Bikes Are Outselling Cars in Europe, & 6 More Things You'll Want to Know Today

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City bikers, Amagertorv in Copenhagen
Getty Images

Here's a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you'll just want to know.

• Forget about horsepower: In the EU, people now favor pedal power. Last year, bikes outsold new cars in nearly every European nation for the first time since World War II. And though bike sales are up, it's not just Europe's environmentally-minded, bike-friendly ethos that should get the credit: Europe's car sales took a big hit during its Great Recession, which was longer and more painful the the U.S. downturn.

• Most Americans do most of their investing through mutual funds, retirement accounts or other intermediaries. But the institutions that handle your investments have been plagued for years by the predations of high-frequency traders, who manipulate prices with technical hacks that sometimes come down to gaming the very laws of physics. And when high-frequency traders profit, the rest of us lose. Until now: Our friends at Quartz report that a new market named IEX is launching Friday, run by a group of ultra-clever Wall Streeters whom IEX CEO Brad Katsuyama jokingly describes as the Navy SEALs of the trading world. Its goal: To change the game and hobble the high-frequency traders.

• By now, everyone knows the popular wisdom that Microsoft (MSFT) is past its prime, a technology giant slowly fading into decline. But don't tell that to its accountants: Microsoft turned in a significantly better than expected quarterly earnings report Thursday, sending the stock up 5 percent in after-hours trading. And what propelled its rising profits? Strong sales of its boring old Office and server software to businesses.

• Millions of Americans are trying to get health care through the glitch-ridden Healthcare.gov site, and as we all know, most are failing. While the tech cavalry rides (we hope) to the rescue, the Department of Health and Human Services has apologized for the mess in a blog post, but the most interesting part of that post has to be the user comments. Take, for example, the elderly couple who were told by the website that they were ineligible for insurance because they were in jail. (Spoiler alert: They've never even been arrested.)

YouTube plans to launch a subscription music service as soon as December, putting it into direct competition with Spotify, Pandora (P) and others. Seems like a natural fit for YouTube (GOOG): The online video site already is the most popular on-demand music supplier in the world.

• Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines (LUV) expanded into the top tier of U.S. airlines in part by refusing to follow its peers' lead and charge passengers to check their bags. And its CEO, Gary Kelly, said again Thursday that it intends to hold onto the policy that has been such a huge part of its marketing -- at least for the moment. But he also said that policy wasn't set in stone. If customer attitudes change, and people come to prefer the a la carte pricing strategy that includes baggage fees, Southwest could stop letting bags fly free.

• And finally, Canadian researchers say that paying living people $10,000 to become kidney donors would actually save money compared the current system, which operates on altruism alone. Whether its ethical to essentially sell human body parts is a whole other question.


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6 Comments

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greenburritojd

Germany makes it very easy and a lot of fun to travel by bike like the bike & train pass on weekends for 35 euros any place in southern Germany also many great places to stop have lunch, camp , and no parking fees as of yet! that will most likely change soon! But when I'm in Germany I do have a car over there but I use my bike as much as I can its peaceful and you see things in a different way I.E. slower. But when back in the USA I ride a Motorcycle almost every day its cheep only $ 150.00 a year for gas taxes are cheep and insurance is dirt cheep too! Yes I have a big f250 ford truck with 650,000 miles on it but I only use it on the extended road trips.

October 25 2013 at 2:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

Sure I could call for a limo but it's death. The bike sucks any possible cellulite right out of my body even makes my abs show. Disolves the triglycerides and makes my blood flow like Niagra Falls.
If you consider that once the fossil fuels run-out, half of the world will freeze to death, wasting fossil fuels while creating a carbon dioxide cloud is less than responsible.

October 25 2013 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eghnw27

YOUR ARE BLIND IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS COMING AND HAS BEEN FOR QUITE A WHILE. IT IS CALLED, LEARNING HOW TO LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS AND MANY IN THE COMING YEARS WILL BE ABANDONING AUTOS FOR BICYCLES BY REASON OF NECESSITY.
CHEAPER, HEALTHIER, SAFER. MANY OF US REVERT TO THE DAYS WHEN WE COULD ADD AND SUBTRACT AND DIVIDE, AND UNENCUMBER THE HIGH LIFE TO WHICH WE HAVE BEEN ENCUMBERED,

October 25 2013 at 12:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
willypfistergash

When cobblestone streets are generally very narrow and gas is $10 a gallon, should we be surprised?

October 25 2013 at 12:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
crazy ray

Gee, I'm shocked. About as much as I am that hot dogs outsell caviar. That more coach tickets are sold than first class. That people really read this crap.

October 25 2013 at 11:37 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
willypfistergash

We should all stack ourselves into our cities. Oh, and our place of employment should all be in these same cities. And we shouldn't have families.

October 25 2013 at 11:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply