Archive for October, 2009

Power Breakfast: Public option, UPS and FedEx, AARP, flood, Jazz Fest back in Piedmont

The public option will be in the proposed legislation that hits the Senate floor when debating begins.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, sided with his party’s liberals on Monday and announced that he would include a government-run insurance plan in health care legislation that the Senate will consider within a few weeks, the New York Times reports.

His proposal, however, came with an escape hatch: A state could refuse to participate in the public insurance plan by adopting a law to opt out.

Even so, the Times says, the announcement was a turning point in the debate over how much of a role government should play in an overhauled health care system, and it set the stage for a test of Democratic party unity.

Getting a public option approved is still going to be an uphill battle.

With Republicans united for now in opposition to any bill including a public option, Reid needs support from all members of his caucus — 58 Democrats and two independents — to take up the …

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Tougher regulations for ‘too big to fail’ companies?

It’s a question that just won’t go away in this recession — should the government intervene in some aspect of our economy or stay away?

The latest twist on this issue comes today with a report in the New York Times that the Obama administration and some in Congress want to rein in companies deemed “too big to fail.”

One idea would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institutions, the Times reports.

U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, was planning to endorse the changes in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, the Times said.

Deep-seated voter anger over the bailouts of companies like American International Group, Citigroup and Bank of America, the Times said, has fed the fears of lawmakers. They want changes in the regulatory system to include the imposition of more onerous conditions on …

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Power Breakfast: Permitting homes improves, retail foreclosures, solar cells, Ponzi scheme

It’s yet another sign of the times. Atlanta’s permitting process, long ridiculed by homebuilders as one of the worst bureaucratic messes in the city, is functioning quite well now — just in time for very little business.

Obtaining a permit for a single-family home, the simplest type of construction, often took as long as four months, AJC reporter Bill Torpy writes. Some builders would avoid the city altogether rather than deal with the process.

It got so bad, the Home Builders Association sued the city. A settlement was reached that guaranteed that after December 2006, it would take no longer than 60 days to permit a single-family home and after June 30, 2007, just 30 days.

“They hit those marks,” Chris Burke, vice president for the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, told Torpy. “Just in time for a recession.”

By the end of September of this year, the city had permitted 114 single family homes, including just three in February. By comparison, the city permitted 178 …

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Some good news: Georgia’s new automaker makes profits

With all the distressing economic news out there, I thought I’d highlight a positive one today.

Kia Motors, which is scheduled to begin production next month in West Point, posted a $339 million quarterly profit — it’s highest ever, the Associated Press reported.

As you know, many automakers have been bathing in red ink lately.

Kia said its global auto sales jumped in the third quarter, rising 30 percent from last year to 279,969 vehicles, AP reported.

For the first nine months of the year, the South Korean automaker said net profit surged, revenue rose 12 percent and auto sales increased 6.8 percent.

The plant in West Point will start off producing the Sorento crossover utility vehicle with 1,200 employees working one shift. If sales go well, execs are hoping to add another shift next year.

Has Georgia landed a winner?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Unemployment rises as profits fall, Delta, SunTrust, UPS, NCR

Metro Atlanta’s job market continued to look bleak last month.

The unemployment rate rose to 10.5 percent in September, up from 10.3 percent in August and from 6.7 percent a year ago, according to state labor department figures reported by AJC staffer Michael Kanell.

What’s more, if you look down at the other stories highlighted in this blog, you’ll see some distressing corporate earnings numbers among major Atlanta-based companies.

Delta and SunTrust reported losses and UPS posted a large profit decline. Newly relocated NCR also reported a huge profit drop and may cut more than 2,000 jobs worldwide, although Georgia may be spared.

It’s not a pretty picture for the beginnings of a recovery.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Unemployment rises as profits fall, Delta, SunTrust, UPS, NCR »

Is 7 a lucky number for Windows?

With new high-tech programs and widgets announced almost daily, has Windows 7 caught your eye?

The new Microsoft sotfware for PCs, which debuts Thursday, is supposed to boot up faster and cut down on the clicks needed to get common tasks done.

The Associated Press says Windows 7 won’t require an advanced information technology degree to set up home networks to share photos and music.

Plugging in a new device, AP says, won’t set off a mad hunt online for driver software, which tells the equipment how to work with an operating system.

So, will you upgrade? Let’s hear from you Apple people, too!

If you own a business, are you thinking about driving up Microsoft’s bottom line to improve your own efficiency?

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Cut exec pay or government stay away?

Many readers of this blog have expressed outrage at the excesses of executive compensation.

But many readers also have expressed dismay over the amount of government intervention in the economy.

Now, those two views appear to be at odds with the latest news development.

The Obama administration will order the companies that received the most taxpayer bailout money to slash compensation to their highest-paid employees, the New York Times is reporting.

The plan, for the 25 top earners at seven companies that received exceptional help, will on average cut total compensation this year by about 50 percent, the Times said.

The companies are Citigroup, Bank of America, American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers.

What do you think of the government’s action?

Is it at odds with too much intervention? Or are these seven cases worthy of an exception?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Fake cash at Christmas, exec pay cuts, flood, Home Depot, Georgia Tech, AirTran

With so many important stories this morning, it was hard to pick one to highlight.

From fake money floating around this Christmas to the government slashing pay of top execs of companies that received bailout money, there is a lot going on.

Also, many Cobb County flood victims voiced displeasure at a meeting last night. And another former Home Depot buyer was indicted in a kickback scheme.

Georgia Tech gets a $12 million grant for high-speed computing, and AirTran and Aaron’s report financial results.

In the AJC:

In other media:

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Power Breakfast: Natural gas, Delta, Invesco, Scana, Coke

There’s good news on the consumer front for a change.

Natural gas customers could end up paying less this winter than last year because of what one local gas marketer calls “a good, perfect storm” of factors, AJC reporter David Markiewicz writes.

An abundant supply of natural gas now in storage, plus lower overall demand, will likely help offset the natural uptick in gas prices that occurs each year when the weather turns colder, Markiewicz reports.

So, while wholesale gas prices have risen a bit lately, the cost to users likely will be lower this winter than in previous years, marketers said.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

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Credit card canceled without warning?

Has your credit card been canceled without warning or for no apparent reason?

The Associated Press is reporting that consumers across the country have been reporting such problems, specifically with bank MasterCards that are co-branded with oil companies.

Citibank confirmed the practice, AP reports. Citi said in a statement it “decided to close a limited number of oil partner co-branded MasterCard accounts.” That includes Shell, Citgo, ExxonMobil and Phillips 66-Conoco cards.

No law, AP said, prevents banks from closing down credit accounts without warning. Credit card issuers all maintain the right, typically listed in the fine print on credit card agreements.

Have you experienced this? Should the law be changed?

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