Archive for December, 2009

Have you lost ground financially over the past decade?

How has the last decade been to you?

With the calendar poised to turn and the final year of the decade about to begin, it is natural to look back.

The recession has made the past couple of years rough for many people. But how does your financial picture look if you back up a bit further?

Compared to where you were in 1999, is your economic situation better or worse?

How does your income compare?

What about your home value? Your net worth and portfolio?

Your employment situation?

Please write a comment below. And you can also participate in a news story.

AJC reporters Tammy Joyner and Michael Kanell would like to hear about your situation, and possibly include it in an upcoming report. E-mail them at tjoyner@ajc.com and mkanell@ajc.com. Please include your name and a daytime phone number.

Thanks.

Continue reading Have you lost ground financially over the past decade? »

Comcast-NBC: Should regulators step in or let the free market rule?

Comcast Corp. announced Thursday it plans to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal for $13.75 billion, Associated Press reports.

The deal would give the nation’s largest cable TV operator control NBC, an array of cable channels and a major movie studio.

Movies could reach cable more quickly after showing in theaters, and TV shows could appear faster on cell phones and other devices, AP writes.

But the deal is already raising concerns that Comcast, which serves about a quarter of all cable TV households, would wield too much power over entertainment.

What do you think? Should regulators limit the deal in some way or not?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Delta slicing costs, mayoral election, BofA, Home Depot, Comcast-NBC

Like many other companies, Delta Air Lines continues to be in the cost-cutting mode.

AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes that Delta doesn’t expect to see key revenue measures improve before the middle of next year. That means it will continue to trim costs, an executive told analysts in New York on Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based airline is in the middle of axing $200 million in overhead costs, mainly through cuts in back-office functions and salaried employees, Chief Financial Officer Hank Halter said at a Morgan Stanley conference that was also Webcast.

It is also completing the shutdown of the freighter business it inherited from its merger with Northwest Airlines, Halter said, adding that the cargo plane business lost about $150 million last year, Yamanouchi writes.

Halter also said the company has retired about 75 aircraft to the desert over time. Amid the weak economy, demand for travel is slow and fewer travelers are paying for first class and business class, so airlines …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Delta slicing costs, mayoral election, BofA, Home Depot, Comcast-NBC »

Guard against ID theft during holidays

Be on guard against identity theft this holiday season.

The Better Business Bureau says ID theft claimed 10 million victims in 2008, a 22 percent increase over 2007, according to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research.

BBB recommends the following online shopping tips:

– Make online purchases with a credit card. If the credit card number lands in the hands of ID thieves, remember that the Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to dispute the charges with your credit card company.

– Only pay on a secured site. Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.

– Confirm the legitimacy of all “trust marks.” You can confirm that certification from organizations such as BBB, Versign or TRUSTe is legitimate by clicking on the seal. A legitimate seal will direct you to the certifying organization’s Web site.

BBB recommends ways to fight e-mail phishing:

– Purchase anti-virus software from a …

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Power Breakfast: Reed leads mayoral race, Ga. banking troubles, GM, Federal Reserve, health reform

Today’s big local story is Atlanta’s mayoral race.

Kasim Reed won the runoff election by a margin so narrow that his opponent Mary Norwood would not concede defeat, and the race was certain to go to a recount, AJC reporters Eric Sturgis and Ernie Suggs write.

Reed led Norwood by 758 votes out of a total of more than 83,000 cast – a margin of 0.92 percent.

And in a sign of how hotly contested this race was, nearly 11,000 more voters turned out for the runoff than for the general election in November, Sturgis and Suggs write.

On the local business front, Georgia banks continue to suffer.

AJC reporter Paul Donsky writes that third-quarter figures recently released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. paint a grim portrait of Georgia’s banking industry.

More than 55 percent of the state’s banks lost money in the third quarter, compared with 63 percent in the previous quarter. The state’s banks lost a total of $889 million in the quarter ending Sept. 30, up from $783 …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Reed leads mayoral race, Ga. banking troubles, GM, Federal Reserve, health reform »

Time for a local jobs summit

Dear Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond:

You’ve been straightforward about how tough our labor market is for job seekers.

Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond

And you know the situation will stay depressed — or get even worse — as layoffs continue into next year. Already, more than six job seekers are competing for every open spot.

To replenish Georgia’s depleted unemployment insurance fund, you’re even planning to request a loan from the federal government, joining about half of the other states.

You’ve also been innovative with your Georgia Works program, which has helped thousands of workers, both white-collar and blue-collar, land jobs.

Copied by other states, it gives participating employers six weeks to train an unemployed worker, while the trainee collects unemployment insurance and a $50 weekly stipend. Many people have landed permanent jobs this way.

But, with all due respect, Commissioner, it’s time to step it up a notch.

To use your own words: “This is a crisis. … We …

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Power Breakfast: Online shopping, world markets, Delta, NCR, GE and Comcast

It could be worse. A year ago, it would be.

Given this jittery economy, investor reaction to the Dubai crisis and consumer holiday purchases online seem to be doing OK so far.

World stock markets and U.S. shopping are two diverse points in the global economy. But they appear to show that we’re slogging our way out of this giant mess.

The Associated Press reports that world markets rose Tuesday following modest gains on Wall Street amid increased confidence the Dubai debt crisis was unlikely to derail the global recovery.

Most major benchmarks were up about 1 percent or more while Tokyo stocks surged on news the central bank was holding an unscheduled board meeting amid government pressure to do more about the surging yen and falling consumer prices, AP reports.

A year ago, there likely would have been a more distressing reaction by investors.

Meanwhile, on the U.S. shopping front, AJC staffer Rachel Tobin Ramos reports likely growth in online holiday sales this year, while …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Online shopping, world markets, Delta, NCR, GE and Comcast »