Archive for January, 2011

Have a credit or debt question for the experts?

Are the bills starting to pile up from the holidays?

Have you made a new year’s resolution to get your financial house in order?

If you have a credit or debt question — including one that affects your mortgage or a possible foreclosure — please ask it below.

Experts from CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps consumers deal with debt, will answer many of them starting next week. Thanks.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Have a credit or debt question for the experts? »

Is your commute improving?

I must be out of touch. I did not know the traffic jams I sit in on I-285 were getting shorter.

AJC staffer Ariel Hart is reporting on a new study that says Atlanta has the nation’s 10th worst traffic — not the third worst. And in 2009, Atlanta’s average commuter wasted 44 hours a year in traffic jams — down half a dozen hours from previous estimates.

What do you think? Has traffic gotten better here?

Has our double-digit unemployment rate, which has been consistently higher than the nation’s, reduced congestion since some former drivers are stuck at home without jobs?

If our traffic really is getting better, will our ability to lure more companies here improve, since congestion is often cited by business execs as a negative when they’re deciding whether to relocate to Atlanta?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Is your commute improving? »

Power Breakfast: Traffic congestion, unemployment rises, Fulton pay raises, health reform, China, Wal-Mart

I didn’t realize our traffic congestion had improved.

For at least 12 years, the traffic report Urban Mobility ranked Atlanta’s congestion as the nation’s worst or near it, writes AJC reporter Ariel Hart.

But driven by new GPS data, the authors of Urban Mobility say Atlanta actually has the nation’s 10th worst traffic, not its third-worst, Hart reports.

And in 2009, Atlanta’s average commuter wasted only 44 hours a year in traffic jams — down half a dozen hours from previous estimates, Hart writes.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Traffic congestion, unemployment rises, Fulton pay raises, health reform, China, Wal-Mart »

Georgia’s unemployment rate rises to 10.2 percent in December

Georgia’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in December, from a revised 10 percent in November, the state labor department said Thursday.

December was the 39th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is 9.4 percent.

“The increase in unemployment and job loss in December is continued evidence that Georgia’s job market is fragile,” new state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who took office earlier this month, said in a statement. “In the coming months, we will work closely with Georgia’s employers, private and public sector economic developers, and the General Assembly to spur existing business expansion and to attract new industry to our state.”

In December, the number of payroll jobs decreased six-tenths of a percentage point from November, and now totals 3,827,200, the labor department said.

Most of the decline came in construction, leisure and hospitality, the public schools, professional and business services, and wholesale trade. …

Continue reading Georgia’s unemployment rate rises to 10.2 percent in December »

Ask the experts a credit or debt question

The holidays are over and the bills may be starting to pile up.

Did you overspend for Christmas? Have you made a new year’s resolution to get your financial house in order?

If you have a credit or debt question — including one that affects your mortgage or a possible foreclosure — please ask it below.

Experts from CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps consumers deal with debt, will answer many of them starting next week. Thanks.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Ask the experts a credit or debt question »

Power Breakfast: Federal bank suit targets state senator, Atlanta schools accreditation, AGL, tuition hike, Apple

Federal banking regulators on Tuesday accused eight former insiders of a failed Alpharetta bank — including the new chairman of the state Senate Banking Committee — of gross negligence and various breaches of their financial responsibilities, AJC staffers Scott Trubey and Christopher Quinn report.

In a lawsuit filed by the FDIC, state Sen. Jack S. Murphy, R-Cumming, is among former Integrity Bank executives or directors accused in relation to a series of loans made from 2005 to 2007, the reporters write. The FDIC seeks damages of “over $70 million.”

The civil suit is the third filed nationally, and the first in Georgia, by the FDIC against officers and directors of failed institutions as the agency begins seeking to recoup losses to its insurance fund caused by the failures.

The 56-page lawsuit, filed in an Atlanta federal court, describes an uninhibited lending warehouse with slipshod controls and a loan committee of directors and executives who badly botched their …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Federal bank suit targets state senator, Atlanta schools accreditation, AGL, tuition hike, Apple »

New Atlanta Dream owners shooting for a profit

Three women hope to accomplish something rare in pro sports — make money by owning a women’s franchise.

Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty plugged a gaping hole in her business plan Tuesday by introducing two new partners — philanthropist Mary Brock and business exec Kelly Loeffler — at a Philips Arena news conference. Brock and Loeffler have invested a total of $1 million in the team.

All three said they share the goal of using pro basketball to provide role models and enhanced self-confidence to younger girls.

“I strongly credit my own professional success to the lessons in leadership and character that sports taught me at an early age,” said Loeffler, 40, a former high school basketball player who is now vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange.

All three said they also have a financial goal. They did not invest their money to lose it over the long haul. They are treating the Dream as a business — not a charity …

Continue reading New Atlanta Dream owners shooting for a profit »

Do you have a credit or debt question for the experts?

It’s that time of year. The holidays are over and the bills are starting to arrive.

Did you overspend for Christmas? Have you made a new year’s resolution to get your financial house in order and want some help?

If you have a credit or debt question — including one that affects your mortgage or a possible foreclosure — please ask it below.

Experts from CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps consumers deal with debt, will answer many of them starting next week. Thanks.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Do you have a credit or debt question for the experts? »

ICE tackles ‘hot potato’ of market

You know about NYSE and Nasdaq. How about ICE?

No, it’s not a water or diamond company, or one that will wrestle with future storms here. Atlanta-based ICE, or IntercontinentalExchange (it’s all one word, believe it or not), primarily operates electronic trading exchanges for investors around the world. That means there are no trading floors where people scream out buy and sell orders. Computers, with the help of some pretty smart human beings, handle it all.

Jeff Sprecher

Jeff Sprecher

These days, ICE is handling something quite important — a potential fix for what helped trigger the financial crisis.

First, a little background.

You’ll recall that something few people understood including many on Wall Street — “credit default swaps” — helped undermine global capitalism. The swaps are similar to insurance policies. They allow lenders to buy protection from institutional investors, which agree to cover the risks of loans that may not get repaid, such as subprime mortgages.

Prior to the …

Continue reading ICE tackles ‘hot potato’ of market »

Power Breakfast: 401(k) plans slowly returning, Atlanta Dream, accreditation, FedEX, Apple, Facebook

It’s not just jobs that have been slow to come back during the economy’s spastic recovery from the Great Recession, writes AJC reporter Russell Grantham. About half of the U.S. companies that suspended contributions to their employees’ retirement savings after 2008 haven’t restored them yet.

About one in five employers with 401(k) plans cut or ditched their matching contributions during the 2007-2009 financial meltdown, according to a recently released report from compensation consulting firm Towers Watson. The cuts were particularly prevalent at firms in the retail, manufacturing, media, communications and technology industries, Grantham writes.

But, in a sign of potentially better times, most of the laggards say they expect to again start chipping in money within the next 12 months, according to Towers Watson.

The firm found that 46 percent of companies that earlier cut their 401(k) matching contributions have since restored at least part of them, and most of the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: 401(k) plans slowly returning, Atlanta Dream, accreditation, FedEX, Apple, Facebook »