Archive for August, 2011

Proximus Mobility moving headquarters to Atlanta, creating 100 jobs

Proximus Mobility will move its headquarters and development operations to Atlanta from Naples, Fla., creating 100 jobs over three years, the governor’s office announced today.

Proximus Mobility works with retailers, hotels, advertising agencies and others to provide localized digital content to consumers’ mobile phones, the governor’s office said.

“Proximus Mobility’s decision to choose Georgia for its headquarters is a great credit to our state’s established infrastructure for high-tech companies that provides them with access to intellectual capital and some of the nation’s brightest talent for this industry,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement.

Proximus CEO Michael Zeto said in a statement that Atlanta offers “the opportunity to be located near potential clients and partners like Delta Air Lines, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, CNN, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot and NCR, and have access to experienced wireless and mobile software development …

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Power Breakfast: Fed statement boosts stocks, Atlanta income up, nuke safety, immigration, SunTrust, oil

The stock market accomplished one thing yesterday — a big gain — but not without wild swings. Let’s see if another sizable gain can come today, but without such nerve-wracking volatility.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 429 points, its tenth-highest point gain in history and the biggest since March 2009, Associated Press writes. It was just one day after the Dow had its worst point decline since 2008.

Credit the Fed.

The Federal Reserve pledged to keep its key interest rate at its record low of nearly zero through the middle of 2013, AP reports.

Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at BlackRock, said the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates at a very low rate for two years is “unprecedented” and called it a kind of “backdoor quantitative easing,” AP writes. In June, the central bank finished a second round of buying Treasury securities, also known as quantitative easing, in hopes of boosting the economy.

“Markets are going to do what they would have …

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Georgia employers face rising unemployment insurance taxes

Georgia employers are almost certainly going to pay higher unemployment insurance taxes next year and jobless workers may see a cut in benefits.

Mark Butler

Mark Butler

That’s because the state owes $721 million to the federal government — money it borrowed to pay its share of unemployment benefits. Only the first interest payment — $22 million due next month — has been accounted for.

I sat down with state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to see how he plans to repay the principal and make future interest payments. Butler has assembled a task force in his department to come up with a long-term game plan. The task force, which has been meeting since May, plans to offer its recommendations to Butler later this month. After he decides on a course of action, the ball will be passed to the governor and state Legislature, which will have to act when it convenes in January.

But before we get into what the task force is considering, here’s a little background.

Georgia, like most other …

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Power Breakfast: Fear takes over markets, new Hawks owner, Atlanta schools, referendum, Delta, AirTran, oil prices

Will fear be conquered on Wall Street today or will we get more another dose of it?

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 634.76 points Monday, the first trading day since Standard & Poor’s downgraded American debt, Associated Press writes. It was the sixth-worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years and the worst drop since December 2008. Every stock in the S&P 500 index declined.

But the S&P downgrade wasn’t the only catalyst Monday, AP writes. Investors worried about the slowing U.S. economy, escalating debt problems threatening Europe and the prospect that fear in the markets would reinforce itself, as it did during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

“‘What’s rocking the market is a growth scare,” said Kathleen Gaffney, co-manager of the $20 billion Loomis Sayles bond fund. “The market is under a lot of stress that really has little to do with the downgrade.”

Instead, Gaffney said, investors are focused on worries about another recession and …

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Recession fears grow after S&P downgrade hits fragile economy

(AJC business reporter Michael Kanell and I wrote the following story for Sunday’s paper.)

Economists worried Saturday that the nation’s already hobbled economy may be stumbling back toward recession after a tense week that ended with the unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

Friday’s downgrade was only the latest — and perhaps most embarrassing — wound, following a near-default by the federal government, a 513-point tumble in the Dow Jones industrial average and increasing financial troubles in Europe.

“I put down 25 percent as the chance of recession,” said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University. “If you asked me three months ago, I would have put down 10 percent.”

To understand the downgrade, follow the signals on Wall Street, he said.

“I would like to watch the stock market for the next three days,” Dhawan said. “It could turn out to be a non-event. But the economy is very fragile.”

Some …

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Power Breakfast: All eyes on markets, new Hawks owner, insurance premiums, jobs, banks, Buffett

As all eyes turn to Wall Street this morning in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, there was good news out of Europe.

A pledge from the European Central Bank to support the shaky bonds of Italy and Spain helped calm investor nerves in Europe on Monday, despite big losses in Asia, Associated Press is reporting.

Although Europe’s main markets in London, Paris, and Frankfurt were trading lower, albeit modestly, the exchanges in Milan and Madrid were posting sizable gains, AP reports. The borrowing costs for both Italy and Spain plunged to more manageable levels after the European Central Bank said it would buy the two countries’ bonds in order to help them avoid devastating defaults, AP writes.

Late Sunday, Europe’s central bank said it would “actively implement” its bond-buying program to calm investor concerns that Italy and Spain won’t be able to pay their debts, AP reports. Last week, worries over the two countries’ ability to keep …

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What should be done to turn around the economic fear?


Despite the better than expected jobs report today — unemployment fell to 9.1 percent in July as 117,000 new jobs were created — fear has taken over the stock and job markets. There is increasing talk of a double-dip recession.

Unfortunately, the tools generally available to deal with those problems are much fewer in number. The 2009 stimulus package stopped us from going over a cliff, but it didn’t restart the job engine. Now, rather than spending money to create jobs, the federal government is cutting spending. And the Federal Reserve already has cut short-term interest rates to near zero and had two rounds of bond-buying with limited results.

Meanwhile, companies are sitting on about $2.5 trillion in cash. But hiring lots of workers doesn’t appear to be on their agenda. At least 250,000 to 300,000 new jobs need to be created each month to put a significant dent in the jobless rate.

What do you think should be done? Tax cuts? Infrastructure spending? Let the free …

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Power Breakfast: Watch unemployment report, RockTenn, Wendy’s, airport concessions, rail, GM

The big news today will be July’s unemployment report, which follows Thursday’s disaster in the stock market.

Fears about the global economy led to the biggest panic in financial markets since the 2008 financial crisis, Associated Press writes.

The Dow plunged nearly 513 points Thursday, its biggest point decline since Oct. 22, 2008, AP reports. Only three of the 500 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had gains. Oil fell by 6 percent.

Global stocks also tumbled Friday.

Investors are increasingly concerned about the possibility of another recession in the U.S. and a debt crisis in Europe, AP writes.

So all eyes today will be on the national unemployment rate, which many economists believe will stay unchanged at 9.2 percent. Estimates on the number of jobs created vary from about 55,000 to 95,000. That would be better than June, but still very weak.

Also in the AJC:

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Atlanta is fourth sickest housing market

Atlanta has the nation’s fourth sickest housing market among the country’s largest 75 metro areas, according to a new analysis.

Tucson had the worst market, followed by Indianapolis and Memphis, according to the 24/7 Wall St. website. It pulled Census data on the 75 largest metro areas and ranked the cities with the highest overall vacancy rates for both homeowner vacancy and rental vacancy for the second quarter of 2011.

Atlanta had a homeowner vacancy rate of 5.4 percent and a rental vacancy rate of 11.8 percent, the website said.

“The city, which had a significant influx of new residents, particularly from the northeast, has been hit hard,” the website said, citing our higher than average unemployment rate.

Ten Sickest Housing Markets

1. Tucson

2. Indianapolis

3. Memphis

4. Atlanta

5. Baton Rouge

6. Dayton

7. Detroit

8. Kansas City

9. St Louis

10. Oklahoma City

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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More older workers are in labor force

Older workers — those at least 55 — are staying in the labor force longer, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Forty percent of older workers were in the labor force in 2010 — a steady increase from 1993, when it was 30 percent, EBRI said.

A higher percentage of men are in the labor force — 46.4 percent — than women — 36.4 percent. The rate for women is a record, while the male rate hit its peak in 1975, when 49.4 percent were in the work force, EBRI said. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, the male rate gradually declined to below 40 percent, before it began steadily rising again.

The upward trend in older workers is likely to continue because of their need for access to employment-based health insurance, EBRI said.

Also, older workers need more earning years to accumulate assets in their 401(k) plans, EBRI said.

If you’re an older worker, are you planning to stay longer than you thought you would? Why?

To others in the workplace, do you think …

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