Obama Urges G-20 Leaders to Back Plans for US Economic Growth

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JAKARTA, Indonesia) -- Amidst criticisms the U.S. is trying to ‘devalue its way back to prosperity,’ President Obama wrote a letter to G-20 leaders arguing the world needs the American economy to recover, adding the U.S. dollar's strength and global economic health hinge upon it.

“A strong recovery that creates jobs, income and spending is the most important contribution the United States can make to the global recovery,” President Obama wrote on the eve of the G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea.  “The dollar’s strength ultimately rests on the fundamental strength of the U.S. economy.”

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s plan for “quantitative easing” -- which essentially means pumping $600 billion into the U.S.  economy through the purchase of Treasury securities -- has met with criticism from fellow G-20 nations.

At the International Finance Forum in Beijing, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China Ma Delun said this week that the Fed plan  "may add risks to the global economic imbalance, put pressure on emerging markets to adjust their international balance of payments and could also stir the formation of asset bubbles, all of which require our vigilance.”

And German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in an interview with Der Spiegel called the move “clueless” and said he has “great doubts about whether it makes sense to pump unlimited amounts of money into the markets.  There is no shortage of liquidity in the U.S. economy.  I can't see the economic argument for this move."

Schaeuble said “it doesn’t add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then, with the help of their central bank’s printing presses, artificially lower the value of the dollar.”

Asked in India if the move by the Fed may look hypocritical to other world leaders, President Obama said “the Federal Reserve is an independent body.  It doesn’t take orders from the White House, and it’s important as a policy matter, as an institutional matter, that we don’t comment on particular Fed actions.  I will say that the Fed’s mandate, my mandate, is to grow our economy.  And that’s not just good for the United States, that’s good for the world as a whole.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


IBM Wants to Make 100 Cities ‘Smarter'

Photo Courtesy of IBM(ARMONK, N.Y.) – IBM on Tuesday announced an initiative to create 100 smarter cities across the globe. Through the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM plans to provide $50 million in technologies and services to improve the growth, services, efficiency and citizen engagement in 100 cities that make the strongest case for their involvement.

Pilot grants have begun in Baltimore; Austin, Texas; and Mecklenburg County, N.C. to ensure the program’s success.

The Smarter Cities Challenge represents the single largest philanthropic investment currently planned by IBM.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gingrich: Bernanke 'Fundamentally Wrong,' 'Misreading Economy'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- They could soon be political opponents if Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin decide to make a run for the Oval Office, but speaking to ABC News on Tuesday, the former speaker of the House agreed with Palin’s criticism of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

“I would say that Bernanke is fundamentally wrong,” Gingrich said. “He is fundamentally misreading the economy. This economy lacks confidence in the government, it doesn’t lack cash.”

Palin on Monday called on Bernanke to “cease and desist” with his plan to buy $600 billion worth of bonds and cited a warning from the German minister of finance, according to the National Review.

Gingrich said it is “interesting” that Palin and Germany are on the same side – but added America should take a look at what the country accomplished.
“Germany right now has its lowest unemployment rate in 18 years. They are the only exporting country in Europe that can compete with China,” he said.

So what will help the U.S. economy? Gingrich said we need certainty on taxes.

“When the Democrats left Congress without having passed a tax bill they guaranteed that no company in America, no investor in America has a clue on January 1 what their taxes are,” he said. “That’s an environment where you don’t create jobs. And pouring out more paper money and increasing the risk of inflation is not a very clever way of trying to solve that.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


First Lady's Clothing Picks: Big Gains for Designers, Department Stores

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama is hailed as one of the world's best-dressed women. From couture creations to off-the-rack ensembles, the clothes she wears fly off the shelves.

The designers whose creations are picked by the first lady not only experience a surge in popularity, but, according to the results of a study published in the October issue of the Harvard Business Review, their stocks can get a significant boost.

The study's author, David Yermack, professor of finance and business at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business, performed a year-long analysis of the economic impact of Obama's apparel selections.

He found that her choices had a major influence on clothing markets.

Obama's Choices Benefit Seventh Avenue and Wall Street

"Each single appearance of hers could move a stock price by $14 million," Yermack told "Good Morning America."

According to Yermack's results, Obama made 189 public appearances between November 2008 and December 2009. During that time, she wore items from 29 publicly traded companies, including J.Crew, the Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue and Target.

Those companies raked in an estimated $2.7 billion as a result of Obama's donning their apparel, Yermack calculated.

J.Crew has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the first lady's sartorial selections. Obama has sported outfits from the popular mall chain on several high-profile occasions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Employers Offer Fewer Jobs in Sept., Labor Department Says

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Job openings fell sharply in September, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. Employers advertised 2.9 million jobs -- a drop of 5.3 percent from the previous month.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, says last month's numbers should be more significant.

“We've yet to see how sustainable the increase in jobs in October was,” she said. “It was a meaningful turnaround along with the revisions we saw over the summer that showed smaller declines in employment, but…we're still digging ourselves out of a very deep hole when it comes to employment.”

“The good news is that retailers are hiring a little bit more than they were a year ago,” Swonk said. “We're starting to see some of the services employment come back a bit. We've also seen temporary hires pick up.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Commerce Dept: Wholesale Inventories, Sales Up in Sept.

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Inventories at the wholesale level rose for a ninth consecutive month in September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Sales were up for a third straight month.

While it’s positive news for the economy, Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk says inventories are not as large an economic factor as they once were.

“Inventories, although they're continuing to rise, the rise in inventories is no longer the tailwind it once was in supporting manufacturing activity and economic growth,” she said.

“We're still not seeing enough. What we're seeing is inventories that continue to grow, but at a slower pace,” Swonk said. “As they continue to do that, we'll see their additions to the U.S. economy wane.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Goodbye, Mr. Goodwrench: GM to Retire Iconic Service Brand

Photo Courtesy - GM/YouTube(DETROIT) -- General Motors is putting Mr. Goodwrench out to pasture.

The iconic auto repair brand will be replaced early next year as GM and the American auto industry continue to rebuild.

General Motors is replacing its Goodwrench service with more specific labels such as Chevrolet Certified Service, Buick Certified Service, GMC Certified Service and Cadillac Certified Service.

“Our number one priority is providing a world-class ownership experience that creates positive long-lasting relationships with our customers,” said Steve Hill, vice president and general manager, GM Customer Care and Aftersales.

The automaker says it plans to retire the Goodwrench name effective Feb. 1, 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Holiday Hiring Season on Track to Be One of Strongest in Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The job outlook for this holiday season is seeing its strongest start in four years, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The latest jobs report showed a net gain of 150,900 retail jobs in October, three times greater than the number of retail positions added in the same month last year and nearly four times greater than those added in 2008.  The last time similar numbers were posted was back in 2006, when retail payrolls expanded by 150,600.

“This is a good sign that retailers feel more optimistic this year.  Even if November and December hiring remains flat from a year ago, seasonal job growth will top 600,000 for the first time since 2007,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Sequel to Best-Selling Video Game Hits Store Shelves

Photo Courtesy - Activision(NEW YORK) -- The sequel to the world's best-selling video game went on sale Tuesday at midnight.

Last November, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made entertainment history with blockbuster sales.  The latest label, Call of Duty: Black Ops, is expected to perform similarly well.

"I'm gonna blow people's heads off," said one young fan perusing the racks at a GameStop in New York's Herald Square.  "I'm going to be the best in the whole game."

It's likely he'll have some competition -- especially if Black Ops sells as well as the previous installment, which generated more than a billion dollars in sales.

"I'm one of the original gamers," one man said after he negotiated a deal to trade older games for a copy of the newest version.  "I started with Pong when I was a kid."

Call of Duty is a little more ambitious than Pong, the two-dimensional monochrome table tennis simulation.  Players are supposed to be Cold War-era CIA operatives trying to track down Soviet weapons using custom weapons.

"All the little gadgets and all the little things that you have in the game" is what the Pong fan said he liked about Call of Duty.  "Every game you can shoot.  This one gives you something a little different, something a little bit more advanced."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Can Workers Be Fired for Criticizing Their Boss on Social Networking Sites?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Labor Relations Board has accused American Medical Response of Connecticut of illegally firing an employee after she criticized her supervisor on her page at, according to The New York Times.

The case, viewed by some as ground-breaking, represents the first time the labor board has intervened on behalf of workers, arguing that the criticisms of one’s boss or company on a social networking site “is generally a protected activity and that employers would be violating the law by punishing workers for such statements,” writes The New York Times.

An administrative law judge will begin hearing the case on Jan. 25.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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