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Thursday
Nov182010

Obama on GM: Tough Decisions Are Starting to Pay Off

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Holding it up as evidence that the steps his administration took during the financial crisis are starting to pay off, President Obama Thursday hailed the news of General Motors’ initial public offering.

“Today one of the toughest tales of the recession took another big step towards becoming a success story,” the president said to reporters. “We are finally beginning to see some of these tough decisions that we made in the midst of crisis pay off."

Calling it a “good thing,” the president emphasized that American taxpayers are now in a position to recover more than his administration invested in GM. This of course leaves out what the previous administration invested in GM as well.                           

More broadly, the president said the health of the car industry in general is starting to recover as well, something that he said “seemed impossible” two years ago.   

“Our automakers are in the midst of their strongest period of job growth in more than a decade,” he touted. “For  the first time in six years, Ford, GM and Chrysler are all operating  at a profit.  In fact, last week GM announced its best quarter in over 11 years.”

The president said he is “absolutely” confident that the industry will keep on making progress in the future.

According to a study by the Center for Automotive Research, the government’s bailout program for GM, Chrysler and other auto companies saved more than 1.4 million jobs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

House Votes Against Jobless Benefits Extension

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives voted Thursday afternoon against extending federal unemployment benefits another 90 days, leaving the jobless benefits of about four million Americans in jeopardy with the current relief set to expire just after Thanksgiving.

The legislation would have cost about $12.5 billion to extend the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits from Dec. 1 until Feb. 28.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blamed Republicans in the House for blocking the extension and pledged to continue working towards a short-term extension before the current benefits expire Nov. 30.

“The American people, struggling with high unemployment, continue to look to their leaders for a lifeline until they can get back to work.  Today, Democrats voted to extend unemployment insurance to Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, Republicans did not,” Pelosi, D-California, stated. “Our first priority is to create jobs; the American people want to get back to work. Unemployment Insurance is a proven economic booster, returning $2 into the economy for every $1 invested.  We will continue to work for an emergency short-term extension to get families through the holidays and to work for longer term solutions as well.”

The bill was brought to the floor under the rules of suspension, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, but fell 17 votes short with a final tally of 258-154.

The current benefits are scheduled to expire Nov. 30, so the House will still have two legislative days to try to prevent the benefits from expiring when Congress returns to finish the lame-duck session after Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Call of Duty: Black Ops Sets New Five Day Entertainment Industry Record

Photo Courtesy - ActiVision[dot]com(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- Activision Publishing, Inc. announced Thursday that Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops has shattered theatrical box office, book and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell through in dollars.  The game established an all-new five-day worldwide sell-through record of more than $650 million, exceeding Activision's previous five-day worldwide record of $550 million set by last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, according to internal Activision estimates.

"
Call of Duty has become the first entertainment property in history to set five-day launch records for two consecutive years across all forms of entertainment," said Robert Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard.  "The title's success illustrates the mass appeal of interactive entertainment as millions of consumers are choosing to play Call of Duty: Black Ops at unprecedented levels rather than engage in other forms of media.  The number of people playing online and the number of hours they are playing demonstrates how online gaming has become a mainstream form of entertainment and certainly validates Activision Blizzard's leadership role in online entertainment."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Grab Bag of Tax, Spending Proposals Eyed to Cut Deficit 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While taxpayers are impatiently waiting to hear if Congress will allow the Bush-era tax to cuts expire in January, this week two groups introduced plans to cut federal expenditures and shrink the $13.7 trillion national debt with tax and policy changes. The authors' methods run the gamit, but are sure to affect everyone's pockets should they be enacted.

The first recommendation came Nov. 10 from the co-chairs of the White House's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, or the fiscal commission. It has been called the Bowles-Simpson draft proposal after the authors, Erskin Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system and former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, and Alan Simpson, former Republican senator of Wyoming.

That 24-page document and corresponding 50-slide presentation differs greatly from the 140-page proposal from Wednesday's Bipartisan Policy Center's debt reduction task force. That recommendation has been called the debt reduction or Domenici-Rivlin plan, after former Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico and Alice Rivlin, former vice chair of the Federal Reserve and also on the board of the fiscal commission.

One of the most dramatic proposals may have been Wednesday's debt reduction plan's "payroll tax holiday" that suspends Social Security payroll taxes for all of 2011. This move aims to keep money in employee paychecks and incentivize companies to hire more people.

While dramatic, the task force said the payroll holiday will immediately spur economic growth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Delinquent Mortgage Loans, Foreclosure Inventory Down in Third Quarter

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Mortgage Bankers Association released new numbers Thursday showing that fewer Americans were late in paying their mortgages in the July to September time period, while the number of homes in the foreclosure process were down slightly as well.

Overall, roughly 88 percent of American homeowners are paying their mortgages on-time, according to the report.  The new data also shows that 9.13 percent of home loans were at least one payment late at the end of the quarter, down from 9.85 percent at the end of the second quarter.

In addition, 4.39 percent of home loans were in the foreclosure process at the end of September, down from 4.57 percent.  Foreclosure starts -- homes which received a notice to start foreclosure proceedings -- was up during the quarter at 1.34 percent to a record rate.

The MBA says the slight improvement in the national delinquency rate can be attributed to a slight improvement in the employment situation in the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Mary Kay, McDonald's: American Businesses Booming in China

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BEIJING) -- Mary Kay, the classic American makeup company, took its pink hats and pink Buicks 7,000 miles to China -- and after 15 years of trial and error, business is booming there.  Nearly 20 percent of the company's business now comes from China, said K.K. Chua, president of Mary Kay's Asia Pacific region.

"We're just scratching the surface in China right now considering that China is a country with more than 1.4 billion people," Chua said.  "I think in the time to come, we will see the business having a lot more lengths to run."

Mary Kay's success in China meant shifting from their well-known model of paying home visits to setting up "beauty centers."  The company also created specific products that appeal to Chinese women.

Mary Kay is one of several big American brands finding their way to Chinese consumers.  Another major American brand making big waves in China is McDonald's.  The company has spent 20 years working in the country and now opens a new location every other day.

The Gap, an American clothing brand, also just opened a string of stores in Beijing and Shanghai after two years of intense research.  The company redesigned some of its trademark jeans to appeal to Chinese consumers, even designing specific clothes for different cities in China.

Because the Chinese do like American brands and American know-how -- everything from U.S. architects to management experts -- there is potential to tap into vast amounts of money and benefits to American stockholders.

The boom in consumption by Chinese consumers could be good for American workers, too.  One estimate suggests that a 20 percent rise in Chinese consumption theoretically could lead to an extra $25 billion of American exports, creating more than 200,000 American jobs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

General Motors Sets Public Offering of Common and Preferred Stock

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(DETROIT) -- General Motors announced Wednesday that they will begin a public offer of common and mandatory convertible junior preferred stock that will begin trading on November 18th.

The company will offer as much as $23.1 billion of the stocks to the public, depending on the amount taken by underwriters. 

"As we prepare to enter the equity markets, all of us at GM are excited about this historic milestone.  We are especially appreciative of those who stood by us through the toughest times, and we are dedicated to creating value for all of our stakeholders," said GM Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell.

The issue included 478 million shares of common stock, which has been valued at $33 per share, for a total of $15.77 billion. The public offering also included 87 million shares of mandatory convertible junior preferred stock for a total of $4.35 billion.
 
The closing of both offerings is scheduled to take place on November 23rd, 2010. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Unemployment Down, Underemployment Reaches Lowest Level of 2010

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PRINCETON, NJ) – Unemployment has reached one of the lowest levels of the year, according to a new Gallup Poll, indicating that the job market has continued to improve.

The poll found that unemployment dropped to 9.2 percent during the first half of November. That figure is down from 10 percent in mid-October and 9.4 percent during the last half of October.

Underemployment has also dropped to reach its lowest point this year. The drop in unemployment combined with a decrease in the number of part-time workers seeking full-time employment has brought the underemployment rate to 17.7 percent.
 
The new figures, however, do not account for improvement that may have been caused due to holiday hiring, as Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate and underemployment measure are not seasonally adjusted.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Four Loko Manufacturer to Remove Caffeine from Products

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WABC-TV New York(CHICAGO) -- Phusion Projects, the manufacturer of the caffeinated alcoholic drink Four Loko, announced Tuesday that it will reformulate its products, removing caffeine from its drinks.  The company's announcement comes just as the Food and Drug Administration is set to ban Four Loko.

Along with the removal of caffeine, Phusion Projects will also extract guarana and taurine from its products nationwide.

In a statement, the company's three co-founders said, "We are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels."

The FDA's position on caffeinated alcoholic drinks could come as early as Wednesday.  Four states -- Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma -- have already banned Four Loko in response to several recent incidents in which college students were hospitalized after consuming the drink.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Google Unveils New Fashion E-Commerce Site

Photo Courtesy - Boutiques [dot] com/ Google(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- As many in the fashion world expected, Google took the wraps off of a new fashion e-commerce site, Boutiques.com, on Wednesday.

Launched with technology made possible by Google's summer acquisition of Like.com, a shopping site with a sophisticated visual search program, the new site lets visitors not only browse colorful virtual boutiques set up by celebrities and designers but create -- and share -- their own personalized online shops.

Visitors to Boutiques.com don't actually complete purchases on the site, but it makes it easy and intuitive for shoppers to identify and search for their favorite styles and items.  It also lets them follow the styles of designer, celebrity and fashion blogger "tastemakers."

Boutiques.com makes money when shoppers click through to other e-retailers or brands' online stores.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio