Archive for October, 2012

Atlanta credit scores down, but still “very good”

The average credit score in Atlanta has fallen to 727, ranking consumers here 113th in the U.S., according to data from credit reporting agency Experian.

That’s well below the national average credit score of 750

It’s also down from an average score here of 736 five years ago.

Atlantans’ average credit score has plummeted relative to the scores of consumers in other major metropolitan markets. Atlanta ranked 96th nationally in 2007 when the economic recession took hold.

Still, a score of 727 is still regarded as very solid. Scores above 740 are considered excellent, and those from 680 to 740 are considered very good. Scores from 640 to 679 are fair, and those 639 and below are poor.

“Your credit score is very important _ it determines the interest rate you will pay for mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards, personal lines of credit and more,” said Mechel Glass, vice president of community outreach for CredAbility, a national, Atlanta-based non-profit credit counseling …

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Honda recalling 820,000 Civics, Pilots

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Several days after announcing a recall of 600,000 Accords for a faulty power steering hose, Honda on Thursday said it is recalling 820,000 Civic compact cars and Pilot SUVs because the headlights could fail.

The latest recall, which expands one announced in March, includes 2002 and 2003 model year Civics and 2004 and 2005 Pilots. Honda said low-beam headlights could malfunction due to possible overheating and melting of wires that connect a switch controlling the headlights.

In March, the automaker announced it was recalling 550,000 CR-Vs from 2002 through 2004 model years and Pilots from 2003 because of the headlight problem.

Honda said it’ll repair the problem for free. No crashes or injuries have been reported.

On Monday, Honda announced it was recalling 2003 through 2007 Accords with V-6 engines because a faulty power steering hose may leak fluid and cause a fire. So far one such fire has been reported, the automaker said.

The replacement …

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Atlanta small business owners less inclined to hire

Small and mid-sized business owners in metro Atlanta are less inclined to add staff this fall and winter than they were back in the spring, a new survey shows.

Only 18 percent of businesses here intend to add workers in the next six months, according to the biannual PNC Economic Outlook from PNC Financial Services Group. That’s down from 34 percent who planned to expand their employee base last spring. Only 10 percent said they plan to reduce staff, however.

Optimism among Atlanta business owners surveyed is down from what it was in the spring. One in five are optimistic about their own company’s prospects over the next six months, versus 24 percent in the spring, and 26 percent described themselves as pessimistic, compared to 13 percent.

The percentage of business owners looking to take out new business loans or planning to make capital investments this fall and winter is about the same as it was in spring.

The report said, “Owners’ outlooks for sales, profits and …

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JetBlue offers free flight if your 2012 candidate loses

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

JetBlue is promising a free round-trip plane ticket to 1,006 international travelers next year as a consolation prize if their candidate doesn’t win in the November presidential election.

“If things don’t go your way, don’t worry,” an announcer says in an online video promotion for the sweepstakes. “Here’s your chance to get out of the country with a free flight.” The country’s international destinations are mainly in the Caribbean.

The airline’s “Live Free or Fly” contest invites voters to enter at  jetblue.com/electionprotection. There you’ll select a candidate, represented by a “donkey” for Democrat Barack Obama and an “elephant” for Republican Mitt Romney, and one international destination. Then you’ll complete a contest registration form, which includes your name, email address, and a valid home address.

Contest entries are due by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 5, the day before the presidential election. If the candidate …

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Millionaires collect unemployment benefits

Here’s a story sure to make some folks’ blood boil.

It’s about millionaires collecting unemployment.

ABC News reports that in 2009, 2,362 millionaires received unemployment benefits, according to a study from the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan arm of Congress. More than 1,000 who got the benefits had a household adjusted gross income of $1.5 million.

The study determined that 0.02 percent of tax filers who  received unemployment benefits that year were millionaires. Their collective haul: $20.8 million.

If you think this ain’t right, you have company.

“It sounds scandalous when you hear that millionaires are going to collect unemployment insurance,” Bill Frenzel, guest scholar at the Brookings Institute and former Republican member of Congress, told ABC News. “On the other hand, millionaires get unemployed too and have made payments into the unemployment insurance.”

Still, Frenzel said, if they made a million dollars in income the year prior, “they could …

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T-Mobile signs deal to acquire MetroPCS

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Update 10:40 a.m.: As expected, T-Mobile USA’s parent announced plans Wednesday to acquire MetroPCS.

Both companies are struggling and see a combined cellphone service provider as a way to increase their competitiveness against Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

“The combined company, which will retain the T-Mobile name, will have the expanded scale, spectrum and financial resources to aggressively compete with the other national U.S. wireless carriers,” Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, and MetroPCS said in a statement.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest provider in the U.S. MetroPCS is No. 5. The combined company, which will have around 40 million subscribers, will still make it only No. 4. behind Sprint.

Because both have different network technologies, the phones they provide to subscribers would not be able to be used on each other’s networks. Both, however, are developing 4G networks, so that could change in the future. The deal will give …

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Coca-Cola still most valuable brand

Coca-Cola is still No. 1.

The New York Times reports today that Interbrand, a brand consulting firm, ranks Coca-Cola as the most valuable brand in its 13th annual Best Global Brands report.

Criteria include financial performance, the role of the brand in influencing consumer choices, and the brand’s ability to help its parent company’s earnings.

Coca-Cola has been at the top for 13 consecutive years now, and Interbrand estimates its brand value a t $77.8 billion.

Coca-Cola Company executive vice president Joseph Tripodi said, “A lot of staying relevant is not being afraid to take risks or do different things. It’s less about what you sell and more about what you stand for as a brand and company.”

Following Coca-Cola on the list of most valuable brands: Apple, I.B.M., Google, Microsoft, GE, McDonald’s, Intel, Samsung and Toyota.

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Braves bosses Malone, Turner swap respect when it comes to land

John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, the corporate owner of the Braves, made news when he overtook another media mogul-turned baseball team owner-turned land baron, Ted Turner, as the biggest private land holder in the U.S.

In an article in Fortune, the two old pals swap a little mutual respect.

Said Malone: “Ted and I have been buddies for many, many years, and in many ways the idea of investing in land ownership and stewardship came to me from Ted. He was the one who gave me the concept that you could do well and do good in land ownership.”

Replied Turner: “John feels a deep reverence for the land and is very aware of the responsibilities that come with being a land owner. I also feel that way. We both see land ownership as a personal investment, but also as an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.”

Malone, 71, now owns 2.2 million acres of cropland, ranch land and woodland, an area about three times the size of Rhode Island, the …

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