Archive for August, 2009

Falcons, Lottery team up for new ticket

The Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Lottery are teaming up on a new scratch-off ticket that will debut after Labor Day.

The ticket will cost $5 and will be available starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, officials said. Players can win up to $500,000. Other prizes include season-ticket packages and a trip to a Falcons’ away game on the team plane.

“While we’ve had a sports sponsorship with the Falcons in the past, this is the first time we’ve offered a game with their name on it,” said Lottery spokesman J.B. Landroche. “We’ve never done this before with the NFL.”

Georgia Lottery paid a licensing fee to the Falcons.

While it is being introduced at the beginning of the season, there is no expiration date, Landroche said.

Falcons’ and Lottery officials are holding a news conference Thursday to discuss more details.

Continue reading Falcons, Lottery team up for new ticket »

Which way stock market? What to do?

Yogi Berra once said that when you come to a fork in the road, you should take it.

Well, the stock market appears to be at that point, but which way will it go? And what’s the best course of action?

There’s plenty of evidence that the summer rally is peaking, as the article featured in the blog item below this one discusses.

There are also many who believe that the market may retreat a little before resuming its upward march.

What do you say? Why? Best strategy?

Continue reading Which way stock market? What to do? »

Power Breakfast: Stocks peaking, Home Depot, lottery, Japan

After a hot summer, is the stock market rally over?

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what some are now predicting.

Some of the analysts and investors who called a bottom in March, when the markets hit their worst levels in more than a decade, now say they are detecting a peak in share prices, the New York Times reported. And they warn that stocks could be headed for a sharp pullback.

What’s more, the Times writes, September is traditionally a poor month for stocks.

But the article does go on to point out that analysts can be wrong. Many of the country’s smartest investors got clobbered during the downturn last year, the Times writes. And betting against Wall Street’s momentum has not been a smart move lately.

So, what to do?

It’s not easy. But generally the best advice for long-term investors is to diversify, develop a thoughtful game plan and stick with it. Trying to time the market is a risky and often futile endeavor.

Studies have repeatedly shown that most stock market …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Stocks peaking, Home Depot, lottery, Japan »

Power Breakfast: GDP, nukes, MARTA, stimulus, clunkers

I will be taking two days off, so this will be the last Power Breakfast until Monday morning.

Today, the economy will take center stage, as the government gives a new estimate of the nation’s gross domestic product for the second quarter. Economists expect the report will show that GDP shrank 1.5 percent — worse than the previous estimate of a 1 percent drop, Associated Press reports.

Still, that is a big improvement over the 6.4 percent decline the economy experienced in the first quarter, the worst in nearly three decades, AP said.

Investors also will be looking at the number of first-time unemployment benefit claims, which comes out today. It is expected to fall to 565,000 from 576,000. That would reverse two weeks of increases.

Meanwhile, Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan said Wednesday that the national economy will probably grow in this quarter — but at less than 1 percent, AJC reporter Michael Kanell writes.

In Georgia, Dhawan said, the unemployment rate …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: GDP, nukes, MARTA, stimulus, clunkers »

What has your job search been like?

A growing economy this quarter will not stop the bleeding in the state’s job market.

Unemployment will rise to 11 percent next year as the state sheds another 43,800 jobs, Georgia State’s Economic Forecasting Center predicted today, according to AJC reporter Michael Kanell. That’s on top of this year’s projected loss of 205,000 jobs, said GSU economist Rajeev Dhawan.

If you’ve been looking for work, what have you been experiencing? Have you noticed any changes lately — good or bad?

And if you’re responsible for hiring decisions, what do you see coming down the pike?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading What has your job search been like? »

Power Breakfast: Home prices, Bernanke, law schools, Twitter

Slowly, the metro housing market appears to be inching its way out of the ditch. But there’s a long way to go.

Atlanta home prices, for the first time in two years, increased month over month, AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes.

The S&P Case Shiller Index said seasonally adjusted home prices in the metro area rose 1 percent in June, compared with May. That halted a 25-month slide.

Still, year-over-year prices were down 14 percent, Shaw writes.

The market is likely to improve in a very uneven way. For example, single-family home sales inside the Perimeter may see a turnaround before some of the heavily hit suburban areas.

Also, as inventory is reduced, improving the market, some homeowners who have been renting out their houses will decide to sell them. That can swell the inventory again.

So, it’s likely to take a long time before we make up the 20 percent-plus price decline from the June 2007 peak.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Home prices, Bernanke, law schools, Twitter »

Georgia exploits window of opportunity

Ken Stewart says the view from his 12th floor office in Midtown is one of the best ways to sell Georgia to companies looking to expand.

From his Fifth Street post as commissioner of Georgia’s Economic Development Department, he can tell a prospect to look directly across the interstate at Georgia Tech’s advanced computing lab.

A slight turn of the neck to the south and he can point to Coke’s headquarters, Centennial Olympic Park, the fish tank, new downtown buildings and an Atlanta culinary delight — The Varsity. And on the northwest horizon, there’s the Vinings headquarters of Georgia’s largest company, Home Depot.

The combination of multinational firms, top-notch higher education and a vibrant downtown help Stewart in what’s become a super-competitive race among states to attract new investments.

“The lifeblood of every … state is to market and sell and grow,” he said. But during a recession, that’s not easy.

“The competitive landscape to grow jobs is …

Continue reading Georgia exploits window of opportunity »

Power Breakfast: Bernanke to get another Fed term, Wikipedia, Facebook

President Obama apparently believes that you don’t change horses in midstream.

The president plans to reappoint Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a position where he guided the economy away from its worst recession since the 1930s, the Associated Press is reporting.

Credited with taking aggressive action to avert an economic catastrophe after the financial meltdown, Bernanke will be nominated for another term today, AP reports. Obama plans to make the announcement on Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing for the week with his family.

“Wall Street can rest a little easier now,” Chris Rupkey, an economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, told AP. “Having a new chairman come in at this late date would put the Fed-engineered solution to both the recovery and the exit strategy at risk.”

In the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Bernanke to get another Fed term, Wikipedia, Facebook »

Was ‘cash for clunkers’ worth it?

It’s time for the post-mortem.

With the $3 billion “cash for clunkers” program winding down tonight, do you think it was worth doing?

On one side of the coin are those who say the devastated auto industry needed a boost. What’s more, consumers got rebates of up to $4,500. And the environment will be better off with fewer gas hogs on the road.

On the other side are those who say this program is just robbing from future sales, so the long-term effect will be negligible. They also say there will be a very limited environmental gain, and it will come at too high of a cost. Some dealers also have been critical of the pace of the government’s reimbursement to them.

So, in the end, what do you say? Thumbs up or down?

Continue reading Was ‘cash for clunkers’ worth it? »

Should special provisions be made for a Social Security increase?

Social Security recipients will not be receiving a cost-of-living adjustment next year, but they’re still hurting in this economy. Many pay a high proportion of their income for health care, where costs are rising more than they are in the overall economy.

One group, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, wants Congress to increase benefits anyway, even though the formula doesn’t call for it, Associated Press reports. It would like to see either a 1 percent increase in monthly payments or a one-time payment of $150.

The cost of a one-time payment, a little less than $8 billion, could be covered by increasing the amount of income subjected to Social Security taxes. Workers pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,800 of income.

Critics argue that Social Security recipients shouldn’t get an increase when overall inflation is down. They said recipients received a big increase in January — after energy prices started to fall, AP writes. They also …

Continue reading Should special provisions be made for a Social Security increase? »