Wendy’s unveils the Surge Burger, then cancels the ride.

On its earnings call a few weeks ago, Wendy’s new CEO, Kirk Tanner, said the hamburger chain, the U.S.’s second largest by revenue, said the company was going to experiment with dynamic pricing. That's the practice perfected by Uber where you pay more for a cab when demand goes up (when it’s raining or everyone wants to get to the airport) and less than the usual price when business is slow. The outrage was predictable. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, America’s favorite consumer advocate, called it “price gouging, pure and simple,” and one Tweeter suggested arbitraging burger prices, buying at discount periods and selling below Wendy’s price when demand — and prices — are high. Wendy’s quickly distanced itself from the reports, saying it only planned to use digital menu boards to offer discounts when business was slow. And those prices are certainly high enough. Net income was up 15.2% last year, while global sales rose 6.1% over 2022.

Bitcoin's Price Surge: Crypto hits $60K prompting a massive sell-off

Remember Bitcoin? The volatile OG cryptocoin is baaaaack! It still hasn’t replaced those tired old U.S. dollars as a means of exchange, but on Wednesday, with assets rushing into crypto ETFs, the price bounced above $60,000 after a collapse in 2022 that wiped out nearly a trillion dollars in market cap as the price plunged from almost $69,000 to just $17,000. Good news all around, right? Well, no: the volatility forced arbitragers to liquidate $700 million in positions to cover their bad bets, with the price spike wiping out the shorts and the subsequent interday drop wiping out the longs. So is Bitcoin back to stay? It’s hard to tell: It’s still too volatile to use for the kinds of purchases that power an economy — homes, cars and other big-ticket items — but Bitcoin’s market cap is back up near its $1.2 trillion peak, suggesting there are plenty of punters who think they can still make a buck off the Bit.

Buffet’s still got it: Berkshire Hathaway posts record profits. 

It was a record year again for that barometer of the U.S. economy, Berkshire Hathaway, the industrial holding company/investment fund created by Omaha sage Warren Buffett. Net earnings hit $97.1 billion, up from a loss of $22 billion in 2022, when profits were sapped by investment losses. At the heart of Berkshire is everyone’s favorite cockney-accented lizard, GEICO, whose ubiquitous insurance business spun off $15 billion in profits from underwriting and investments last year. The investments acquired with all that GEICO cash themselves generated $59 billion, swinging back from a loss nearly that big in 2022. Buffet’s preferred metric — operating earnings that include BNSF railroad, utility Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Brooks running shoes, Dairy Queen and See’s candy. That makes Berkshire one of the best bets in the history of the stock market, earning an average return of 19.8% since its inception in 1964. The S&P 500 has returned a not-shabby average of 10.2%, but a grand put into Berkshire when your dad (or maybe your grandad) was born would be worth about $43.8 million. 

With plans to shutter 150 locations, will Macy’s go the way of Sears and Lord&Taylor?

What’s the point of a department store these days, when every brand is available online, and Amazon offers free delivery and easy returns? That’s the challenge facing Macy’s CEO Tony Spring, who says the storied chain needs to shrink. He’s planning to close 150 of the chain’s 500 stores across the country, some 50 of them this year, and most of them in suburban malls. He plans on adding new Bloomingdale’s and BlueMercury locations, and possibly opening smaller Macy’s stores that don’t offer everything from restaurants to watches. But rumored plans to shut the downtown San Francisco store on Union Square, have customers nervous. “This isn’t just about shrinking,” Spring told the Wall Street Journal. “This is about resizing the portfolio to make sure we are giving people an opportunity to shop the way they want.” Still, sales are down to $23 billion from $24.4 billion in 2022, and earnings per share were down to $3.50 from $4.48. That has opened the door for a takeover bid from hedge funds Arkhouse and Brigade Capital. The two are offering about $5.8 billion for the company, with a current market cap at about $4.7 billion. No word yet on whether Macy’s will shut down the in-store Santas or the famed New York City Thanksgiving Day parade, but it might be time for that Snoopy balloon to look for a new doghouse.

Apple pulls the plug on the iCar. Wait, what iCar?

Sometimes a USB-C port just isn’t big enough to power an Apple product. Back in the mid 20-teens, when Tesla was gaining speed and Apple had just introduced the Watch, it began a decade-long odyssey to develop a self-driving electric car, dubbed Project Titan. First, it was aiming to take on Tesla as an electric car — and keep its top engineers from moving to Elon Musk’s shiny new thing. Then when Google began testing its Waymo autonomous vehicles, driverless Apple cars began roaming the streets of Silicon Valley carrying a rooftop package of sensors that resembled a titanium-edged iPhone. Ten billion dollars later, Apple has given up on the project, multiple media outlets reported. The tech giant won’t say why, or even confirm the details, but Apple sources told various news organizations the engineers involved were mostly moving to Apple’s AI projects. Apple is still on track to get into your car: its CarPlay app, used to put your iPhone on the little screen inside your Subaru, is aiming for a makeover this year, and if your car supports a digital dashboard, Apple will replace the instrument panel. “Siri, take me home, please.”