Opening Bell: 3.1.17

Uber could use a friend right now; Silicon Valley workers feel poor at six figures; Subway chicken may not be chicken; and more.
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In Video, Uber CEO Argues With Driver Over Falling Fares (BBG)
“Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

Travis Kalanick, Uber Chief, Apologizes After Fight With Driver (NYT)
“It’s clear this video is a reflection of me — and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up,” Mr. Kalanick wrote in his email. “This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

Uber Driver Fawzi Kamel Explains Why He Argued With CEO Kalanick (NBC)
"Uber kept dropping prices every season to gain more ridership to satisfy their growth, and it didn't matter to Uber if the driver is not even making minimum wage," he said. "And the worst part is, they call us partners, [but] they make the rules, set the price and they even choose the cars you can use."

US share buybacks punch below their weight (FT)
The S&P 500 Buybacks Index has rallied 96 per cent over the past five years, outpacing the broader market’s 73 per cent gain since. This is an outperformance of 2.8 per cent annually. However, next to the sheer scale of the buybacks — the estimated $2tn spend is equal to a tenth of the S&P 500’s current value — it has underwhelmed.

Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley's wealth bubble (Guardian)
One Apple employee was recently living in a Santa Cruz garage, using a compost bucket as a toilet. Another tech worker, enrolled in a coding bootcamp, described how he lived with 12 other engineers in a two-bedroom apartment rented via Airbnb. “It was $1,100 for a fucking bunk bed and five people in the same room. One guy was living in a closet, paying $1,400 for a ‘private room’.”

The problem with Trump’s plan to boost Wall Street: Banks are more profitable than ever (WaPo)
The country’s nearly 6,000 banks – from large players like Bank of America to small community banks – pulled in more than $171 billion in profits last year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That is up nearly 5 percent from 2015 and even surpasses the levels reached before the financial crisis when banks were profiting from a hot housing market.

Economists May Be Underestimating How Fast the Robots Are Coming (BBG)
“Economists looking at previous industrial revolutions observe that none of these risks have transpired...However, this possibly underestimates the very different nature of the technological advances currently in progress, in terms of their much broader industrial and occupational applications and their speed of diffusion.”

Subway chicken in Canada was part meat, part something else, according to DNA analysis (WaPo)
Up in the Great White North, a recent laboratory analysis unveiled a masquerade of meat. A researcher delved into the DNA of chicken sold at various fast food restaurants, at the request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Marketplace” program. Not all poultry, the CBC reported, was as it seemed.

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