Archive for March, 2011

Power Breakfast: Metro area lost 57,000 construction jobs, Cobb tax vote, Crossover Day, Coke, NCR, Hartsfield

New numbers support the same sad story — metro Atlanta has taken a big hit in construction.

The metro area lost more than 57,000 construction jobs, or 42 percent, over the past four years, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the group determined the Atlanta area ranked 291st out of 337 metro areas in construction employment jobs gained – or in many cases lost – over the period, Shaw writes.

The numbers include all types of construction jobs, including road construction and home building.

“Georgia has certainly has had one of the most challenging experiences,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Virginia-based contractor’s group. “And you all will still have some challenges ahead.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Metro area lost 57,000 construction jobs, Cobb tax vote, Crossover Day, Coke, NCR, Hartsfield »

Is $1 million enough for you?

A million dollars ain’t what it used to be, Reuters writes.

More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich, Reuters reports. Indeed many would need to have at least $7.5 million in order to feel they were truly rich, according to a Fidelity Investments survey.

Some 42 percent of the more than 1,000 millionaires surveyed by Fidelity said they did not feel wealthy, Reuters reports. Respondents had at least $1 million in investable assets — excluding any real estate or retirement accounts.

What do you think? Is this an example of selfishness and greed?

Or is it a realistic view that more money is needed to feel secure today?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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You and your 401(k) are becoming the key retirement vehicle

Long-term investors may be smarter than they think.

Roger Ferguson

Roger Ferguson

That’s the word from a financial expert with three Harvard degrees (B.A., law, Ph.D.) who was in the charge of the Federal Reserve in Washington on 9/11. (Alan Greenspan was overseas.)

Roger Ferguson, former vice chairman of the Fed and now CEO of the TIAA-CREF financial services firm, was in town last week. TIAA-CREF manages $453 billion of investments, including 401(k)-like retirement plans for 49,000 participants in metro Atlanta. The plans — actually 403(b)s in the nonprofit sector — include employees of Emory, UGA, Tech, Morehouse, Children’s Healthcare, Fulton County schools and Woodward.

Ferguson told me that despite the complexities in today’s financial world, the same principles still apply — diversify, know your appetite for risk and take the long view.

“The investment rules have not changed in 40 or 50 years,” he said.

By contrast, much has changed for short-term traders, he said, but …

Continue reading You and your 401(k) are becoming the key retirement vehicle »

Power Breakfast: Southern Co. scrambles to maintain support for nuclear power, immigration bill, Aflac duck, Cousins victory

The evolving disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had Southern Co. executives working through the weekend to control political damage to nuclear expansion ambitions in the United States, AJC reporter Margaret Newkirk writes.

Southern is at the head of that push nationally.

Its two-reactor project at the Vogtle nuclear plant near Augusta is one of three survivors of what was billed as a national nuclear renaissance a few years ago, Newkirk reports. If they’re completed by 2017, the reactors would be the first ones started and finished in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island disaster soured the public on nuclear power in the 1979.

The Japan disaster threatens to blacken the industry’s eye again, with some calling for a moratorium or slowdown on new reactors, Newkirk writes.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., a nuclear power backer, told CBS on Sunday that the country should “quietly, quickly put the brakes on” and “see what more, if anything, we can demand of …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Southern Co. scrambles to maintain support for nuclear power, immigration bill, Aflac duck, Cousins victory »

Power Breakfast: Rising state tax revenue points to recovery, metro foreclosures, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A

The job market may be struggling, housing prices still sliding, the purchasing power of paychecks shrinking and one of every six Georgians receiving food stamps, writes AJC reporter Michael Kanell.

But there is one sign that the economy is growing, and there lies hope that those other measures also will improve, Kanell reports.

Reason to believe rests on this: Rising revenues collected by the state from sales and income taxes show Georgians making more and spending more, Kanell writes.

“Increased collections are telling us that the economic recovery has finally come to Georgia, and it is gathering momentum,” Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center at the University of Georgia, told Kanell. “We’ve now got a pretty long string of year-over-year increases and that suggests that the recovery is alive and well.”

Revenues collected by the state in February — on everything from sales taxes to tobacco and alcohol taxes to motor vehicle registration fees — …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Rising state tax revenue points to recovery, metro foreclosures, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A »

Metro foreclosure notices fell slightly from February to March, substantially from year ago

Maybe, just maybe, the foreclosure crisis in metro Atlanta is peaking.

Barry Bramlett

Barry Bramlett

Foreclosures notices in March in the 13-county metro area dropped slightly from February and substantially from a year ago, Equity Depot said Monday.

What’s more, the notices did not increase 20 percent to 25 percent from February to March — which they can do because there is more time for lenders to prepare foreclosure ads, said Equity Depot President Barry Bramlett.

“Whether this is an anomaly or a true signal foreclosures have topped out and are starting to decline, we really won’t know for a while,” Bramlett said in an email to the AJC.

Notices in the metro area fell to 10,779 in March — a 0.6 percent drop from February and a 14 percent decline from a year ago, Equity Depot data show.

By contrast, March 2010 saw a 22 percent rise from February.

For the first quarter, foreclosure notices are 2 percent ahead of last year, which set an annual record.

Gwinnett County led the pack in March …

Continue reading Metro foreclosure notices fell slightly from February to March, substantially from year ago »

Been able to reduce your family’s debt?

Have you cut your debt? How? By how much?

U.S. families — by defaulting on their loans and scrimping on expenses — shouldered a smaller debt burden in 2010 than at any point in the previous six years, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Total U.S. household debt — including mortgages and credit cards — fell for the second straight year in 2010 to $13.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

That came to 116 percent of disposable income — down from a peak debt burden of 130 percent in 2007, the WSJ reports. It’s the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2004.

With the help of rising stock prices and falling debt, net worth rose 5.1 percent, the WSJ writes.

But any solace from the improving debt numbers has been tempered by worries over rising commodity prices, Chinese trade and the threat to Middle East oil supplies, the WSJ reports.

Have you been able to reduce debt and improve your financial position during these tough times?

Or has the unemployment and …

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Power Breakfast: Big radio deal sign of rising M&A activity, HOPE, Coke CEO pay, road tolls, deficit

Yesterday, we focused on a story about three parties kicking the tires of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Today, we’ll tell you about a big radio merger.

The recent uptick in M&A news seems to be another sign the economy is picking up a little steam. Too little to put much of a dent on unemployment so far, but at least it’s heading in the right direction. Mergers and acquisitions generally fall off the table in a poor economy.

Now for today’s news from AJC reporter Margaret Newkirk:

Atlanta-based radio giant Cumulus Media sealed its $2.4 billion acquisition of Citadel Broadcasting early Thursday, after wooing the Las Vegas company for four months and a frenzied final 19 days of negotiations.

Cumulus — parent of local FM rock station 99X among others — becomes the nation’s biggest pure play radio company. Executives said few changes are expected at stations owned by either company, and that neither listeners nor most employees will notice much difference.

The merger is a welcome …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Big radio deal sign of rising M&A activity, HOPE, Coke CEO pay, road tolls, deficit »

Five Georgians make the world’s richest list

Five Georgians are on the new Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

A record 1,210 billionaires are on the list with a total net worth of $4.5 trillion.

The Georgians are:

No. 53 — Anne Cox Chambers — net worth of $13.4 billion — a principal owner of Cox Enterprises, which owns the AJC.

No. 145 — Jim Kennedy — net worth of $6.7 billion — chairman of Cox Enterprises.

No. 651 — Bernie Marcus — net worth of $1.9 billion — co-founder of Home Depot.

No. 692 — Truett Cathy — net worth of $1.8 billion — founder of Chick-fil-A

No. 938 — Arthur Blank — net worth of $1.3 billion — co-founder of Home Depot.

Also, Ted Turner, who lists his residence as Lamont, Florida, is on the list at No. 564. The net worth of the founder of Turner Broadcasting is $2.1 billion.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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Power Breakfast: Three groups interested in Thrashers, metro unemployment up, water war, health premiums, pensions

The big local business story today comes from sports.

There are three entities currently in discussions to purchase the Thrashers, AJC writer Chris Vivlamore is reporting.

Team President Don Waddell said Wednesday he is dealing directly with the entities — two groups and one individual — who have expressed an interest in a possible purchase of only the Thrashers from the Atlanta Spirit and in keeping the team in the city, Vivlamore writes. Two of the entities are from Atlanta.

“Each group is doing their due diligence,” Waddell told Vivlamore.

Waddell said it is early in the process and none of the entities are close to signing a letter of intent for exclusive negotiating rights, Vivlamore writes. Once that document is signed between the two parties, granting exclusive negotiating rights, a deal is more likely.

It took nearly a year for the Atlanta Spirit to complete the purchase of the Thrashers, Hawks and Philips Arena from Time Warner in 2004 after a letter of …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Three groups interested in Thrashers, metro unemployment up, water war, health premiums, pensions »