Archive for November, 2009

Beware of scammers trading on Google’s name

The Better Business Bureau says it has received more than 1,500 complaints about dozens of Web sites that are trading on Google’s name to scam people who want to learn about making money from home.

Because the sites use the Google name and often prominently display its logo, consumers may assume they are getting a job with Google. But instead, BBB says, they are getting taken in by a work-at-home scheme.

Victimized consumers say they signed up online to receive a free trial of a CD or access to information that would show them how to make money from home using Google, BBB says. Consumers had to provide a credit card or debit card number to cover shipping — which is typically only a few dollars.

But consumers told BBB they were billed before their trial ended — or never even received the CD — and continued to be billed after they had canceled their order.

Consumers also found mystery charges from several other businesses for services they didn’t realize they were signing up for …

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Graveline hanging up cleats at Georgia World Congress Center

After 33 years in charge of Atlanta’s convention engine — the Georgia World Congress Center — Dan Graveline is retiring at the end of the year.

Five governors, thousands of state lawmakers and millions of conventioneers later, Graveline is leaving as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank searches for a replacement for the Georgia Dome, which also comes under Graveline’s purview.

Dan Graveline

Dan Graveline

So does Centennial Olympic Park, the focal point for a downtown renaissance in recent years.

“I told Billy [Payne] he was crazy as hell” when Payne, head of the Atlanta Olympics, proposed that the park be created for the Games in 1996, Graveline said last week. “I really give him credit for the astounding transformation” of the area.

All told, Graveline has run a state agency with annual revenue of $130 million and an economic impact of $2 billion, given all the out-of-town guests, according to a UGA estimate.

With his decades of service and significant responsibility, what has he …

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Power Breakfast: Severance pay running out, Delta, Wieland, Madoff, anti-spending rally, health care

The Wall Street Journal reports today on another distressing effect of this recession — unemployed Americans who took severance packages are running out of funds and can’t find replacement jobs.

Many lost their jobs in 2007 and 2008, and thought they’d soon find work, the WSJ reports.

Now, they’re getting desperate. Last week, lawmakers passed a bill extending unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks. Unemployment benefits, which typically last about 26 weeks, were expected to run out for 1.3 million people by the end of the year, according to the National Employment Law Project.

All of this is happening as the long-term jobless rate hits its highest point on record. More than a third of those who are out of work have been looking for more than six months, making this category of unemployed the biggest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it in 1948, the WSJ reports.

Overall, companies have been eliminating or trimming severance packages. For those who do receive …

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Which way stock market?

Is the market getting used to the 10,000 level or is there still a good chance of a significant retreat?

On the positive side, investors appeared to take news of rising unemployment in stride.

Also, the weak dollar can help U.S. exports. And it also can boost corporate bottom lines, since repatriated overseas profits translate into more dollars.

What’s more, confidence appears to be on the upswing about a global recovery, with the Group of 20 countries agreeing to keep their stimulus measures in place.

Finally, on the bright side, there’s been lots of talk about lots of cash sitting on the sidelines, waiting to get back in.

At the same time, however, rising double-digit unemployment does not bode well for consumer incomes or spending.

Credit is still tight for many businesses and banks continue to fail.

A falling dollar can spark commodity inflation, which would dampen consumer incomes even more.

And the critical holiday-spending season is an unknown right now, again with …

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Power Breakfast: Young firms create the jobs, Ga. bank failure, health care, NBC-Comcast

Small business long has been held out as the biggest job creator in the American economy, writes AJC reporter David Markiewicz.

But a new study says that a company’s age — not its size — is the most important factor in creating jobs.

The report, which used U.S. Census data, says it’s actually young firms — those 1 to 5 years old — that add the most jobs. Some, but not all of those young firms, are still considered small businesses.

Commissioned by the private, non-partisan Kauffman Foundation, the study says 8 million of the 12 million jobs added in 2007 were created by young firms.

The study’s authors said the distinction between small businesses and new ones has public policy implications, Markiewicz writes. They argue for: cutting payroll taxes; helping immigrants seeking scientific training or trying to launch companies; helping academic entrepreneurs commercialize their innovations; and aiding the ability of firms to borrow.

Also in the AJC:

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How are you faring in this worsening job market?

Unemployment is rising more sharply than economists had predicted.

The unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent in October — the first time it climbed over 10 percent since 1983. Most economists were expecting the rate to come in at 9.9 percent.

Nearly 16 million people are officially unemployed, the Labor Department said today.

How are you faring in this worsening job market? If you’ve landed a job after being laid off, do you have any words of wisdom for those still out there?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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What’s your company doing for a holiday party?

The holidays are right around the corner and that means company parties at swank digs.

Or does it? Is your employer hosting a posh affair or potluck this year?

The recession’s lingering grip makes this year an interesting guess.

So what is happening at your company?

In addition to commenting on this blog, AJC reporter Tammy Joyner is writing an article about this. She would like to hear from you, whether you’re an employee, company official or caterer.

You can reach her at 404 526-5870 or tjoyner@ajc.com. Thanks.

Continue reading What’s your company doing for a holiday party? »

Power Breakfast: Trouble grows for Ga. banks, Delta, Cousins, jobless numbers out today

Georgia’s bank situation keeps getting worse.

Nearly one in of five of Georgia’s more than 300 banks made a list of troubled institutions at the end of the third quarter, AJC reporter Paul Donsky writes.

In all, 57 banks had high scores on a misery index known as the Texas ratio as of Sept. 30, compared to 49 in the second quarter. No other state had as many banks on the list, Donsky reports.

Many of the banks ran into trouble after making loans to home builders and subdivision developers that turned bad after the housing market imploded two years ago.

The troubles appear to be escalating at some of the hardest-hit banks as problem loans soar and capital erodes, causing their Texas ratios to climb sharply.

Also in the AJC:

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Will tax credit for ‘move-up’ homebuyers spur you to act?

Late Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-0 to extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit of $8,000 to April 30.

The Senate also took action to spur sales to “move-up” buyers, AJC reporter Bob Keefe writes.

Legislation, which still must be passed by the House, would provide a $6,500 tax credit for homebuyers, as long as they had been in their previous home for at least five years.

The tax credits would be limited to homebuyers who make $125,000 or less as an individual or $225,000 or less as a couple. The cost of the home being purchased may not exceed $800,000.

If these provisions become law, will it push you off the fence? Why or why not?

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Power Breakfast: Senate OKs unemployment extension and home-buyer credit, major toll projects, CNN, Toyota, Intel

When Democrats and Republicans want to work together, they certainly know how.

The U.S. Senate late Wednesday unanimously passed legislation extending unemployment benefits and also significantly expanding a homebuyer tax credit that was championed by Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, AJC reporter Bob Keefe writes.

The Senate voted 98-0 to extend unemployment benefits for the jobless by up to 20 weeks. In states with unemployment rates of 8.5 percent and above — in Georgia the unemployment rate is 10.1 percent — the jobless could receive up to 99 weeks of benefits, which average about $300 per week.

As part of the unemployment package, the Senate also voted to extend an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit through April 30, Keefe reports.

The homebuyer tax credit program, which is currently set to expire Nov. 30, also would be expanded to give all homebuyers a $6,500 credit as long as they had been in their previous home for at least five years.

Also in the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Senate OKs unemployment extension and home-buyer credit, major toll projects, CNN, Toyota, Intel »