bank discovered it had overcharged nearly two million credit card accounts on their annual interest rates, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The bank, which has about 150 million credit card accounts, said it caught the error in a routine internal review mandated under federal law. Citigroup said it is had notified regulators about the mistake.

“We sincerely apologize to our customers and are taking every action to provide refunds as quickly as possible,” the bank spokeswoman, Elizabeth Fogarty, said in a statement.

Citigroup disclosed the error in its annual report, filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The bank said it had discovered “methodological issues” in its calculations of some customers’ annual interest rates.

Ms. Fogarty said the average refund would be $190 and that 1.75 million accounts were affected.

Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said it was rare to see a card company reveal a mistake of such magnitude.

“Two hundred dollars is a significant amount of money for an awful lot of people in this country,” he said. “For this to have happened for almost two million accounts is a significant thing.”

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The Workologist: When to Mention the Kids

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Send your workplace conundrums to workologist@nytimes.com, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.

When applying for my current job, I did not mention during the interview process that I was the mother of a 14-month-old child. I had a full-time child care arrangement compatible with the schedule for the position, but I of course wondered when and how my son would come up.

In one of our early meetings, before I had a chance to raise the subject, my boss made a passing comment along the lines of: “You don’t have kids yet, right?” When I told him I did, he seemed surprised — and I’ve gotten the impression he felt deceived. I wonder if I would have gotten the job had I disclosed I had a baby. But it was never an issue, my performance has been good, and I was promoted.

I now have two young children, and I want to look for a job closer to home. I have gone on one interview so far, and told the recruiter that I have children. (He lives in my neighborhood and was speaking about his own child in our conversation, so not mentioning mine felt dishonest.) I did not get that job.

I’m reluctant to bring up my children in future interviews. I believe it will disadvantage me as a candidate in my field. What advice would you give someone in my position?

BROOKLYN

It’s notable that despite your concerns, your minimal disclosure strategy actually worked out pretty well last time. Keep that in mind as you proceed.

You’re generally not obligated to disclose a thing about your parental status, and if an employer decided not to hire you specifically because you are a mother, that would run afoul of federal employment discrimination law.

Of course, it would also likely be difficult to prove. There are lots of possible reasons your recent job interview didn’t result in an offer; most don’t. But if you’re really preoccupied with the possibility that your parental status works against you, keep it private.

That said — as I’ve discussed in past columns about disclosing a pregnancy, a religious affiliation or any other potential sources of discrimination — you might choose to address the subject based on the feel of any given interview process or the specific job opportunity.

Ask questions (and listen for clues) about the potential employer’s work culture: Does what you’re hearing mesh with your own work-life balance ideals? If the answer is ambiguous, and you think it’s to your advantage to be more explicit about your situation and the company’s attitudes, then do so. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

And if you’re not? Well, there’s little glory in landing what you thought was a dream job only to discover that in reality it’s a disastrous fit for your lifestyle.

So approach this as your decision — not as an obligation. And consider the experience you’ve already had: You speculate that your boss may have felt deceived, and might not have hired you if he had known about your child. Yet the reality is that it didn’t affect your performance or (given the promotion) your boss’s perception of your work. So raise the subject if you think it will help your own thinking about a particular opportunity. But remember that it’s your choice.

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A Manager Obsessed With Email

A new manager who reports to me has what seems to me an odd practice: He requires the seven people who report to him to copy him on every work email they send, no matter how trivial.

When I asked him if reading all these emails was a good use of his time, he told me just skimmed them, and only during “off hours.” He has also asked people outside his department to copy him on emails they send to members of his group. Some have refused.

I’m concerned because this manager has had some difficulties getting his work done and his department has not been meeting its goals, so maybe he is not spending his time appropriately. Also, I worry that his staff is not being allowed to develop decision-making skills because it’s worried about being second-guessed. Your thoughts?

ANONYMOUS

This email copying is a terrible idea! It’s almost a parody of micromanagement. Not only might it discourage decision-making skills, it probably makes his charges feel distrusted and insecure. And it almost certainly causes them to waste time writing every single email with this secondary audience in mind.

Get him to explain what he is trying to achieve with this absurd practice, and help him come up with new tactics. And refocus his priorities: He needs to be thinking about why his department isn’t meeting its goals, and how to fix that. In addition, if there are particular problems with his team, he needs to address those specifically. Sending a message that he doesn’t trust any of his workers enough for them to send even routine email without looking over their shoulders is never going to inspire the enthusiasm and loyalty he needs.

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Wall Street Advances on Gains in Tech Stocks

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Investors are expecting the Fed to raise rates three times this year, beginning with its next meeting in March.

At 11:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.6 percent at 25,113.24 and the S&P 500 rose 0.68 percent to 2,722.38. Despite Friday’s gains, the indexes were on track to post small losses for the week.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.68 percent to 7,259.27 and was set for its second week of gains.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc, the two companies created from the split of Hewlett Packard Co in 2015, were among the biggest gainers in the tech sector following their strong results. HPE also announced a plan to return $7 billion to shareholders.

Blue Buffalo Pet Products jumped 17 percent after General Mills <GINS.> said it would buy the natural pet food maker for $8 billion in cash. General Mills was the biggest loser on S&P 500, falling about 3.4 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,965 to 820. On the Nasdaq, 1,638 issues rose and 1,074 fell.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Strike Over, Air France Resumes Flights

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Thursday’s Air France strike involving the carrier’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff has ended, and as of today, the carrier’s operations are slowly returning back to normal, according to a statement on its website.

The one-day strike disrupted the travel schedules of thousands of Air France passengers all over the world and will likely continue to do so for the next day or two, according to Michael Holtz, the owner of SmartFlyer, a global travel consultancy specializing in airlines.

“It usually takes an airline 24 to 48 hours to get back on track after a strike,” he said.

In the case of Air France, since the carrier anticipated the strike because workers had made clear that they would take action, Mr. Holtz said that the it likely held most of its planes in Paris, its home base. “Since the planes are sitting in Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, outbound flights from Paris should be up and running today or within the next day,” he said.

In-bound flights to Paris from long-haul destinations, however, could still be delayed for 48 hours, Mr. Holtz said, because the planes need to fly from Paris to reach those destinations in order to operate the routes. “Air France has a flight from Bangkok to Paris,” he said. “The plane needs to reach Bangkok from Paris, which takes more than ten hours, before it can fly the scheduled route.”

In fact, the carrier’s flight on that route is canceled today.

What should Air France’s customers do if the strike has affected them?

Passengers who have an Air France ticket issued on or before Feb. 19, for a flight operated by Air France or its low cost carrier Joon for travel on Feb. 22, can postpone their trip free of charge. If they choose to postpone their trip beyond Feb. 27, change their destination or origin or cancel their trip all together, Air France will issue a travel voucher that will be valid for one year; this voucher can be used for travel on Air France, Joon, KLM or Hop, another low-cost carrier, and is non-refundable.

But passengers who had their flight canceled because of the strike or had a flight delay of more than five hours because of it have the option to get a refund on their tickets. If they bought their ticket directly from Air France, they should go to the Refund section on the airline’s site to apply for one. But according to Air France’s site, if they bought their ticket through a travel agent or another source, they should seek a refund directly from their point of sale.

Fliers can find out about their rights as declared by the European Parliament and Council of the European Union by visiting the Assistance and Compensation section on the airline’s site.

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DealBook Briefing: Businesses Jump Into the Gun Control Debate

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Pension funds, including those for public-school teachers in at least a dozen states, own shares in gun makers. And major money managers such as BlackRock and Vanguard are indirectly some of the biggest holders of gun stocks through exchange-traded funds. BlackRock says it can’t divest shares of a company in an index, but with $6 trillion under management, it is often effectively the biggest investor in such businesses.

Lawmakers in New Jersey moved this week to restrict the state’s public pensions from investing in the shares of gun manufacturers. BlackRock said it planned to reach out to weapons makers “to understand their response” to the shootings.

More on gun controls

• Two gun safety groups are joining with Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic activist, in a drive to register high school students to vote. (Politico)

• President Trump embraced an N.R.A. position to arm some teachers. (NYT)

• Democratic governors from four northeastern states joined forces to restrict the movement of illegal guns and share information about residents barred from owning firearms. (WSJ)

____________________________

Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Pyeongchang, South Korea; Stephen Grocer in New York; and Chad Bray and Amie Tsang in London.

____________________________

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Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

China now controls the Waldorf Astoria

The government in Beijing seized control today of Anbang Insurance Group, the troubled Chinese company that owns the iconic New York hotel.

The details

• The Chinese insurance regulator said Anbang had violated regulations, putting into question its ability to pay claims.

• A group that includes China’s central bank, its securities and banking regulators, the country’s foreign exchange regulator and other government agencies will oversee Anbang for a year.

• The takeover could be extended if Anbang fails to complete an equity restructuring and resume operations.

• The company’s former chairman was charged with financial crimes.

The context

Anbang came under scrutiny for its opaque ownership structure and for the political ties of its former chairman as it embarked on a period of frenzied deal making.

But, “Anbang is too big to fail,” as an unnamed senior Anbang executive told The FT. “Even though it has no real value, they will have to restructure it very carefully.”

From Keith Bradsher and Alexandra Stevenson of the NYT:

China was shaken three years ago by a surge of money out of the country and concerns that its economy had been layering on too much debt. Anbang and the other Chinese deal makers, which had borrowed heavily to fund their shopping sprees, soon drew attention from officials. State media labeled them “gray rhinoceroses” — big problems that are ignored until they start moving fast.

Critics’ corner

Quentin Webb of Breakingviews writes that the seizure is the boldest move yet in Beijing’s battle against financial excess, and the new precedent could be a worrying omen.

• Anbang’s size and entanglements are comparable to Lehman Brothers or A.I.G. before the global financial crisis, and the insurer was always going to crash and burn if left untouched, writes Nisha Gopalan in Bloomberg Gadfly. Beijing’s intervention deserves a round of applause, she adds.

More on Chinese deal makers

• Financial strains at another buyer, HNA, have prompted its subsidiary, the Irish aircraft leaser Avolon, to rewrite its bond documentation to try to reassure investors. (FT)

• Fosun has acquired Lanvin, France’s oldest surviving couture house, after a fierce bidding war. (NYT)

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Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

General Mills is to buy pet-food maker

The deal values Blue Buffalo at about $8 billion and bolsters an area for General Mills, which owns brands including Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Yoplait, that has become increasingly popular: natural foods for pets

The transaction is the latest as food makers, such as Mars and Danone, seek to acquire more organic and natural brands.

The deals flyaround

• Standard Life Aberdeen has agreed to sell what was left of its insurance business to Phoenix Group for about $4.5 billion. (The Times of London)

• Swiss Re said it was still considering Softbank’s partnership approach. (FT)

The policy flyaround

• In the wake of the new tax law, many business owners are asking: Will changing a company’s structure cut tax bills? (WSJ)

• European banks with significant operations in the U.S. have seen multibillion dollar hits on their fourth-quarter results because of tax changes, but most say they expect to benefit from a lower rate in the future. (NYT)

• Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin believes policies introduced by the Trump administration will raise wages but not inflation. (Bloomberg)

• Regulators are looking to ease rules that restrict the ability of companies to speak with investors before announcing plans for initial public offerings, according to unnamed sources. (WSJ)

• Attorneys general in several states and a number of companies have filed lawsuits challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. (Axios)

• The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services dropped language from its mission statement that characterized the country as a “a nation of immigrants.” (NYT)

• When he was working as President Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort lied to banks to secure millions of dollars in loans as part of a long-running money laundering scheme, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday in the investigation of Robert Mueller, the special counsel. (NYT)

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How one tweet cost Snap $1.4 billion.

Shares of the social media company tumbled 6 percent on Thursday after Kylie Jenner tweeted that she no longer opened Snapchat.

The tweet comes as Snap faces growing criticism from users about the redesign of its app.

Critics’ corner

For tech companies like Snap and Twitter, Jennifer Saba of Breakingviews argues, celebrities “ought to be included as an intangible asset, to be written down when the celebrity stops being a customer — or stops being a celebrity.”

Related

Evan Spiegel, Snap’s chief executive, received $638 million in total compensation in 2017. (CNNMoney)

The tech flyaround

• Altered images used by Russians to spread disinformation ahead of the 2016 U.S. election have exposed flaws in efforts by social media companies to stop such practices. (WSJ)

• British authorities are examining changes to the taxation of technology companies, potentially leading to higher bills for internet giants like Facebook and Google. (BBC)

• Spotify’s listing will put pressure on the music-streaming company to to reduce its reliance on music labels. (FT)

• Airbnb unveiled its Plus service, which features properties that are guaranteed to meet a 100-point quality checklist. (NYT)

• The lesson of the video-game company Rovio’s profit warning: Companies in high-risk industries with volatile earnings should think hard before going public. (Lex)

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Credit Dado Ruvic/Reuters

I.C.O.s create a headache for virtual currencies

What rights do shareholders get if a company goes for an initial coin offering?

Here’s The Information’s Alfred Lee:

Concerned about potential threats to share value and regulatory risks, venture capitalists are asking for rights to receive or buy cryptocurrency in the event of an offering.

In some cases, several prominent investors and attorneys told The Information, venture capital firms are seeking to veto cryptocurrency offerings altogether.

Related

• The crash in cryptocurrencies hasn’t dented the popularity of initial coin offerings. (WSJ)

• Bitcoin is at $10,234.30. (coinmarketcap.com)

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Credit Brian Britigan

Why do college endowments keep hold of poorly performing investments?

With their average returns dragged down by the weak performance of hedge funds, venture capital and private equity, you would think endowments would be fleeing these so-called alternative investments, which are costly and mostly illiquid, as some large pension funds have done.

That’s the NYT’s James Stewart, who tries to unpick the puzzle.

Separately, a group of Harvard graduates has a plan to bolster the university’s straggling endowment.

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Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Changes are afoot for failing banks

The Treasury Department has proposed a regulatory move that would increase the likelihood that a failing bank would end up in bankruptcy rather than going through a resolution process overseen by the government.

The tweak would still keep the emergency structures introduced as part of Dodd-Frank as an option.

From the NYT’s Peter Eavis:

Crucially, the Treasury also wants to keep the emergency government loan. But the Treasury’s proposal does introduce an important and innovative change. It calls for a special type of bankruptcy regime for large financial firms, called Chapter 14. This new regime envisions having a set of specialist judges, working with regulators in the United States and around the world, who could plan for and oversee the bankruptcies of large banks.

The banking flyaround

• Royal Bank of Scotland reported its first annual profit in a decade, after a grueling turnaround effort. That could make it easier for the British government to sell down its stake. (LSE)

• Behind John Flint’s bookish image lurks a ruthless streak that has helped him to rise to the role of chief executive at HSBC. (FT)

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Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

The revolving door

• Dina Powell is talking to Goldman Sachs about returning to the firm in a global role, according to unnamed sources. (WSJ)

• Kumar Galhotra, who has been running marketing and the Lincoln brand for Ford, will take over as head of North American operations after the abrupt departure of Raj Nair. (WSJ)

The speed read

• Hidden in rising bond yields, there could be good news for shareholders. (WSJ)

• A federal judge criticized deferred prosecution agreements, which allow companies to avoid prosecution by paying a fine. (Bloomberg)

• The Japanese airbag maker Takata reached a $60 million deal to settle consumer protection claims in the U.S. (NYT)

• Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s sales of storage and networking devices did well enough over the holiday quarter that it raised its annual profit targets. (WSJ)

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These Goldfish Are 70 Percent Organic

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That does not mean it’s entirely a marketing gimmick. The United States Department of Agriculture began regulating organic foods in 2002. Organic crops are supposed to be grown without genetic modifications or synthetic pesticides and other synthetic additives, though there are exceptions. Organic livestock is raised without antibiotics.

While regulators give out a “U.S.D.A. Organic” label, Goldfish don’t qualify. Still, you are allowed to say a product features an organic ingredient as long as it “contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water).”

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Credit Jens Mortensen for The New York Times

The Campbell Soup Company, which owns the Goldfish brand, started selling three kinds of Goldfish with organic ingredients in 2016. Chris Foley, chief marketing officer at Pepperidge Farm, a division of Campbell’s, said organic was a natural fit for the brand.

“I think Goldfish start from a very healthy place,” he said. (We’ll set aside that this is a brand that offers flavors like S’mores and Cookies & Cream.) “We have no artificial flavors and preservatives. It’s 100 percent real cheese. We source our colors from real plants.”

The move into organic was driven by market research.

“We’re always listening to our moms — that’s our primary buyer,” Mr. Foley said. “Certainly there are more moms looking for more organic options.”

Moms aside, there’s an elephant in the room we have not addressed.

Or, to be more accurate, a bunny.

The advent of 70 percent organic Goldfish almost certainly has something to do with the rise of Cheddar Bunnies, made by Annie’s Homegrown, which General Mills acquired in 2014. One blog for moms declared Cheddar Bunnies “the Goldfish of this generation” in 2015, the kind of sentiment that probably didn’t sit well at Campbell.

Organic Goldfish appear to emulate Cheddar Bunnies, which debuted in 2003. Both are made with organic wheat and are 70 percent organic. Annie’s did also start selling a fully organic, U.S.D.A.-certified variety of Cheddar Bunnies in 2008, though the lesser organic variety remains the flagship.

Going 70 percent organic limits additives like autolyzed yeast extract, “which provides savory background flavor notes” to Cheddar Goldfish but is left out of organic wheat Goldfish, Campbell said. Going fully organic would require further paring of the industrial pantry, and might be a distinction lost on many consumers anyway.

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Credit Jens Mortensen for The New York Times

In response to questions about its view of Goldfish, Annie’s took the high road. In a statement, the company said, “We believe that organic food is good for people and the planet we all share, so we’re always excited to see increased access to organic options for consumers.”

I went back to Campbell and asked if Annie’s had anything to do with organic Goldfish. Mr. Foley held to his position. In an email, he said the decision “was about listening to our customers: moms going up and down supermarket aisles searching for ‘better for you’ options.”

Now that we’ve caught up on Big Food’s chess match over salty animal crackers, does any of this matter? Is organic healthier?

While organic crops are not pesticide free, peer-reviewed studies have found they have fewer pesticide residues than conventional crops. Still, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that the pesticide residues found on almost all crops are within acceptable tolerances. But debate on the topic continues.

“Existing data shows that when we eat organically, we reduce our pesticide exposure,” said Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor at Boise State University who has studied the topic extensively. “Observational studies, while not conclusive, are consistent with the idea that there may be health benefits from reducing pesticide exposure, particularly during pregnancy. But the science simply isn’t there to say for sure.”

Meanwhile, I’ll keep chomping my way through my own research. When I’m stuffing my face with organic wheat Goldfish, or regular Cheddar Bunnies, I now know to feel 70 percent better about myself than if I were eating regular Goldfish, but 30 percent worse than if I were gobbling up the U.S.D.A.-certified organic Cheddar Bunnies. And I haven’t tried the Flavor Blasted® Kick It Up a Nacho Goldfish, but I think there’d be some guilt involved.

For the big food manufacturers, organic simply fills another market niche. I asked Mr. Foley if Goldfish with organic wheat was any healthier than the regular kind, a tricky question for an executive at a large food company to answer.

“It’s an alternative,” he said.

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Equality Still Distant Even as Black Unemployment Hits Milestone

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So Mr. King, a former Army commander who trained soldiers, founded Summit Academy, a vocational school. He spent years trying to persuade people to actually hire his graduates.

In 2009, as the nation was trying to climb out of the recession and Minnesota’s legislature was debating how to spend federal stimulus money, Mr. King sent busloads of his students to legislative hearings. They arrived early, filling out rows of seats normally occupied by lobbyists.

They showed up on construction sites in lab coats, carrying magnifying glasses, looking diligently for the black workers. They submitted a “missing-persons report” to local officials to highlight the lack of black workers on public projects.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Carmen Richardson. She had just quit her job plating metal for a pittance when she saw an ad for Summit. After she graduated from the program five months later, the biggest names in the construction business were competing for her.

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Prospective students at Summit Academy, a vocational school in Minneapolis. The school’s founder, Louis King, has spent years trying to help blacks get well-paying jobs. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

“I was getting recruited like I was a basketball player,” Ms. Richardson said. “I was in shape, I was a female and I was black, so that was the golden ticket.”

She started out earning $24 an hour in 2011, and became a part of the carpenter’s union. She got a pension and full medical coverage. She bought a Suzuki motorcycle and, last year, a Dodge Charger.

“Got my first speeding ticket in that sucker,” Ms. Richardson said.

Now she earns $37 at Mortenson, a construction giant that played a critical role in opening doors for people like her.

A changing economic calculus helped. There simply weren’t enough workers to meet the needs of a city that built three major sports stadiums in a decade.

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Mr. King at Summit Academy. When he arrived in Minneapolis in 1989, he said, it was hard for him to see how black children in the area would climb economically without knowing whether people who looked like them ever landed on top. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

“We knew that demographic shift was happening,” said David Mortenson, the company’s chairman. White Minnesotans, who sent generations of young men into the trades, were suddenly seeking a higher purpose — college degrees, office jobs.

Economic theory suggests that a strong labor market like Minnesota’s — and, increasingly, the country’s as a whole — makes outright discrimination expensive. Companies can hardly afford to turn away qualified people when there are so many jobs to fill.

Racial gaps do seem to narrow during better economic times. In mid-2010, just 67 percent of African-Americans ages 25 to 54 were employed. Among whites, the figure was 77 percent — a 10-point difference. Today, that chasm has shrunk to about six points, the smallest it has been since 2000.

A Narrowing but Persistent Gap

The employment rate for black Americans is about six points lower than that for whites. The disparity shrinks during better economic times, but it never disappears.


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Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said that when he took the job two years ago, he was surprised that the bank’s economists couldn’t conclusively say what caused the divide.

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Aja Stewart, 18, practiced hammering during carpentry class at Summit Academy. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

“If we can’t even answer the ‘why,’ we can’t hope to design policy solutions to close those gaps,” Mr. Kashkari said.

Still, Mr. Kashkari said, companies do behave differently when workers are scarcer. That is certainly true in Minneapolis, where Mr. Mortenson helped force the city’s builders into action.

The company pushed trade unions to diversify their ranks and told its subcontractors “they weren’t going to get our business if they didn’t pull their weight,” Mr. Mortenson said.

It also hired diversity trainers to consult with almost every foreman and supervisor at all of its work sites, and brought in “cultural competency coaches” to work with high-level executives on implicit bias.

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