Archive for March, 2010

Economic glass: Half-full or half-empty?

Is the economy really starting to turn? Or is it an illusion?

Consider:

– Metro Atlanta home prices are stabilizing, with at least one expert bullish on the upcoming quarter.

Consumer confidence and consumer spending are up.

– The Dow is approaching 11,000.

But, there are still lots of problems.

Unemployment is very high, there are five job seekers for every opening in Atlanta and foreclosures are still setting records.

So, how do you see things?

Slow, steady progress? Continued trouble on the horizon? Both at the same time?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Economic glass: Half-full or half-empty? »

Power Breakfast: Home prices stabilizing, transportation, Falcons, bankruptcies, education cuts, oil drilling

Metro Atlanta’s housing market continues to show signs of stability, AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes.

Though prices fell slightly in January, when compared to the year before, the gap between those values has been shrinking for the past several months, according to a new report.

The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index, released Tuesday, showed seasonally adjusted metro Atlanta prices fell 2 percent in January from the year before and were virtually unchanged from December.

“With numbers like this, we’re going to have a super robust second quarter,” Steve Palm, president of Marietta-based SmartNumbers, told Shaw. “And I’m talking 20-30 percent up for the second quarter over 2009, to avoid a double-dip recession.”

Palm also believes the federal housing credit will help attain that goal, Shaw writes. Home buyers who qualify for the credit must have their home under contract by the end of April and close the deal by the end of June.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Home prices stabilizing, transportation, Falcons, bankruptcies, education cuts, oil drilling »

What’s your iPhone strategy?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple plans to begin producing this year a new iPhone that could allow U.S. phone carriers other than AT&T to sell the gadget.

The new iPhone would work on a type of wireless network called CDMA, the WSJ reports. CDMA is used by Verizon Wireless, AT&T’s main competitor, as well as Sprint Nextel.

Verizon declined to comment for the WSJ story.

But what do you say?

Will you wait for Verizon or another carrier before buying the iPhone?

AT&T has come under criticism because iPhone sales initially overwhelmed its network. But the company says it has been investing billions to beef it up and improve service.

If you’re with AT&T, have things improved? Will  you bolt to another carrier if the iPhone becomes available?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading What’s your iPhone strategy? »

Coke-CCE deal spurs big change

When in doubt about what a major business move really means, it never can hurt to seek out someone with a deep background in the affected industry.

Marion Glover

Marion Glover

With Coke involved in the biggest acquisition of its 124-year history — a $12 billion deal for the North American operations of the world’s largest soft drink bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises — I decided to talk with an expert I first met a decade ago while covering these two companies.

Clearly, this is the most significant local merger under way right now. Atlanta’s third largest public company is acquiring the bulk of its fifth biggest firm.

Marion Glover, 67, has 37 years of experience with the Coke system, first as a Big Red executive for a dozen years and then as a matchmaker in the soft-drink bottling industry.

As owner of Atlanta-based Glover Capital, he has been involved in about 100 acquisitions, primarily representing the sellers of bottling companies. (Plus, since he has an MBA from Harvard, he should know …

Continue reading Coke-CCE deal spurs big change »

Power Breakfast: Airport bond sale, C-Tran, Coke, Home Depot, iPhone

Before Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport general manager Ben DeCosta steps down, he has one more big job to do — selling bonds, writes AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi.

The bonds will raise money to complete the airport’s international terminal — an effort DeCosta has been working on for well over a year.

Now, new Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says the bond financing is so crucial that he is holding off on the search for an airport manager while the city prepares to market the bonds, Yamanouchi reports.

DeCosta’s contract ends June 30. The city owns and operates the airport.

Getting the bond financing is “our No. 1 priority” for the airport, and DeCosta “has been kind enough to make sure that we get through this process,” Reed said.

“There have been some people that have been asking when I was going to announce a search for a successor . . . and I think that that would send the wrong message at a time when we’re getting ready to sell $1.6 billion worth of bonds,” …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Airport bond sale, C-Tran, Coke, Home Depot, iPhone »

New study: Atlanta has 5 seekers for every job

With nearly five Atlantans searching for every advertised job, the city is in the middle of the pack when compared to other major areas, according to a new survey.

Atlanta is No. 23 among 50 major cities on the Job Search Difficulty Index compiled by Juju.com, a job search engine.

That means it was easier to find jobs in 22 other cities, but harder in 27 others.

San Jose was the easiest place to find a job and Detroit was the hardest, the study said.

Here’s a partial list:

City                                          No. of Unemployed For Every Advertised Job

1. San Jose                                                    1.7

2. Washington, DC                                         1.7

3. Baltimore                                                    2.4

4.  New York                                                   2.5

5. Hartford                                                      2.9

23. Atlanta                                                     4.9

46. …

Continue reading New study: Atlanta has 5 seekers for every job »

Power Breakfast: Recession cuts crime rate, health reform, Ga. bank failures, Toyota, data theft

Unlike past recessions, this one seems to be cutting the crime rate.

You can thank your unemployed neighbor, in part, for a drop in home burglaries, AJC reporter Tammy Joyner writes.

“We assume crime climbs when the economy is down,” said Richard Rosenfeld, professor of criminology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. But “during high unemployment, more people are at home and that cuts the rates of burglary.”

Until this recent downturn, a bad economy was easy to read: crime and deviant behavior (think drug dealing, fencing and the like) go up when the economy goes down, Joyner writes.

But the latest set of police reports across the country, including in Atlanta, don’t square with past downturns. The underground market, it seems, has been turned on its ear in this recession.

“This is a real break in past patterns,” Rosenfeld told about two dozen economists from around the world who gathered in Stone Mountain this month for the second annual meeting on …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Recession cuts crime rate, health reform, Ga. bank failures, Toyota, data theft »

Atlanta mayor taking playbook from business

Faced with a $48 million hole in his budget, the new CEO of Atlanta – aka Mayor Kasim Reed – asked his commissioners to identify “three dumb things” their departments do or don’t do.

Kasim Reed

Kasim Reed

“We’re doing too many things in Atlanta,” Reed said in an interview. “We’re going to run our government in a radically different fashion.”

The former corporate attorney said his biggest surprise since taking office at the beginning of the year is the drain being placed on limited resources because the city is not organized efficiently.

For example, some departments have their own IT and HR operations, which could be consolidated. On the revenue side, the city has not been collecting money from Uncle Sam for administering some federal programs.

The phrase he’s cringed at the most: “It’s always been done that way.”

While it’s too early in his tenure to draw any solid judgment on Reed’s management style, a preliminary glimpse indicates he’s trying to take a business approach to organizing …

Continue reading Atlanta mayor taking playbook from business »

Will new mortgage relief plan help?

What do you think of this latest plan for mortgage relief?

The Obama administration will announce Friday a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans, Associated Press is reporting.

The effort will let people who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth get new loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, AP writes. It would be funded by $14 billion from the administration’s existing $75 billion foreclosure-prevention program.

The plan also will require the more than 100 mortgage companies participating in the administration’s existing foreclosure prevention program to consider slashing the amount borrowers owe. They will get incentive payments if they do so.

It also will include three to six months of temporary aid for borrowers who have lost their jobs.

Will this help you avoid foreclosure?

Should the government be doing this?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Will new mortgage relief plan help? »

Power Breakfast: Health reform final, Perdue plans suit, Cobb schools, small business, mortgage relief

It’s over. At least for now.

Congressional Democrats sent the final piece of landmark health care legislation to President Barack Obama before heading home to face a skeptical — and sometimes even threatening — electorate, Associated Press reported.

The last legislative chapter in the wrenching national debate over Obama’s health overhaul plan came Thursday night in the House, as Democrats approved — for the second time — a package of fixes to the sweeping health bill Obama signed two days earlier, AP writes. The measure includes better benefits for seniors and low-income and middle-class families.

In the hours ahead of the vote lawmakers reported isolated threats of violence from a volatile public.

The vote was 220-207, as majority Democrats prevailed despite 32 defections and no Republican support, AP reports. The same bill had passed the Senate earlier in the day 56-43, with all voting Republicans and three Democrats voting “no.”

Obama was expected to sign the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Health reform final, Perdue plans suit, Cobb schools, small business, mortgage relief »